American Chimera – 18.1

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Dr. Worthington stumbled in, most of her weight on her walker, and the door slammed shut. Her eyes scanned the room and landed on the interrogator. “I take it you’ve had time to think on what I said?”

The interrogator stepped out of the shadows and leaned against some of the boxes that were piled throughout the large warehouse room. “I’ve had time, but I haven’t given your weak defense of your generation much thought. Your argument about ‘saving the world’ has been made a million times – I don’t need to go through it yet again.”

Dr. Worthington’s face remained grim. She pushed her walker in a couple more steps and gestured to the room. “This isn’t the interrogation room. What do you want from me now?”

“This, my good doctor, is the evidence room. Everything your homes, offices, or other places of residence contained was boxed, catalogued, and brought here. Some people – like the Huffmans themselves – have nothing remaining to their names. Some people, like Brad Roten,” the interrogator allowed herself to smile for a brief moment, “Only lost access to information containing devices, books, or objects.”

Dr. Worthington smiled cheekily at the interrogator. “I suppose you want me to give you passwords into my system. Were the ones I already gave not good enough? I’m a veterinarian, so my documents aren’t as tightly guarded as those for human patients.”

“I don’t know if it’s hidden among your medical records or not. What I do know is that your digital documents have been hoarded for a good seventy years, and you have file types that can only be read by specialized government computers. Your home computer has things no one recognizes anymore.”

“And you expect me to?” Dr. Worthington scoffed. “Half that stuff is probably things my husband left. Anime, technical documents, weird Muppet porn. Hell if I know.”

“I’m looking for a video file given to you by Dani. A video concerning a child molestor at her volleyball games.”

Dr. Worthington held her breath. Her jaw wiggled and her wrinkled lips pursed.

“Where is it?”

“What are you going to use it for? Are you going to prosecute? Seek justice?”

“I had the perpetrator released from this facility on accident. I found out after the fact that he had conducted illegal activities against a young student’s will. This video will assure his return – and punishment, seeing as I need no court to convict him. All I require is permission from my superiors.” The interrogator gestured down an alley between stacks of boxes. “Even if you don’t help me, I’ll have my tech personnel find it. The sooner I get my hands on the file, though, the sooner I can recapture and more likely I can hold him without any legal proceedings.”

Dr. Worthington followed. “Are you going to wipe it off my drive? I don’t know if a backup exists. Hell, if the drive’s corrupted over the years, I might not be able to help you anyway.”

“If we can find it, I’ll make multiple copies. I’ll even give you a needlestick version you can take with you back to your cell. How does that sound?”

“I have no computer to read it in my cell.”

“But you’ll know it’s real. You’ll know it exists. I can’t guarantee anything better for you, and I may be sticking my neck out as it is.” The interrogator scanned a box with her tablet, opened it, and showed a set of neatly organized drives of various ages, sizes, and inputs. “Which one are we going to need? How many adaptor modems will we require?”

Dr. Worthington shook her head and pulled out a set of three identical drives. “Nothing. It should be on one of these – sorry for not labeling them better.”

The interrogator tapped a few buttons on her tablet. “All of them are loaded. Here – find the file for me.” She handed the tablet over to the doctor.

While Dr. Worthington shuffled through files and looked into folders, she said, “You’re all about information. Finding answers to questions. I’m going to tell you some things I believe you’d want to know, whether you were aware of it or not.”

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