Are You Alienated: conclusion
“John’s friend,” Torbay said. “Ilya.”
“The owner,” Emmett austerely corrected, “is Mr. Virgil. Ilya has no money of his own.”
“Art,” Minta asked, “has a system?”
“If you had read the sort of adventure yarns that I grew up with…” Torbay gave her a once-overing look. “Which seems unlikely…you’d have come across some variation on the treasure map motif. That is to say, each pirate clings to his particular shred of the mother map; no lone pirate obtains the ascendency, to betray his fellows and gain the treasure.”
“Art’s files, or they may be fragments of files,” Emmett said, “might be stored on any device that has memory, and that accesses the internet. Anyone’s computer may be a host, but things we typically don’t think of as computers may also be used. These pirates, because they aren’t human, will share information very readily. You need only ask them the right question.”
“And Art has been using my name as a password?”
“Your actual name is Araminta, is that correct? Do you know there is a constellation called Ara? And that ara in Latin means altar; and that the constellation of Ara is near Scorpius? Insofar as things are near things in space. Ara is a pallindrome and can be reduced to a pallindromic number, one-oh-one…or eleven…or two times five-point-five…”
It sounded like one of Torbay’s yarns, superinvested with the all-seeing masonic eye on the back of a dollar bill. But, also, it sounded familiar.
“Quentin would enjoy that stuff.”
“Well, there you have it.” Emmett tilted his head towards her, and with the open palmed gesture that means, “there you have it”, went on. “We must attempt to solve these riddles, because the people we deal with do indeed enjoy creating them.”
She remembered Valerie sending links about the St. Petersburg trip. They were ordinarily beach cabin vacationers. Quentin, who would not fly, was at least willing to drive. On occasion. Minta had not seen this whim of Valerie’s beyond likelihood…
“John,” she said, “you can’t mean to tell me my mother-in-law is…I don’t know what. Faking headaches so she can hold clandestine meetings, I suppose.”
“I don’t see why you would think so. You might as easily have been the courier.”
She stopped; put her hands on her hips. “Oh, come on.”
“Sometimes the old-fashioned ways are best.”
She had turned in Emmett’s direction. She stood beside Torbay, and they’d all stalled, again, in their progress. Emmett’s secretive smile—of one who takes pride in his mysteries, whatever cost the tedium—dropped. He took a step away from Minta, and with fingers steadying his eyeglasses, scanned the bridge’s walkway.
Where the river deepened, an angled support dovetailed with a vertical beam. The spot was popular with photographers and birders, often seen precariously braced, leaning in the “v”. She had been about to say a reassuring word on this point, when she saw the woman―the one Emmett had noticed―put a foot against the railing, and haul herself up. Cammie now stood balanced―her touch on the beam all that prevented her fall.
It was Cammie…her parka and her red hair. Seeing Emmett break into a run, Torbay made a noise of exasperation.
“Frighten the girl, Emmett!” He offered this as general comment, while he and Minta trotted behind, caution pairing them in an awkward gait. Torbay dug for his phone.
“911,” she said.
“Yes, I realize that.”
“Cammie.” Emmett took a tenuous hold of her coat hem. He changed his mind, and removing his right glove, reached for her again. This time, she allowed him to take the free hand she dangled, slack at her hip. But she said, “Why are you talking to me?”
Are You Alienated
(copyright 2015 Stephanie Foster)