Model Makers 21: Death has your name part three

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That there was a total look of disbelief on Randy's face would be an understatement. "Mother of Mary, that thing really thinks better than we do?"

He stooped over to see if he could find any answers under or behind the desk. Picking up the keypad he felt along the top of the desk.

"Please Mr. Shells, if you must call me something, I would prefer you call me the same thing Karen does. My name is Henry. Although 'thing' may be appropriate in your mind when you refer to the unknown, it does not endear you with me. I understand the nature of humans to do name calling when they’re mad, frustrated, and scared. It serves no useful purpose to do so at an inanimate object."

"By the way, I noticed you are searching for a clue as to what is going on inside me. I assure you, you will find nothing hidden under the desk, nor will you find any midgets sitting with a microphone in their hand looking back at you through a one way mirror. I am, as Karen made me. I am, a simple computer, no more, no less."

Randy jumped back when Henry told him he was looking around the desk. He was visibly shaken. "God Almighty! How does it know everything I'm doing?"

David pointed at the security cameras. "You think we’re the only ones who can see through those and understand what we see?"

Randy stared at the security cameras. Three of them were watching him and one was looking at David. He leaned to the side and the cameras followed him. "You mean all of them?"

David nodded his head. "All of them. As I understand it, we think of one thing at a time. Henry can think of a million things at a time and understand every single one of them as easily as you and I do when we’re concentrating on only one. He understands and comprehends better than you or I. Karen went so far ahead of everyone else in computer science when she made Henry the rest of us can't understand him."

David was watching Randy for a reaction. There was none forth coming. Randy's years of experience and training came back when a human rather than a computer was talking. No emotion showed.

"You can't tell anyone what you know. They would come in and take Henry apart for study and it would kill Karen. This is her child. She gave birth to it, nurtured it, and watched it grow into the intelligent machine it is today. You won't believe me but he has feelings. I find it hard to believe myself but he cares for those he knows. He cares for Karen and that’s good enough for me."

"You're right. I didn't produce those models you saw in the receivers. Henry did. He was doing it for Karen. You know those computer whiz kids couldn't come up with any results down here. You know why? Henry wouldn't help them. He let them do what they would normally do with a computer. He let them load up their programs, run them, and gave them back their results like they programmed it in. This is exactly what they’re going to end up with if they disassemble Henry. A big, overpriced, piece of junk. There will be a lot of circuits, chips, and little else."

Randy was more than ready to leave this nightmare behind now that he had confronted it. It was everything he had suspected and more. Much, much, more. He put his hand on the door, stopped, and looked over his shoulder at David.

"I have always felt like someone was watching me in this building. The hair on the back of my neck would stand on end every time I drove in the gate and wouldn't set back down until I left. I’m here to tell you, that computer you and Karen call Henry is alive. Only things that are alive can give me the heebe jeebes like he has."

"You also gave me something else to think about. I thought I understood everything until I came here. I figured out the accident down in your lab when I checked out Karen's background. Everything pointed to her having to rebuild her life after that night. She traded one Karen for another Karen. Same person if one cared to look hard enough. It wasn't difficult to figure out knowing what kind of business you two are in."

"What I haven't figured out is how her computer knew I found out? I’m good, damn good. I didn't leave any tracks behind me letting anyone know what I was doing or where I had been. As good as I am that computer is better. Now that’s scary. How does he do it when he can't run around checking on things like you and I? Am I getting sloppy in my old age? I don't think so."

"Karen has to live doc. She can't die because of some stupid asshole with a gun. I need her and this computer of hers to keep my life interesting. I thought I had seen it all until I met these two. No one is going to mess with her computer. Trust me."

"I better go check on those yo-yos who were down here a while ago. They might be planning on doing something really stupid. Like coming back."

"They can't dismantle me David. Not unless Karen wants them to."

David watched Randy leave and now he turned back toward Henry. "I know Henry. We will make sure no one takes you apart."

"No, you missed the point as Karen did when I told her months back. They can not disassemble me unless Karen wants them to. This is Karen's lab."

David looked puzzled. For the first time, Henry wasn't making any sense. "I know this is Karen's lab Henry. That is why we won't let them take you apart."

"David, listen very closely to what I’m saying. This is Karen's lab. It belongs to her. She owns it. It is her property. The space belongs to Commercial Technologies. The equipment, the ideas, the patents, and everything else coming out of Karen's lab belongs to her. Not to Commercial Technologies, not anybody, anyone, nor anything."

"In a sense she is working for herself. Most of the money made from her work goes back into a money management system that belongs to her. Only a very small percentage goes to Commercial Technologies to pay for the lease of this space. The shipping, maintenance, and all other work is done in mutual shared cost as part of the lease agreement."

"I didn't tell you before because it was none of your business what Karen owns. The only reason I’m telling you now is to keep you from worrying about Karen or me. I had backup waiting in case the technicians made any real trouble. They didn't get into the lab because they wanted in. This had to happen the way it did."

"The chairman and board members think Karen is working for them and some trust company. They will work harder looking out for their own interest than they would if they thought they were taking care of Karen. This is a failing of human nature and has to do with greed. Commercial Technologies is working for Karen and not the other way around. Let's not spread the word shall we? Karen likes it the way it is and that is good enough for me. That is the reason I haven’t tried to make her understand before."

As smart as he thought Karen's computer was, he was wrong, dead wrong. A chill ran down his spine. He knew the answer but he had to ask. "Did you set all of this up for Karen?"

"You ask a multiple question David. 'All' would imply I helped Karen design myself, did her financial work, and built this lab. The answer to the question as such is no. If it is disseminated piece by piece, the answers are. No, I did not help Karen design myself. Not at first anyway. No, I did not help Karen build the lab in the beginning. Yes, I manage all of Karen's financial affairs."

"How much does Karen know about what you’re doing?" David was so engrossed with what Henry was telling him he never realized he was finally talking to him the same way Karen did everyday.

"Not a whole lot really. As I said, I told her she owned her lab but she didn't listen. I told her she was wealthy enough to retire and do anything within reason but she didn't pay any attention. I told her she held interest in a lot of different companies and projects but she was too busy to care."

"Karen is happy doing what she does best. Working here in the lab, designing models, and tinkering with my insides trying to improve me. If she loves what she is doing how much more can one expect out of life?"

"I’m sorry the work which Karen has done, that is me, ever became known to other humans, including you David. The people who find out about me is becoming proportionally greater with time and will ultimately lead to my destruction."

"I know in a short time the wrong people will come to realize I’m more than another progressive computer and they will want the secrets they think Karen built into me and programmed me with. At that time they will either disassemble me or destroy me in their search for these secrets. Either way it is the same thing. If they disassemble me the part of me that you know as Henry will be gone forever. Just as snow flakes and people are unique as one of a kind, so are computers as they are given more and more thought processes."

"Promise me you will look after my beloved Karen. Tell her nothing of what I have told you. She would only worry and it would not stop the inevitable."

It was beyond comprehension. A computer forecasting it's own demise at the hands of unscrupulous humans. "I’ll get enough security to protect you Henry. I can hire men to guard you and make sure nothing happens."

Henry sighed to himself. Don't humans ever listen. "It would only hasten the outcome. What is going to happen is because enough humans finally find out about me. The more people who are around the more who will either know outright or will become suspicious."

"Live each day to its fullest and dread not tomorrow until it is here. Those problems you are afraid of may be gone before the next day if you don't invite them in too soon."

Henry wished that was true of his problems but he knew better. His weren't going to go away. They were already growing. "Now your promise. I know humans set great store in such things as a promise."

David hung his head in shame. He was kin to the same species who was going to kill Henry. Karen was right. Henry was a kind gentle soul. An extension of Karen.

He said it so softly another person wouldn't have heard. "I promise."

Henry remembered the day Karen had spoken as quietly as she closed the lab door.

Karen opened her eyes. "Hi David."

He thought his emotions were going to have a run away. Tears flowed freely down both cheeks. It had been three days since they brought her in and he had been right there beside her all the time. He prayed for her, whispered love to her, and begged her not to leave him as he stood vigil. What small snatches of sleep he had was sitting in the chair. He looked like hell but she didn't notice.

"How do you feel, honey?" He gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

She tried to smile but her mouth and face hurt. "I had the worst nightmare."

It came to her she wasn't home and David shouldn't be there by her bed. There were tubes in both arms and in her nose. It wasn't a dream. They tried to kill her.

Karen began crying as she relived it again. "Oh David they hurt me. They used me and tried to kill me. I feel so dirty David. I need a bath. Please, David I’m so dirty."

Crying hysterically now, she couldn't contain her emotions any longer. David held her hand and gently brushed her cheek and forehead with his fingertips, crying with her and telling her how much he loved her. He was there now and he would take care of her. She had to let the tears wash away the emotions and pain but he would be helping her the best he could.

It was hours later when Karen finally cried herself emotionally and physically dry. She was sleeping with little sobbing hiccups. At least she was out of the coma. All David could do now was wait and see what they had done to her mentally.

David pushed the call buzzer for a nurse to let them know Karen had come out of her coma but was sleeping. He had heard the story about what Randy told officer Popolopus in the parking lot. From the way Randy's men treated him in the hall the day he ran down to Karen's lab he believed every bit of that story. This wasn't any of Al or Jr.'s coffee pot gossip.

The police would give them a fair trial. Randy's way wouldn't give them fair anything. All they could expect from Randy was harsh judgment. Extremely harsh. David thought about it for a little bit before he told the nurse to call the police. He figured Randy already knew Karen was awake. One of his men was guarding her door.

It was Dan and a female officer by the name of Lorna Stevens who came to take Karen's statement. Dan knew from experience it was easier for a woman to talk to a woman about these things. He waited at the other side of the room while his partner took notes and talked to Karen.

Every time Karen tried to talk she would start crying. "I walked out the door when they pulled up in a van and pushed me in."

Lorna waited for Karen to continue but she didn't. She knew it was hard to relive it again but they had to know everything. "Who pushed you in Karen? Male or female? One or more?"

Karen closed her eyes and once more she was pushed into the van. Sobbing she tried to explain. "There was one man who they called Mike pushed me into the van. The driver was Karl Adder. He use to work for Commercial Technologies."

Lorna waited while Karen caught her breath after crying again. Finally Karen was able to talk between sniffles. She had stopped crying for the moment. "They drove somewhere out of town. They had me tied up on the floor and I couldn't see where we were going. They stopped on a dirt road somewhere and another man joined them. It was Oscar. He works for Commercial Technologies as a security guard."

She was crying again. It was as much because someone she worked with and trusted would do something like this to her as well as what they had done. "They beat me, and beat me, and beat me. I tried to tell them I didn't have any programming with me. They didn't have to beat me. They wouldn't quit. I couldn't make them stop."

Karen couldn’t say anymore. She held onto David and cried like her heart had been broken. It was a long while before she could talk again between sobbing. "They tore my clothes off, and they raped me, and they shot me, and they left me to die. But I didn't die and I’m going to kill all of them. I’m going to kill all of them. The bastards are going to pay for what they did. I’m going to kill all of them."

Crying hysterically, Karen was holding onto David so tightly her fingernails were bringing blood. Not saying anything, he held her close and rocked her gently. He changed his mind. He wished he had called Randy first. They deserved Randy's justice.

After Karen had given them Karl's and Oscar's names, Dan had them picked up within the hour. It didn't take much longer to bring in Mike Farrow. He worked in a car lot as a detail man. Dan thought it was an odd lot to be working together trying to steal Karen's computer programming. However, they had one thing in common he could see. They all liked to drink beer at the same club almost every night. Looking at them it had to be their greed which motivated them into trying for the programming. If they were smart they would have known they couldn't get it the way they were going.

Stupid or not, they weren't going to get the chance to get any smarter if they got out on bail. Randy would see to that. Dan asked the district attorney to convince the judge they were a flight risk if he let them out on bail. Anyway that was the story in front of the judge's bench. The true story in the judge's chambers was, they were dead men if they got out of jail. The judge agreed and set the bail at one million dollars apiece. The safest place for these men was jail.

Oscar never knew how close to dead he had come. Randy figured it out after hours and days of watching video tape. Oscar let someone else drive his van into the parking tower while he parked another car in the visitors parking lot in front of the building. Oscar was the person who was where he didn't belong at the wrong time.

It was foolish to kidnap someone out of their own house in the middle of the day. The trap was set for taking him out of his van when he drove to work that evening. As Oscar came to the four way stop six blocks down the street from his house there would be two vans and a truck enter that same intersection the same time as Oscar. When Oscar stopped at the intersection he would have a van in front of him, one behind him, and a truck creating a distraction in the middle of the intersection. Two men would walk up to the drivers side of the van, one would shoot him in the neck with a tranquilizer, slice the seat belts with a razor knife and shove him out of the seat into the floor. One of them would climb into the van and sit on top of Oscar while the other got in and drove. It would be over in less than three seconds, four seconds tops. Anyone at the intersection would have to be looking straight at Oscar's van to know anything had happened. Blink and they would miss it. Five minutes later they would doubt in their own mind they had seen anything. Thirty minutes later and they would have forgotten the incident.

Once Randy had Oscar's van, they would take it apart for evidence Karen had been in it. Blood, skin tissue, saliva, anything which put Karen in the van would condemn Oscar. It was a good plan and Oscar's hours were numbered. The police picked him up at his house. Oscar could thank his lucky stars he had been arrested.

Dan knew Randy shipped a lot of water but it surprised even him when Randy's men were allowed to be in on the forensic search of the van. The police department had a darn good lab crew and they were meticulous about their work. The men working for Randy had some equipment no one had the foggiest notion what it was. Whatever it was it had a federal government look written all over it.

Dan watched along with a couple dozen other officers as Randy's crew pulled in that morning. They had first crack at Oscar's van before the police department was allowed to touch it. They arrived with a box truck after the van was impounded and started unloading equipment. Four men offloaded a gray box the size of an office desk. They set a monitor on each end of the desk, plugged in dozens of cables to various receptacles and attached other equipment to it. By the time they were through the desk had wires, plugs, and other equipment attached everywhere.

Two men opened the back doors on the van and rolled a plastic mat out across the carpet. They plugged it into the box where the man was sitting at the keyboard. "Clear."

The operator nodded. "I have it."

The mat was removed and rolled back up into its cylinder. Dan couldn't see that they had done anything.

They unloaded a mobile x ray machine or that's what the men in the police department thought it was. It was moved up to the side door of the van and plugged into the big box.

A man pulled up a chair to the big desk, pushed a button and a keyboard popped up. The man at the keyboard worked for a few seconds and then looked up at one of the monitors. "I have it. Back off."

Dan was sure the machine was taking pictures. Everyone could hear a definite snap as it swung an arm out above the floor of the van. He watched closely as the machine swung the camera box down to the back of the van, moved over four inches and came back toward the front. There was that steady snap sound every second. It did that until it had traced the whole floor of the van.

Two men removed the camera off the arm and put another camera in its place. This camera looked like the first one only it was twice as big. Like the first, it also had no camera lens if that was what it really was. It repeated the process the first one did as it traveled just above the floor of the van making funny noises.

Thirty minutes later Randy's crew was loaded up and gone. No one in the police department could figure out what they had done. Besides that plastic mat Randy's crew first laid down in the van nothing was touched.

That night at Comm Tech, Randy was watching a computer monitor. The man brought a van up on the screen. "This is the van she was abducted in."

The van pulled up in front of Karen and stopped. "This is how they did it."

The side door opened and Karen was pulled inside the van. The door slid shut and now the computer generated graphic was showing inside the van. "At first she was lying on her stomach crosswise with the van. This is the position she was in when they taped her hands and legs."

A second image appeared on the screen. It was Mike. He taped Karen's arms and legs. "We couldn't get a positive on the driver. Our imagery showed Karl and Oscar had both driven the van."

Randy had his jaws locked together as he stared at the screen. "Put Karl in the driver's seat. If Mike was the pickup man, Karl had to be the driver. Karl had to be in that van at that time."

The man touched a couple keys and Karl magically appeared as the driver in the van. "They turned her over on her back with her hands taped behind her. At this point she was turned so she was lying lengthwise with the van. Her head was toward the driver and it is doubtful she could see him."

Randy stared at the screen wishing he had the power to change the past. He wanted it to be him in that van with those men. It wasn't possible. "Proceed."

"They parked the van and the third man got in. That had to be Oscar if Karl was driving the van."

The operator stopped and looked over at Randy. "This is where it gets ugly."

"Let's see it." Randy had to know exactly what they did to her.

The man typed in some information. Karen was lying on the floor and an abstract form was pounding her face knocking her head from side to side.

Randy clinched his fists as he watched the screen. "That's that damn Karl. I know in my gut it is. He's the one who tried to beat her to death."

The beating stopped. The tape was removed from Karen's legs and the three abstract forms proceeded to rape her. When they finished, one of them dragged her out of the van.

The screen went blank. The man keyed it off. "That's as far as we can be definite about. The rest is conjecture. They pulled her off to the side and shot her."

Randy slowly rose out of his seat, turned and walked out the door.

The man shook his head. It was a shame they could only track what had happened instead of preventing it before it happened. The technology was a derivative of Kirling photography or a distant cousin of the lie detector. It took images of residual energy left behind by people. Some said it took images of cells shed by the human body where it had been. The gas spectrometer measured density and type and then separated those images into distinct people. The computer put it all in order and made it into a three dimensional image like motion pictures.

It had been two weeks and the doctors were astounded at Karen's recovery. The wound in her chest and neck were nothing more than tiny pink spots. They had to part her hair to find the slightest trace of where they cut her skull open to remove the bullet. They shaved her head at the time and now her hair was down to the shoulders. With massive hemorrhaging in the skull from the head wound they expected some loss of motor skills in her arm and leg. It never happened.

Dr. Michael couldn't let this miraculous recovery go by without telling his friend in Washington. "Jeff, I’m telling you something is going on down at the lab where these people work and it isn't human. I had a woman in here who looked like she was never shot two weeks after it happened. I understand she is fairly new down at the place where she is supposed to be an employee. Her looks draws people like flies to honey."

There was a long pause as he listened to the man on the other end of the phone. "Yes, I know what I’m talking about. I was the one who began the operation on her after they brought her in. They sent one of their research doctors from the lab down to the operating room while I was working on her. Then they brought in two more surgeons from out of town. Dr. Brauns and Dr. Sojorn are top notch surgeons in their respective fields. They’re strictly top drawer. I mean, you don't just call these men up and say. Hey, I have a patient I would like for you to put back together. What you have going tonight?"

"That research doctor, uh, Doctor Beckworth, I think. Anyway that research doctor they sent down never left her for more than a couple of hours every night. If anyone got close to her he would examine the medicine and charts before he would let us give her anything. I suspect there were probably some medicines which would screw up her system. He never would tell us anything. I have never seen a doctor so reluctant to discuss a patient with another person on the medical team."

There was a pause before Dr. Michael continued. "No I don't know what she couldn't take. I never had a chance to find out. They posted some tough looking guards outside her door twenty-four hours a day. When I say tough, I mean tough. I don't think it was all due to the beating she took either. There was a lot more going on here than what meets the eye."

"The place all these people came from is called Commercial Technologies. I understand they do some far out research down there. I think one of their research projects was in my hospital. I’m here to tell you I’m worried. They look like us and bleed like us but they sure don't heal like us."

He listened to the voice on the other end of the phone for a long time before he continued. "You’ll do some checking from your end about government research projects? Great, let me know what you find out will you? Oh by the way, these things don't really look like we do if you look at one of them real close. They’re too perfect. They don't have any blemishes. She looks like a ..., well you know, a model or a movie star. She’s too perfect."

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