11 Aug 2017

The Devil You Know - Chapter 4

On her day off after returning from Paris, Ione's jitters get to her.
Back at her home, Ione hung up her jacket, then went up to her room.  The email from Babbage's contact lurked in the back of her mind.  She had dismissed it thoroughly, but the encounter with the silver car brought it back.  Ione wished she had seen into the car as it passed, but with the Mountie writing her a ticket, she didn't want to annoy him on top of everything else.

She set up her laptop and fired the program to create a link to the web mail host through the anonymous proxy servers.  Ione tested a few approaches in her head before settling on being accusatory.  Better to go on the offense instead of looking like she was responsible for Babbage's death, her guilty conscious aside.  There had better be an explanation for what happened.  I know I have no leaks.  How were we found out?  I barely escaped!  My people died!  Ione hovered the cursor over the send button.  Sending meant that Babbage's people would know that she, well, her alter ego Ada, was still alive.  At the same time, she needed to know what went wrong.

Ione clicked the send button.  The message window closed, the email successfully sent.  Ione dismantled her proxy network and shut down her laptop.  She pushed away from her desk and took a deep breath, holding it for a slow count of ten.  A tea, she needed a tea.  Her mother and grandmothers swore by it.  Ione stepped away from her desk to head downstairs.

The house's kitchen was big enough for one cook at a time, something that Ione and Karen complained frequently about in the mornings when they stumbled over each other getting ready for work.  With Karen not due back for a few hours, Ione had plenty of space to set a kettle to boil.  With the kettle on the stove, Ione leaned against the counter, taking advantage of the quiet time.

A yowl pierced the air.  Ione ran out to the living room.  Diesel had his ears flat against his head.  His fur stood out on end, his tail bushy.  A low growl came from him.  "Diesel, what's wrong?"  Ione dashed to the cat.  Diesel swatted at a folded piece of paper, his claws clicking on the floor.  He hissed.  "Diesel, enough, let me look."  Ione knelt down beside the grey cat.  With care, she scritched the top of his head.  "It's okay, kitten.  Let me see."  Diesel back up, still eying the paper.

Ione snatched up the folded sheet of paper and opened it up.  She recognized the seal of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the citation.  Her head snapped up as she looked at the front closet.  She walked over and checked her leather jacket pocket.  As she expected, her license was still in there.  Ione looked at the citation in her hand.  She was sure that she hadn't taken anything out when she got home.  Diesel growled again, this time a low warning instead of his battle cry from earlier.  "You didn't get this out, did you, Diesel?"  Ione checked the ticket again; the RCMP constable had been writing before handing her the citation.  Instead of her motorcycle's license plate, she read a simple note, The Earl of Sussex, tonight, 7pm, about Paris.  Ione crumpled the note and threw it across the room.  Diesel leapt into the air and pounced on the ball of paper, claws out.

"Atta boy, Diesel."  Ione smirked.  "Show that paper who's the boss."

The grey cat chomped the crumpled wad and tore a large chunk of paper from the ball.  He spat out the piece of paper in his mouth.  With a swipe of his huge paw, the grey cat sent the citation under the couch.  Ione picked Diesel up, holding him close.  "You deserve a treat," she said as she carried the grey cat to the kitchen.  Diesel mewed in agreement.

After giving Diesel a handful of cat treats, Ione returned to the living room and flopped on the couch.  She turned on the television and flipped through the channels, trying to find something to watch.  She settled on a Stargate: SG-1 rerun.  Her mind paid only half its attention on the show.  The other half worked through the strangeness of the past two days.  The sedan, the constable, the email from Babbage's cohort.  None of it made sense to Ione.  She shoved the problem to the back of her mind.  If there was a solution, letting the question lay fallow for a day could help her see it in a new light.  It helped when she was in university, it helped at work, so why not now?

The front door unlocked.  Diesel tore through the living room, the fastest Ione had ever seen him move.  The grey cat slid to a stop in the foyer.  His ears perked up as the door opened.  Karen walked in.  "Diesel!  Kitty!"  Diesel mewed back at Karen, then rubbed up against her leg.  As she stroked Diesel's fur, Karen called, "Ione, are you here?"

Ione sat up on the couch.  "Yeah."  She muted the TV.  "How was work?"

"Same old, same old."  Karen set down her purse and picked up Diesel.  "How was your day off?"


Karen walked through living room on her way to the kitchen.  "Weird good, weird bad, or weird weird?"

"Let's go with weird weird.  Don't feed him too many treats.  I gave him a handful an hour ago."

"He's saying that he hasn't had treats in, like, forever."

"An hour is forever for him."

Karen set Diesel down to get him a small handful of treats.  "Feeling any better?"

Ione shrugged.  "Not sure.  I slept well, though.  Oh, can you do me a favour tonight?"

"Depends.  I have some work to finish off tonight.  What is it?"

"Call me at ten past seven."

Karen poked her head out of the kitchen.  "Ten past seven?  Why?"

"I can't explain much right now.  It's part of the weird today.  Can we say I have a bad feeling about something tonight?"

Karen returned to the living room.  "If you have a bad feeling, then, wait, does this mean you're going out tonight?"

Ione shifted to let her friend join her on the couch.  "Not for long.  Something came up, work related."

"You're an analyst in the Public Service, Ione.  Nothing ever comes up like that.  And you're on vacation or sick leave or something."

"I'm meeting someone downtown."

Karen smiled.  "You have a date?"

"What?  Wait, no."  Ione held up her hands to forestall Karen's line of thought.  "I got pulled over on the Ottawa River Parkway for speeding, but the cop left me a note instead of a ticket."

"You have a date!"

Ione sighed.  "It's not a date, exactly.  It's a cryptic message.  That's why I want you to call me, to make sure everything is fine and to let me escape if I need to.  I've done it for you."

"Yes, when I've gone on first dates."

"It's not a date, Karen."

"Fine, fine."  Karen leaned back on the couch.  "I'll call you at ten past seven.  Are we going with your mom being sick, or something else?"

"Grandma, I think."

Karen nodded.  "And if you don't pick up?"

"I'll be at the--"  Ione stopped as Diesel scrabbled up the arm of the couch.  "Diesel, what have I told you about doing that?  No more climbing the furniture like that."  She returned her attention to Karen.  "I'll be at the Earl of Sussex."

"Okay.  But if this guy's a cop . . .?"  Karen let her question trail off.

"Mountie.  I was on the Parkway.  Sussex is still under the Regional Police.  I think."

"Maybe I should go with you."

Ione thought for a moment.  "No.  I should be okay.  The Earl of Sussex is in the Market, so there's no way this guy will have a car close."

"Yeah, parking's a bitch there."

"No kidding."  Ione nodded.  "I'll have my bus pass and I'll take my motorcycle.  That way, if I'm in no condition to ride, I can grab a bus and call you."

"Just make sure you do, even if you're riding your contraption home."

"I'll call when I leave.  Okay?"

Karen pointed a finger at Ione.  "You better."

Next Week:
"Are you hitting on me?"
"Ah, but there's a fourth option."
"You like the suit?"
"Call me Jack."

No comments:

Post a Comment