Chapter 16

Her coffee had gone long cold by the time a young officer finally entered the room. He looked at her critically, making her start to squirm in her chair and then stop, ashamed. She needed to stay terse and rod straight. Don't let them see your discomfort. Stay still.

“You asked for coffee and yet didn't touch it.”

“It was was suggestion of hospitality.” She kept her face poker straight. “Not a request to fill a need. I drink my coffee in the afternoon.”

“Interesting.” He sat down and laid the file under his arm on the table and a tablet out from under, scribbling a note on the screen big enough for her to read upside down. 

Doesn't drink morning coffee. Drinks in afternoon.

So he was taking notes on her, not just taking notes on her, wanting her to know that he was taking notes on her. That, along with the non-subtlety of the camera, was a power play. We know everything and everything you tell us is useful. We use it to know who you are.

What she had told them had been an outright lie, to see his reaction. She didn't drink coffee at all, not anymore. She'd given it up after becoming dependent a few years before her coma. She knew that they need to know everything and therefore she'd tell them very little, unless it proved her innocence. 

“I didn't do it, you know.” She said before he could speak again. “You can track the GPS on my phone and tell that I never left my home.”

“Interesting.” He said again and took a note too small for her to read. So this he didn't want her to know.

It was several minutes before he spoke again and Alex kept her mouth shut. She cleaned her fingernails, slowly, while he thumbed through he file on the desk, not letting her see anything inside. 

“So you say that you never left your home in Peter’s Creek.”

“Correct.”

“Which the GPS on your phone, computer, and tablet all back up.” She didn't say anything about the fact she did t own a tablet and that she was sure her computer was too old to have a GPS.

“However,” he picked up his tablet to start taking notes on her, again. “Your associate, Ms. Gosling, is talented enough to change GPS signals on many devices.”

“Leo builds websites.” Alex sneered, knowing better. “She's not a hacker from science fiction.”

“Or you could have a burner phone we don't know about.”

“What use would I have of a burner phone?”

“Because since your discharge you've been assisting Miss Gosling, her sister, and her boyfriend in their illegal ventures.”

“In their what?” Alex was genuinely shocked. What in the world had Leo gotten herself into. 

The officer plunked the tablet on the table in front of Alex, using a built in kickstand to prop it semi-upright position. He had a grainy video feed pulled up, from a parking garage that could have been anywhere. She saw Leo, wearing a black wig typing on a tablet, Maya in a blonde wig talking to some men with large guns, Sam standing guard with a large weapon. The men with guns inspected a crate and pulled out a…

“Okay.” Alex shook her head. “This has to be faked. That's a rocket launcher of some kind.”

“You know the kind.” He nodded. “What kind is it?”

“I don't…” but she did. She kept her mouth shut.

“Tell me what kind.”

“FIM-92 Stinger. Primarily used in Vietnam. Surface to air. 35 pounds. Effective up to 5 miles.” The knowledge was just there, like her brother’a birthday or her social security number. Like it was something stored away for use later. 

“You know exactly what kind of missile that is. And your friend is there selling to known criminals. The Russian mob.”

“And that somehow incriminates me?” She tried to keep the shake from her voice. There was still a slight wobble.

“Only because of your service record and your association with a known criminal.”

“My what?”  She could have sworn she misheard. Service record?

“From October two thousand eleven to January two thousand fifteen you served in the International Justice System’s Child Soldiers Division. You competed basic in…”

His voice came from underwater. There was no way this was real, her heart thudded in her chest, she was trying not to scream.

“No.” she tried to interrupt, but he droned on. “No. I was in a car accident. I was in a coma during that time.” He kept talking. Listing dates. He took away the tablet and talked on, listing more and more dates. He gave the tablet back, pulling up a picture of Alex in an IJS uniform. The tablet began a slide show, pictures of her firing large weapons, laughing with people she had no recollection of meeting, multiple pictures of her standing next to a young man, with their weapons. A video of her and the young man wearing all black and clearing a building. 

“This is all faked. I was asleep. This isn't me.”

“You served in the military, received high honors, and lost your partner in battle. Do you deny this?”

“Yes!” She shouted. “I really fucking do! Because I was asleep! I was in a coma from a car accident! My parents are almost drowning in debt because of it!” She was panting as if she'd been submerged under water for a long time. Who the hell did he think he was? What kind of fake confession were these morons trying to get?

“Interesting.” He said again and scribbled a note. He stood, stowing the file and the tablet once again. “I need to speak with my superiors. We will bring you another water and some breakfast. You look like you need it. “ 

As he left she looked in the two way mirror. Her face was pale, her cheeks flushed, her chest heaving. 

Zoe FleischerComment