It's been a week and time for a new tale. I'll try to keep them coming every week until I have enough for a book or until we're sick of them. This is the last of the Border Tales. Next week you'll see the tales expand into other areas of conflict and activity.
A far more interesting tale is what is happening with Francis on Long Island, and some of his thoughts on the fragility of our technological civilization are issues which my Tales will be incorporating at various times.
Francis mentioned having a hundred pounds of food about to spoil which makes me assume that he has a separate freezer like many do stocked with meat and such. It reminds me that I need to get my pantry cabinets built in order to stock more canned goods for emergencies.
Naturally, I hope both Francis' health and post-Sandy situation improves. I find the situation along the East Coast and the devastation simply stunning, and thank God it isn't something I've had to endure. The destruction is incredible. Sacramento is between two rivers, and the possibility of Katrina-like flooding every winter is quite real if we get inundated by another Pineapple Express or big El Nino year. We were almost flooded out the year we moved here. The idea of seeing all you have lost, ruined or damaged is truly frightening.
Said the Spider to the Fly
Jason Bennington was not a handsome man. Thirty-one years old, round faced with dark hair, a heavy beard and oily skin, he seemed unaware of his homeliness; confident, instead, in his energy and intensity. His clothes were expensive, but unimpressive on the pudgy man.
Right now, Jason was staring down a table in Room Three at Ryan Milligan, sitting with one leg resting across his other knee, his foot wagging rapidly in nervousness, and perhaps, as a way of venting anger.
Ryan, at twenty years old, was an object of wrath for Jason, and he refused to be obsequious to an inferior.
“Your documents appear to be in order. Your identity is valid. Your bio is on the Internet, you own a small, robotics chip company in Sunnyvale, and you’re relocating to Boise sponsored by two robotics manufacturers.”
“Yes, that’s right. It’s all there.”
“This transfer is just yourself, though. Where is the rest of your company? Your equipment? Employees also wanting to relocate?”
“I liquidated my company.”
“I see. But then how do you expect to begin again?”
“I’ll manage. I’ll gather investors same as before.”
“Why didn’t you fly into Boise instead of coming to North Jackpot?”
“I like driving. A chance to see the country, and bring my car with me.”
“Okay. I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Ryan told him as he arose to leave the room. Walking out into the corridor, he took a few steps down the hall and into an adjacent room, one from which he could observe Room Three through a one way mirrored glass.
Captain Walters was there in the dark sitting and watching.
“Whaddaya think?” Ryan asked him.
“Hard to say. He’s nervous about something. He’s also hiding something. Does he strike you as the kind of man who likes to drive long distances through boring landscape for fun or to clear out his mind?”
Ryan shook his head but thought to say, “I’m no expert, though. I mean, he’s a wound up guy, that’s for sure, but for all I know, fidgety guys might like long drives, too, through the desert.”
“That’s possible, but let’s go over it. He sells his company and probably has a fair amount of money from it. He takes a nice, relaxing drive across the desert for the sake of pleasure; he’s got all the papers he needs for immigration status with solid sponsors. Granted, he’s uneasy at being questioned at this station, this interruption — but he’s nervous while trying to not look too nervous. I’m wondering if he’s a spy and an infiltrator. What was he avoiding by not flying into Boise, and going through Customs there? Have the men go over that car until they find something.”
Ryan exited while Walters continued to study the man in the next room. He also studied his own prejudices. He knew he didn’t like Bennington. The man exuded a vicious arrogance, the kind that isn’t simply personal conceit, but enjoys being cruel to inferiors. He knew he didn’t have a single religious consideration, or venerated anything beyond himself. That alone made Walters certain that he had to find a reason to keep him out of the Region.
Clever, arrogant, vicious, and Godless men were not more of what was needed. We’ll always have enough of those. Maybe it’s time to do an MRI on this guy.
It was a few hours later when Ryan reported that the impound lab couldn’t find anything in Bennington’s car. By then, though, Walters thought he had it figured out. Bennington was smuggling something into Idaho through the least aggressive and badly manned corridor.
Numerous articles in the papers, reports from government agencies, and comments on websites noted that North Jackpot received the least amount of funds, had a low inspection rate, and that it needed improvement, but no funds had been allocated yet for that purpose.
It was disinformation.
North Jackpot did not have as much traffic to inspect as other corridors, but it had more to scrutinize carefully since the idea had been to encourage illegals, to funnel them where suspicion would be even greater. The real facts and statistics of apprehensions were concealed.
The captain had Bennington escorted to the MRI lab and seated where the scan could be administered. This device was a smaller version designed to fit over the head. Miniaturization had continued apace. When the technician was ready, Walters began to ask the man a number of simple questions to establish a baseline of truthful responses. When he had done that, he then held up a paper, which portrayed the odd symbols and language of a computer software program.
“Have you ever seen this before?”
“No.” But blood suddenly flowed from one part of Jason’s brain to another.
“Is this a Chinese software program?”
“I don’t know.” Again, a similar response.
“Are you a Chinese spy, Mr. Bennington?”
“Of course not.”
“You can’t beat the machine, Bennington. Take this man back to Room Three.”
In a few minutes, Bennington was sitting where he had been, and Ryan was where he had previously been.
“Okay. What’s the deal?”
“Deal?” Ryan responded, slightly amused.
“I want a lawyer.”
“That’s nice, but you aren’t entitled to a lawyer. This is a military post governed by Militia Regulations and Law.”
Walters came in and sat down.
“Why did you liquidate your company and seek to come here?”
“Uh, well, we were no longer competitive with the technology that was being developed here.”
“Where did you meet your Chinese handler?”
“You’re mistaken. I never did such a thing.”
“Have it your way. I have here in my hand an authorization for a death warrant to be applied when I sign it. I have contacted my superiors, explained the situation, and they agree with my assessment. I have some latitude and flexibility here, but I don’t much care for liars, spies, and uncooperative people. Let’s see. It’s three forty-seven right now. How does a fatal injection at four fifteen sound to you?”
A bad smell arose in the room.
“He crapped himself,” Walters said getting up. Have him hosed down in the shower room. When you’ve got him cleaned up, walk him through the execution chamber, show him the injection equipment.”
All those tasks were fulfilled. Bennington cooperated in a long interrogation over the next few weeks. The question became what to do with him. Turn him to deliver disinformation to the Chinese, imprison or execute him?
The Chinese option was discounted since delivering bad information regarding technology would soon be noticed by them. Imprisonment seemed merciful since he had cooperated, but his information was insignificant. He had sold himself for money, and the promise of a great deal more. His company was liquidated because it had failed. It could neither compete nor bear the costs of simple security for itself or its staff in the San Francisco Bay Area. The expense was unbearable.
He had been able to memorize the Chinese code, which allowed him to shuffle information over the Internet without it being traced, but systems were becoming more secure. The Internet had rapidly demonstrated the tragedy of the Commons. No one could stay ahead of the corrupters, and it made the World Wide Web more trouble than useful after awhile.
Therefore Mr. Bennington was executed as an example for others who might be like-minded. Boise Customs was given credit for his capture and interrogation.