The iFactor Chapter 9

by R.W. Van Sant

Matt was happy to learn that detectives and specialists had their own break room. There was a coffee maker with ceramic mugs piled neatly on the counter near them. On the other side of the counter rested a small refrigerator, which he discovered contained drinks and flavored coffee creamers. Although the table was smaller, it had one thing going for it, and it had an open box of pastries sitting in the middle. “My, aren’t we spoiled.”

“We are treated well because they expect more from us.” Zimmerman poured a cup of coffee, forwent the pastries, and sat at the table.

“I’ll go for that.” Matt poured coffee and took a pastry then sat down at the small table across from her.

“I’ve been dying to ask you a question.” She said.

“About the chief?” Matt asked. Their prior relationship seemed to be a matter of discussion around the station.

“About Dallas.”

“Oh,” It wasn’t unexpected, neither was it a topic about which he was inclined to be talkative.

“I need to know if I can trust you in a pinch.”

He had gone through the interrogations when he first arrived, by the other officers. Even after working with them for months, there were still some that snubbed him and probably never would trust him. Hell, he couldn’t blame them. If he were in their shoes, he would have had concerns also, so what could he tell her that would gain her trust? All there was the truth. “You want to know what happened.”

“Yes, I do,” Zimmerman said. “Privacy laws protect your files, but do not stop rumors.”

“What do the rumors say?”

“That you lost it. That you killed civilians.” She said.

“Do you want me to deny it?” Matt set his cup down.

“I want you to tell me the truth.”

“I don’t know the truth,” he said. “I only what they told me afterward.”

“Tell me what you remember then.” she pressed.

“Well, you want it? Here it is.” Matt took several deep breaths. He spoke quietly, quickly as though he’d been through the grilling several times, which he had. “The chief and I were partners, detectives for Dallas PD. If was a little over six years into the Great Drought. All water and food were being shipped into the city and distributed by the service corp. You know the government. If they can screw something up, they’ll do a fine job of it. Water started to arrive polluted and food spoiled. The people started to complain. It wasn’t until the elderly and young started to die that the riots started. All officers were called to the lines, including us detectives.”

He took a long deep swallow of the coffee. “I only remember what happened afterward, and only in pieces and bad dreams. The psychiatrist says that I am repressing the memories. In any case, Ken and I were working on a case, the chief. We were looking into what had happened to the food and water shipments. I felt that they had been so badly managed; it had to be more than just incompetence. Everything gets all jumbled. I know I arrived at the riot late. People were armed and gathered, shouting, angry. I remember a child being shot, killed. Then there is nothing until the next day when I was wandering the streets looking at the carnage of the riots.” Matt took another drink.

“You really don’t remember any of it?” she pressed.

“The doctors say it was post-traumatic stress,” he said. “Don’t worry. I was cleared for duty before I left Earth.”

“Yeah, the chief and the doctors all say you’re fine now,” she said. “What I want to know is what caused you to snap in the first place?”

“I’ll tell you,” he looked hard into her eyes. “I really wish I knew.”

“Can I trust you to have my back? Like you did the chiefs?”

“That’s something you’re going to have to work out for yourself. The chief trusts me.” He stood up. “I’m heading back.”

“I’ll be there in a few.” Zimmerman took another drink. Matt walked back into the monitor room.

“Oh, good you’re back,” Perry said. “I’ve got something. Should we wait for Zimmerman?”

“I’ll fill her in,” Matt said.

“Your call, I only work here.” Perry pushed several buttons bringing up the main screen again. “I focused on our bartender. Following his activities for the last two days. Most of it is routine. Apartment, out with friends, nothing strange until this. The night before last.”

Matt watched as the dot11098 left his apartment. It was the middle of his regular sleep shift. The dot moved forward at a factor of at least twenty-five. It moved along the walkways to the docks where it met with another dot 06798.

The screen blanked out for a few moments.

“What was that?” Matt asked.

“A glitch in the system happens from time to time,” Perry said.

“Go back, I want to see it.” Matt moved closer.

“I can’t. The system didn’t record anything.” Perry said.

“For how long?”

“This time, about twelve minutes,” Perry said.

“This time? Does this happen often?”

“Not really, but that info stays in this room.”

“Okay, got it. Hush-hush.” The screen lit back up and with the bartender’s dot moving back to his apartment. “Bring up the video.”

“I can’t, Dales. The system failed to record. But we did get this.” Perry brought up the financial account of the bartender. Before the glitch, he had five thousand six hundred and 12 UN’s in his account, afterward only six hundred and twelve.

“Great, can we get a warrant to investigate the account of 06798?” Matt asked.

“No need, he was already under investigation.” Perry punched up the profile for the identification number. The name of the assistant bursar Matt had caught the day before came up. His accounts showed a five thousand UN increase before after the glitch.

“Perry, you’re a competent individual,” Matt said.

“I’ll take that for what it’s worth,” he smiled.

The door opened, and Zimmerman entered. She looked at the screen and glowered. “Well?”

“We linked the bartender to the purser who was busted by Officer Dales yesterday,” Perry said.

“Show me,” Zimmerman said. Matt watched quietly as the officer went over the data with Rishards. “Okay looks tight enough. Download to the judicial council and close the case.”

“Shouldn’t we continue to investigate the web? We might find out who’s in league with the bursar.” Matt said.

“That’s not our case.” She informed him. “The UN laws governing rights and investigations are stricter than in the United States, Dales. Our case was to find the rapist. We did. We pushed a little further and got an accomplice. The whole thing links back to your drug bust. Anything further would be a fishing expedition and a violation of the procedures of the department and the rights of the colonists. I’m the senior detective. I say case closed.”

“Yes, Detective.” Matt speculated what it would take to get another partner.

“My shift is up in a few minutes anyway.” Officer Perry shut down the workstation. He turned to Matt and whispered, “She won’t say it, but you did well.”

“The chief assigned you to cubical twelve,” Zimmerman said. “He mentioned a pile of paperwork needing your attention.

“I’ll get on it.” Matt walked out.

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