Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dreams of Stars Part 8

            They had arrived the next evening, about an hour before sunset.  Deborah was tired, but felt a renewal of strength when they set their first steps in the city proper.  Here, they would find her mother, and she wanted nothing more to begin the search right away.  L’lorne, however, had a different idea, and insisted they begin the search in the morning instead of so late in the day.  Her arguments did not fall on deaf ears, as every time she mentioned sleep, Deborah felt the miles wear on her once again.

            It was still too early for sleep, though, and even after getting a motel room just inside the city limits, there was still much to do.  A shower, for one, to clean the miles off Deborah's body, was the first goal of the evening.  L’lorne could only groan at the pile of clothing left in the bathroom while Deborah wrapped herself tightly in a motel bathrobe that somehow appeared from nowhere.

            "This won't do," L’lorne announced, holding the tattered shirt and pants Deborah had worn for something now leaning on a month.  "We need to get you some new clothes; these have all but had it."

            Deborah nodded in agreement, the blouse was torn, the slacks frayed and both were covered in dirt and dust.  "Well, they're hand me downs," she said.  "Couldn't afford new stuff, well, ever, so I made do with what the other girls in the building could give up."

            "Well, put them back on for now," L’lorne tossed the clothes back on the bed.  "We're going shopping."

            The stores of the capital were some of the best in the world, and L’lorne took pains to go into only the best.  The first look at the woman in the simple street clothes and the girl in the tattered remains of a street rat's life didn't grant any encouragement to the staff, and the manger, an older woman, intercepted them near the door and explained very carefully that there were better places to shop.  "Places you can afford."

            Deborah cringed at the polite insult and moved close to L’lorne, readying to ask her to leave, but L’lorne had no intention of doing so.  She grabbed the nearest blouse from the rack and looked at it carefully.  "This is very nice," she said as she lifted the sleeve and ran her fingers through the material.  The woman tried to protest the action, but was beaten down with L’lorne's eyes.  "But not what we're looking for.  Where do you keep the good stuff?"

            "As I said," the woman began her protest once again only to have a credit card pressed up against her nose.

            "If you wish me to continue shopping here," L’lorne said with a nasty level of menace.  "I suggest you not finish that sentence."

            It took a moment for the woman to recover from the rebuff, and another for her to actually look at the card.  Her eyes went wide and her face white.  "Oh dear, I'm so sorry ma'am.  Right this way ma'am."

            They weaved back through the racks of clothing to where, as L’lorne requested, the good stuff was kept.  "What did it say?" Deborah said quietly.

            " Sirkowski, you remember him don’t you?" L’lorne smiled.  "These people only respond to names, generally, money, specifically.  I think after all the trouble he caused you, buying you a new wardrobe is the least he can do, don’t you?.”  Deborah nodded.  “Oh, don’t mention anything about the price, it’ll spoil it.”

            Soon, the woman was busy scuttling around them, picking up various blouses and slacks from different racks and bubbling on about springs and winters and matching colors.  A pile in hand, the troop moved back towards the dressing rooms.

            "Better let me have that coat, okay?"

            Deborah removed the coat and carefully folded it into L’lorne's arms, and then disappeared into the dressing room.  She reemerged a few moments later in the first outfit, which the woman praised but L’lorne panned.  Deborah could only agree with L’lorne's statement, and returned to the dressing room.

            As she changed, she could just hear L’lorne mention something about the coat to the woman, who seemed not pleased at all about the comment.  When Deborah exited the room again, the woman was gone and L’lorne clapped quietly at the look.  "What did you say to her?" Deborah said as she came over and lightly examined the coat L’lorne was still holding.

            "I was just wondering if there was something that would go well with your coat.  I figure if you're going to wear it regardless, might as well make it go with everything else."

            "Oh."  The coat looked odd, but not really.  Cleaner maybe?  The material looked almost new.  Deborah shook her head.  Impossible, it was her coat, she could see that.  The lights were having an effect.  The woman returned with another pile of clothing and shooed her into the dressing room.

            Back out again, this time in something that looked, just on the hangers, great.  Deborah stood in front of the mirror and marveled at the look she had suddenly stumbled across.  She looked good, damn good.  L’lorne moved forward and placed the coat over her shoulders.  Now, she looked even better.  The clothes even made the coat look better, like it was brand new.  Even the woman seemed impressed and asked about fit and if they needed shoes.

            "I like it," Deborah finally said after a quick shoe fitting.

            "Good," L’lorne smiled.  "She'll be wearing out, no problems of course?"

            "Of course not ma'am," the woman replied.  "What of the old clothes?"

            "Donate them," Deborah found herself saying.  "Only fair."

            "See to it."  They left, making only one other stop at a local salon to finish the look with a slightly better hair style.


            Her new clothes didn't itch, something that she had grown accustomed to on the few occasions when she was afforded new clothes.  The lack of itch bothered her so much she actually began to itch, just for it to feel normal again.

            "The Central Data Processing Center," L’lorne said facing the building but speaking to Deborah.  "Built more than a decade ago, it remains the state of the art in computer, communication and networking technology.  Behind these walls, 100 trillion files are received, processed, stored and/or transmitted to every part of the world.  Every agency of government, from local to federal, uses the information in this building to assist in law enforcement, financial transactions, government dispatches and even simple letters.  Truly, the CDPC is the greatest achievement of the modern age."

            "Wow," Deborah said, staring up at the white, marble walls of the CDPC.  "Your database had all that?"

            "No."  L’lorne flipped up a pamphlet.  "I got it at the motel.  This place is pretty impressive, if you don't know any better."

            "That Delphi thing is that much better?"


            Deborah could only manage a light grunt.  Whatever Delphi was, L’lorne seemed to view it as the greatest thing ever, or close to it.  "Well anyway, is this where we'll find mama?"

            "What do you think?"

            "I think we're looking in the wrong place."


            Deborah grunted again.  "Well, for one thing, they keep information in this building, not people.  For another," and for this she had to pause to get it right.  "You said that whoever took her made the government look like pa poors, and this is run by the government, so. . ."

            "The word is pauper," L’lorne corrected.  "Though your version is much closer to the spirit of the word.  And you're right, she won't be in here, but it will tell us where she is, then we can go get her."

            Another grunt.  "Wouldn't it be easier to go after those guys than going in there," she pointed at the building.

            "Well, no, not at all."  L’lorne scanned the horizon for a moment then stopped.  "Let's, for the moment, say we did go after those guys, where do we look?"

            "I don't know."

            "Nor do I, but I would guess it would probably be that building over there," she pointed towards a small brown two story building just down the street.  "What do you think?"

            She studied it a moment, taking in the view very carefully.  "I think you're making stuff up."

            "Possibly," L’lorne replied.  "Let me try to explain it to you.  This secret agency has two major parts.  At the top are the guys controlling things, issuing orders, and generally being rich and powerful.  At the bottom, are the agents and thugs, like those guys in the white suits you saw take your mother.  Now, how do you figure the two parts talk to each other?"

            "With their mouths."

            "Nope, they don't talk to each other."  L’lorne walked along the steps of the CDPC towards the brown building.  "In fact, the guys on the bottom have no clue who the guys on the top are, and vice versa.  It's important that they don't know, keeps them isolated and protected."

            "Keeps who protected?"

            "Everyone, don't want people stumbling upon your group and exposing its actions after all.  Instead to communicate, they use a small office, that one.  Inside, I'd say there are three people, an administrator, a secretary, and a clerk.  They receive messages from one of the big guys, probably mailed in from somewhere, then mail the message back out to the appropriate persons at the bottom."

            "And vice versa," Deborah added.  "So wouldn't it be better to go there anyway, find out who issued the orders to take my mother and. . ."

            "It wouldn't help, they wouldn't know where your mother is, they've never been told.  At best, they know their mission was accomplished, and that they can move on with the next phase.  The point is, the guys in that office also don't know, so bothering the agency itself is kind of pointless."

            "But if we find the guys on the bottom. . ."

            "Out of possibly thousands?  It would take forever.  Anyway, it doesn't matter, because they told the CDPC."

            The girl shook her head, the newly clipped hair still leaking a few shards of hair to the ground.  "Wait, why would they tell them, when they didn't even tell their own bosses?"

            "To hide the fact that they did anything at all."

            "Okay, I'm confused now."

            L’lorne chuckled lightly.  "100 trillion files, more every day.  Lost in the crowd, invisible."

            "Just like when the girls pull back from the street," Deborah said, the meaning of L’lorne was saying finally starting to come through.  "But still, why would they need to hide it, nobody cares anyway."

            "Bureaucrats always care, especially if you use their systems to move people around, which they probably did.  Wherever they sent your mother, she probably was sent on a government transport to a government facility under government guard.  No one's going to care if some random person is being shipped around, as long as all the forms are filled out."

            "So why not just make something up?"

            "That's beyond their abilities to do easily.  Easier to use the real name, intimidate a few people into not continuing their search, and that's it.  She disappears into the system."

            "You make it sound so easy."

            "It is," L’lorne said with a smile.  "That's why they did it that way.  Simple is the best way to do something, fewest things can go wrong that way."  She walked back over to Deborah and placed her hand on her shoulder.  "Now we need to do the simple thing, and go into the building, and find out where your mother was sent."

            Deborah looked to the building, then back at L’lorne.  "Right, let's do that."  They started up the steps when Deborah stopped.  "Wait," she said.  "We can't."


            "Well, I'm a little girl, for one, for another, you're, uh, not with the government, right?"

            "That's right."

            A silent sigh of relief.  "So why would they even let us look?  That one cop wouldn't even let me help when he took the case."

            "Good point."  L’lorne reached behind her back, again, and removed, from somewhere, a small black wallet.  "Here, just show it to them when they ask."

            "What is it?"  Deborah opened it up and saw a very bright and shiny badge, along with a coded identification card.

            "Something I was working on while you were sleeping," L’lorne folded her own out so Deborah could see it.  "Now, are you ready?"

            "I guess," she shrugged.  "Still don't know how they're going to miss the fact that I'm 12."

            "Oh, don't worry so much," L’lorne said.  "Everything will be fine, you'll see."



1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?

No comments:

Post a Comment