Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 11

            Deborah pounded on the door for a moment, hoping that some way, somehow, it would magically open and L’lorne would be on the other side smiling and saying "just kidding."  After that moment had passed, and she accepted her fate with a glare at poor Sergeant Blake.  She put the sunglasses on with a final sigh.  "Can you hear me?"

            "Of course.  And pounding on the door will not make it open."

            Deborah groaned and slumped against the door.  "Why do I have to do it?  Wouldn't you be better at it?"

            "No doubt about that," L’lorne replied, her voice as crystal clear through the miniature speakers of the glasses as it would have been had she been in the room.  "But looking at our boy's work list here, it seems this office is rather busy, and even if I did do it, odds are good we'd be discovered before I was done."

            "So why am I doing it?  I don't even know what I'm doing, which means it'll take even longer to get it done."

            "Well, do you think you could bluff anyone who came in that you were supposed to be here?"

            "Well," Deborah started.

            "And do you think you could remember everything Sergeant Blake did and asked when we first talked to him?  What forms to fill out, what language to use when asking questions and how much information is enough or too much?"  Deborah remained silent, as all L’lorne said was quite true.  "You still there?"

            The solid walls of the room were given a quick glance.  "Where else would I be?"

            "You don't have to get so defensive," she said almost caringly.  "Now, why don't we go about finding your mother so we can get out of here?"

            "Fine, where do we start?"

            "Probably at the terminal, considering there isn't much else in there."

            Deborah pushed herself from the wall and made her way to the large desk at the end of the room and leaned over the display screen.  The words ‘USER’ and ‘PASSWORD’ stared back at her and sighed at the sight.  “Okay, so now what do I do?”

            L’lorne's light chuckle was slowly becoming almost irritating to Deborah's ears, because she knew that right after she would find some miraculous answer or solution to whatever problem they now faced.  This time would likely prove no different.  "Bring up the database."

            "I can't, it needs a pass. . ." she caught herself when she realized that L’lorne was talking about the Delphi database.  "Access database," she said quietly, thinking it more than even saying it.  The familiar logo with the stylized 'Delphi' came up and was quickly replaced by the blank command line.

            "Now, ask for the name and password to access the terminal."

            "It's going to know that?"

            "Or figure it out, whichever comes first."

            Deborah paused for a moment and thought.  How to word this request?  So far, she had only asked it for information on Art Flexible and listened to some music.  That experience, however, didn't lend itself very easily to the current situation.  Shrugging, she finally simply asked.  "What is the user name and password needed to access this terminal?"

            The two words came up fast, far faster than she had expected.  It was a simple entry, A. Blake, johnjanedoe, and Deborah carefully entered them into the keyboard and thus into their respective blanks on the display.  One click later, and the screen changed to whole series of blank lines identified by a few careful phrases and all waiting to be filled in.

            "We're in," she announced.

            "Good, good.  Now we can begin searching."

            "Right."  Deborah began filling in the blanks with her mother's information.  This was going to be easy.  It made her wonder what else the glasses could actually do.  She thought about just asking the glasses where her mother was, but chuckled the thought away.  That's when a new thought came up.  "Um, this isn't going to work."

            "What makes you say that?"  L’lorne said calmly.

            "Well, this is a missing persons form, letting people know she’s missing.  But we already know that, we’re trying to find her."

            "True, we'll have to dig beneath the surface."

            Deborah nodded.  "Yes," she added quickly, remembering L’lorne wasn't actually in the room with her.  "How do we do that?"

            "Tell the glasses to display the terminal's data stream."

            "What's that?"

            The girl could swear she heard L’lorne smile.  "You'll see."

            A grumble echoed from Deborah's chest, followed by a sigh of surrender.  She hadn't steered her wrong yet, might as well try it one more time.  "Please display the terminal's data stream."

            She let out an ear piercing scream as the image burned her eyes.  She threw the glasses down and backed right into the wall, rubbing at her eyes with all her worth.  Tears ran out from under the balls of her hand as she cried out again in pain.  "Deborah!"  The glasses were screaming out now, muffled only by the distance.  "Are you alright?  Say something."

            "My eyes," she responded.  "It was so bright."  The room came back into view, a little blurry, but it was there.  "I'm okay.  Just caught me off guard, I think."

            "Good, good," the glasses said again, L’lorne's voice still sounding very concerned despite the wording.  "You need to box up that screen, it'll help and then."  There was a pause, and then a curse in a language Deborah had never heard before.  "Back in a moment, company."

            Deborah didn't respond, she was too busy rubbing at her eyes to try to get the blur out.  The image she saw, only briefly, was so bright, and so sudden that she could have just as likely stared right into the sun after living in darkness all her life.  Finally, she gained back enough of her sight to pick up the glasses from where they fell on the terminal counter and put them back on.

            What greeted her was almost indescribable.  Letters, numbers, symbols, whole words sometimes, flew across her line of sight, going in every direction, some even spinning around in circles.  The bold white text danced around, moving under and over other lines of text, sometimes overlapping another set and passing straight through.  The scene was amazing, but dizzying, and Deborah decided she couldn’t keep staring at it like this.

            Remembering L’lorne's last comment before she cut off, Deborah went about the task of boxing up the image.  She had learned the trick the previous day, when her entire field of view was full of pictures and text boxes that overwhelmed her view of the road in front of her.  "Box image," she said, holding her fingers in a pair of overlapping L's to form a box in front of her.  "This size."  How the glasses knew what size she wanted, she didn't know, and L’lorne wasn't very forthcoming with details, which was probably for the best, Deborah didn't figure she'd understand those details anyway.

            The glasses, of course, obeyed.  The image instantly shrank to the size of her fingers, making a snug little box right in front of her.  Without pulling her hands away from their position hovering in front of her, she moved to the desk and placed them roughly over the terminal display.  "Lock."  The image would now not move from that position, even if Deborah did, and with that she let her hands go.  "L’lorne?"

            Another strange curse came through.  "Well, that didn't last long."

            "What didn't last long?"

            "My bluffing abilities don't seem to be quite up to par today," she said with a depressed tone, but despite that, there didn't seem to be an ounce of regret underneath it.  "We'll have some company soon."

            Deborah rubbed her nose and chin in exasperation.  "Great.  Guess we better get going."

            "Nah, I got these guys.  You find your mom in the data stream; I'll make sure you're not disturbed."

            "Uh, are you sure?"

            "Definitely.  Not a problem at all."  Behind the words, Deborah could almost hear the sound of metal rubbing on metal, like a sword being drawn from a scabbard or something, but she could only guess at that, having never really seen such a thing.

            "Well, okay.  So, what do I do?"

            "Look for your mom's name in the data stream."

            "That's it?"

            "Yeah, pretty much."

            She looked down at the boxed screen and whirl of characters that it contained.  "I can't do this," she said after only a short moment.  "There's nothing here, just, garbage."

            "Yes you can," L’lorne sounded reassured, but a little winded, like she was doing something strenuous at the same time.  "Remember how you followed me through the city?"

            "Yeah, but I didn't do anything."

            "You did, and you can do it again.  Just look at it.  Don't concentrate on anything, just let your eyes wander.  They'll know what to do, even if you don't."

            Deborah looked back the screen and tried to do as L’lorne suggested, but her eyes grew tired quickly, her mind cluttered with meaningless number and random words.  She locked onto a strand that spat out a line of numbers and letters that seemed to have no viable pattern, and she eventually turned away in disgust.  "I can't, I can't do it.  I'm sorry, I can't."

            "Lack of awareness," L’lorne said quickly, as if diagnosing something.  "I think you're missing the fact that you can.  You've always been able to.  Remember when we first met, when that drunk was trying to grab you?  Think about how hard a time he had getting even close to you."

            Deborah didn't want to think about it.  She wasn’t a great pickpocket, but good enough of to have grabbed the wallet of a drunk man, at least that what she had thought.  She could remember being so scared as he tried to grab her in the alley, mostly because it reminded her of a client of her mother’s.  He seemed nice and gentle all night with her mother, but Deborah could see the look in his eyes, the movement of his body, like he didn't want either of them to know what he was really thinking or wanting.  He said things, odd things, that didn’t seem to mesh with what he was doing.  As the night wore on, it became more and more apparent that he was trying to hide the reality of what his plans were, and when he finally leapt at the chance, Deborah had been ready.  She caught his foot with one hand and. . .

            Lack of awareness.  That's what L’lorne had said, and suddenly Deborah understood what she meant.  That's how he caught the man's foot, how she stopped the guy from beating her for so long, how she followed L’lorne, the chess game, the cop watch, thing little things on the street, everything.  It wasn't something she knew how to control, far from it, but she could do, had done it more times than she could count.

            Her mind set, she glared back into the abyss of text that swirled around underneath her.  She let her eyes wander across the text, and she read bits, but didn't try to make anything of them, she just wanted to know them.  Names occurred every so often, but she didn't dawdle on them, reading them and letting them pass just as quickly.  Numbers that seemed not to have any rhyme or reason passed under her eyes, and soon she was anticipating what the next sequence would be, and more than that, she knew what they were:  dates.  Lots of them.  Times popped up every so often, along with location names, form numbers, user names, passwords, people's names, jumbles of facts:  gender, age, birthplace, parent's name, and etcetera.  It all made sense almost suddenly, and she could feel herself scanning the information with purpose, even if she didn't really have one in mind.

            Then the name appeared.  Patricia Teresa Ignigus.  She followed the strand, and as she read it, the information popped up on another box alongside the main one.  She ignored most of it, taking only a minor note of the 28 year age, but when the location came up, she locked onto it and gave a whoop.  "I got it!"



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?

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