to Part 3
My Place Is With You -
It takes a little time, sometimes
Ethan drove the white van down Route 51 at Shaneís request. They could have taken a straight shot down Interstate 57 but he seemed to prefer the scenic route. The road was smaller than heíd like and in dire need of repairs but it turned out to be not a half bad trip. At least, Mike hadnít awoke up further complicating things.
The obscure X on the map turned out to be a small Carbondale airport. The airport was run by a few government workers and the college aviation department at Southern Illinois University. It was perfect for their needs. Offset from the rest of the campus on the north end of town, the place became a virtual grave yard after five oíclock. He knew dispatch and the tower were both empty at this time of night and heíd have to fly the plane using instruments and VOR to-from headings. While Shane dealt with Mike, he phoned in his flight plan from a maintenance telephone and checked the weather forecast. The weather service called for clear skies and radar indicated next to nil air traffic. A perfect night for flying.
When Craig agreed to help her on a volunteer basis, Carrie suggested that he spend the rest of the afternoon familiarizing himself with the files in Mikeís computer while she filtered through the remainder of the mail piled in the in-box on his assistantís desk. He had only booted up the computer when they hit their first obstacle.
"The key to this program is security, baby. I need a password. What is it?" Carrie wanted to retort back what a rude comment that was. She didnít like to be called baby, but she gritted her teeth and refrained from commenting.
"How am I suppose to know. They tightened up security after my sister, Sami, broke into the computers a few years ago and tried to change our sister, Belleís blood type. It could be anything." Craig arched a curious eyebrow. "Itís a long story. One I donít have time to go into right now."
"Youíre good friends with him, I assume. Guess."
"Try, Jeremy. Thatís his sonís name. Or Robin. No, not Robin. How about Alice or Jennifer Rose? Squirt? I donít know. I guess I canít get into his head like that. Iím not much of a cryptologist, am I?"
While Carrie babbled on throwing out different words for him to try, he had an idea of his own. She watched the six stars form and then the screen change as it dissolved into the words: PASSWORD ACCEPTED.
"What did you do? What was the password?" Craig smiled. Mike was easier to figure out now than he was in college. He must have been rather cozy with Carrie for quite a while to have this as his password. The computer systems here didnít allow anyone, even doctors, to change passwords very often. Only once or twice a year at most. So Craig guessed that Mike had been in love with her for at least that long.
"I know Mike pretty well. We worked and competed along side each other for years. So, it wasnít difficult to guess what his password was. It was your name Carrie."
"My name?" When did Mike have time to change his password, she wondered. I mean, it couldnít have been that all along, could it? He barely spent anytime at all in his office over the last few weeks. He wouldnít have had time to change it. So if that was the case, what was she having Craig search his computer for? There wouldnít be anything of use in it. She glanced over and spied the JAMA lying on the coffee table. The article!
"Craig, the article. Thatís our clue. The article."
"Carrie, Iíd rather not play the cryptic dance. Mind explaining?"
"The journal. The one I tried to show you earlier. Look at this article. It was open to this in Mikeís in-box. I think it could be important."
They read the article together. It was about Dr. Robert Barnes of Boston, who had created a break through procedure and was giving a lecture to explain his theories. Carrie grabbed Craigís wrist.
"What time is it?" They had time to make the seminar if they hurried. "Letís go?" She pulled Craig toward the door.
"Where are we going?"
"To a seminar in Carbondale. And if we leave now, we just might make it."
On their way out of town, Carrie realized that she had forgotten her purse at Mikeís apartment and they swung by to retrieve it. Craig waited in the hallway while she rushed into the apartment. Once she opened the door, she couldnít believe her eyes. Everything was gone. The furniture, his clothes, his desk, his journals, his photos, everything. All that was left was a bare wooden floor. A bare wooden floor without even a speck of dust, almost as if it had been wiped clean, like someone was trying to erase Mikeís life.
"Oh, my God! Whatís going on, Mike," she whispered. "What have you gotten yourself into?"
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