Waking up in the hospital, my hands resting near the coldness of the plastic bars, I didn’t find her there.
The assassin didn’t show up at the farm house, but his body wasn’t found by where we crashed our cars either. They came to pick me up, and they took Echo to a protective custody place somewhere, anywhere, but where I lay.
The doctor was surprised when I asked to keep everything as organic as possible, even if it might not heal properly.
Or at all.
Waking up lonely, I sighed and closed my eyes again.
They did try to salvage as much as they could from my wounds, but it was still impossible to stop most of the bleeding unless they replaced some parts with biomechanical ones.
I felt less human for some reason.
“You alright there, buddy?” I heard a familiar voice accompanying the sound of the door opening.
“I think so, I think so.” I repeated to myself.
Opening up my eyes, the light and the color of it all made me squint a little.
Me, the night creature who still shivered at the light.
Rob smiled at my reaction, and sat down on the guest chair near the bed. “It seems like you took quite a beating there, man, but I heard you handled it like a pro.” He sounded impressed, even though I’m sure he wasn’t.
Nothing ever impressed a veteran from several wars.
“Yeah, but I felt like I just wasted time and got nothing accomplished at all.” I replied as I struggled to get myself up to a sitting position.
Rob shrugged at this. “You did probably more than you should have at your state at the time. You could probably have salvaged some organic parts if you arrived at the hospital as soon as you got shot.”
I smiled at that. “And what would have been the fun in that now, right?”
I said so even though I already knew that the parts that were unsalvageable, were already unsalvageable no matter what. The wounds didn’t worsen, we kept it as stable as we could.
Rob knew this too, but that didn’t stop him from rubbing the fact that I’ve become even more biomechanical in my face.
“So, where’s our little serial suicide suspect now?” He asked as he took out a cigarette from his pocket.
“They took her into protective custody, since I couldn’t really protect her at the state they found me in.”
“Smart move on FIBA’s part.” Rob said in an over-exaggerated sarcastic tone.
“Did you find anything else on her while I was out?”
Rob shook at the question. “The only thing I could find was that our little suspect has more classified information locked up by the government, than anyone else I’ve found on the government server so far.” He said as he balanced the cigarette in his lips, not lighting up, but just holding it as if he could still suck the smoke and nicotine out of it. “How did you know her anyway?”
“We worked together before.” I replied, before looking at Rob with a puzzled look. “Didn’t I tell you that already?”
“Yeah, but I guess I didn’t care enough to remember that.” He smiled at that as if he was just playing with me.
“Were you expecting me to say that I found her as a hooker in some seedy alleyway or something?”
“Only on lonely nights.” Rob chuckled at that, before he started to get up. “The doctor says that you should be up and running again in a few weeks or so.” He scuffed as he finished saying that. “You would have been up and running in a day or so if you would just stop being so stubborn about having biomechanical parts placed in you.”
“It just makes me feel less human having them in me, you know?”
“Right.” Rob scuffed at that too. “I think I’ve heard that answer before too, but just didn’t care enough to remember it.”
“Seems to be a new trend you’re starting there.” I smiled at that.
“Right.” He smiled back, and started to turn around towards the door, before stopping again and turning around to me. “I’ve been meaning to ask you this, but didn’t get to since you went into surgery and all.”
“About?” His sincerity peaked my attention.
He turned around, and slowly sat down on the chair again, his cigarette bouncing up and down nervously between his lips. “Has Echo been talking to you?”
“Come on, just be straight with me for once here.” He seemed annoyed. “Did she speak to you after you guys left my place, or not?”
“She did.” I replied, simply, waiting for his reaction. “Why do you ask?”
“Did she say anything weird to you while she was talking to you?”
And here I thought he would be mad that she didn’t say anything while we were interrogating her.
“A bit, why?”
Looking at me, Rob had the most serious look in anybody’s face that I’ve ever seen in my life. He slowly took the cigarette off his lips, still bouncing it up and down nervously in his fingers, his eyes staring and burning harshly at me. He was silent for a while, looking at me, before he said, in a low voice, in a serious tone, asking “What did she say?”
“Does it really matter?” I replied, getting nervous from just looking at him. “What’s it to you?”
“Just tell me.” He said simply. “And I need to you to think as hard as you can, and try to tell me in detail all the things that she’s been telling you.”
“Look, man, why does it matter?”
“Because I think she may want to add you on as her latest serial suicide victim.”
I didn’t believe my ears when I heard that. My face must have looked as shocked as if I had just seen a ghost. “Come again?”
“Think about it, Hei.” Rob asked. “How long has it been since she last contacted you? How long has it been since you talked to her?”
I was seeing where Rob was getting at, but it still sounded too strange to be true. “Come on now, Rob,” I replied with a nervous laugh. “You know me, man, you know that I would never, in a million years, think of something as absurd as committing suicide.”
“I know, I know.” He said, but his face expressions and tone didn’t change still. “But all the profiles and interviews regarding the suicide victims confirmed that they didn’t have any suicide thoughts about it either.
“That is, until they met her.”
“But that’s the difference between them and me though.” I replied. “I’ve already met Echo before. This is not the first time I’ve talked to her.”
“Right, but who knows if they’ve spoken to her before or not.” He continued. “Remember that her data doesn’t show up on any virtual recording anywhere on the net, and the reason we found it on the servers was because she left it there, and just in letters that would have only made sense to someone who knew her.”
I didn’t know what to respond, but I could see more and more where he was getting to.
“The data that we pulled out with those letters left behind by her didn’t really show up except recently.” He said again, leaning closer as he did so. “For someone who is so skilled at hacking the social networks without being shown or recorded by any of it, it sounds like an absurd mistake to just leave their names behind to be tracked down and found guilty for being the connection to a series of suicides around the city.”
That’s what I thought too, but Echo didn’t really answer my question then when I presented it to her.
“But if you’re right, wouldn’t it have been easier for her to hack into the network and just find my phone number and address to find me and talk to me?” I replied simply.
“I know, I know.” Rob placed the cigarette back into his lips again, bouncing it and bouncing it, his eyebrows frowning currents on his face as he thought about it. “That’s the part that I’m sort of missing in the formula here.” He paused, as he looked down, and then up to me again. “But that’s the piece of the puzzle that you’re withholding there now.
Looking at him, I knew what he meant, yet played foolish as if to avoid the question completely. “I don’t know what you’re talking about?” I replied. “It sounds like you got all the pieces that you need right there.”
“But I don’t now, do I?” He smiled. He read me already, the sneaky sly fox, and was pretty much already placing all his cards on the table. “Tell me, Hei, when was the last time you guys spoke. Why did you stop communicating all of a sudden? What kind of relationship did you have? What was the cause of the break-up?
“Did you sleep with her?”
All the questions I wanted to avoid.
“Aren’t those kind of personal now?” I asked.
He smiled at it again. “You know as much as I do that personal questions and investigative questions are all the same to a cop’s ears.”
“Would it be enough to say that we parted on bad terms and were never going to talk to each other ever again?”
He smiled at my response. “Then you do agree that my theory works now, right?”
It was hard not to. “She got me to get her because it was the only way I would talk to her.”
“Therefore the reason why just getting your address and number wouldn’t be enough, since you wouldn’t have talked to her if she had just gotten to you straight.” Rob smiled happily now, his eyes winking with the same old mood again, his serious stage gone completely from his person.
I sighed at it, and didn’t know what to say.
“Is she the kind of person who would kill now?” He asked simply, just to recheck, just to make sure he was right.
Just to make sure that I knew he was right.
I just nodded. I think we’d already proven enough without bringing her past kills into this.
Her past kills with me, specially.
“Alright then.” Rob smiled at this, as he took out his notebook and flipped around, scrawling notes on it here and there as he hummed a happy tune of some old song that I’ve never heard before. “I think we do have enough to peg the serial suicides on her.”
“Isn’t it enough that she’s already being convicted by FIBA for assassination and conspiracy to steal government data?”
Rob shrugged at it. “I’d feel much better knowing that we closed the case and brought the right people to justice to pay for what they did.”
I was going to say ‘But she already is’, but kept my mouth shut to not drag this longer than it already has.
“So case closed?” I asked him, as I leaned back on my bed again.
“Yep, yep.” Rob nodded at this as he put his notebook away, before turning around to look at me again. “By the way, you thinking of coming back to the force once you’re done with your little FIBA business?”
I smiled at this. “Only if I don’t end up killing myself as a victim of a serial suicide.”
He chuckled a bit at my response. “Well, if you do kill yourself, don’t forget to give me all your stuff on your will, okay?”