‘It’s me, Yukiko. Come on. Onegai! Please! Open the door and neutralize all your wolf traps, so that I’m not blowing myself up unintentionally.’ I waited more or less patiently. Gekko took, as always, time to check everything. But yes, who could you still trust in this insecure times?
The intercom gave a crackling noise. ‘Sorry, Yu. You know the procedure. By the same token, you’re a cloned version and next that I know you will be putting a laser gun to my sublime and unique brains to grill them.’
I just sighed and pushed my thumb into the gap on the security panel in the door station. At the same time, I kept my eye in front of the spyhole while I said my name: ‘Yukiko Mitsukai.’ Gekko didn’t like surprises. The door clicked open and I hurried to slip inside.
The corridor was an airlock where I got a shower with a nebulized mist that was drained away after a few minutes through a vent in the ceiling. A cautious man took care of getting as less as possible radioactive particles on his person. I was, by the strict standards of Gekko, sterile enough to meet him. Nonetheless, he certainly knew, that I was very cautious and didn’t frequent the fallout zones, he wouldn’t take a risk. Somewhere in his condition I could understand, after all, Gekko was just Gekko!
‘Gekko, it’s urgent, you know!’ Patience wasn’t one of my better qualities anymore. This was changed since my parents passed away. I knew that my father would reprimand me if he should still be alive. This wasn’t at all ‘Akai’.
‘Entrez, ma chère,’ he welcomed me with a ludicrous French accent, and the connecting door silently shoved open and closed after me the moment I had put a few steps inside. His preference for phrases in strange languages and his awkward pronunciation was sometimes hilarious, but usually it pepped things up.
‘Konnichiwa, Gekko-San,’ I greeted the it-guru and at the same time I put my hand up with a stretched index finger in a casual greeting.
Impeccable was a euphemism for the room where Gerekko Dai, Gekko for his friends and Loco Gekko for those who weren’t, spent most of his time. Seldom, he would leave his safe haven of his room that he had designed for himself. Maybe in an emergency he would make an exception, but even then, his master brain would find something to solve this crisis in a fraction of a second.
In the case of an accidental fire alarm, he wouldn’t move one centimeter out of his protected space. From his ultramodern wheelchair, in which he navigated with artistic finesse through his limited empire, he did some magic with his hands over a long horizontal laying touch screen. He touched here and there a little spot on the hardware and managed with these movements the oxygen supply, air-conditioning and the wall cooling, the whole power supply of his living space and if necessary he hacked all the security systems of the building and their machines.
Of course, he ordered via this system his daily delivery of a pizza ‘quattro formaggi’. By his account, he couldn’t without it. His handicap, a deformity of the lower body from the moment he was born, as a consequence of radiation sickness with his mother, didn’t prevent him from being mobile. Even in the limitation of the four walls of his kingdom. It explained also his fear of stains in relation to eventual visitors.
I nestled myself in one of the easy reclining seats, a combination of a futon and tatami with the modern touch of technique that was typical of Gekko. This piece of furniture remembered my preference of the seat position and changed. It was a piece of data in the electronic memory of the reclining seat that reacted to my imprint, weight and moving pattern. I sighed! It was something I was doing a lot these days.
‘You know…,’ Gekko said while he inspected me through his design owl glasses, ‘the soup isn’t always eaten as hot… or something. Nankurunaisa, all will go well… you know what I mean,… besides,’ he felt a bit annoyed with the situation, ‘Goshuushou! My condolences.’ After he turned his vehicle hundred and eighty degrees with a movement of his right hand over a sensor he was absorbed in the data on his touch screen and the other monitors that blinked off and on.
With his colorful Hawaiian shirt and his spectacles, that screamed ‘NERD’ in capitals, he was a ‘special one’. I had a love-hate relationship with this fellow. Gekko could make me ride the walls with his sometimes meaningless of just overwhelmed specific information. However, I must admit that I never had to complain after I had listened to his advice. At other moments, he could make me laugh with only one word, but the opposite was unfortunately also true. He was a jigsaw puzzle that I still had to complete. But that had to wait till other problems were solved. I had taken a few days leave, I had a lot of overtime that I wouldn’t have taken otherwise. So hopefully I now had enough time to do for what I had visited Gekko.
‘I want to ask you something…?’ I started hesitating.
‘That smells suspicious. Something that tends to illegality,’ was the smart reaction of the busy bee, who here and there put some lights on and off as a sort of magician. ‘Okay, Yu, I’m in your debt for about a hundred years, so let’s hear, with what can I make you a happy day? A virtual visit to Yosemite National Park or a free weekend wellness spa in a trendy five-star classy hotel or just… to pleasure you with my esteemed and pleasant presence! All experiences of which your toes will curl of joy, Gekko can deliver and… of course at a sought and righteous price.’
‘I want you to hack the website of the Security Service!’
The hands of Wizard Gekko stayed motionless in the air for a few seconds after my question. Slowly he lowered them and turned. On his face appeared a serious look.
‘You know that there are severe penalties for such an action. Penalties as prison time, you know. A place where you die, forgotten by everybody and may I remind you also, that they haven’t there my favorite pizza, have they…,’ he looked at me without expression above his spectacles and for a moment there was an awkward silence between us.
‘No problem,’ it sounded out of his mouth, on which there appeared a sneaky grin. He pushed his glasses a bit higher on his nose and turned himself towards his equipment. ‘What can I do to serve you, to forgive you for a ticket or to give one to someone you don’t like?’
When I didn’t answer directly and he looked inquiringly at me, I couldn’t in time wipe my tears away. No, I didn’t want that, showing weakness was for pussies. I cursed inarticulately but loud enough to get a lifted eyebrow from Gekko, a black horizontal question mark without the dot, just above his flashy green design spectacles.
‘When I asked the responsible person of the Security Service if they had a lead to the killer or killers of my parents, I received a lot of evasive answers. We are following different traces and, unfortunately, we cannot say anything concrete. Blablabla… You know the drill, verbose and empty. And still I had the feeling they knew more than they told, maybe something important. That’s why I was thinking of you, Gekko, if anyone can dig up their secrets, it is you.’
Gekko’s big smile on his lips gave evidence of the fact that he was obviously flattered, what, of course, was a calculated intention of mine. He kept his head a little bit squinted while he was humming an unrecognizable tune. ‘Okay, let’s search a little backdoor.’ At my questioning look he clarified. ‘Every program has one or another ‘backdoor’, a sort of rear-door that is used by the inventor or the maker of the program to get access to that program in a more or less orthodox way… what I mean is without using the appropriate password of the user to open the program.’
His hands were very busy. He opened a screen, closed others, he juggled with his hardware and ten sorts of programs and after a quarter of an hour he looked at me with an accomplished glance upon his face. ‘Bingo. Mama, I’m home!’ This sounded like a less successful imitation of one or another forgotten American movie star of the last century.
In spite of the fact that for weeks, there hadn’t appeared one smile on my face, I had to chuckle for a moment. Gekko, crazier than that they didn’t make them anymore, but he was ‘The man’. The person who could realize things where someone else didn’t understand the first syllable. ‘Sugoi, great!’. I noticed the logo of the local Security Service on one of his screens and underneath one line: Request File….
We looked at each other, I swallowed a bit of spit away because of the tension and Gekko pushed the following letter combination on his touch screen: ‘Mitsukai.’ No result! Arturo and Sachiko also weren’t the right password.
‘Wrong file name, you have still two turns before your session is closed automatically,’ was the last and unsatisfactory answer. Disappointed, I leaned backward and tried to order my thoughts. How should the Security Service have cataloged this file?
Hundred alarm bells and thousands of buzzers would go crazy with the Security Service when we gave the fifth and eventually wrong input. Then the efforts from Gekko would be useless, maybe even dangerous for him as they would get on the track of the hacker. After all, they weren’t so retarded at the Security Service. The answer, though, laid on my lips, but Gekko was just a bit faster than my answer and the word stood there before I had yet pronounced it: ‘Akai’.
‘Strike! Gekko shouted triumphantly. It sounded more as ‘Striek’, but the result was there. A whole litany of data scrolled across the screen and to the left of me a device started to work, a light buzzing accompanied a certain number of pages that appeared in below of the printer, as I hoped for the answers to my countless questions about the death of my parents. My computer friend gave me the opportunity to take the documents. He might be an outlier sometimes, a fact that he always confirmed with proud and self-mockery, but he let me my privacy… as far that he could suppress his curiosity for a while.
‘And…?’ Gekko asked after one minute.
As far as the boundary line of his patience. I saw that he had printed the data on interactive slides that worked in the same manner as his touch screen. At the top, you saw a file title with the serial number and the date of creation and below that a number of points of pressure in bold and a short description of the fact. I read out loud.
File 190756 SPNW/SA
Concerning: Arturo Mitsukai – Sachiko Matai
Responsible Security Service: Chief Inspector Norino Vastai
Adjunct Inspector Shi Udesama
Adjunct Inspector Goro Fukamizu
Responsible coroner-pathologist: Kim Huang, mortuary Sanctuary
Short summary recorded on 28-12-2111:
On Monday 28 December 2111 the human remains of Arturo Mitsukai and Sachiko Matai, his wife, were found after an anonymous phone call in the garden at the address of their domicile: 10 Chome ChiYoda-Ku, Tokyo.
According to the autopsy, the victims have been inflicted various wounds by different beats with a sharp object that eventually had led to their death. The murder weapon can be a sharp knife, a sort of machete or a sword. Investigation about what sort of weapon was used is still going on at the moment by our services.
Considering the fact that on their domicile there was no trace of blood, it is to be supposed that the murders have taken place on another location and that the bodies have been relocated after their death to their legal domicile by the murderer(s).
According to the report of the coroner pathologist the moment of death should have been stated on 27 December 2111 between 19h00 and 20h00, leaning on the grade of rigor mortis on the moment of the identification on 28 December 2111 at 09h25. After the usual chemical analysis, there was being stated that there were tracks of narcotics in their veins (see blood analysis). Out of this observation and out of analyze of the same substance, found in the sprinkler system from the greenhouse of the victims, we can decide that they were first drugged and they were relocated to the place of the criminal offense, where the perpetrator has killed them. Afterward, they have been taken back to their place of domicile.
My heart was bouncing inside my chest, I had felt better sometimes. I skipped the reference data to the pictures of the crime scene and I pushed upon the field of ‘modus operandi’.
The facts are classified under the nominative of the ‘Akai murders’ that are numerous in the region in the last months. The modus operandi of the perpetrator is similar to all the cases. The victims have been sedated in one or the other way and afterward being wounded in a bloody way and decapitated with…
I ran away retching to Gekko’s bathroom, where just in time I could empty my protesting stomach into the toilet.
‘Anata wa daijoubu desu ka? How is it, is everything okay? Yu, answer, please?’ asked a worried Gekko on the other side of the bathroom door.
‘Give me… a few minutes to freshen me up,’ answered the shabby face I saw looking at me in the mirror. I saw dark shadows, little circles of fatigue and sorrow and with red veins soaked eyes looking at me with an accusing glance. A tired voice in my head answered. Where were you, when your parents needed you? You could have made a difference.
I turned away from the mirror and flushed. I had reprimanded myself already a thousand times that I wasn’t to blame, but in my head the thought haunted and tormented me that I had abandoned them. It was my imagination and I knew that it wasn’t true, but sometimes I thought that people looked at me in a disapproving way, that people talked behind my back. ‘Look… there… Yukiko Mitsukai, she wasn’t there to rescue her parents.’ It hurts, God, it hurts!
Gekko looked worried at me when I re-entered the room. I straightened myself with all the power I could produce at that moment and raised my chin. It was a stubborn gesture and it carried away his satisfaction. I took the file where I had left it and my eyes flew over the rest of the dossier. Two names attracted my attention. There were a number of victims amongst the gang members of the ‘Skeelers’. As it happened, I knew someone of these naughty street boys. The other name rang a bell, but I couldn’t place him.
‘Stephen March, what does that name tells me,’ I was wondering.
‘You have to push his name, Yu, when there is linked information, it will be combined with his name.’ I was startled. Had I spoken out loud? I had to catch up sleep urgently or accidents would happen. Impatiently, I tapped the name Stephen March that was printed in bold in the text on the interactive slide.
copyright Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere