They continued playing with the software even after the show had begun. They switched views, changed signs, altered the landscaping around them and drove up to the gates from every conceivable direction hundreds of different times. Myrah had drawn up over seventy-five representations of what she’d like to see replacing the old marquee that had sat outside the entrance to their subdivision. Tara had rendered fifty of the best of them for review.
Markoff was impressed with the women’s work. True, he had similar programs at his own offices. One’s that could fly over, walk through, enter, overlay and drive around the shopping centers that his architects designed. They had cost thousands of dollars and had to have specially trained people to run them. His wife and her friend had done all of this on a simple laptop.
“I like the one with the stars best.” He said.
They all headed upstairs to catch the end of the broadcast.
Thom and Jill were already in the theater. Wallace had wandered up sometime during the middle. Biggs had joined them soon afterwards. The four of them were now spread out in the seats leaving irregular empty spaces between them. Only the couple sat together.
“When the police arrived at the tower and finally made entrance to the observation deck, Professor Grey was holding a rifle with, what witnesses have described as an expression of amusement and glee.” The narrator said.
Markoff took a seat on the front row next to Biggs. Myrah, Tara and Clara filled in the empty slots that were left in the middle and back.
On the giant screen the picture was of a color image taken recently. It showed the top of the Universities tower. Cracked plaster, rusty iron accents on the railing, mold near the concrete walkway.
“They still don’t allow people up there.” The astronaut muttered.
Myrah shushed him.
The scene cut to a man sitting in front of a row of books. “The problem was that this was Professor Grey that we were talking about.” He used his hands as if her were molding an imaginary ball of clay. “No one knows Professor Grey. No one understands Professor Grey. He’s an anomaly in the department as well as at the college. Everyone who knows him knows that he shouldn’t have been anywhere near the tower that day.”
An image of the man as an academic on the cusp of middle-age. Wild hair, serious eyes, A dark and unruly beard. “Alfred Grey was a controversial figure in the central Texas community where he taught.” The narrator continued. “Provoking his students to consider the world around them and question its realities he had thoughts that most of mankind was a fabricated species placed on the earth for the amusement of an advanced alien race.”
Markoff unconsciously tried to reconcile the image of the wiry madman shown on the screen with that of his neighbor. He’d never known much about Grey’s father excepting the legend of his massacre. Now, seeing him onscreen he couldn’t help but wonder how the industrialist son could have come from such a radical and delusional parent?
“An economist, an objectivist, a man who once said that the masses exist as food and prey for the rich, Professor Grey was once held in high esteem by the elite and powerful of society but that all came crashing down after he wrote an academic paper regarding a market crisis of evolutionary memory that he perceived to be brewing.”
The man reappeared before his wall of books. “You’ve got this guy and he’s telling the people who run the show exactly the kind of things that they want to hear.” He said as he sat rolling his hands around. “He’s basically saying that, they’re the predators! They’re the alpha dogs. They’re the hunters and the destitute are their prey. He’s screaming at them that they’re entitled to take advantage of all that they see.”
Now a woman sitting cross legged on an overstuffed couch. “When the paper came out about the economic crash that he saw as apparent people everywhere stopped to wonder what this man was actually saying.”
An image of the man standing before a classroom pointing to a blackboard with the words ‘Humans’ and ‘Gods’ scrawled across it. “What the paper said.” The narrator began. “Was that the world was divided up into separate species that were delineated along the various economic tiers inherient society.”
“Suddenly he’s no longer talking about a class system anymore!” The man called out tightening his fingers around the imaginary ball of clay. “He’s now talking about different life forms inhabiting the same planet. He’s basically saying that we have to give these poor people a special habitat that harkens back to the strife of their hunter gatherer, caveman instincts or otherwise they will overrun the planet. He’s encouraging dividing up the landscape into reserves if you will. He’s basing all of this on the economic divide. He’s bringing down the system. He’s telling everyone that the rich are sentient and omnipotent and that poor people, because of their desires for base things like television, conspicuous consumption and frivolous entertainment, they are expendable. He’s arguing for an advanced race. He’s claiming that, the race could not have been spawned from humans. He’s calling the elite, in essence, aliens. He’s telling them to ignore their wants and needs. From his perspective, these things are intangible and below the level of intellect that they hold. He calls them hunters and the lower classes prey. This is not the first time that he’s done this but now he’s saying that the herd must be culled. He’s saying, ‘Turn these people lose in the wilds of the cities and subdivisions and manage their life cycles before they destroy this planet.’ He’s talking about killing the consumer before the consumer can place too many demands on the manufacturer. He’s advocating a type of economic growth that is controlled through genocide and he’s so arrogant that he doesn’t even see it this way. He only see’s God’s and humans.”
A picture of a magazine article with the word ‘INSANE!’ printed in bold at the top. “With his claims that a Godlike alien race was responsible for culling the herd,” The narrator said in a serious tone. “Authorities had every reason to suspect that Alfred Grey was the Tower Killer.”
The program went on to outline the other kinds of evidence that were brought out in the trial against the man. It mentioned that he wrote hate filled diatribes in his journal. It said that he would often speak of wanting to rid the University of all its students and even some of its faculty. It offered a quote where he had mentioned that the institution should exist just for the sake of thought. He called the pupils pests and vermin. He said that education was a waste of resources.
The professor also owned the gun that was used. He was found holding that gun on the tower on the day that the shootings occurred. When asked about the murders he never denied killing anyone. He’d always said that he thought that they were a good thing. He’d even been quoted in the press as saying that he wished that there were more of them every day. People in the work-place, at home, in grocery stores.
As black and white images of the trial played out on the television the narrator said: “Scientific evidence now suggests that he may not have been the killer after all.”
The program brought forward reports showing that his finger prints were never found on the gun. The police had told everyone that they’d raided the tower and seen him holding it but the oils from his hands were not anywhere present. This and other things could not be explained.
He had no gunpowder on his clothes. He wasn’t wearing his glasses. Without them he couldn’t have properly sighted the weapon. People saw him buying a newspaper at a shop near the far end of campus. The first bullet had rocketed downward into the chest of a young freshman from New Mexico and Alfred Grey had told a young girl behind the counter that she’d given him the wrong change.
Other witnesses claimed that they’d ridden next to the professor on a bus while ten of the twenty-five victims were gasping for their last breath. The eleventh had fallen near a fountain. The bus stopped for traffic. These people could clearly remember that professor had gotten out after waiting for several minutes for the road to clear up.
Another student was hit in the head. James McElroy from Colorado was thrown back against a wall where half his brain remained even after he’d crumpled to the ground. Meanwhile Alfred Grey read his paper for ten minutes near a lamp post. People in pools of their own blood. Less than a mile away he calmly checks the business pages with a ticket stub from the bus in his pocket.
A picture from an AP photographer that was headed to the scene flashed on the screen. A computer enhanced close up showed the professor’s face peering out a bus window. Another taken from the heart of the mêlée. The image looked back from the direction of the tower. Far off in the distance a man could be seen standing against a lamp post. Computer’s cleaned up the noise. It was clearly Alfred Grey.
“Now, using these methods we can finally make out details of the killers face.” The narrator said. Black and white grainy images showed puffs of gun smoke erupting from over the towers ledge.
A man in a lab coat sat next to a computer terminal. “We didn’t really expect much when we started running our filters through the footage.” He said nodding his head as he talked. “What we got back was breathtaking.”
The black and white got closer. Everyone in the theater leaned forward. Magically the film was swept and washed before their very eyes. In a quick flash of light from the rifles muzzle the film stopped. There was a face. It was not Alfred Grey’s.
“The killer.” The narrator said.
There was a pause in the room. Everyone looked at the visage that was depicted on the screen. They cocked their heads. They squinted, trying to understand what it meant. This was not what they had expected. This was too clear, too detailed. There were no more questions about this moment in history. There was no more mystery. This was an affront to their sense of realism.