Chapter 14 - A Stroke of LuckMature

The Precinct was busier than usual now the news has broke. Kenta found himself buried under mountains of paperwork and harassed with calls from superiors, annoyed colleagues and worried members of the public. However his priorities lay with the laptop of Toshi. For the first time, he had a lead and he wasn't about to let it slip.

He had opened it onto his desk and stared at the black screen for minutes. He had wondered briefly why no one had bothered to ask of this but shrugged it off. With public fears swelling like a painful bruise, they were all too busy to call out one detective tinkering with a broken laptop. After hitting the power button with no success, he resorted to his limited IT skills. He had unscrewed the protective outer casing and pried into the wiring. However, an acrid cloud wafted over and revealed the electronics to be completely fried. It looked to be wise to have given Toshi that yen after all.

"Oh what a drag. Now you'll have to work like the rest of us." came a snickering voice.

Kenta spun around in his seat to see the cocky smile of Yuen Ho. Yuen was an expatriate from Hong Kong where, ever since the surrender of his country to China, he felt more comfortable in Japan. If he was afraid he never said so. From the day Kenta knew him, Yuen smirked at every possible issue he faced as though it were a big joke. As long as I'm not facing a tank in a town square, I can handle it Yuen had said during their first assignment.

Yuen collapsed into his seat before sighing. He had the look of a man with a story less interesting than he would want to tell. Baited, Kenta asked.

"Oh, superior Detective Ho. Won't you regale me with your heroic tale?" said Kenta. His voice was monotone and the irony was obvious.

Yuen gave a hollow laugh. "Another day, another teenager in the hospital. There's gotta be something in the crap they eat. Or.. drugs?"

The old standby. Now a discredited excuse after a major human trafficking ring was dissolved. That was a tale from the Tokyo police force however.

"I finally have a lead on The Raining Room case but.. this laptop is fried. I have a link on there but.. yeah." he broke off. A familiar crease crossed Yuen's forehead as his right hand cupped his chin thoughtfully.

"The Raining Room? Oh great. That fucking urban legend." said Yuen. "You know how many times it keeps coming up in my investigation? Some girl down south, right? She kills herself and leaves a note saying sorry for joining the site. Thing is, her computer was seized and we can't find record of her accessing the site."

Kenta noted his anger. Maybe it was the average age of the Police Force, but this website certainly raised a lot of hackles.

"You're good with all this computer stuff, could you help me out?" asked Kenta.

Yuen shrugged and flashed his pearly white smile. He gave the laptop the once over and held up his forefinger as though he were conjuring a thought.

"I'll be back. I think I may be able to get this thing working again."

And with that, he disappeared into the shifting tides of the busy office. Kenta remained seated with nothing but cautious optimism.

***************************************************

It had taken over an hour for Yuen to rewire Toshi's laptop. As Kenta downed his third coffee, he wistfully thought of the days when he smoked. He always joked his secret to time travel was 'Pall Mall'.

During the repair, Kenta and Yuen exchanged their case details as all cops did. Perhaps it was the petty rivalry, but Kenta felt a sense of satisfaction that he'd managed to find a lead in what was seen as a cold trail. For all of Yuen's cockiness, he had no answer and instead buried himself into the laptop. Kenta was thinking of making another coffee when Yuen's smiling face told him what he wanted to hear.

"And that's how you do it." Yuen said. His smile revealed too many dimples in his cheeks but he did not care. Not at that point anyway.

"Really? Care to do the honours?" replied Kenta. Yuen obliged and switched the laptop back on.

The same desolate blue drowned the screen. The spidery font flowed but neither men paid attention. Yuen rolled his chair over to his desk and began hooking up the laptop to another laptop. The wires crackled but he was not deterred; Toshi's laptop screen began to flicker and the wall of text began to shimmer.

Kenta looked over Yuen's shoulder nervously. The technological aspect of his job was something he never wanted to experience. Seeing Yuen's dexterity was surprising but he would never tell him that. He supposed he was 'hacking' but he knew Yuen's mocking response: You need to stop watching Hollywood films. They don't understand computers. It's bad enough they keep remaking our horror films.

"So.." began Kenta.

"Just having a little look around. This has to be the most barren thing I've ever.. huh. This Raining Room thing ain't like any virus I've seen."

Kenta shook his head. "It's not a virus. It's some form of social media."

"Same thing, same thing." retorted Yuen. "After all the whispers I heard about this site, you know? What a let down."

On the screen, PMR had left a message for Yuen.

You shouldn't be here.


Yuen snickered. For a brief moment, Kenta felt a stab of jealousy. It must be great to not let such little things get to you.

The screen shuddered suddenly. A logo, a single eye and a smile, smeared the screen. The words SHIONE CORPORATION cut through the pale cobalt.

"Shione Corporation. I remember them." muttered Kenta.

The logo disappeared. PMR swatted it away like a child crushing an insect. The screen was losing cohesion; a grainy wave began to shadow each icon and stretch of writing.

Get out. Get out.

"Okay, something's up. Time for the A-Bomb." said Yuen. He hit the keys and a stretch of red data poured over the usernames. PMR, Desperate Angel, Toshi and Black Flower all disappeared except for 'Pulp Fiction'.

GETOUTGETOUTGETOUTGETOUTGETOUT.

The light began to flicker. A hush fell over the station as the electronics began to squirm mechanically. Phones failed and computer monitors began to crack.

"What the Hell?" gasped Kenta.

Due to luck or maybe instinct, Yuen yanked the wires from Toshi's laptop to free his own. In that moment, dirty water exploded from Toshi's laptop. Yuen and Kenta stood back as it disintegrated beneath its impossible watery mass. The entire precinct had gone silent as they watched this unfold.

"There is no way.. that was impossible." said Yuen. He turned to Kenta who had gone sheet-white. A dark realization crept into his mind and slayed any reasonable doubt. He could only look at the sputtering, damp mess that was Toshi's laptop. Yuen ducked onto his own laptop and continued typing.

"Kenta, I have some good news for you." he said. He leaned back to reveal the police database."Seems this 'Pulp Fiction' guy is an old acquaintance of ours. If the IP address is correct, he's still living on the outskirts of the city."

Kenta looked at his screen and nodded slowly. Pulp Fiction's real name was Michi Sugai whose photo depicted him with a permanent scowl. A knot tightened inside of him as he straightened his coat and bade Yuen farewell.

"Remember me in your big speech. I want the big pay rise as well." laughed Yuen. Kenta said nothing but patted him on the shoulder. He had wanted to say something; for the first time, he finally had a lead. But a stray, nagging thought coloured his mood grey. In this situation, there was no anger without retribution and PMR was pretty angry.

Had Kenta remained for ten minutes, he'd have watched each of the lights shatter as the electronics suddenly began to fail in the precinct. For the last time, the station had to make do without electricity.

The End

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