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The Mole Chapter One

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The Mole

By James Kruse

 

Detroit

Wilfred Anderson thought he was invisible. So invisible in fact, he showed up in places unaware he could in fact, be seen - if someone had a reason to do so. It was one of his many tricks, if he believed it, why wouldn't someone else? The truth was, he was clearly visible, but you would not notice him unless he wanted you too. Through doors and down the escalators of Detroit, he appeared to wander, his disguise dismissed, a busy traveler about his daily business, or some homeless person who looked too disheveled to bother about. His hatchet eyes, flashing blue, darted twelve bodies ahead, ever aware of who might take notice - who might catch on. He wanted to be a ghost and did a damn fine job pulling it off.

Wilfred stopped caring about anybody other than himself long ago; the warm blanket of anonymity his cloak of choice. In the rare event he needed to converse with a human, he was quite charming, aloof and coy. To talk with another was, well...disconcerting, always for a purpose, to gain information or something material to support his plans.

He had been taught well.

"Why yes, ma'am. No, thank-you dear..." was well practiced verse, often in front of a dirty, cracked mirror attached to the wall of a deserted gas station, a long distance above the dingy sewer burrow he called home. Twenty-Third Street and Sassoon Blvd was his ceiling; the constant drone of tires on cracked pavement his music. Everything was fine today-until the droning stopped.

Today included a new sound, a manhole cover being pried off his roof, and the unmistakable sound of a utility worker descending into the bowels of the city, one who might find a lone parasite living down there.

 They might find him...

Quietly, he switched off his perspicacious bank of computer systems, killed the breakers and stilled his beating heart, becoming one with the darkness he loved so much. The cold, damp musk of an unwanted entity flooded through his tunnels, drifting over the stagnant standing pools of water and invaded his senses. There were no practiced words for this encounter, no crooked or fake smile for this intrusive encounter. His sleight of hand was useless, yet he gripped the handle of the cold, rusty pipe firmly, the idea-one to consider, but not for long mind you, the offer to flee was just as strong.

His fate decided, the young man in the orange Detroit Public Works vest died, his head caved in from the left; a dark smudge of rust and brown dirty water clinging like a lamprey to his now lifeless skull, his one remaining eye stuck wide open in surprise. Wilfred dragged the lifeless corpse through the dark alleyways of the sewer line, the dead man's boots leaving a thin, narrow scrape, soon to be erased by the unrelenting flow of the cities squalid discharge.

The sound the electric breakers made, when Wilfred snapped them on, was both loud and satisfying. Wilfred loved the sight of life returning to his torrid subterranean sewer grotto. The hard drives and lights on little metal boxes sprung awoke, their respective screens flickering, custom code raced by, creating the artificial intelligent life of Wilfred Anderson. Eighteen computer screens blasted the damp, rotten, sewer hole with light, its only door now bolted firmly against the world. Trace programs ran, dumping data and locations, bank accounts and flight plans to the databases, all to be mined later for unsuspecting identities and pools of untapped data resources. But today, because the life he took, meant there would be others to follow. Wilfred must leave; the move will be costly in time and frustration, the pain of adorning himself once again with the smile and the thank-you ma'am all dusted off and ready for duty. Time to find a new hole; a better lair to do his work. Someone would indubitably search and find the body soon enough, maybe today in fact. Time dawned on Wilfred as he kicked the black boots of the worker further into the shadows. Wilfred's darting blue eyes counted the room, calculating the trips needs to move everything. Again.

#

The next morning, the dew mixed with raindrops assaulted the innocent sidewalk as he shuffled along. Always the actor, he had donned the homeless beggar the minute he slunk out of the sewer pipe.

Mason Avenue spread its poisonous fingers into the crappy storefronts and circa nineteen-fifty window bays. Traffic lights hung like helpless prisoners, swinging back and forth in the sunless morning light, their paint peeling, as they had done for decades. Wilfred found the cracks beneath his quiet feet the only thing he touched as he make his way east. The train tracks ahead, the path of choice, along their rusty linear footprints he walked the a soulless homeless drone, except for the list he was milling about in his head.

The Devtech factory, its beating heart never ceasing its hash, pulsing rhythm of production, loomed just to the south now, the smell of pollution, of painful production at the cost of the souls it employed for a pittance. The workers rummaged around its arduous foundations like ants slowly digesting a water buffalo; relentless in their desire to consume what little sustenance it offered. The working man, a symbol of the forgotten ideals of America, a faded watercolor painted decades ago, when the new world was young, before it produced a being like Wilfred Anderson.

Locations marked on in his head, one being the small rise in the landscape now coming into view just beyond the high, chain link fence, bordering the ancient factory. This location, a prime choice, one saved until now, offered the best in resources for a mole, the power feed and protection, the connection to the outside world available at his discretion, yet primitive and remote. No one would ever find him here.

The way in was another matter altogether. Through the rain soaked, dripping trees he had to traverse, no path yet to follow- hopefully none would ever exist- to lead probing, inquisitive minds, to where he lived; deep in the old abandoned bomb shelter. One hundred yards south of the Devtech factory, thirty feet straight down in the ground. Perfect. The entrance, for now, was a rusted hull of two swinging doors, their existence covered by overgrown weeds, ivy and fallen summers, the leaves piling up on the old metal like children's hands on their fathers sleeping face. He looked around, like a rabbit daring to move, then pried the left door open, it painful rusty groan yelled out, angry to be awakened. Rancid rubbish from years of neglect and storm water, falling to Wilfred's feet, as the musty wet forgotten air quickly filled his nostrils. The steps down were treacherous. He had been here a long time ago and his practiced eyes told him no one had been here since. The steps ended in blackness, where most would fear to tread, he ventured like a kid with an ice cream at the county fair. Up ahead, his flashlight revealed the outline of rooms and more stairs. A row of wall lights shielded by grim tarnished brass holders, their ability to create luminescence ending decades ago. No matter, there was no welcome mat to display here, no pretense of normalcy to parade to the neighbors, only the steady drip of water down old rotting concrete walls, the smell of decaying metal and the lost dream of the shelters creators, namely, how this place would save them from the cold war, the nuclear bombs that never came.

Quickly and with glee, Wilfred scooted along the passageway, down the steps and through the rows of metal shelves, stocked with decaying stacks of god knows what. The room he was interested in was much closer to the factory. He had to search a while, but finally, his memory came back to him, and the next door opened to his honey pot, a steal cage wrapped in diluted, damp concrete. He entered the lair, his heart pounding, barley able to contain his thrill; it was just as he remembered.

To anyone else, the nightmare was just beginning, but to Wilfred, it was a dream come true. He had saved this place, happy to see no new construction anywhere near its location. The Devtech factory produced many things, but to Wilfred, all he was interested in was what it provided for him. His joy had no bounds as he explored further then he had before, finding another passageway in the room, which headed straight towards Devtech. The way was narrow, but passable, darker then midnight in hell, but dryer. He made his way the one hundred yards down the winding dark tunnel, quietly dislodged a ventilation grid and jumped out on a platform in a little, secluding storage room in the factory. Heaven. The air was clean, the dim perpetual factory lights glowing like Christmas morning in his eyes. The platform he was on was actually a storage shelve, twenty feet off the dusty concrete floor of the Devtech factory, one of many, small forgotten storage rooms in the massive conglomerate of American production.

Yes...he thought to himself. His mind raced with plans, the power leads-they would never notices, the bandwidth hookup, the water flow. Hell, he could crack open a wireless junction right here and be all set. But no. Not this time. Devtech was the one we had waited for, the one he now needed more than ever. For now, he only breathed their air, making a mental note of the healthy resources in the storage before him, not even taking of one the boxes of ready-made Toaster Kid munchies that lined the top shelve he was hiding on. There were thousands, but one might be missed, it was never worth the risk. His mental list complete, Wilfred turned to go back into the air conditioning vent like a rat in his hole. He paused to listen, the sounds of the busy factory at eleven am was music to his ears. Soon, they would all go back to their small houses, to their boring lives and ankle biters. Some might get together with their friends, to forget the horrid factory that Wilfred now held so dear.

#

Two days later and everything was complete except the last box that now sat in a rusty shopping cart, void of its chrome years ago by some thoughtless shoppers. Wilfred made a mental note of the addresses of the surrounding houses all around the Devtech factory, modest homes, mostly factory workers droning on in their meaningless lives, getting older every day, not one-step closer to living their dreams. Soon, he would use many mailboxes for deliveries, targeting the old women he had vetted across the street and the abandoned home lots that peppered the landscape, misplaced mail would be sent to a myriad of unsuspecting aliases. He practiced his vocal delivery, his response if someone found his mail by mistake. How he would offer to take it, and would be sure to correct the mistake, and oh "and Have a wonderful day Ma'am." Beyond the influx of traffic he crept, the setting sun casting shadows on the lonely pines as he pushed the old shopping cart along like a homeless man. The disguise had worked more times than any other. A few days growth of whiskers, the old forgotten Jim Beam whiskey bottle in his pocket. He could even talk to cops if the need arise.

"Mighty fine day Officer! What going on there sir?"

"City worker found down in the sewer, head all bashed in, we think he's been down there for a while. Maybe he stumbled upon a drug deal or something," The fat police officer, with coffee stains on his uniform, mumbled as Wilfred leaned against his rusty shopping cart.

"Aww that's terrible, what's the world a comin' to!" Wilfred snorted in disgust, "Well, you have a great day officer!"

The cop never even looked back at him. He was more concerned with the woman walking by, her ample bottom stretching out her cheap jeans.

"Ahh-huh, move it along now," Officer coffee stain mumbled.

Wilfred watched a bit longer as they brought the body up from the sewer, the corpse's bulging, and bloated, dusky white-eye still wide open in surprise, the smashed face a pasty bleak and white. The smell of the decomposing corpse drifted through the tired city air.  A body bag came soon after they closed up the drain, the rusty, iron cover slamming into place, echoing off the buildings and street signs of Wilfred's old home.

"Wrong place at the wrong time I guess!" Wilfred hollered back at the officer as he stumbled his dilapidated cart down the street, his head down low and his eyes peeled.

Wilfred stopped his cart at a new construction site about a mile from Devtech factory. The jobbers long gone, he crept in. Today he was lucky, he dropped the blanket he had was wrapped around his shoulders, revealing tools hanging from his work belt as he went to work. Wire. Lots of it. And pipe-if he was lucky. Garden hoses would work too, but were constant maintenance. He had one running now from his underground bunker to the Devtech supply room. He had placed an electronic counter on the door to keep count of how often the supply room was visited. Soon he would add a video feed, but for now he had to wait on a few shipments. The key to being a mole is not to raise an eyebrow, stay below the scene. Always.

He brought back his goodies and went to work. He loved this work, like post apocalypse survival, but with the addition of a global worldwide network at his fingertips. All he had to do was tap in, go online with a few PC's, the rest dedicated to the other web, the hidden networks, the kind no one knows about. Database crunchers, data miners and bitcoin pockets. He had revenue stashed in thousands of unsuspecting homes, personal servers were his favorites, but regular old user computers were great too. A bank to Wilfred was not the Savings and Loan on the corner, instead, it was the lady who brought her IBM ThinkPad to work every day, but stopped for an hour or so at Starbucks to answer her Match.com messages. You see, he could tell if she was online or not by simply looking at his data bank of online networked computers. Networked to him. They updated each other constantly, if one went down, or got replaced it didn't matter, he would move his data around as needed automatically. Until the advent of bitcoin currency and its clones, data was copied and shared everywhere. Now, this money, if you could call it money, only resided in one place at a time. Then it was moved, traded, sold, or whatever, the buyer or seller needed. The minute a person connects their computer to the World Wide Web, they were his. It is not when the computer will be invested, but when, and how many other Trojans, hacker back doors, and special software bits that link the unsuspecting user into slavery. Personal computers my ass..., Wilfred thought to himself as the thousands of unsuspecting IPs whizzed by, reflected in his grinning eyes, there is no such animal...

                                                           

 

 

Florida

The security lights of the Devtech factory burned bright against the evening sky as Wilfred Anderson surveyed it from the tree line. Over his shoulder was slung two hundred feet of cabling, enough to complete his data connection deep into the Devtech network, and back to his lair. His hair was growing much too long. His disheveled hair was by design, because in the event he needed a sudden change in his appearance, a quick buzz with the electric clippers would render him bald. Bald is beautiful, so they say, at least a beautiful option.

As Wilfred watched the factory slowly turn to the night shift, the change of security guards, and noting the time, his thoughts drifted quickly to a balmy night in Florida 1999; the day he met Dominic Judge, the man who changed his life and taught him everything he would ever need to know about living the life, and covering your tracks.

August 17th. Florida was still hotter than hell, and the deserted roads around Orlando provided a haven for the homeless. They lived, darting the countryside, like fleas on a dog, and they bit into society and gave nothing back. Instead of terminating the problem, state and local residents attempted to "Help the Homeless". For some, the choice to live like a beggar, off the grid, outside of conventional rules, was a choice like a temperature on a prime cut of beefsteak. Thanks to Reagan's budget cuts in the '80s, funding for mental health care dropped thousands of drug and mentally handicapped transients on the streets of the Sunshine State in record numbers. No recovery was ever successful to any degree. Thanks Ronald. Despite the thongs of homeless living in the surrounding woods and abandoned structures lining the I-4 corridor, the blend was perfect for a guy like Wilfred, who just turned fifteen.

Killing was something he saw in a movie, or late night TV shows. Violence depicted in the media was always sugar coated, rampant in its deficit of authenticity, unless you were homeless, then life took on a much different tasting caramel coating.

Wilfred's bastard stepfather, Henry Peters, raised his fist, the anger seeping out of his pours as he held Wilfred down. On all fours, straddling a frightened teenager, the paunchy, thin man threw what little weight he had behind the punch, which landed cowardly against Wilfred's sweaty, waiting cheek. The bony fist slipped quickly off and onto the dirty kitchen linoleum with seventies gold and brown pattern. If you stared at it long enough, it looked a bit Turkish, its cheapness even more apparent. 

"I ain't gonna take yer lies anymore, yer just like your momma, useless!" Henry, the bastard, squawked down at him. Wilfred moved to defend his face from another blow, when his hand moved over his jean pocket, the outline of his knife calling to him. In one swift motion, Wilfred did it. It was all to easy, but not like the movies. Not at all. The knife sunk deep into the paunchy belly, the bastard staring in disbelief as he reached to grab Wilfred's wrist.

"What the hell, why you little fuc...", the bastard screamed.

In a flash, the knife exited the bastard's belly, and hissed through the air to his waiting unshaven throat, the swift incision spreading quickly. The bastard grabbed at his bloody neck, attempting to hold in his life, but the damage was done. Wilfred kicked his knee upwards, the bastard hardly noticing the blow to his balls as he stumbled up and backwards, blood spewing out and down into the dirty Turkish kitchen linoleum. Wilfred was on his feet, staring at the bastard, who's eyes were wide in terror, unable to speak as he slowly weakened, his knees buckling as he slid down the wall.

August 17th. The day he killed the bastard, and Wilfred learned he could live anyway he wanted too, and he was done taking shit from anyone. He was also scared shitless. He stuffed the knife back in his pocket and grabbed what few possessions he owned and burned the trailer to the ground. The smell of cheap linoleum and the burning bodies of thousands of fleeing palmetto bugs that infested its walls, he would carry with him forever.

His K-mart backpack pressed against his back as he viewed the motel just off route 50 in south Orlando. Dawn was coming close to revealing itself, the morning splendor, a stark contrast to his shaking, blood stained hands. He waited for his moment. The early morning business travelers began checking out as he stalked the place, their doors quickly opening, as they scurried to their rented cars. He hid his hands as he walked the cracked concrete in front of each door, waiting for the sound of luggage being dragged, maybe kids yelling to go to Disney World to their exhausted parents. Whatever. Soon, a door creaked open, and a businessman walked out, never noticing the spry teenager stopping his rented motel door from actually closing all the way as he talked quietly into his cell phone. As the man drove off, Wilfred slipped into his used room, like a leech.

#

The room smelled cheap, the taste of cigarette smoke and scotch whiskey still in the air. There was another smell too, the sickening stench he would grow to detect with experience. Death. The businessman long gone, Wilfred's eyes adjusted to the darkness just as the dim morning light began to filter through the drawn, ugly green curtains. The rumpled bed was strewn about haphazardly, the body of a naked brown-haired woman interwoven in its grasp. His mouth gaped, his eyes darting at the evolving, terrifying scene before him. He quickly ran to the curtains, the thought of running away raced through his mind, yet the lure of the unexplained horror drew him back. She lay peaceful, like a statue cast in white stone, the raw, red traces of being strangled, still around her delicate china neck. Beside the statue, on the thin, dull sheets, lay three hypodermic needles, all pointing in different directions. A forth was jutted into her skinny, bruised arm, like a badly thrown dart. Pills and other small drug bags were scattered on the floor and on the crumpled bed. In stark contrast to the bloody scene of the bastard's demise, this appeared clean and neat. A fun night gone wrong? A sad accident to someone so young?  Her clothes were missing, and the room was bare except for the usual suspects of any cheap motel, a bed, TV and a bathroom.

Hurrying, Wilfred started to clean the bastard's fresh blood off himself in the meager bathroom sink, his hand still shaking. All at once, a strange idea crossed his young mind. Almost without thinking, he ran back to the body of the dead young woman and ran his wet, blood stained hands over her lifeless skin and anything bastards blood would cling too. Acting almost on impulse he seeded the crime scene, confusing what he knew would be a detective's nightmare to solve. He would help the real murder out just a bit, and himself even more. He surveyed his work, taking one last sad, but curious, look at the dead lifeless corpse of what most certainly was once a beautiful young woman. Wilfred closed the motel door quietly behind him as he slipped out of the horrid crime scene, the early morning Florida sun piercing his tired eyes as he crept away.

                       

#

Wilfred Anderson sat quietly in the Denny's booth, waiting for his pancakes and eggs to show up. The man coming in the front door stared directly at him, never shifting his eyes. Wilfred glanced away, as his memory crunched away as to why he recognized him, and what did this man want. He did not have long to wait. Dressed in a nice suit, the balding man walked straight to his table and slid into the seat directly in front of the shocked fifteen year old, never breaking his intense gaze.

"Don't you dare move," the man whispered threateningly.

Wilfred felt his body grow cold, the dry voice of the man more offending then the slight hint of costly aftershave that filled his presence.

"You were in the motel room after I left this morning, weren't you?"

Wilfred, a terrified look spreading across his face, thrust his hands between his cold legs and shook his head no.

"Don't lie to me you little fucker," the man hissed, his grinning, yet refined stare fixated on Wilfred.

"I-I don't know what you're talking about Mr, I just got here, I been at a friends," Wilfred lied.

"Not bad. Almost convincing. But you left out the part where you are going to threaten me, call the police, scream, anything. I mean, a strange man sits down in your restaurant booth, and you just sit there, like a useless bag of shit. You should be outraged, mad. But you're not are you, no your scared shitless, and I know it. So. Let's try this again. You have seen me before haven't you?"

"No, sir, I don't know what you're talking about," Wilfred said, knowing he was trapped, but not clear headed enough to think of what to do."

"Relax," the man, said smiling, "Here comes your food."

Wilfred was freaking out. He knew he was busted; this was the same man who left the motel room earlier in the morning. How did he know? How?

"Hi love," the man said sweetly to the overweight and tired looking night shift server, "...bring us a pot of coffee too please." He smiled a wonderful grin, as if it was the best day ever to be alive.

"Sure thing, hon, be right up," the woman smiled back joyfully.

The man's jaw dropped as she trudged away, "Where's the briefcase, you little shit..."

"I don't know what you are talking about man, I told you!"

"Keep you voice down," the man hissed, "It was under the left side of the bed. I know you saw what was in the bed..."

At this, Wilfred's eyes grew wide, and fear streaked across his white face. He lost any appetite he may have had and sat looking down at a deep, old ding cut in the drab tabletop. He started to run his finger inside the damaged area, his eyes fixated on it.

"I thought so." the man said dryly, and took a sip of water, an evil smile spreading across his face. "I don't know if I should kill you or not, guess it will depend on you...now won't it? Start by telling me the truth, firstly, about the dried blood under your fingertips. There's something else going on here my little friend, and you're going to tell me all about it..."

"Did you kill her?" Wilfred whispered, his eyes tearing up."

"No. But someone did, and I cleaned up the mess for him, for a price. It was perfect too, because I needed a body for a frame job, and she was perfect, that is, if you didn't disturb anything in the room?"

Wilfred quietly looked up at the man he would learn much later to trust. Dominic Judge.

"What's in it for me?" Wilfred said sheepishly, but a hint of daring escaping out into the wild.

Dom smiled quietly, "Now, you're learning..." 

                                                            * * *

 Now, sixteen years later, he could still hear Dom's dry voice still echoing in head, and his step father's bastard blood trickling across his shaking hands as he swung the rusty door open, feeling the cool night air rush in and down deep into his hidden lair. He swung the door shut quietly behind him and dialed the number, the cell phone light dimly illuminating the rotten tunnel he called home.

"Dom, it's me, Wil. Yes, I'm ready here, I got the data all set; let me know when you want the setup to go down, he will never suspect a thing..."