It was 4:00 am. Dawn was hours away. The room was warm and he was tired but still sleep would not come. All the better, he decided. Awake he would be ready and when the time came his thoughts proved true. The burner phone beside his bed rang. Before the second notice he was up with the device in hand. He had been waiting for this.
The text was nonsense but he’d expected that. All messages were encrypted. They were also embedded with a virus that would permanently delete the words if he failed to input the confirmation code in time.
Even that was not a concern. He was not one to fail.
Nonetheless he pressed the keys with forced precision. This, he told himself, was a sensible precaution. The years of false leads and dead ends he’d endured were a breeding ground for restlessness. He could not afford to err. Mistakes made now would not be forgivable.
He stared at the screen. An address appeared. He committed it to memory and executed the commands to switch the unit to voice interface. Then he spoke quickly.
“Assessment?” He said.
Promising. The reply appeared with equivalent speed.
“Promising how?” He said, wishing the program could convey his impatience. Wasting time was not the road to favor, no matter how many times his team ventured to prove otherwise.
More so than all the others. Her age is consistent and facial projections match the computer model.
“We have seen that before.”
Her background is flawless. There are no holes.
His eyes lit up. He read the words a second time. This was new.
“You’re suggesting it’s fabricated.”
So it would seem.
“Very well,” he said. “Proceed.”
Yes sir. Aggressive action?
The word glowed on the screen but he did not offer explanation. This was, to a degree, because he should not be questioned. It was even more so because his reasons, his plan, could not be laid out in a simple text.
“Alert me when you have confirmation.”
“Tell the others, time is a factor but we must be vigilant to exposure.” He added. He had sensed long ago that he was the only one who understood what was at stake and he would not stand spoiling this chance. “We must not be found out.”
Yes sir. Consider it done.
He set the phone on the table and spoke his last reply, a series of numbers, into it. Then, once the device began to arc and he was certain it would complete its task, he got out of bed to dress.
The river was less than a mile away but he found he had to control his feelings the entire journey. Had they found her at last? His anxiety was light, almost giddy, and it added a zip to his step he had not felt in years. Later, on the bank as he tossed the melted blob of plastic and glass into the rushing water, he allowed himself to smile.
The tide was turning.
He was going to need a new phone.