Chapter Thirty-Three: A Lesson in What Must Be Done Part E
I can’t sleep, I’m too wired. I just want to get going. There’s no use laying around in bed just thinking about it, tormenting myself. I have to do something, however small.
Everyone has left the HQ for the night, except of course for those who live here, so the investigation room is empty and dark. After checking the cameras just in case someone stayed behind, I head down there, flicking on the lights to look around.
It seems strange to me, to have watched this place for so long and yet not have set foot in here ever since I “returned” to England. This is where Mello sits, I think, running my hand over the top of a chair back. I look at his computer, the monitor dull and silent. There is dust forming over the screen. Sighing, I turn away and browse through the files lying on top of the various desks, covered with printed information and scrawled notes in the distinct handwriting of each member of the team - Aizawa, Near, Gevanni, Lidner, Lester, even Mello and Yamamoto. Nothing from Matsuda, though. I remember seeing him leaf through a drawer under his desk and idly go to open it, but it is locked.
That really makes me wonder. Why would anyone lock a drawer, when the investigation room itself is secure? Breaking and entering in a physical sense isn’t really my style, but a couple of years ago Mello taught me some really interesting things about credit cards and hairpins. It’s short work to open the drawer - as expected, the lock is not the most difficult to open, being as it is that most outsiders would have extreme difficulty even getting into the building.
Inside are piles of neatly ordered paper, and pulling them onto the desk to sift through them I realise they are the original copies of the faxed files I saw on Aizawa’s desk. However, the first few are fresh, clearly only put in there today. With a kind of morbid fascination I glance down the list of criminals, wanting to see who will die next. Strangely, the very bottom line of every page has been torn off, but comparing them with the faxes it seems that the pages may have been a little too long, so that Matsuda was forced to shorten them before faxing. Funny, it would have been easier just to use different paper, or to type the names up and then email them. Ah, well. Such is the intellect of Matsuda.
There is also a blank sheet of paper in the drawer with a date on the bottom - five days from now, in fact. How curious; I wonder what such a note could refer to? I replace all the full sheets in the drawer and close and lock it, then realise I’ve left the blank sheet on the desk, like the fool I’ve been accusing Matsuda of being. It’s hard not to be a little distracted at a time like this. God, I could do with a smoke.
The biggest screen on the wall suddenly flickers into life, making me jump. The flickering image suddenly displayed upon it is that of the building’s entrance, and the shadowy figure of what looks like Aizawa is shown heading across the lobby. Ah, yes. The automatic cameras, complete with motion and sound detection, just in case someone should attempt to break in. It’s just as well I was here; I would have forgotten to switch them off. Since Aizawa will be coming straight upstairs, I hurry out of the room, turning the light off as I go, and into the lift to the safety of my own floor. Only then do I realise I’m still holding the blank paper I took from Matsuda’s drawer. It’s too late now; I can only hope he doesn’t realise.
I set up all of my equipment again, and link up to the mainframe, stretching my fingers in anticipation. I watch as all the members of the team arrive in the office, waiting for them all to settle in so that I can slip away while they remain in the room.
Matsuda, however, instantly becomes a problem. He starts rifling around in his drawer, looking concerned and worried and then almost desperate. He goes over his own desk and then Aizawa’s, and stands scratching his head. Through the video link-up on my laptop I hear Aizawa ask what is wrong with him.
“Have you seen a blank piece of paper? I set it up specially,” Matsuda says. “It was in my drawer, I’m sure.”
“What do you mean, set it up?” Aizawa asks, with a touch of suspicion.
“Well, all the criminals have been dying about five days after they were on the news, right? So I wrote down what will be the date in five days’ time on the bottom of the sheet, for reference.” Matsuda explains, and Aizawa shrugs.
“No, I didn’t see it. Just start a new sheet.” He says carelessly, and Matsuda nods and turns away, though an expression of worry once more crosses his face before he sits down at his desk.
That was a tense moment. If Near had overheard and decided that someone must have entered the office after dark, he would have ordered some sort of search, and I wouldn’t have been able to leave. Thank God for sensible Aizawa and his lack of patience with Matsuda.
I think everyone’s settled in now, so I check the map I made yesterday, check that I still remember the route through the building. It’s likely I’ll have to rush when I’m there, especially with the possibility of Mafia men chasing me through the corridors, so it’s essential I don’t make any mistakes or wrong turnings once I’m inside.
To be closer to that building, though, first I have to get out of this one. Pay attention, kids, this is why I have a good reputation as a hacker. Getting through one of L’s systems isn’t easy, but if anyone can do it, well… it’s me. I don’t wish to blow my own horn or anything like that, but I’m pretty damn good at this stuff.
I have to work really fast with this one, but also be careful not to make any mistakes. If I do, it could cost me the whole operation - if Near finds out I’m doing this I have no doubt he’ll take away my equipment so that I’m a prisoner again.
I don’t want to bore you with the details, and if I’m honest only super-nerds like myself would understand most of the process anyway, so let’s just skip the process and say quite simply that I made it. That’s right, I made it. I beat the system and left the building. That’s because I’m the best there is, motherfucker. Hell if I’m not. Lighting up a victory cigarette I stroll over to the taxi ranks about a block away, carrying my laptop in a briefcase and some money in my pocket, along with my lighter. My cigarette packet and some chocolate on the other side, and a gun inside the waistband of my jeans. I reckon I’m pretty well prepared for whatever is going to happen here.
Once inside the taxi I give the driver the address of a place a few doors down from the Mafia headquarters. The last thing I want to do is arouse suspicion before I even get there. I’ll bet there aren’t that many people, even within the Mafia, who would come straight out and ask for that address.
He drops me off at the kerb, and I pay him quickly, waiting for him to leave before I sidle into an alleyway between two buildings and open my laptop. I check that my programs are still in place and haven’t been detected, then disable the camera system and switch to the alarm settings to turn them off. Excellent. Putting the laptop away, I walk through the main entrance of the building with an air of confidence.
“Excuse me, sir?” A pretty young receptionist attempts to stop me, but I brandish the briefcase and shake my head.
“I know where I’m going,” I say, “Just got a little delivery, you know?”
She glances towards the cameras and nods, obviously thinking that if I’m in the wrong place the heavies will be alerted and stop me. Little does she know that the cameras are currently showing yesterday’s footage to the security guards.
This is laughably easy. Maybe I should become a professional. Mello would love that. He could be the inside man, although after a while a guy with a scar on his face might start to become well-known in certain areas. Ha, it’s funny how the mind works in situations like this. I need to focus on the actual job at hand, not daydream about some kind of badass con team.
I don’t knock on the door of the office, I simply open it and step inside. Arik is there at his desk, and he looks up, paused halfway through signing a cheque. He frowns slightly, and lifts a pistol lying on his desk the smallest amount, as if to indicate that he could well lift it further if not satisfied with my explanation.
I show the pistol I’ve carried here and a look of at least partial understanding comes over his face. He indicates a chair in front of the desk, but instead of taking it I put the briefcase down on it and lean over him, my hands on the edge of the smooth wooden surface.
“I don’t have time to mess around.” I say. “You’re going to tell me what you’ve done with Mello. Dieter Durnström, as you knew him.”
Arik pauses a moment, and a pleasant smile spreads across his face. He leans back in his chair, folding his arms on the desk casually. “Why didn’t you say so?” He half-laughs. “Nothing simpler!”
“What?” I’m taken aback. I didn’t expect him to want to tell me.
“Listen, it’s all very well scaring him, isn’t it? He won’t be back. But all the same, I don’t really want an incriminating corpse in my own warehouse. So, since you so kindly wish to save him, I don’t see why I should stop you.”
I’m suspicious, but… can I really afford to be?
“Where is he, then?” I ask. Arik takes a piece of paper and scrawls an address across it in spiky letters, in the English alphabet instead of Japanese characters. So, he recognises my accent.
“This is where you’ll find him. He’s just tied to a chair, the door isn’t locked. It should be no hassle for you to retrieve him.”
“Th-thanks,” I stutter, a little bemused. The strong stance I had at first evaporates in my doubt. I take the paper and stare at it dumbly.
“Close the door on the way out, won’t you? There’s an awful draft comes through the windows in the corridor sometimes.”
Still confused and shaken, I leave the office and then the building, frowning. This has all been very strange. Hailing a cab, I ask for the estate where the warehouse is placed, and try and make some sense of what is happening.
It’s so quiet here. There are so many warehouses around, I already know the area, and most of them are empty. The tiny slice of sky I can see through the window is half taken up by the shadow of another roof, but no one comes here any more. I suppose it’s a good thing. I’d rather starve than have someone stumble in here by accident. It’s a shame they didn’t leave me a gun or a knife or some poison, to save me the slow agony of that death; but I suppose slow agony is what they wanted, isn’t it? You don’t cross the Mafia. It’s a lesson you only get one chance to learn.
It must be my imagination - I suppose I’m becoming delirious already - but faintly I seem to hear Matt’s voice. I sink into his memory, closing my eyes with a smile. At least I have that to see me through to the end. Maybe if I get delirious enough I’ll imagine he’s in here with me, and it won’t seem so bad at all to die. I wish I could have seen him one last time. There’s never enough time in the world, is there? We’re always taking for granted that there’ll be another day to say “I love you”, but in the end there isn’t, not every time, and before you know it the chance is gone. At least he knows how I feel about him. That’s some comfort.
I lift my head sharply, quite sure this time that I heard his voice again. Can a hallucination be so real? He’s getting louder, calling my name, and -
I get up and run to the door, and shout his name back at him, desperately, hoping against hope that it isn’t my imagination. If I could just speak to him, one last time! That’s all I need!
“Mello?!” His voice is on the other side of the door now - I could almost cry with relief.
“Yes! Yes, I’m here! Matt, I’m in here, and -”
“Stay back from the door, he said it wasn’t locked, I’ll get you out of there -”
I hear his feet shuffle slightly, as if he had begun to move away and then changed his mind.
“There’s a bomb, Matt. Wired all the way around the door, and the window, and even the walls. Don’t open the door. It’ll kill us both.”
There is a silence on the other side of the door, and then Matt lets out a long breath.
“Jesus, Mells. You’re always getting yourself into the hardest situations, you know that?”