“It doesn’t matter how many times you ask me the same questions. Here, you can pull out my fingernails, electrify my testicles, submerge me in water and I still won’t tell you anything else because I can’t. I won’t say another word until my lawyer arrives.”
“We can cause you a lot of problems. You’re really not helping yourself. Your lawyer is not going to arrive. Now tell me again.”
“Ok, again, he called me on my cell and told me to go to a public phone. He called me again and I gave him the phone number of the public phone and then he called. That’s it.”
“What exactly did he say? Word for word.”
“I don’t know word for word. How many FBI movies have you watched? Surely you can do better than that? I already told you and I’ll tell you again, he didn’t really say anything. I think he just wanted to hear about his wife and daughter. Ok, he said that he was in protective custody in the UK. That’s it. Now, you satisfied?
“And you think he was telling the truth? In the UK. You expect us to believe that the British have betrayed us?”
“Yes why would he lie to me? Look I came to you and told you that he called. I’m not hiding anything. He made me swear that I wouldn’t say he was in the UK. He wanted you to believe he was in the jungle somewhere. He wanted me to tell Gallie that he was safe. I’m sorry. Ok?”
“Do you understand that you could be charged as an accomplice? You withheld important information. He brought the President of the United States down. He has upset a lot of powerful people.”
“You have nothing on me. I did nothing whatsoever and what did he do? He only set up DRI. The rest happened without him.”
“We declared war against Iran. We fabricated evidence. He is responsible for that. He could have stopped it.”
“He did. That’s why he came forward. You can’t blame him for your lies.”
“Is that right? He has humiliated the US government. He is a traitor.”
“Bullshit. He is a good man. He’s exposed all your filth and you lot don’t like it. You’re all running scared. Who’s next? You? You? Are you going to let me go or are you going to make up some charge? You can’t hold me without evidence.”
“Is that so? Ok Steve, let’s go through it again.”
“I’m not talking any more. I want my lawyer and I want a coffee.”
“You don’t seem to understand just how serious this is. No lawyers. If you co-operate, we can help you. I’ll give you some time to reflect. We’ll be back.”
“I need the bathroom. Hey, will somebody open the door. I need the bathroom. You can’t just leave me here……..About time. I have to go to the bathroom. You can’t hold me like this. I have done nothing.”
“Ok you’re free to go. We no longer need you. We have what we want. Don’t leave the state.”
I stood up after hours of interrogation, escorted off the premises, not sure why they were suddenly letting me go but certain that they had motive. They took me past a room with the door open and I saw Gallie, looking exhausted and afraid. I called out to her and the door shut.
“Why the hell are you holding her? You have no right.”
“Then help us catch him. Seb take him in there.”
“What am I doing here? You said I could go. I asked you what am I doing here. Excuse me. I need the restroom. Jesus are you deaf. Don’t you have a conscience? You know that I have done nothing but the worst of it all is that you know Goris is right. That must hurt.”
“I just follow orders sir. What I think is not relevant. Off the record, it’s about time but don’t quote me and don’t misjudge me. I follow orders. So don’t think I’m on your side.”
“Gallie are you ok? What did they do to you?”
“Nothing. I am fine. They just asked questions, bullshit questions. They want me to help catch Goris.”
“That’s right, we do. If the Chinese or the Russians get him first, let alone anyone else, he’s dead. Gallie. There are a lot of people hunting him. You need to help him. He’s your husband.”
“And he’s going to be safe with you is he? He can’t help you anyway so why do you want him?”
“DRI is out of control. Look at the destruction it’s caused. There’s hardly a government in the world that isn’t under attack. Trillions of dollars has been stolen by DRI. The balance of economics is shifting. Economies are crashing. The entire world is under terrorist attack and your husband is the leader.”
“You know he’s not but I understand that he’s your only bargaining chip. You’re scared of DRI. That’s it, isn’t it? It’s more powerful than the US and you can’t attack it. That must hurt. It’s not Iran. You can’t make up lies and you can’t stop it.”
“Yes you are right. We are afraid of it but you should be too. We don’t know how to fight a virtual war yet. Maybe your husband can help us stop it.”
“You mean help you control it.”
“Yes ok. It’s safer in our hands than someone else. Look you need to know that it is only a matter of time before someone catches him. He can’t run forever. We’re not the only ones who know his importance and the power of DRI. We know what the rest of the world are thinking and trust me, they want DRI as much as we do. In the wrong hands, who knows what will happen.”
“And in your hands, I dread to think.”
“Gallie, you need to make a choice. Save your husband, give him to us or let him be captured by someone else but it will be on your conscience. Take her out.”
“Wait. She is entitled to a lawyer. You can’t do this. This is the US.”
“No lawyers. No press. Do you not understand, we can do what we like? We can hold her indefinitely. You Mr Ragman are free to go. We suggest that you don’t discuss this with anybody, not even your wife Katrina. Take him out. You Gallie are not free to go. Gallie Hoff, we are holding you under the National Defense Authorization Act. Take her away.”
“Steve don’t let them take me. Bastards. You’re bastards. I’ll never help you, never. I hope he brings down everything.”
“Wait. I’m sorry. What do you want me to do? Gallie I’m sorry. You’re not thinking about Jazzy? We can’t protect Goris and they’re right, he’s dead if we don’t help him. He sounded so scared. Ok what can I do? But you have to let her go.”
“If you help them Steve, I’ll never talk to you again. We’re finished. I mean it. You spineless piece of shit. This isn’t about me. It’s about you. Saving your neck. Scared are you?”
“Gallie, yes I am scared. My phones are tapped, people are following me. My business is collapsing. I am scared and Goris is not safe. He’s on the run. You know him. He is Goris Hoff not Jean Claude Van Damme. Just think what he must be going through. He’s not tough. He’s a family man and so am I.”
“You don’t know him. He’s tougher than you. You’ll never find him. He’s too smart.”
“Gallie, calm down. I want to show you something. I’m not authorised to do this but I’m going to. Look at the screen. Sit down please. Look you see this list. Operation Rainbow. Special forces. Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Iran, Italy, Russia, Spain, US. Do you see how many forces are searching for him? This is a list of the people we know about and god knows how many we don’t know about. And this list is the mercenaries, bounty hunters and god knows who else. Thousands of trackers, special forces, military and ex-military are hunting him down. We know he’s not in Brazil. And he’s not in the UK. Do you think we are idiots? We know that he’s in Africa. It’s not just our intel, it’s the whole goddamn world. All we know is that there are forces and people everywhere hunting him. We don’t know who’s close.”
“But he said he was in Brazil. How do you know he’s in Africa?
“We know what airline he flew with. Facial recognition. His passport is with us. He’s travelling on a UK passport. We have the videos. We know his name, where he flew and there have been sightings. He’s travelling with John Angola and his family. How long before someone hands him in? There can’t be many white guys in Africa travelling with a black family. There’s big money in it. DRI can’t hear the whispers but I promise you this, he is worth a lot of money to a lot of people, all unscrupulous but surely it’s better the devil you know. Everything is under the radar of DRI. It’s true we withdrew the reward but if he’s caught by rebels or any number of groups, the drug runners, the criminal gangs, government, how much will someone pay for him? He’ll go the highest bidder.”
“At least nobody will kill him.”
“Probably not. But Africa is a very dangerous place. Gallie please. Whatever you think we might do, he’s got to be safer with us.”
“Gallie, you’ve got to listen. Everyone is closing in on him. Help them take him. He’s got to be safer in the US. They’re not animals. We haven’t got long.”
“If I agree, what can I do? He calls you not me.”
“We need your consent. We are going to charge you with conspiracy and terrorist activity and draw him out. We want full media coverage. We have to hold you. Understand one thing, we can hold you without consent and we will but we want your full co-operation. If you co-operate with us, we will give you full immunity. Okay, everybody out. We’re going to leave you two to discuss it.”
“Jesus Gallie. Did you see that list? We’ve got no choice. He’s a dead man if we don’t help them.”
“And what are they going to do with him? I don’t trust them.”
“Whatever they do, at least he’ll be alive and what will the others do to him? Gallie you’re not thinking straight. We’ve got to get him out of Africa. This is Goris we’re talking about, not Bear Grylls. He’s a duck in water.”
“What about DRI? They made him a King or something. What are they going to do? They owe him.”
“Yes but DRI is virtual. They don’t have an army, yet. They’re trying to protect him and maybe they will in the end but not quickly enough. They can’t control human nature completely, at least not yet.”
“They said that nobody will kill him because he’s worth too much. DRI would pay the most wouldn’t they?”
“I don’t know. I’m not sure how that would work. They don’t have a country. Where will he go?”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t feel right, helping them catch him. You know what, bring them in. I will help………This is what I’m prepared to do not because I trust you but because you might be the lesser of all the evils. You can use me as bait. I want my lawyer involved in the deal and I want it all recorded. You do whatever you have to do but I’m not staying in prison. You can put me in a hotel or house somewhere and I want Jazzy, my daughter with me. If Goris calls you or Steve then I want to talk to him. I will try to persuade him to give himself up to you. Either way, you release me with full immunity. Take it or leave it.”
“Okay Mrs Hoff, it’s agreed but we will tell you what to say to him and we want to be there when you talk to him.”
“Agreed. Now I would like a coffee and I’m hungry.”
“Gallie you’re doing the right thing.”
“And Steve by the way, you can fuck off.”
They took me blindfolded to a house somewhere where Jazzie was waiting. Recording equipment was already set up. My lawyer, Ricardo was there with documents drawn up and I signed. The state lawyer explained to me what was going to happen. He handed me my cellphone presumably suitably modified. We were prisoner in a small house which we shared with various different shapes, sizes and colour agents. We watched tv. Fox, CNN, Al Jazeera in English and the BBC. All talk was about DRI and the virtual war against the real world. Discussing the current turmoil and predicting the future. They talked about the thousands of ‘casualties’ as if these were men and women injured or dead, the arrests, downfall of government, share prices on the floor and all spoken without contrition and the public supposed to feel sorry for them. These so called casualties had not lost life or limb but only the money they had stolen in the first place. They were not the victims of a terrible crime. They were the criminals. Initially Goris was hailed as a ‘virtual’ Robin Hood but as government and economies broke down, the media out of fear transformed him into a terrorist mastermind. Fear that DRI would dismantle the media. It had a vested interest and a desire to hang him. No doubt the politicians were guiding the media.
With nothing to do but wait, I watched tv. The DRI debate raged across the world as I flicked from news channel to news channel. DRI issued increasing numbers of petitions and orders for various levels of execution. It dug deeper into government, army, police, civil service, business in every corner of the world. I saw bits of e-trials that were broadcast twenty four hours a day. Some e-trials were ‘deemed’ by DRI to be held ‘behind closed doors’ under ‘emergency laws’, where evidence was concluded as ‘undoubted’ by the Legal department. I watched the BBC display the DRI ‘orders for e-execution’ and I listened to CNN explain the ‘Sentence Department’. Lists of the e-convicted were available for view along with most evidence but inexplicably, not all. I had nothing else to do but read and watch more and more. I resented that Goris had put us here and I read the evidence out of boredom, how the convicted had connived and deceived and extorted and stolen from person and state. I followed the stories of unravelled trails of stolen cash and the coffers of the embezzlers overflowing. At first it was somewhat interesting to see the lengths people would go to for money and then it became addictive to follow through. I had to find out how they got away with it. It was amazing to see how far they would go to protect and clean their dirty money. DRI exposed the multiple and ingenious layers of deceit, how money was passed from account to account, country to country, on shore and off, the connections between nominees and true beneficiary and how money was cleaned and distributed and then the devious ways to avoid tax on money they had stolen in the first place. It became clear that tax was for the poor and not the rich or the multinationals. It amused me that the men and women and companies that stole money, wrapped it in layers of deceit, cleaned it and as if that wasn’t enough, did everything to avoid paying tax.
Days of sitting in front of the tv and laptop, I now consumed the information with relish as DRI exposed the illegal and immoral removal of gold, diamonds and oil and the conversion into personal offshore bank accounts, private mansions in London and New York, collections of Ferraris, Van Gogh paintings and soccer clubs. It was so clear to me that Goris was right to destroy the billionaires, the Hyenas and the Leeches and the politicians. They were directly responsible for mass death. Every one of them had blood on their hands. Every excessively rich and corrupt person was directly guilty of crimes against humanity. How dare the media portray Goris as a terrorist?
DRI had already rightfully dismantled the top layer of wealth but now the next layer was being targeted. I accepted that we too were on the list, some way down, but nevertheless a target. It occurred to me that there should be a distinction between a businessman and an opportunist. Goris did not steal his wealth whereas the opportunist was selected for their compliance and greed by Presidents and politicians around the world and together they conspired to steal for mutual benefit. I wanted to argue with Goris. I wanted to tell him my views. These scavengers were the lowest human types of all for they did not earn their riches, they befriended the politicians and the kings.
DRI was filled from floor to ceiling with stories of death and disease, starvation and AIDS, companies dumping filth and inferior product on the third world, death and more death and all driven by people with a blind desire for personal gain. I started to think like Goris. I wished that he had shown me the extremes because now I could see them. In front of me, I could see the horror and the repercussions of corruption and greed and it was everywhere and it was wholly fuelled by the rich. I saw the victims, the pictures and video of the men and women that lived in their palaces paid from money prised out of the hands of the weak and desperate.
I decided to join DRI to see for myself and I felt proud, in spite of my anger toward Goris that he had destroyed our beautiful life. Although everything in DRI was open to all, there seemed to be occasional exceptions to the rules. DRI allowed these exceptions under self-proclaimed emergency laws. I tried to understand how these came about but I could find no explanation. It seemed contrary to the principles of DRI that Goris had tried to explain to me. It seemed that emergency laws had been created by DRI, how I didn’t know nor could I work out, perhaps out of necessity to deal with the size of the machine otherwise the sheer number of petitions and trials could not be processed. I saw clearly that petitions were being raised by DRI itself and not just Distributors as the maybe the animal adapted to its environment and incredible growth. I knew a little about Artificial Intelligence from the boring rants that Goris used to subject me to but I now wished I had listened more. It would appear that DRI intelligence was growing as fast as required by the real world chaos and the consequent DRI activity. Designed to be run by a billion or more people, it was now beginning to run itself but I wondered with what agenda? It was an intelligent complex puzzle that was showing signs of evolution beyond the constraints of pure democracy. By necessity it was evolving through pure logic into a vast e-government with the ability to create its own questions and find its own solutions. How long before it needed no input to make decisions? It’s only confines, mathematics and its Constitution but a machine with unlimited Intelligence could find a mathematical solution to bypass a set of rules.
The more news I watched and the deeper I probed into DRI, I started to grasp the reason behind the world panic, first, the fear of what it might do next and then the need to control it. It was the greatest weapon ever invented. Atomic warfare might destroy the planet but DRI could control it. I saw it not as a weapon of destruction but control. Never before had man been able to create a weapon of total mass control. Attempts throughout history had been made to control the masses to a degree through religion, empires, communism and dictatorship with Islam and poverty the only current competition for DRI. I went into forums across the world and it was clear that poverty was the main focus for most. I read stories that made me cry. I watched more and more video that made me sick. Corruption at the highest level and theft at every level. Third world governments holding hands with strategic white men to help them dig up the diamonds, bring up the oil, mine for the gold, the precious metals, the gems, the natural resources and divide the spoils between themselves, the odd cent for the people who the resources belong to but if the elite keep them poor and helpless then they can keep the cash. These ‘Leeches’ as they were now known were under DRI investigation and trial.
I began to see through Goris’ eyes the shocking inequality and crimes against humanity. I never listened to him but now all I could hear was Goris and I heard every word. He told me that 21,000 children died every single day worldwide from preventable disease, that life expectancy in Africa was 55 years for men, that more than 2 billion people earned less than $2 a day, that 1 in 20 people in Sub-Saharan Africa had AIDS, that 2.5 billion people didn’t have proper sanitation, that over 700 million didn’t have access to clean water and on and on, never ever stopping. I couldn’t stop absorbing fact and video and statistics and when I could see and hear no more, I closed the tv and started to read about the rich and the corrupt. Goris was right. Every dollar the super-rich accrued was a dollar out of the mouths of the poor and I too started to think with his thoughts and speak with his words. The rich were personally responsible for each and every preventable death. I remembered Goris telling me that if you save one life, you save the entire world?
I paused my research only to watch the breaking news that I had been charged with three counts of terrorism as joint creator of DRI, various breaches of national security, a list of other charges and that I would be held indefinitely without trial. One of the agents smiled at me. My picture was plastered across tv in the US and around the globe. The state lawyer came to see me with a couple of high-level FBI officials called Mike to explain that I must not leave the house and that they hoped this would smoke Goris out and that he would make contact. As much as I didn’t trust them, I had immunity I believed but as I became more obsessed with DRI, I started to doubt that I had done the right thing. I agreed with Goris. I understood Goris. I respected him for what he had done and I was proud but I could not forgive him. He should have left it to someone else.
I asked them to bring me more newspapers. I had sat in front of the tv for so many hours less a bit of sleep almost ignoring Jazzy who was in her own virtual world of awful music. DRI petitions poured into the public domain. Lists of ’Leeches’awaiting e-trial for corruption and theft. The ‘Leeches’ in business with Presidents, leaders and politicians buying at a huge discount, acquiring or being given rights to every natural resource, all for personal and mutual gain. White men using black men on a few dollars a day with no health and safety to dig and mine and prospect for gold and diamonds and gems and oil and uranium and copper and iron and silver and filling their buckets and converting into cash, one dollar for the white man and one for the corrupt politician. Most of the money filling bank accounts abroad but a few dollars kept local for a bigger house, a better car, a new pool.
I started to hear the rant in my head just as Goris had done so many times about the never ending injustices in the world. It was overwhelming and fascinating. It was totally addictive and I regretted not being more interested and more involved at the time. For a split second I believed that I would have gone with him on his travels. I wandered where he was and if he was safe. Would he try to save me despite the fact that I knew I didn’t deserve it but he loved me? The more I read the more ashamed I began to feel. It was not easy stuck in a small house surrounded by agents, unable to go out, no calls, just tv and newspapers, day after day. I couldn’t watch any more news or discussion about DRI so I turned the tv off but I’d find myself without realising, glued again or reading. I was bursting with DRI and inequality, the photos and video in front of my eyes and the stories inside my head.
After a week or so I demanded to see someone in charge but nobody came. I tried to leave but agents stood in my way. I told Jazzy to escape but agents stood in her way. All the doors and windows were bolted. One of the Mikes from the FBI came and tried to calm me down.
“Listen Gallie, you’re under arrest if you remember.”
“And you signed immunity if you remember?”
“Conditional upon your helping us catch your husband.”
“And I am helping you.”
“We need more time. He will make contact. The profilers assure us. Gallie, we won’t let you leave.”
“And I’m not staying. We are prisoners. It’s not right. I want to go home. It’s not fair to my daughter. Let us go home. I’ve agreed to help you and I will. Where am I going to go? You bastards have all the control. Please let us go home.”
“I don’t know if we can. It might not be safe for you either. You’re both a kidnap risk.”
“A kidnap risk? Then let your guys protect us. I want to go home.”
“If we allow it, you’ll be under 24 hour protection indefinitely. You will not be allowed to leave the house or receive visitors, make calls or have any contact with the outside world without our permission.”
“Got it. House arrest. Ok.”
Six hours later, half the FBI turned up and moved the entire operation. Agents were posted throughout the house and grounds and everyone bedded in for the long haul waiting for Goris to make contact. My lawyer, Ricardo was allowed through and as slimy as he was, it was good to see him. He told me that I had no choice but to wait and although they had granted me immunity from prosecution, they were not to be trusted bearing in mind the current state of desperation spreading through the world and especially through Washington. He asked if I had been watching the DRI war. He asked if I needed anything. I asked if he was in contact with Steve. He agreed to come every other day.
I tried to avoid DRI by occupying my time playing cards or games with Jazzy when I was able to persuade her, looking through photo albums, clearing rooms and cupboards, cooking, exercising in the gym and swimming but everything I did always led me back to the laptop or the tv and the news. Goris apparently had been seen in almost every country in the world. Various claims to have caught him or killed him or hold him and his accomplice emerged almost daily on one channel or other, refuted or awaiting confirmation. Jazzy and I watched in disbelief that our Goris was the Goris they all wanted. They showed pictures of Goris, videos of Goris, theories about Goris, debates about his motives, his backers, his ambition. Politicians, economists, computer experts analysed and predicted and explained the current situation, the future, the different outcomes. Some predicted the end of DRI and others complete domination and as they talked, DRI exploded. Decades of abuse and the child finally had the means to fight back and it was clear to me that it would not stop until the balance of power had been adjusted and everything redistributed and where redistribution was not an option, something in its place to compensate.
Jazzy seemed to cope with imprisonment better than me. She was from a generation used to a near virtual life. She was capable of listening to music, watching tv and chatting with friends without the need to move. This time suited her. It was for me a moment of sensory deprivation. I was in a chamber with all input removed. I was in solitary confinement and I started to reflect on my life and every time I turned on the tv, it felt like my torturer was forcing me to swallow more DRI. I screamed and begged for it to stop but it wouldn’t. How many more visions of death and poverty could I see? How many awful stories could I read? How many e-trials and executions could I watch? I couldn’t take any more but I did. I was a junkie. And then I spoke the words that I had heard Goris speak, ‘how can I go back to my life when I have witnessed so much?’
“Jazzy, can’t you find something else to do? You’re on that damned phone all the time.”
“What else do you want me to do?”
“Anything. I don’t care as long as it’s not the phone or one of those social networking sites. It’s sick.”
“Wow you sound like dad. That’s what we do, get used to it.”
“Don’t you care about anything else?”
“No I don’t. Why should I?”
“Because we didn’t raise you to be so egotistical. Life is not just about pleasure.”
“Why not? We’re rich so why not enjoy it? I know daddy’s gone crazy but look what it’s done to him. It’s not right. It’s humiliating. My friends are laughing at him. Why did he have to do it? He’s ruined my life.”
“I know you’re angry with him sweetie but it’s what he had to do. He tried to explain to us and we didn’t want to hear. Jazzy, I want you, I am asking you look at DRI. Wait. Before you say no. Goris started the whole thing. Your father is responsible for everything that’s going on in the world. Not even you can escape that. President Howard has been impeached. Aren’t you at all interested in understanding why he started this?”
“No I am not. He’s ruined my life. I’m glad he’s gone.”
“Jazzy, we might never see him again. His life is in danger. Please just let me show you why he did this. We owe it to him. He wants you to be proud of him and so do I. One hour of your time. That’s all. Come on. He loves you so much and you love him. You owe it to him.”
“I want you to look for yourself. Just read a few of the petitions. I’ve picked these ones. Look at the photographs and read the stories. Then click into this, ‘The Legal Department’ and go into an e-trial. Go for one in the section headed ‘Leeches’ and one ‘Hyenas’ and if you’re interested then go into one of the politician e-trials. Do you know how it works?”
“I may not be interested but I’m not stupid. Of course I know what DRI is.”
I sat in my usual place in the left hand corner of the sofa watching tv. The agents made themselves coffee and sat around talking to each other and glancing and checking the house every half hour. I stood up to see who had been allowed into the house. Ricardo walked in and sat next to me. We chatted insignificantly which made me suspicious. Lawyers didn’t chat. He suggested that we sit outside, near the pool and asked for coffee. I brought him coffee.
“Gallie, keep smiling. Goris called me last night. I don’t know if they know. I don’t know if they’re listening but he made me go to a public phone and then he called. He wanted to know if you were ok and what was happening. I didn’t know what to tell him.”
“Oh really. That’s interesting.”
“He knows that you’ve been charged. He was angry. But he said that he can’t come back and that he hopes you would understand. He said that they would never catch him and that he will never give himself up and that he owes it to DRI to stay free. I’m sorry Gallie but he said to forget him. And he said not to forget that every day was Valentine’s day. He said you’d understand and he said he was sorry.”
“Sorry. He’s sorry. I can’t believe it. He knows I’m under arrest for his thing and he’s sorry. He can’t just walk away. I can’t believe that he would just leave us to rot. Are you going to tell them?”
“I wanted to talk to you first.”
“I can’t believe that he’d do this to us. How can he be so selfish? What’s going to happen now? Will they let me go?”
“Let’s hope so. They’ve actually got no choice. I’m going to see them this afternoon. He told me to look after you both. You’re going to need to come and see me when this has calmed down a bit to talk about finances. We can arrange a meeting with the accountants.”
“Not now Ricardo. I don’t care about it now. What’s going to happen?”
“I’ll call. I’ll let you know.”
I lay on the sofa with the tv on but no interest. It was a terrible realisation that Goris had actually abandoned us and that he was not coming back. I always assumed that he would be there for me no matter what I did to him. He had always been in my control. How would I tell Jazzy? I asked the guys if they would get their boss. I felt so down and alone. Jazzy was still on the laptop. I assumed she was not watching DRI stuff. I slept until a hand on my arm woke me.
“Gallie. Gallie. You wanted to see me. What can I do? How are you?”
“Cut the crap. Goris spoke to Ricardo.”
“So you know that he’s not coming back.”
“We do now. So he says.”
“And where does that leave me?”
“In trouble. Didn’t your lawyer explain? We gave you immunity but we don’t have to let you go.”
“What the hell are you talking about? You gave me your word.”
“And you are immune from prosecution as we agreed but nowhere did we say that we could not hold you, indefinitely. Listen Gallie, it’s not safe for you out there. We have to hold you.”
“Why would you want to?”
“For your protection. You’re a target.”
“What? I don’t believe it.”
“We have to move you to a safe house.”
“No. I won’t go. I want to talk to Ricardo.”
“He’s agreed I think you’ll find.”
“He can’t agree on my behalf. This is all wrong and you know it. You can’t just keep us prisoner. I won’t do it. I won’t go.”
“Now calm down Gallie. You don’t have a choice. We’re moving you out today. There is a bounty on your head. You have two hours to pack up everything you need. I suggest you look at DRI. See for yourself. You’re not safe. I’ll be back.”
“Jazzy. We have to leave. They said we’re not safe here. I’m sorry sweetheart but we don’t have a choice.”
“I can’t. I hate him. Why did he do this to us?”
“Didn’t you see anything? I thought you were on DRI?”
“Yea I was but it’s so boring. The same stuff over and over. I get it. I really do but it’s not something you choose to see. I can’t help them and I don’t see what it has to do with us. Sure I feel sorry for them and I agree that those guys shouldn’t steal and the Hyenas are greedy but they made the money. I don’t see what’s wrong. Dad’s rich. We can send them some money. ”
“Jazzy, now is not the time. We have to pack. I’m sorry but we have no choice. I’m angry with your father too.”
“He hasn’t even called.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t want to tell you. He called Ricardo. He’s not coming back for now. I know it’s not fair but he can’t. We have to be strong. It’s you and me sweetie. You know that he loves you.”
“I don’t know anything. I just know that I hate him. I hate him for leaving and I hate him for ruining our lives. I’m not leaving my home. They can’t make me. You can’t make us go.”
“Jazzy stop it. Stop it. You need to calm down. We can’t do this now. You have to get your things together. Go on. Go.”
I logged into DRI. What did he mean? I searched the lists of petitions pending support, pending vote, post vote, scheduled e-trials, current e-trials, the list of Leeches and level 2 Hyenas, e-executions – level 1 to 4 current and pending, DRI announcements and there it was.
‘Petition and vote No. 12071960: Approval for Reward. $50m approved for the safe capture of Gallie Hoff, wife of DRI founder Goris Hoff.’
The sight of my name on a DRI petition was the most frightening thing I had ever seen. What had I done? I opened the petition to see who had posted it but the name of the Distributor meant nothing and their profile was insignificant. I wasn’t sure how a DRI petition went from post to vote and how many votes were required to go to the Houses. I knew that the houses voted and posted their recommendation prior to vote but then I didn’t know how many DRI votes were needed for the petition to be approved and executed. I knew that it smelled of dirty US tactics and I also knew that the US would never allow DRI to maintain control. They had they found a way to infiltrate DRI. Those bastards. We were rich and connected and they knew that they couldn’t hold me but if they could put my life in danger and use me as bait to catch Goris then they could throw away the key until they had him. I waited for Mike to arrive, typical FBI Mike, smooth and robotic and programmed and loyal to the end. He walked in just as I’d seen a hundred times before in the movies.
“You son of a bitch. You planned it all. You bastards. I’m not going. You’re going to have to carry me out? Jazzy sit down with me. We are not going.”
“Just a minute Gallie. What’s going on? What happened?”
“I saw DRI. You did this. You bastards.”
“We did what?”
“Infiltrated DRI and posted the petition to kidnap me. You fixed it, the whole thing and the reward. It’s against DRI agenda. Only the US would benefit.”
“This is nonsense. How could we do it? You need a lot of votes. It is just not possible.”
“You’ve got technology. You must have found a way. The US government must control millions of Distributors and that’s how you manipulated DRI.”
“And they’ve got technology way ahead of ours. I can assure you that we have done no such thing. What benefit would there be in making you a target? We’d be putting you at risk.”
“It was the only way you could hold us. You know that we are rich and connected. It was only a matter of time before you’d have to release us and there would have been DRI repercussions of holding the wife of the founder of DRI against her will.”
“Either way, we’re protecting you.”
“But now it’s for my protection. DRI will live with that. Clever hey?”
“Yea but I give you my word that we had nothing to do with it. Gallie you can stay if you want but I wouldn’t advise it. We are no longer holding you. You are free to go. Both of you. Just say and we will leave you here. This is your choice. Think about it a minute. Stay or come with us.”
“You’ve thought of everything haven’t you? How can I take the risk now? I have a child. You bastards have made sure of that. Jazzie come on let’s go. I promise you one thing, you’re not going to get away with it.”
Jazzie and I got into the black car, black windows, black suits and in convoy to the ‘safe’ house but I’d seen too many films to trust the safety of any FBI house and for the first time I was afraid but I was more angry that the great United States of America, my government could use me as a pawn. After half an hour, we arrived and they moved us into the new house hidden among the suburban houses with suburban gardens, suburban dogs with suburban owners, suburban kids on suburban bikes exactly as I’d seen a hundred times before in the movies and it always ended badly. I demanded to see Ricardo and Steve Ragman. I told Mike that if he didn’t bring his boss to the house then I would use all my connections to ‘fuck him up’.
Ricardo came and I screamed at the agents to get out of the living room so I could talk in private. Out of embarrassment they left. Jazzie stayed. We whispered.
“They did it Ricardo. The US government have started to control DRI. It’s so obvious. Don’t talk loudly, they’re listening.”
“What are you talking about Gallie? Did what?”
“Who has the most to lose? The US. The most powerful nation in the world is losing control to a fucking website. How long did you think it would take them to figure it out? They can’t find Goris. They think he will be able to give them DRI. I’m the next best thing and they needed a way to keep me in prison so Goris will give himself up.”
“Gallie, you’ve spent too much time locked up. I have contacts in the Whitehouse and believe me, they wish they could control DRI but they can’t. Legals told me you are free to go.”
“Yea and that’s the clever bit. Did they advise you that I need protection? Did they tell you about the DRI reward?”
“Exactly. They did and why was that? Because they’ve found a way to control DRI somehow. They have become a Distributor and somehow they have millions of Distributors on their side. Don’t you see, they posted the petition and their Distributors voted for it and that’s why there is a $50m reward for me. Think about it, it’s against the very principle of DRI, to target the founder’s wife and to offer a $50m reward when they’re redistributing money all over the globe not giving it out.”
“OK Gallie, you might be right but I would have heard something. They can hold you anyway. Why go to those lengths? It doesn’t make sense.”
“Ricky, they could not have held me. You’re the lawyer. Would you have let them?”
“We are an important family in LA. We’re rich. They aren’t holding a cleaning lady from downtown. The media would have got hold of it and they didn’t want that and when it came out that I was being held against my will, forget the bad publicity, what would DRI do? I am the wife of the founder. The US government is shitting themselves. I know they did this and I know that they’ve started to control DRI. That’s even more frightening. Imagine what they’re capable of when they take it over? It’s only a matter of time before that happens.”
“Even if it’s all true, what do you want me to do?”
“Let’s be clear Ricardo. I don’t trust you. I never have. Don’t think we didn’t know about the shares and the Bermuda accounts and filtering our money here and there. Yes we knew. That doesn’t matter now. I’m sure that you’ve done a deal with them but if you fuck me or lie to me, I will use everything we have to hurt you. Goris said that you were always up to something but he didn’t care. I’m not interested in your dirty little lies. I want you to contact Steve Ragman. I know Goris is going to contact him and when he does, I want him to tell him not to give himself up no matter what and tell him that we’re fine and that I know why he did it and I love him for it. And I’m sorry.”
“Gallie, you’ve got me wrong. I’m on your side but you will be sentencing him to death. He is in so much danger. It’s on tv all the time. I really think that he’s safer here, no matter what. You’ve got a lot of money and you know a lot of people. If he’s back here, we can fight. We can do a deal.”
“Sure, is there anyone left? If they don’t control DRI soon then there’ll be no-one left to do a deal with. Who knows where the corruption ends but for sure they’ve only scratched the surface? No, it’s better he is free. I know him. I think I do. Ricky, one more thing, I want to see the FBI guy in charge, not Mike. I want to see his boss.”
“Okay I’ll do what I can.”
“Not good enough. You do whatever you need to do to get him here. Use every contact you’ve got. Call Senator Roman and ask him to get onto it. He’s a good man. He’s honest and I think that he’ll respect what Goris has done. Tell me, what happened to Walt Caring?”
“Nothing. A warning but they wouldn’t dare charge him.”
“Good, I want you to call him. Tell him that you’ve been talking to me and that I told you to contact him. I want you to tell him that we know that the US government has started to take control of DRI and that they’ve found a way to plant millions of Distributors. I’m sure he knows about the reward.”
“I doubt he’d print a thing without passing it by the Feds.”
“Maybe not but he knows a lot of people and I’m sure he knows who might. Meet him. Ask him to meet you in the usual place. He will know what you mean.”
“And what good would it do?”
“Nothing. But everyone needs to know what the US is up to.”
“What difference would it make? You’re probably right but who would you prefer to control DRI us or the Russians, maybe the Chinese or the Iranians? The thing is out of control. Someone has to control it and I’d prefer it to be us. Even if someone publishes the story, which I doubt, it won’t stop them. Maybe it will alert DRI. You do know that DRI has found a way around its own rules? It has posted its own petitions. It’s dangerous. It needs to be controlled.”
“Yes I know. I do watch the news. That’s all I do. But it doesn’t have greed as its agenda. I’d prefer to be run by a machine than a lying, corrupt government.”
“Is that so? Nobody knows what motivates DRI. Gallie if it’s started to operate without its own Distributors then it must have an agenda. It operates by Artificial Intelligence apparently. That’s what everyone is talking about. Maybe it’s calculated that no form of government works. Democracy is corrupt. Religious government is worse. Anarchy, dictatorship, communism – take your pick. Nothing works. Nothing is fair. What will it do when it works that out? It’s too unpredictable. It’s dangerous.”
“Ricky, I’m not an idiot. I know this. I’ve been reading about it and watching tv every day, twenty four seven. That’s all I’ve done. I’ve seen the petitions and the emergency laws. I know DRI has started to act on its own but so what. It doesn’t need money and houses and cars. It must be motivated by something good or at least something better than us.”
“I’m not sure. For sure it doesn’t think. It’s not alive. It just absorbs data and analyses it. One of my clients is an expert in AI and he tried to explain it to me. He told me that DRI sucks up trillions of bits of data and analyses it and whilst it’s not actually thinking, it takes that data and breaks it down into options and then it selects the best option. And how it decides what is the ‘best’ option depends on its mathematical bias.”
“But its agenda is redistribution.”
“Yes originally but if it has calculated that redistribution can’t work then it is programmed to look for another agenda. Think about it, equality has never worked throughout history. Communism never worked, unions don’t work. My client told me that in the end DRI will calculate that greed is the most successful driver of human nature and the only force that always works.”
“That’s interesting but I have faith in DRI.”
“It’s not about faith. Faith is not science. Faith is fear of science. DRI is only science. It’s about statistics, logic. It doesn’t matter who the Distributors are, the poorest people in the world. If DRI is programmed to find the most efficient solution to any problem then greed is that solution because greed works.”
“Greed doesn’t work. You’re wrong. ”
“You misunderstand. Greed isn’t fair but as a tool, it works. In the end DRI will conclude that the petitions are pointless because it’ll calculate that the chance of real success is too low. It will conclude that human behaviour cannot be changed.”
“I think your client has been watching too many movies. It’s bullshit. I agree it’s better the devil you know. I suppose it may be better in the hands of the US government than the Russians. What a choice?”
“You do know that they’re probably listening to everything we’re saying?”
“I don’t give a damn. What are they going to do? They need my help. Just call Walter and ask him what he has heard. Just tell him and see what he says. If anyone knows something it’s him. Tell him I know he can’t do anything. Don’t forget to contact Steve and bring the FBI boss here. Go on, you can go now.”