Zaira in Sam Guise arrives at BubbleTrendz just before nine the next morning. Dean is not yet in, so she walks by to check on Gil. He’s been hacking all night, the remnants of assorted junk food and junk food wrappers lying on his desk.
“I snooped some files after Evan left,” he tells Sam in a lowered voice.
“Then you got back into the accounts?”
He nods. “But that’s not so relevant to what I found.” Gil glances toward the hall, then continues in a quiet voice, “I got into the Star logs, don’t tell Evan though, and I saw the multiple accesses from a few users. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of attempted logins.” He looks Sam in the eyes. “One of the users was Red Feathers.”
Sam looks baffled and Gil tells her, “Red Feathers is the handle of a friend of mine who works two blocks away. He hangs out at the coffee bar that’s near here and uses their public Wi-Fi. He’d never do stuff like this.” Gil stops speaking as Evan walks past in the hall. He turns back to face his computer screen and whispers, “I’ll tell you later.”
Sam encounters Mary after she leaves Gil’s office. A slender young woman is with Mary. She’s dressed in jeans and sweatshirt and her short, dark hair has streaks of red artfully blended into it.
“This is our new intern,” Mary announces by way of introduction.
The young woman smiles and extends her hand to shake with Sam. “Hi. I’m Rina.”
Sam likes her quiet confident smile and the light Russian accent. “Is that short for Irina?”
Rina laughs. “Yes. Most people don’t know that. Are you Russian?”
Sam shakes her head. “I just happen to know a lot of Eastern Europeans.” Let’s leave it at that.
“You’ll be reporting to Evan,” Mary tells Rina. “Let me take you to his office to get started with things.”
Sam wonders whether Gil has seen Rina yet. Dean suddenly appears, heading for his usual mug of morning coffee.
“Two new hires in two days,” Sam remarks brightly as she exchanges greetings with Dean.
“Anything come in this morning from Anderson?” Dean asks her.
“I haven’t checked the fax this morning.”
“Would you?” Dean turns and heads off to his office.
There’s something at the fax and it’s another term sheet from Joel Anderson. An offer to buy another thirty percent of BubbleTrendz! Sam stares at the pages in astonishment. They’re proposing to take a controlling share of the company! Dean won’t go for it. Will he? If he’s so willing to give up that much of the company, why dismiss her own offer over the weekend so summarily? Why not play the investors off each other like suitors, to get the best deal, the best price for the shares of equity?
Sam fingers the pages of the fax, staring into space in contemplation. There was that possible denial of service attach on Star’s website yesterday. Or was it just some technical glitch with their servers? No, Gil had found something last night that he wanted to tell her in confidence. Something to do with a guy named Red Feathers.
Sam walks in to Dean’s office and hands him the fax with a perky smile, although her eyes are scanning the nuances of emotion expressed in his face for any clues. It’s clear at once to her that he’s pleased to have the fax, which means he already knows what information it contains. She decides in an instant — she’s not going to quit her job just yet. Not until she figures out what’s going on with the Joel Anderson contract.
Marty Gaynor sits on the edge of the examination table with his shirt off. He’s got a terrible, pounding headache, not like any hangover he’s ever experienced. And, he’s really thirsty. But, it’s the puncture wounds on his neck that have him here. He touches them again for the hundredth time and winces slightly. The area is bruised and tender. The two round scabs close together are what really bother him.
A young male doctor enters the examination room and greets Marty cheerily, briskly. The doctor is carrying a clipboard and scans the form attached to it.
“When did this incident occur?” the doctor asks him.
The doctor, who is only five years older than Marty, checks his clipboard again. “Your blood work from the lab indicates a low hematocrit.” He looks at Marty frankly. “You’re pretty anemic.” He puts his stethoscope to Marty’s chest and begins to listen.
Marty fidgets a little, wanting a cigarette. “Jeez, no wonder I feel like shi-I mean no wonder I’m kinda woozy.”
The doctor is now inspecting the wound, gently palpating it.
“Were you attacked by an animal?” the doctor asks, becoming more interested in the twin marks. He’s wondering if someone stabbed the guy with prongs in a barroom brawl, while he continues the examination with professional tact.
“What kinda animal on a beach would bite like this?” Marty asks incredulously.
“Were you in a fight?” No point in avoiding the topic at this point.
“Naw. I was hangin’ with my buddy at a place we go, you know, in Lynn.” Marty lowers his head, a little shy now. “This wicked hot redhead walks in the bar, I mean she’s wearin’ a fur and shit.” He clears his throat, “She starts chattin’ me up and she’s a real looker if you know what I mean? Before you know it, I’m in her car and we’re drivin’ to the beach. I’ve had a few, you know? So then we’re walkin’ along the beach and, well, huh-hm.” Marty stops and clears his throat again.
“You had sexual relations with the woman on the beach?” the doctor inquires clinically.
Marty shakes his head slowly. “I honestly don’t remember.” He gives an embarrassed laugh. “I mean, I’d been knockin’ back a few, prob’ly more than was a good idea, and I just woke up on the beach. I was lyin’ on a friggin’ rock and it was cold and I felt this awful pain in my neck and found this!” Marty touches his wound again.
“There are clean crusts over the jugular punctures,” the doctor says inspecting the wound more closely.
“My jugular! Are you sayin’ I could have bled to death?”
“Do you remember what model of car you were in?”
Marty shakes his head. “It was expensive, a sports car. I was pretty wasted. Sorry.” Marty slumps on the examining table, feeling this punishment is out of line with whatever misconduct he may have committed last night.
The doctor looks at him evenly. “I’m going to swab the wound area for a sample. If it was an animal that bit you, the lab tests should indicate what kind.”
“Could I have rabies?”
“It’s unlikely. However, if the lab reports show an animal inflected the wound, it would be advisable to administer post-exposure prophylaxis.”
“You mean get shots?”
The doctor nods. “Immunoglobulin followed by a series of rabies vaccines over a period of days.”
Marty looks grave. “How many days? I’m goin’ to Florida next week. My cousin’s got a deep-sea charter in the Keys. I’m crewin’ for him.”
“The likelihood that you’ve been exposed to rabies is low.” The doctor collects his lab sample and then washes the wound with a virucidal antiseptic. He smiles at Marty. “We should have results back from the lab within an hour. If you’ll take a seat in the waiting room, we’ll call you as soon as we know.”
The doctor leaves the room and Marty glumly puts on his shirt.
The young doctor has a nurse call the animal control officer in charge of Swampscott to advise him of possible rabid nocturnal animals on local beaches. If the officer should find the carcass of a raccoon or other animal near or on the beaches, the medical clinic would appreciate taking possession of the carcass for analysis.
The young doctor decides he’ll look at the lab results first, before writing up a report for the police.
The lab results come back within the hour. It’s not what the young physician was expecting. There is foreign DNA in the sample, but it doesn’t belong to any of the usual suspects among the New England mammalian or reptilian fauna. Nor is it human DNA. The pathologist suggests sending the sample out to a larger testing lab for further analysis.
Marty is told not to leave town until the second report comes back.
— to be continued —