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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 127: Brown 151
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 126: Slade 130
Derek pored over the personnel records, paying special attention to anyone who might be near Samantha in age, or who might be in a position to be a confidant, such as a slightly older girl or woman who had a great deal of contact with her. Hundreds of hours of recorded audio played almost as background music, the accompanying video not completely in sync in a box in the upper left corner of his screen, both accelerating when nothing was happening, slowing to normal speed when there was movement in the video or signal in the audio that might be speech, then returning to the fast scan mode. It would still take a couple days to get through it all.
What am I doing? Derek wondered. I have been through all of this before, several times.
Yes, you have, he reminded himself, but you weren’t looking for this. You didn’t really care who her friends might be, whether she confided in anyone, who knew her secrets.
He had an unexpected breakthrough after about four hours, and phoned the ambassador. He realized he had neglected to arrange a way for them to reach each other, and it took quite a while to reach someone--and that only after he gave up trying to reach the ambassador himself and instead focused on reaching Colonel Simpkins.
“Look,” he said, “I don’t know how much this helps, but I just found video of Samantha with her journal. She had set the camera down with a clear view of the desk, so I saw her come into frame carrying a leather book, probably about nine by six and almost an inch thick with padded covers and a strap and lock, sit at the desk and write something in it, and then take it back out of frame. It appears that she got the book somewhere to the left of her desk, and not closer than the window there, probably the far wall, and returned it there when she was done. I don’t know the layout of the room, but that should narrow the search for the diary.”
Simpkins thanked him and promised to relay the information to the ambassador’s wife, who was undertaking the search of the room herself. Derek returned to wading through gigabytes of data.
It was perhaps an hour later that Simpkins called him back to let him know that they had found her diary hidden behind some books on a bookshelf, and Mrs. Morris was going through it. There had been some debate on that point, part of it whether Samantha would be more upset if her journal had been read by her mother or by a total stranger (one of the women in the security office), and partly whether the stranger or her mother would be more likely to recognize important information, but it was agreed that her mother would read it first, and the job would be given to someone else if either she found nothing she recognized as useful or she became overwhelmed by her daughter’s secret thoughts.
Derek continued working through his data, but at this point he thought it most likely that the next breakthrough would come from that diary, not from any efforts he made here.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #269: Versers Arrive. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: