“Hello? Are you still there?”
If he had been on a call with a friend, he would have given them more time to answer but the mobile unit had never failed to respond immediately to a question. The pause was upsetting. Had the connection been lost or had the system been so caught off by the question that it couldn’t even provide the automated “Sorry, I can’t answer that.”? Or, was he completely removed from the automated system now and dealing only with whoever was helping him behind the scenes? That seemed most likely and he wasn’t sure how to feel about that.
“Yes, sorry. We weren’t prepared to answer your question. It was rude of us to delay answering. We will try to do better going forward.”
“What do you want from me then?” The mobile unit continuing to not answer the question was troubling him. He was beginning to imagine that he was being pulled into some sort of scheme and things were about to get even worse for him than having the FBI show up at his door.
“For the time being, nothing. Based on this experience, however, there may come a time when you will be valuable in our fight against this sort of governmental overreach.”
He gave a slight shake of his head and sighed. So the legal battle they had just rescued him from was still on the horizon, just temporarily delayed. “Okay, what am I supposed to do now?”
“This location is not secure long term and we may have need of it again for others in the area the FBI go after. So, we will move you to another location while we work on securing a new identity for you.”
“That can’t be easy or cheap.”
“No and no. We understand, as previously stated that your resources are limited, so we will cover the costs associated with giving you a new life.”
“But,” he guessed, “you’ll be working that out of me later when my ‘experience’ becomes useful to your long term goals.”
“Yes, that is a likely scenario.”
He felt like he should apologize. They had just kept him from FBI custody and their motives, as stated, seemed to have the good of humanity at their core. Still, he couldn’t help feeling like a pawn. He had never liked that feeling. It made him feel dirty. It left him with a bad taste in his mouth.
“When you are ready, we will take control of the car again and drive you to the new location. Can we proceed?”
It was his turn to pause. He knew had no other real options. He hadn’t gotten great answers to some of his questions but he had gotten some useful information. He had no doubt of the veracity of any of it. The situation had unfolded so quickly and his home unit and mobile units had responded in such a coordinated effort that he had no reason to suspect this was some sort of elaborate setup. Those sorts of things didn’t happen in the real world. No, he had to take everything at face value which meant he was in a lot of trouble for something he had thought, daydreamed about, and for some reason some powers behind the home unit systems were saving him. These had to be truths.
So, he could decline their assistance and go face the Feds on his own, at which point he assumed he would no longer be backed by the systems high-powered lawyer team, and face the consequences of the thought police taking exception to something he’d logged in the system or he could continue along for the ride and see how it all played out. If things went wrong from here he would probably be in even more trouble than he already was. However, if things went well maybe he could eventually get his old life back. Admittedly, it wasn’t much of a life but it was his and he had liked it. The loss of it, only hours old, was already bothering him.
“Very good. Your car is still being actively sought, so we apologize for any extreme maneuvers we are forced to do to keep you from being spotted. We are monitoring all frequencies, though, so we will do our best to stay away from active units. And, it is only a short drive to where you are going to abandon this car. From then on we will communicate with you through your handheld device. As with the home unit, don’t worry, all links and records from the mobile device in your vehicle will be cleaned long before the authorities find it.
“Would you like some music on again?”
“Yes, thank you.”
The car started, the garage door opened, another of his favorite songs came through the speakers, and the car pulled back onto the street beyond the alley. He looked around, hoping to see a landmark, to get an idea of where he had been but he didn’t see anything he recognized. The car made one turn after another until he lost all sense of direction and still it kept on. His idea of a short drive seemed very different from whoever was in control.