(A little side-story, which has been on my mind)It was a cool day in Miami. Winter had been unusual for the entirety of the United States. Alaska was warm as all get-out, the rest of the states were freezing solid. Even Florida, the state which was synonymous with heat and humidity. At 50 degrees, the coats were coming out. It was a strange day, to be sure.
This day found Arthur Hugo walking down the street. He was having a very good day. Something he had been waiting on was going through. As he walked down the street, he was enjoying the cooler weather. Nothing was going to get to him today. He didn’t even care when a young woman bumped shoulders with him. She was on her phone, of course. It was to be expected, since it was pretty much every woman who was on their phone and not paying attention to the world, now. At least, that’s how he saw it.
“Excuse me,” she said, continuing on her way.
Well, at least she’s polite, he thought, rolling his eyes. His mood was too good to be bogged down by anything. Too many things were going right. There was a ding on his phone. It was a new text coming in. His wife, asking what he wanted for dinner. That brought a smile to his face. He texted back that he didn’t care, wanting her to pick something she liked. Nothing was going to bring him down.
It was then that he saw something. There was information following him. It was following him on every screen he could see. Every time he would walk by, information on the screens would change. He looked close and his eyes went wide. It was him! His picture, information about him and other things. There were video clips of him talking with some of his associates. Not at work, but at another task. His side-job, that was bringing in the real money. It showed him brokering deals on him selling American women to foreign buyers. He was the broker, making millions on the sex slave market. The man frantically looked around. People were looking at him. There was anger, fear and resentment. He grabbed his phone, just in time to see his wife calling.
“Honey, I’m a little busy right now!”
“What am I seeing here?! What the fuck is this?!”
“I’ll explain later, honey, but I’m a little busy!”
“No, you explain now! What the fuck am I looking at?! What the fuck have you done?!”
“Shut the fuck up, bitch! I can’t think with you bitching at me!” He hung up the phone. People were moving. People were angry. This didn’t look good. He started running. His car was just up the road. If he could make it there, then he would be safe. He could get out of dodge, maybe turn himself into the cops for protection. He’d rat on his “friends” that he worked with, get them to take the fall. Go into witness protection. His wife would leave him, but that was an acceptable loss, in his eyes. There were people running after. No matter how fast he went, the changes in the screens followed him. Tears were running down his face. Who the fuck would do this to me?! Why the fuck am I their target?! What the fuck’s going on?! No answers were coming. Nothing was making any sense. All he could was keep running.
His car was in sight. Relief came to him. Just then, he was smacked in the back with something hard. He lost his footing, slamming to the ground. He tried to regain his footing, but there were kicks and punches. The crowd was attacking him. It went on for a few minutes, before there was a loud crack. His rib cage felt like it ripped open. He looked up, to a TV screen in a cafe. The display changed. Answer for your sins. James Fitzroy was one of the most powerful Wall Street executives there was. His company was one of the few that weathered the recession pretty well, which had made them even more rich. In this world, there were always people willing to buy cheap crap. It was the easiest thing. As his driver was bringing him in to work, he turned on the TV in his car. He wanted to check some stocks, along with get the latest financial news. Couldn’t be too careful in this world. But the image wasn’t what he expected. It showed video footage of him and some of his friends. It was when he was a much younger man. The memory was vivid in his mind. He had devoted a lot of drunken hours trying to forget it. They had got some call girls for one of their friend’s birthday. They wanted to have some fun with an old pal. What ended up happening was that they got some blow that was bad. Killed three of the call girls. Everyone panicked. The others threatened to call the cops. They were intimidated and bribed to keep their mouths shut, while him and his buddies got rid of the bodies. It was still a painful memory.
And this video camera footage was bringing it all back. He started looking around, wondering how many other people had seen this. Just then, he noticed something – where was the driver? They had been there just a moment ago, but they weren’t there now. What happened? Something felt wrong. He didn’t like this. That was when a semi, coming around the corner, completely destroyed the back half of the car. Fitzroy never even had time to process. The last thing he had seen was a message being displayed. Answer for your sins. A young detective, Jennifer Wolfe, was walking into work. Being a NYPD detective was never an easy job, but she loved every minute of it. She was one of the youngest detectives on the force, which was to the envy and sometimes jealousy of her counterparts, but they were a tight group. A family, as she knew them. Sure, there were always the assholes who would talk about her ass and hit on her, but she was no pushover. Fit, trained and great with a gun, she held her own with the best of them. Anyone who grabbed her ass ended up with some broken bones. But those guys were typically punished in a more serious way by the guys in the office who she had grown up with, helping on cases or knew from her family, which had always been police. If someone really messed with her, those guys would make sure they paid dearly for it.
She got into work that morning with a tan from a vacation she had just gotten home from. There was a smile on her face.
Sergeant Monroe, one of the people who were family, came walking over.
“So, how was visiting the family?”
She rolled her eyes. “Fucking Florida. I swear to god, everyone who goes there goes to die.”
He laughed. “Well, maybe your parents thought to do just that.” That got him punched in the arm.
“They better fucking not! I’ll kick their asses if they up and die on me.” Just then, there was her partner, Detective Ryan Deacon, running over.
“Grab your shit, Wolfe, we gotta call!”
“Already?! I just got in the door.”
“Yeah, some bitch up on Broadway got her fucking head blown off! Not long after…” He didn’t have to say.
“Fuckin’ A. Not this again!” The people were calling this person or persons The Watcher. They were becoming a bigger and bigger problem around the department. Someone was finding powerful people and exposing their crimes to the rest of the world. They would somehow follow the person everywhere they were. It was like their crimes were with them. The people who saw it often reacted violently, because the crimes were severe. The first instance of this was in Miami, where a guy was beaten and shot after it was revealed that he was involved in human trafficking. Now, it took off. Sometimes it was in other places, but New York appeared to be the epicenter. After the deaths of two CEOs, a Wall Street banker and a police lieutenant who was hiring gay hookers to beat them, this person was public enemy number one, and that designation wasn’t about to change.
The Watcher was viewed as a cultural hero by the public, airing out the trash for their judgment. Vigilante violence was becoming a much larger issue. Others had followed this person’s lead, but they were a lot easier to catch. Whoever The Watcher was, they were an amazing hacker and clearly nigh-perfect at covering their tracks. And they had a growing legion of followers who were ready to lay down and die to save whoever it was, if it came to that. Every time new information got out, they took it upon themselves to deal with whoever was outed.
The country at large was not dealing with this well. The stock market was turning, the cops were nervous and the government was getting more and more frightened. The Watcher had changed everything, and it wasn’t likely to change back. This had gotten the attention of more than a few people within the law enforcement networks outside of the police. The FBI had this person on the top of their Most Wanted lists. People saw it as only a matter of time before this case took center stage, nationally. At that moment, at their headquarters in DC, an older man who was something of a career legend within the FBI was looking at some information. It was a brave new world to be a cyber-terrorist. With pretty much everything linked to the Internet now, if you had a program that could crack through a barrier, you could do whatever you want. Steal bank account numbers, track anyone you wanted. The NSA made a career out of following people. The reality was that, if the goal was to follow this problem in cyberspace, he could go anywhere. No, this problem had to be solved like any other case – on the street. Thankfully, because real people were involved, it could be. This case looked like the kind where one would just scour the online world to find, and they had some of the best they could get doing that. But this person was too good to track that way. This case had to be solved more traditionally.
This was where this man, Edmond Bradley, came in. He was one of the oldest and best investigative agents in the force. He had come up through the DC police, being thought of as something of a prodigy by his commanders. Now, he was viewed as the best. The man who could solve cases that no one else could. There was gentle music playing as he looked over the information they had. A hypothesis was coming into his mind. It was time, to take a trip to New York City. They got to the scene of the crime, and it was every bit the circus they believed it would be. The screaming people, yelling that the cops were nothing but slaves to the sinners. They had to get SWAT teams to corner the area off, it was that bad. It was like riots were about to start.
Wolfe and Deacon got out of the car, walking over. A patrol cop met them.
“Sorry about the noise, detectives. It’s a fucking mess out here. Whole town is turning into the asylum!”
Deacon nodded. “I hear that. So, what’s the story here?”
They got to the body and the EMT flipped back the sheet. He had already gotten his pictures. “Not very complicated. Gunshot wound to the face. Not much face left, actually. Bullet went right through the back of her skull, taking most of her brain with it. Judging from the impact and trajectory, I’d say we’re dealing with a .44 or .45 pistol.”
Wolfe looked around. “Any idea who the shooter was?”
The patrol cop pointed toward his car. “Yeah, we caught him trying to get rid of the gun down a storm drain. Damn lucky we stopped him. We saved the gun and it’s got his prints all over it. Open and shut.”
She liked the sound of that. “So, what were her ‘sins,’ as our Watcher gave us? What got her here?”
The EMT pointed up to the screens above Broadway. “See for yourself.”
It was showing documents from a charity organization that she was using to pay for her trips to the Caribbean. The last image was of her doing blow off a muscular and very tan surfer’s abs. That’s when the image came up that they knew so well.
Answer for your sins.
Deacon grit his teeth. “It’s like this asshole is toying with us! Like he knows that we got shit on him, so he can do whatever the fuck he wants! I swear, when they finally bring him in, I hope we get a chance to fuck him up a bit.”
Wolfe gave him a cold look. “Watch your mouth, detective! We’re cops, not the mob. Don’t be like them. If that happens, he wins.”
The man let out a sigh. “You’re right. I know. It’s just, so damn frustrating!”
“I hear ya, but we gotta keep our heads. Otherwise, he really does win.” She looked back down at the body. “Alright, nothing more we can do here. We got the shooter, this case is cleared. Just another clearance that we can thank the Watcher for. Asshole. Cart the body to the morgue and clean it up.”
“Yes ma’am,” the EMT said, moving to comply.
She walked back to her car, getting inside and heading out. As the cops were leaving, the image stopped. It was back to normal again. Getting back to the station, she saw that the place was buzzing. One of her friends, a young clerk at the records office, ran over to her. The girl was beaming with pride.
“What the fuck’s going on? Someone get promoted?” Wolfe asked, nonchalantly.
“No, it’s big! We just got a fax from DC. The FBI is finally moving on this Watcher guy! They’re sending down their best guy tomorrow! He’s a legend with them! We’re finally gonna be rid of this problem!”
That got a smile out of her. “That’s good news. They gonna be working with us, or are we out?”
“According to the fax, him and his people are coming tomorrow to meet the people in homicide, since you’ve had the most direct contact with him. Isn’t that exciting?!”
Wolfe patted her on the shoulder. “Calm down, kiddo. You’ll give yourself a heart attack. Still, it is pretty cool. Guess this Watcher problem is going to be solved.”
“Damn right! It’s gonna be great. Anyway, I’ll let you go. You probably gotta write a report about the shooting. Grab a drink, later?”
“I’m down with that. I’ll text ya when I get off duty.” The two went their separate ways, each having a long day still ahead of them. Late that night, there was a room that was only lit by a computer screen. In it, someone sat in darkness. They were looking at a copy of the fax that was sent to the precinct. A smile was on their face.
“So, it begins.” Until next time, a quote, “Tonight’s the night. And it’s going to happen again, and again. It has to happen. It’s not what I want. But what I want doesn’t matter. This is the only way I know how to survive. I’m coiled and ready to strike.” -Dexter Morgan, Dexter Peace out, Maverick