Millicent and Rue spent the afternoon apart. Granted, “apart” was how most afternoons were spent for the doubtful duo. Rue preferred it that way. But today was a different sort of apart, today the PI and medium were working together, albeit separately.
For Ms DeLange was horribly out of her depth... and Rue wasn't too far behind.
Rue had been sent to see Millicent's client, the distraught mother who had so irked him on her previous visit.
And Millicent was currently warming Rue's favorite chair at the library.
Rue had to admit that his partner's case was interesting. Boy gets killed, boy's computer acts up, boy's mother comes to a medium to exorcise the machine.
And clearly deserving a practical solution rather than the namby-pamby incense and candle fix that Millicent oversaw.
Only it wasn't the computer acting up. That was her first mistake (and the mother's, but Rue wasn't going to correct a grieving woman). It was the deceased's online activity that was the main culprit. Activity in some games, a few new purchases, the occasional vague message to a board – basic stuff any hacker could, well, hack.
The question was who. And if anyone excelled at this, it was Rue. Granted it was also a thing he greatly detested, especially as own past had seemingly come back to haunt him in a similar way.
I KNOW YOUR SECRETS . . . WATCH YOUR BACK. -cricket ░
Rue shook his head, trying to block the memory of his dream from his thoughts as he tapped ineffectively at the computer he'd been set up to use at his client's house.
Not a bad model, it had been used heavily for far too much gaming. Is that really what kids get up to nowadays? Rue stared down the blue gremlin that stood patiently in the center of the screen, the avatar clearly waiting a command. The thing looked like steroids gone wrong even if the graphics were pretty good.
“Ok, so I'm in and it looks like the last session was last week Tuesday.” Rue pointed at the screen, prompting Millicent's client to lean in close.
“Impossible. I told my credit card to stop all payments to this one.”
“Well, looks like the account drew anyway. Bought himself a lovely crossbow, he did,” Rue ran his eye over the character's inventory. Stone sure had had everything he wanted. Everything but commonsense outdoors, anyway.
Stone. Rue snorted to himself. Who names their kids Stone? Probably the ones who let the kids sit around for hours in front of the computer like rocks.
“Well, I think I've got everything I need, ma'am,” Rue clicked out of the program and rose to his feet. “I'll be able to check his accounts from anywhere, that way... that way Millicent will have a better handle on how to, erm, deal with the persistent activity that your, er, son is displaying.” Rue got through his little speech alright, though some of the words were hard to swallow. Millicent's case? Not likely. Give him three hours this afternoon at his office with a bottle of Jack and a laptop and he'd get to the bottom of this one without having to talk ghosts.
But Stone's mother gushed her thanks and leaned in close for a tear-stained hug. That was nice at least. Rue answered with a wry smile and took his leave.
Though he'd dreamt of kicking his feet up on his desk and playing a good old fashioned game of cat and mouse with Stone's mysterious hacker friend, Rue thought better of it and instead turned said feet towards the library.
Public terminals. Much better. If you are going to hack, don't hack at home... at least not until the rust wears off and you know you're not going to get caught, Rue grinned to himself, giving a nod to his librarian friend as he entered the hallowed, silent halls of the library.
Casting his eyes about, Rue wondered if Millicent had found what she'd needed and gone back to the office. There was certainly no sign of the woman.
Maybe her outfit was too loud for the quiet of the library, Rue's smile deepened.
No matter, he could get to the bottom of things and then-
A thought struck the PI. A hunch, if you will.
Rising from his chosen computer, he strode back over to the information desk, leaning casually upon the counter upon arrival.
“Oh, Rue. What is it this time?” Stern but playful, the librarian had been witness to more than one of Rue's victories—had in fact demanded quiet from him during his outbursts of triumph.
“I'm looking for a woman.” Rue began.
“I'm sure you are.” The playfulness continued, though not without a reproving lift of the eyebrows.
“About this high. Riot of colors. Too much hair. Lots of makeup.”
“Everyone's got their thing...”
“No,” Rue cut the banter off, “She's my... associate. Works for me. Said she'd be here doing a bit of research. Have I missed her?” He arced his head around, as if in doing so he could conjur her out of thin air.
“I'm sorry, Rue. Nobody like her in here today. And I've been here since we've opened.”
I thought so. Rue smiled his thanks.
His hack would have to wait. Millicent was up to something, something his gut knew about. But what? And Why?