Closing the brown folder he had been staring through for the past three hours, detective Brent Harrison rubbed his eyes and pushed back into his chair. He had done all the leg work he could on the case but still he was no closer to catching the bank robber. Three of the tellers were dead, four people in a coma and two seriously injured so far and the robber had managed to take off with over three million in cash. The cash, Brent didn’t care about, but the people that were harmed in the robbery deserved justice.
Resting his head against the back of the seat, he tried to steady his swirling head and his rising anger. It had been three months and truth be told he was about ready to shake someone, real hard, to get the information he wanted.
“Hey, Harrison,” Gerald the lab kid greeted. “I got some news for you.”
“Good or bad?” Brent didn’t move nor open his eyes.
“We found something in the computer system at the bank,” Gerald said, dropping a piece of paper on the desk before falling into an empty chair. “It’s amazing because I haven’t seen that since college. See, there’s this coding called the Caldwell effect. How it works is, say you want to hack into a system to find out what’s on the computer. Well, all you have to do is hack into the system by taking control of the computer when it’s on.”
“Isn’t that what they normally do?” Brent lifted his head and wrinkled his brow in confusion.
“Yes. But the beauty about the Caldwell system is, if done right? You never get caught. Only one person knows how it works perfectly but that never stops others from trying. See, that one person can hack your system in about six to ten seconds flat. The rest of the Caldwell system says you plant a virus called The Retriever, hook it up to a dummy email, route it through like twenty countries on a loop and watch all the information from the person’s computer come right in to you.”
“What’s so tricky about that?”
Gerald gasped incredulously as thought Brent had committed a travesty. “The Retriever code alone would take the average computer nerd, working nonstop, at least four months to create,” Gerald spoke. “Then there are rather specific information, time coding to consider, messed up configurations that not even I, the super genius that I am, can crack. If the coding isn’t done right, it could throw the whole virus off whack. It’s a delicate process but it comes in handy because no virus scanners can pick it up, and it can’t be traced. And the countries are on a loop so each time it routes, it goes through different countries in a million different orders. Even if by some miracle, you did find the country that the information is going to or coming from....”
Brent didn’t have to let him finish for he already knew what was going to be said, “You couldn’t find the computer.”
“Now you get it, Detective,” Gerald beamed. “And even if you did track it, not only couldn’t you find the computer but once you track it to one country, the process starts all over again.”
Brent was still slightly confused. All this talk about hacking, routing through countries was enough to make his brain throb. “Then if you could track it, that means it wasn’t done right....”
“I didn’t say I tracked it,” Gerald held up a hand. “I said I found traces of it in the system. Weren’t you listening to a thing I just said? I have no idea how to track this thing even though it wasn’t done right; that is how good this program is.”
“You said that there was only one person who could do it perfectly. Who is it?”
“He doesn’t do computers anymore....”
“Gerald?” Brent warned. “Listen to me. I have been working this case for months. I haven’t slept in weeks. I’m tired, cranky and hungry. Do you really want me to repeat myself right now?”
Chuckling nervously, Gerald got up from his seat and backed towards the door, but Brent kept his eyes glued on the man like laser beams. “Stone Caldwell, he’s in the yellow pages.”
Brent watched as Gerald scurried from the room and only then did he let emotions swim through his eyes. Stone Caldwell, it couldn’t be the same person. Could it? The same geeky kid from his high school?
Shaking his head, Brent turned and hauled out a dust-covered yellow pages from beneath his desk and blew the dust from the cover before flipping it open. Scanning the pages, he had a smirk on his face as memories of Stone flashed through his mind. Brent was a member of the Larson City High school football team but Stone, Stone was a nerd that one could always find underneath the giant oak tree in the school-yard reading some book. It had been a running joke with the football team that the kid was going to die a virgin. When his fingers hit Stone Caldwell, he tilted his head and read. Now he knew it wasn’t the Stone Caldwell from his high school. Breathing a sigh of relief, Brent scribbled down the address and grabbed his coat.
Driving through the downtown area always gave Brent a headache. There was always too much traffic and noise. Waving a hand out the Hummer’s window to a couple of beat cops, he made a left turn down Mortimer Street and stopped in front of his address and looked up. “Black Scorpion,” he muttered, making sure he had his badge on him before hopping from the large vehicle. Walking inside, he felt as though he had walked into something out gothic novel. Everything was in black and red. There was a waterfall behind the bar and on either side of the fall were shelves of alcohol.
“We’re closed,” a voice called and Brent looked at the man who had simply appeared from behind the bar. Where in the world did he come from? Shaking his head, he pulled off his badge from where it clipped onto his belt and walked across the large dance floor to the bar. The man behind the counter looked like someone from a magazine. He was handsome with bright , brown eyes, clean shaven with a low hair cut. The bartender had hard, ebony skin that made Brent want to reach over and run his tongue over it. Stifling a groan, Brent hopped onto a stool and held up his badge.
“I know, but I was told I could find Stone Caldwell here,” Brent spoke.
“You’re looking at him. What can I do for you, Brent?”
Arching a brow, Brent tilted his head slightly, “Excuse me? How do you know who I am?”
“Get off it, man,” the bartender stuck a glass over the automatic steam cleaner and laughed. “I know you paid no attention in high school but don’t tell me you didn’t do your research before coming down here.”
Then it hit him. “You’re the same Stone Caldwell....”
“The one and only,” the man smiled and Brent felt his cock stirring and coming to life. He frowned
“Wow, how are you? I didn’t know you owned the Black Scorpion. I never figured you to be a club person.”
“Been doing good. But I’m going to assume this isn’t a social visit and ask what you want. It’s not everyday we get visited by a real life detective.”
“Oh come on, Stone. Don’t be like that.”
“Don’t be like what? Look, we’ve never been friends, never will be. So, here’s how it’s going to work. You tell me what you want, I say no, you leave.”