The summer wind spins softly across the 5th avenue plaza where Steve Job's impressive glass cube lies glowing in the deep New York night. Lt Cole looks across to Detective Cachety, muttering something under his breath. Cachety, unfazed, fixes his gaze on the man emerging from an NYPD patrol car next to the plaza.
Cachety looks Linus Namar up and down. "Not such an odd time of the early morning for a Tech writer to be up an about, hey?". Linus, slightly agitated, keeps quiet, the digital photo sent to his mobile phone still reverberating disturbingly in his head. He did it to himself, they say
. Linus thinks back to the past few days, covering useless press events on the East Coast. I could have stayed back in San Francisco, he thinks, noting the pleasant rolling fog of the SF summer.
"So, what do you think of our big glass cube?", Cachety asks. "Very impressive, of course, a stunning statement of corporate tech-America.", Linus responds.
"A blight on our otherwise beatiful city. Trust someone from the West Coast to try and show us up.", grunts Cachety, motioning Linus to the glass elevator that leads down from the cube into the sprawling Apple Computer store beneath the plaza.
"Can't we take the stairs?" asks Linus nervously, shuffling slowly to the elevator. They descend into the flagship Apple store, whose opening just weeks ago was marred by a technical glitch in the glass elevator. The very one they ride down on now.
There was no ghost in the machine tonight, and Linus surveys the scene before him, Cachety still quiet, revealing nothing of why Linus, he, of all reasons, was dragged out of an otherwise good late night online chat session back in his hotel room.
"They call him the Grizzly", Lt Cole had said, in a tone both of warning and intimidation, New York Police Department style. It was Cole that knocked on Linus' hotel door, giving Linus some time to gather himself while Cole went on ahead to the scene of probably just another New York City crime.
A 24/7 operation, the Apple Store was fully lit, with various white machines proudly glowing with swirling colours on one side and a slew of iPods of all models on another. Linus looked over to the sales counters and the Genius Bar. No one seemed in sight. Probably shepherded out to be questioned in a dank room with only bad coffee on offer
"Like the handiwork?", asks Cachety. Linus holds his arm against his nose, covering his eyes slightly. A young man, with spiky blond-dyed hair, lay on the floor, in a pool of thickened dark blood. He seemed to have ended up right in the middle of the store. "He obviously did yoga", Linus mumbled, trying desperately to lift the dull silence.
Apparently a Genius Bar employee, the agile man lay in a T, legs spread perfectly wide apart, with his body bent fully forward. He'll be missed at the fitness club, I suppose
. "What do you make of this?", interrupts The Grizzly, shining a CSI-type glowing blue wand over the left leg of the tragic employee.
37 20 24 , 122 4 6
OH DRACONIAN MOBIUS
OH LAME ANTICRIST
"How the hell am I supposed to know?" shouted Linus, both irritated and horrified by the perplexing scene. He still had no idea why he had been called, apart from the fact that he wrote many an article on Apple. But so did Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. Why wasn't Walt here? He would no doubt be sleeping comfortably right now, or in front of his favourite Apple machine typing up a storm.
Linus looked closer at the words, with Cachety still holding the blue wand firmly in his gloved hand. "Magic Markers", Linus said, referring to the invisible pens used by Apple technicians and a few other select employees. Apparently when a computer is sent in to be diagnosed or fixed, various scribbles are made in the special ink, both as a tool to track computers that might be tampered with ("modded" as the geeks say) and as a way to make notes outside of the standard Apple computerised support tracking system. A long held rumor, Linus felt privileged to see real evidence of the Magic Markers, though the circumstances held his exhilaration at bay.
Suddenly there was a burst of activity at the entrance to the cube, and a young red-haired woman came assertively down the stairs. I guess she heard about the elevator incident
"Somebody hired a cryptologist?", she said, her tone surprisingly jovial, yet with a hint of urgency. Detective Cachety turned, grinding his teeth. "Well, I guess so, Missy Sue". Almost ignoring Cachety completely, the woman strode up to Linus and introduced herself. "Susan Nancy, cryptologist covering the Manhattan precinct. Well, one of the CSIs covering the city that never sleeps."
Susan took the blue wand from Cachety and bent over the strange words. Linus held the urge to glance at her, she was attractive in an intellectual kind of way, and any brief look at her figure would attest to a gym-enthusiast ayurvedic-spa-pilates-something or other woman in her early thirties.
As though reading his thoughts, Susan got up and looked at Linus, studying him a short while. Kelly Clarkson, digitised and contorted into a mobile ringtone pierced the air. Winking at Linus Susan walked over to look at the iMacs, flipping out her cell phone and started chatting, just out of earshot.
At the same time, Linus' cell came to life, this time with a more standard, quieter clip of Nokia number 4. "Move away from Cachety, towards the stairs". It was Susan! But how?
. "Umm, give me a second, bad reception, you know," Linus signalled to Cachety, who looked impatient but seemed somehow entranced with the long row of iPods, some glistening, some heavily smudged. "Fingerprinting these damn things would bring up the entire NYPD database", he thought.
Gradually edging toward the steps, Susan murmured some more instructions to Linus. She had turned on some music on one of the iMacs in front of her. Cachety looked up briefly but then returned to studying the gadgets his daughter and her friends seemed so crazy about.
"Mr. Namar, you are in grave danger. Do not look at me, and just pretend to talk into your cell. There is something I must show you, but not now. I am going to hang up now, but you stay on your phone for a while longer". And with that Susan ended the call while Linus shouted, "Mum, do you know what time it is on this side of the world? Is everything okay?".
A third cell phone rang, this time Cachety's. Giving Susan and and Linus a quick glance, he started walking towards the glass elevator. "Gotta check something on the patrol car's screen. Look around but touch nothing, Namar".
Once the portly detective was out of sight, Susan walked rapidly to Linus. "We don't have much time. This is the fourth line of the message on the floor, which Cachety rubbed off before you got here. You're a suspect, Mr. Namar."
"Linus is fine", he replied, looking at Susan's cell phone screen. The fourth line read:
NS CALL LINUS NAMAR
Susan moved closer to Linus, her eyes almost hawk-like now. "Did you have a Genius Bar appointment with this young man on the floor, Linus?". Feeling his frustration rise, Linus barked under his breath, "I was planning on taking my laptop in here for a checkup while I was in town but I hadn't made a specific appointment, I just called and chatted with someone for a short while. What the hell is going on? What has all this got to do with me?"
Grabbing Linus by the arm, she ran over to the message on the floor. "Think, Linus, what this message could mean. Search the deepest, geekiest recesses of your mind and tell me, what could this be?". "You're the cryptologist," replied Linus. Susan snapped back almost instantly, "The damn numbers have no algorithm, code or symbology that strikes me. Maybe it has some reference to Apple technology, people or..."
"History.", Linus interjected. "The numbers are latitude and longitude figures that mark the place where Apple was founded - on Crist drive, in Los Altos, California. Mobius must refer to 1 infinite loop, the road name of Apple's current location. The Apple I personal computer kit was sold at US$666.66, obviously the sign of the devil for some but probably a joke by the then playful founders of the company."
Linus looked at Susan in disbelief. All his years of covering technology news and researching quaint trivia had somehow paid off today. There was a glow in Susan's eyes now, as she whispered, "Excellent. I knew you were the right man for the job."
....END OF EXCERPT......Look out for more in the coming days.....if inspiration strikes .................................................. .......................
(just like Dan Brown's work, there's a lot of inconsistencies in this story. Plus I haven't been to NYC recently