Updated: May 2
Chapter 6: Stolen Blueprints
After Frank’s suicide, an undercover cleaning crew that were actually federal contractors came in to collect everything from the house, and sort through it before giving the rest to Frank's family from Belgium. The feds were going to go through everything first because they knew Frank had crafted the computer technology to send out those signals to change people’s physical bodies around the world. They wanted to make sure that nothing like this would ever happen again.
Two tech wizards with minimal security clearances were sent to do the cleanup of everything from the crime scene and to move the belongings of the deceased. Unfortunately, their expertise in computer technology was not enough to land the jobs they truly wanted; it was just too competitive of a market. William Ortiz and best friend Tommy Dewitt were the ones sent for what they thought was a standard cleanup job. Tommy was a short but stout white man with short blond hair, and with his artful tattoos, he thought he looked tough. He never let his short stature keep him from being taken seriously. William was tall and big in general, a man who moved up from Guatemala fifteen years prior. He kept his dark hair buzzed all the time; he didn’t want to have to fuss with it. Unlike Tommy he wasn’t all tatted up, it never interested him. You would think he would be more of a ladies’ man with his strong jaw but he never had any luck.
The couches and lamps in Frank’s house would go to storage for the family. The computers and papers would go the government labs. The federal agents were tasked with making sure that the information that Frank left behind would not be leaked to the public. As William and Tommy were carefully putting his computer and other office stuff into boxes to be taken back to headquarters, they came across a thick binder with bizarre equations and drawings inside.
William asked, “What do you think these are?”
“I would say don’t snoop but let’s be real, we always snoop.”
They both laughed and unfolded the papers delicately as to not rip anything. The papers were jammed tightly into the all-black binder that didn’t indicate what it contained on the front. Although William didn’t understand what the jargon was at first, Tommy understood.
“What are these?”, asked William, looking at them with a goofy confused look on his face.
“These look like notes and a layout of code and computer algorithms but I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
“You’re right it does, those equations are so strange,” mentioned William as he pointed at a few parts of one of the pages they were looking over
Tommy flipped through the papers, looking to see what the information was for. After he looked through a good chunk of it, his bright green eyes grew wide and he looked at William.
“What?”, asked William. Who was looking around at that point to make sure no one would find them peeking at this collection of blueprints. They were the only ones upstairs though.
“These aren’t just any blueprints William, they're the blueprints for the computer program and technology that was used to make us all into those weird things.”
William paused for a moment, shocked by what he was seeing.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, look here, the last page has the title of People Morphing Plan. It’s odd that the title wasn’t written on the first page.”
“Do you really think these are those plans that were used? Also, it doesn’t matter where the title was written, dummy.”
Tommy moved his hand slightly up and down to indicate to William to calm down.
“I think so, this must have been the guy who did all of this. Look at this, it is a series of algorithms that allow for the tapping into radio stations and phone towers. This has to be it, they explained that it was radio signals and phone signals that caused it. They never mentioned how though, probably to keep it all under wraps. Now we should have the answers to our questions about what truly happened.”
“So, what you are saying is that we have the information behind this whole Shebang.”
“Yes, we do and that damn president has been using it to threaten us all. I say, we do the same thing but turn it on him.”
Tommy got this powerful look on his face; he was so disgusted with what these government officials had done to him and everyone else. Then to use it as a threat to everyone’s safety and their lives, was insane. They had caused many deaths from plane crashes, car crashes, and just based on where some individuals throughout the world were when they were changed.
He couldn’t help but feel like the vice president got his just desserts. After all, it was him and the secretary of state who had condemned them all. Tommy knew that he had the intellect to put it together, if this Frank guy could do it, he could too. He didn't care about his security clearance, and if they did it right, the Feds would never find out. Plus, he knew that William could help him even though he didn’t seem to be as passionate about it.
They finished clearing out the house but Tommy put these paper outlines into his old and worn work bag. He made sure that he did so by going into the now completely bare bathroom to conceal them in his bag. This ensured that no one coming in and out of the house would see him sneak it out. He did wonder though how this Frank guy had the audacity, or rather, the stomach, to craft this kind of technology for those who used it to hurt everyone with the idea of deadly coercion. All the rest of the stuff was hauled off, the obviously meaningless to the agents’ items to a storage facility for the family to pick up, and the rest to be packed off for the analysts.
They got into Tommy’s truck and headed back to Tommy’s place that was about forty-five minutes from Frank’s. Along the way, Tommy couldn’t contain his excitement and stated,
“Dude, you don’t seem to be as happy about this as I am.”
“I just, I don’t know, using the technology seems risky. What if more people get caught in the crossfire and not just the president?”
“You and I risk our jobs every day when we rile through all the stuff at crime scenes and take what we want when we can. How is this any different?”
William sighed and responded, “This isn’t like some cool knickknack or something of small value. This is, I don’t even know how to describe how dangerous this could be.”
They never stole money; it could be traced.
“Well, I don’t know about you but after all that has happened, I am not afraid of a little danger.”
William just rolled his golden-brown eyes and didn’t say anything else. He knew there was no stopping Tommy once he decided on something.
When Tommy got back to his mid-sized apartment, with William in tow, he set out to try and fully grasp these laid-out plans. William mainly just hung out on the old green sofa and drank a couple of beers while Tommy looked over every little detail. Not that William wasn’t interested, he did look over Tommy’s shoulder a lot to make sense of it himself. These algorithms were nothing like he had seen before and worked with on his own in his free time. Certainly not like anything he had learned about in college either. After an arduous amount of time spent browsing the blueprints, Tommy said worn out,
“I will need to get a hold of some hefty equipment for accessories to add to the high-speed computer I will need for this.”
William swallowed a bit of his IPA and belched before responding.
“So, where are you going to get all of that? Please tell me you aren’t going to quote-unquote borrow computer parts again? I mean I know this stuff is expensive but you could get caught when you get these things.”
“Relax, I will try to avoid that as much as possible, I know a guy.” “You say that but I don’t believe you. Do you think this will actually work?”
“It should, I’m thinking that we can do more than revenge with this.”
“What do you mean?”, asked William with concern. He knew that Tommy tended to take things to the extreme if given the opportunity.
“You and I have been working this job for a while. The pay is decent but this is the big score. I say we use this to try and get us the money we deserve. Think about it, you and I are educated yet we can’t seem to get our foot in the door in order to get the career we both deserve.”
“I know but this might be taking it too far. Besides, I thought you just wanted to force the president’s hand, to make him stand down. To use it otherwise just doesn’t seem right dude.”
Tommy lightly punched William in the arm and replied, “You worry too much man. Look, you know I’m right. You and I are computer geniuses but we also had to spend all that time completely frozen in place just like everyone else. We should get what we deserve.”
“I guess you’re right. You’ve been looking at that stuff for hours, you should take a break, get a beer.”
“You’re right, I think I understand it anyway. Apparently, this Frank guy made it easy to input commands to let certain people move. I don’t even know how he could have figured that out. This man must have been on a whole different level than us.”
“I agree but that doesn’t explain though why people would change into the same thing if they didn’t mirror the already morphed person’s movements.”
“What I get from this paperwork is that when the person was changed, they were contained within electrical signals that were absorbed from the phone towers and radio towers. However, I can’t explain the reason why people had to follow the movements, there is nothing in here about that. Maybe it was just some weird side effect or something unanticipated.”
“My other question is how did people in remote places change too?”
“Nothing in these blueprints as far as I can tell shed any light on that. I guess it is a mystery.”
Tommy walked quickly over to the tiny mint green fridge to pull out a beer and grabbed some corn chips out of the fake wood cabinet next to it. Almost dropping the beer when he closed it. They watched football highlights until William went back to his place. Tommy always laughed at him when he left because he was so tall that he had to duck under the door frame.
Despite William’s protest, Tommy went ahead and asked his acquaintance Jack who specialized in getting things like computers and other electronics in shady ways. Jack always told Tommy not to ask where and how he got his stuff. Jack for one didn’t want to increase the chance of getting caught and two didn’t want anyone else he helps make a monetary profit. So, Tommy walked his cute but overweight bulldog and called his friend Jack on a disposable burner phone.
“Hey, Jack it’s Tommy.”
“Hey man, how are you?”
“Good well better than good but that’s not important.”
Before Jack could respond, Tommy dropped his phone when Dozer tugged hard on the leash when another dog passed by. Once Tommy got him under control and he stopped barking for the most part he picked up the phone.
“Hey, you still there?”
“Yes, what happened?”
“Oh, Dozer made me drop my phone when he tugged on the leash. It’s so hard to keep him away from other dogs.”
Tommy was annoyed with Dozer but he couldn’t stay mad at him long with that big ugly but cute face.
“This is why I hate dogs.”
“What kind of person hates dogs. Don’t tell me you’re a cat person?”
“No, they are a pain too, I certainly would not want to deal with a litter box. Plus, my sister's cat did a number on my leg last time I was over there. I still have scratches that are healing.”
Tommy couldn’t help but wonder if it is because Jack is a bit of an ass.
“What kind of pets do you like then?”
“Lizards, I have an iguana. Birds are cool from a distance but I wouldn’t own one.”
“Having an iguana is actually pretty cool man. I hear you about the birds, they would drive me nuts.”
“Exactly! Yeah, Ace is pretty cool.”
Tommy cleared his throat and said, “Nice, now back to business, can we meet up?”
“Sure, tell me then what it is that you want me to get you.”
“Alright, I’ll meet you at the store where we’ve gone before.”
“Good idea and I would suggest that we do this at night as per usual, even though that is a twenty-four-hour place.”
“Then let’s meet up at ten tomorrow night.”
“Works for me, see you then.”
“See you then.”
Excited to finally be ready to get the whole thing together he walked back to his apartment fast to look over the blueprints again. He had been spending all of his free time doing so, becoming obsessed.
He and Dozer were heading up the stairs to his apartment when Tommy looked down at him and said, “You can make it bud; you aren’t that old.”
Dozer continued to snort at him and in general until they got inside. Tommy filled his big metal water bowl and grabbed some water himself. Then looked at the little fridge where he had a picture of his family. Silently he said that this is for you. If he was able to pull this off, he would have the money to bring them to the states from Germany, he really missed them.
The next night Tommy pulled his Ford F-150 green truck up to Jack’s nondescript car in the local shopping center parking lot. Tommy had employed Jack many times to get him what he needed. Mostly for computer parts, and once for an unlicensed gun. You wouldn’t take Jack for a thief or a thug of any kind. He was a scrawny man with balding brown hair and a gross-looking mustache. Jack rolled down his window and motioned for Tommy to get in the car. Feeling a little on edge as he always did when he did transactions like this, Tommy got up into the passenger seat. The smell of cigarette smoke seemed worse than usual, it always grossed him out. It became obvious that he had been smoking more because there were several empty packs on the floor.
“Did you bring the list of stuff you need?”, asked Jack.
Tommy figured that maybe that was why he was able to get away with it. No one would suspect some guy who looked like Jack to do what he does.
Tommy was about to continue but Jack stopped him, “Look as I always say, I don’t want to know why you need these things, I just want my payment and to get the job done.”
“Right, sorry, here is the list.”
Jack took the list with his clammy small hands and looked it over.
“Wow, this is a lot of interesting stuff that you want. possibly hard to come by.”
“Well, can you get them?”
“I can but I’m going to need much more than the normal rate I always quote you.”
Tommy sighed but he figured this might happen. Nevertheless, he figured it was worth it in the end.
“How much Jack?”
“I’d say about $5,000.”
Tommy’s mouth gapped open and he replied, “that’s a lot.”
“Well, this stuff isn’t easy to find, let alone take, so you better pay me.”
“I'll give you some now, and the rest after you get it?”
Jack rolled his eyes but reasonably replied, “Fine but you better be good for it. You’ve been good about giving me my payment so far but I can’t take any chances.”
Tommy honestly took his threats kind of lightly; he could take this scrawny guy. Tommy may be just as short but his muscles were built by moving things and weightlifting. He even did boxing for a few years after high school.
“I'm good for it,” said Tommy with determined conviction in his voice.
“Okay, I will get these things, now get out of my car and you and I will talk in a few weeks.”
Tommy got out of the car and went back to his apartment, thinking about how Jack was always so rude, but he was the only guy who could help him. He waited around for a few weeks. Jack told him that it was taking a while to gather up all the supplies. Although Tommy was in a hurry to get things rolling, he knew it would be worth the wait. In the meantime, he went over the plans originally made by Frank to figure out every little thing he would have to input into the computer he was going to use, he could leave no room for error. Usually, he had William come over to look at the plans too. William was not as enthusiastic about it; he was still paranoid about it. Tommy did a little more contracting than usual to come up with the cash, working with his buddy moving stuff out of the different homes of deceased people, usually ones who had security clearances.
For even more money, he ran a little side business as well, hacking for clients to which he also kept from William. He'd be able to pay Jack. Tommy always balanced this out on his conscience, figuring the world was harsh on a working man like himself. So, he had to make ends meet by any means necessary. He was always hacking into servers owned and used by rich people, for other rich people. In his mind, he thought he was doing the world justice, all of which inflated his ego. So, when he would be able to pull off this new scheme, he knew he would feel even better about himself. Overcoming the self-doubt from not being where he wanted to be in life.
Jack finally got all the things Tommy requested after about four weeks. By then the president and the rest of the federal government had been somewhat successful in putting things back together. The world was making some small progress in carrying out those negotiated terms. Companies were investing in renewable energy while the oil companies complained incessantly. Extra food was being allocated to those who were homeless or poor, instead of being thrown away. Waterways were being cleaned up slowly but surely and fracking companies were being shut down. These are just some of the things that were going on, and other approaches were being taken outside the United States. Quite frankly it was surprising that the government was able to overstep company owners who only cared about their profit but their hands had been forced. Tommy didn’t care though, yes it was going better than he had expected, but he still wanted to use the technology as he desired.
Tommy and his dealer securely set up another meeting, in a different parking lot. Always far in the back, away from prying eyes and after dark of course. This time Tommy met him at the back of Jack’s car where Jack showed Tommy that everything on the list was there.
“You got the rest of the money?”
Tommy handed it over and tried not to laugh at Jack’s pathetic tough-guy voice.
“Good, well it’s all here.”
Tommy took his time to look over all of the equipment and was impressed. The things that he needed to pull this off were rare and not easy to get.
“Awesome, thanks, man.”
Jack didn’t help him get the stuff into Tommy’s truck, he just stood there. He never helped him move equipment in the past either. Tommy noticed that he seldom smiled, and always looked angry. He wanted to ask but Jack just wanted his profit, he didn’t care about anything else. After putting a tarp over all of the equipment he turned to Jack and said,
“Okay, that’s all of it.”
“Yeah, let me know when you need something else.”
Wanting to get to work on this as fast as possible, Tommy rushed home to buckle down on it. With the tweaking of every little component and the loading of the programs and code, it took him two weeks to pull it off. With lots of late nights and plenty of cussing. He did it though and invited William over to see it. William showed up wearing his typical jersey, this time the San Francisco 49ers since that’s where he and his family moved to from Guatemala.
“So, you finished it huh?”
“Yeah, I’ll grab us some brews, and then I’ll show you what makes it tick.”
The computer and the extra devices were sprawled out over the oversized glass coffee table in front of the flatscreen. You would think that it would buckle or shatter but it was a robust table. William browsed what was in front of him with a speculative eye. There were a few parts that he had never seen before much less knew how they worked.
“This is a lot of stuff, seems extensive and expensive. Let me guess, it was stolen.”
Tommy brought over the two cold beers and said calmly to assure him, “Don’t worry about how I got the stuff. The important thing is that I assembled this whole thing.”
William looked at him with curiosity, “Does it work?”
“I don’t know but I am going to figure it out and you are going to be the test subject.”
William’s small light-brown eyes got huge and he said, “Oh no, no, I don’t want to go through that again. I won’t be a lab rat for this.”
“It would only be for a minute and then I will change you back.”
“Can’t we get someone else to do it? How do you know it won’t just fry me? Like I don’t understand how this Frank guy pulled it off with electrical currents, that should’ve killed us all.”
To ease William’s fear because William had started to hyperventilate a bit he showed him.
“Look here at this, it basically shows a way that this Frank dude prevented that. I didn’t think it would be possible either bud but it will be okay.”
Tommy sighed and then thought of who they should experiment with this on. It was super risky but it may need to be done if William truly wouldn’t comply. His idea as crazy as it was, was to take it to work and use it on their coworkers.
“How about we take it to work and set it up in the little empty back office and change everyone there and then change them back to see if it works.”
“Won’t they report that though?”
“I guess you’re right, but do you have a better plan?”
William sighed again before he took a drink of his beer.
“I guess I’ll do it but you better promise me that I won’t be stuck like the last time, it was awful, man.”
“Trust me I know, and trust me on this too, I will bring you back.”
They finished up their beers and had a few more, all the while silently feeling on edge. Nevertheless, William wanted to relax a bit before they tried it. Tommy had William go to the other side of the room in the corner to try and avoid being caught up in it himself. William miscalculated how close one of the lamps was to the corner and knocked it over.
“Wow, just wow William.”
“Shut up, I will fix it later.”
Tommy moved his head to get a better look at the thin gray pole of the lamp to make sure it was okay.
“Well, it doesn’t look like you broke it. Which is good because it was cheap as hell. Good to know that it isn’t that flimsy.”
He had instructed William to have his phone on him like they both had when this happened the first time. They were changed at one of the homes they were cleaning out. They could only communicate with each other; the agents and other personnel had already left. Quite frankly it was absolute torture for them to be stuck like that and having only each other to talk to. It was maddening, William particularly was so scared. He had always been an anxious man and Tommy tried to remain calm under pressure at all times.
“Wait, won’t this change other people too?”
“I don’t think so, I am having it target your phone specifically. It took me a while to figure out how you can target certain phones or radios and certain people once they have been changed.”
“Okay, then let’s get it over with.”
William closed his eyes in anticipation while shaking in fear and Tommy got to work, inputting everything to cause William to shapeshift. When it started, William shook violently as before and then became the odd-looking figure that they had all been made to look like before. Tommy was speechless, he had done it.
As promised, he brought William right back to himself.
“Dude, that was just as freaky as before. I kind of forgot the fact that it hurt a bit right before I changed.”
“So, it worked?”
Tommy had a huge grin on his face and exclaimed, “Yes, it did.”
“Cool, so I guess it’s operational.”
“It sure is.”
William went home shortly after this still feeling a little jarred and Tommy kept tinkering with the computer and its accessories. The possibilities were endless for him now, he could do whatever he wanted with this. For the rest of the evening, he went over the many things he could possibly utilize this technology for. He didn’t think about what the consequences would be or if what he was planning to do would interrupt the progress that had been made in the world thus far. He didn’t have to limit it just to getting revenge and cash. There were many other ways he could use this power.