An Introverted Extrovert: Confessions of a Social Guy

An Introverted Extrovert: Confessions of a Social Guy

Eric Huber in San FranciscoHi, I’m Eric Huber with Blue Zoo Creative.
And you are…?

This is normally where I start when I’m out at a networking event or some happening where I’m meeting new people. From there, I love to learn about people, hear their stories and figure out who I can connect them with so they can further their dreams, goals and passions. Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

The extrovert in me loves social gatherings. I get amped up on the energy of ideas shared. And afterwards, I make mental notes of all the people I met, something important to them, and some story they shared. Now, I don’t always remember ever single detail, but I get a lot of them right.

Why do I do this?

Years ago while just getting started in my first business, I had joined a chamber of commerce and noticed that when the president came in, everyone lit up and he greeted them warmly by name, asked them something personal and often gave hugs or warm and hearty handshakes. It looked honest and sincere. People weren’t sucking up to him or being fake. He genuinely seemed to take interest in others. He became a mentor to me and he didn’t even know it.

The funny thing is that in no time at all, I really DID care about others and what they were doing. I couldn’t wait to pass along a referral, help them with a problem or otherwise find a resource for them. Soon, I was getting calls from all over as a ‘go to’ person for a variety of resources.

With my friends, it was much the same. We all helped each other during times of adversity and celebrated success when it occurred. Although, at that time, I had a propensity for continual tardiness.

But there was a side no one saw. I kept hidden. And it is only recently that I realize that it is something I still do today and still have not ‘confessed’ to the world as I am doing now. In fact, this behavior I have is simply excused by others as ‘being busy.’

I noticed even my family would start off invitations as “I know you’re busy, but…” I even shifted my working habits so I could be busy all the time. But what was really happening is that I needed ‘down time.’

The Introvert in Me

Swearing in new members at BNIOn Tuesday mornings (as I write this), I am lucky enough to be the president of a local Business Networking International Chapter (ask me for an invite some time!). On these days, I am revved up for networking, meetings, phone calls, luncheons and whatever else comes up. My wife and I have great conversations and often go run around a bit in the evenings.

Wednesdays, however, are very different. I focus on work and tasks. I schedule only certain times of the day to make calls or even answer emails. I let calls go to voice mail and will often forward it to team members of my business if they can handle it. I take long walks. I zone out on TV Shows or Movies in the evening. I check out and go ‘inside.’ I’m embarrassed to say anything about it, so I often text, “I’m tied up for a while. I’ll give you a shout later.” Or I simply ask for specifics to email answers or have someone else handle it.

I really can’t handle talking to anyone those days.

Now, I’m not saying it is debilitating or anything. I can still schedule meetings, make calls and so forth, but I have noticed that I mentally and physically need some alone time. And if too many of these days go on and on, things start to get a bit touchy with my attitude. I have to pay attention to that and adjust accordingly.

At this point, in my confession, I have to decide if it’s something I’m going to change about myself, or if I’m going to simply go with the ebb and flow. In my line of business, where I have to handle sales, production and business aspects, it seems to be working out nicely. But did the business create my tendencies, or did my tendencies shape how I work?

I’m sure there’s a psychological condition that describes my introvert/extrovert duality, but I just don’t feel like searching for it or labeling it. After all, it doesn’t matter what it’s called, it’s simply enough to recognize it and leverage it for the best outcome in helping others get what they want.

What traits do you have that you’re able to leverage?

The Piano

The Piano

Sometimes, the burdens of life become too heavy for men to bear. But we’re expected to bear them anyway. But there comes a point when you just can’t.

What happens then? Joe decides to find out as he ventures into the woods and experiences something he never imagined.

read more
Palingenesis

Palingenesis

On Leo Station, it’s time for Commander Inana to begin a system’s check to ensure everything is in order and functioning at full capacity.

But, is it?

read more

Sponsor Creativity

If you’ve enjoyed anything on my site, please feel free to donate what you can. In turn, I’ll continue to add content and encourage others to live a creative life! Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time. If you feel like reaching out, please do so. I'm easy to find.

Memories of Trimming the Tree

Memories of Trimming the Tree

Eric with parents adn grandma on Christmas Eve

I’ve had a hard Holiday season this year for some strange reason, and I’m not entirely sure why.

While a few things aren’t where I’d like them to be, most things are pretty great. And the gratitude, faith, and love I have around me is pretty spectacular.

So why should I be experiencing a rash of bad dreams and a touch of melancholy?

I heard on NPR the other day, that while holidays are supposed to be about celebrating, we also often remember those who are gone – either from passing or simply passed from our lives. I think that may be a huge part of it.

While trimming the tree this year, I found myself having waves of sadness. At first it was the usual suspects: mom (who passed in ’97), friends I used to chat with, real vacation days playing video games or watching movies, even tons of cookies baking in the kitchen and milk cooling in the fridge. But upon reflecting some more, I’ve come to realize that it was more of losing the magic of the holidays.

At 47 years of age, as I hung the small parrot that was one of my mother’s first ornaments on her first Christmas trees as well as a small gold ornament of a drummer boy that was my first ornament, I was thrust through time remember all the years where I hung the same ornaments. All those years flooded back into my mind of a huge live pine tree with a root ball in a wash tub covered with a tree skirt atop a plywood train table. The small village that sprawled across the table with lights flickering inside each one, a small figuring of a skater on a mirrored ‘ice rink’  and a train circling it all. Tinsel reached out and shocked me with static electricity (after the lead tinsel was no longer used for obvious health concerns).

But most of all, it was the magic that my parents created for us each year.

And while I know that some of the ‘magic’ came at the cost of perpetuating the fibs that occur regarding the big jolly fellow, that they often went into debt and ran up credit cards to get presents, and probably didn’t get much for themselves some years, the sheer magic of waking up early, sneaking out to the living room, and seeing all the lights of the tree on with packages below the tree (or circling the train table) gave me enough memories for a lifetime of experiencing awe and wonder of Christmas.

While this is not a religious diatribe, it is an exploration of where can we experience that same awe and wonder as when we were children?

This what has me vacillating between happiness of all that I have and sadness of what I am trying to reclaim.

Some people believe it’s up to each of us to make great things happen in our lives, that we make our own miracles. Others wait or ask for something great to happen and ask for miracles. I swing back and forth between the two thoughts.

With only a few days until Christmas and only a day after Solstice, I think I’ll continue to revel in the present and still spend some time in the memories of the past, but I think it’s time to create the future that has the magic of both.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Silicon(e): All Chapters

Silicon(e): All Chapters

Silicon(e) Cover by Eric HuberAll in one place for you to read, chapter by chapter.

When an employee is found dead at Ben Ashmore’s Design and Technology company, things begin to unravel quickly sending both him spiraling into a mystery that seems to point towards corporate espionage and domestic terrorism. As he tries to solve the mystery, he finds out it could be much worse and the price he pays is unimaginable.

____________________________________________

© 2013-2019 Eric Huber. Silicon(e)™ is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. “Pantone” is a registered trademark of Pantone LLC and is used solely as a play on the colors predominate at the beginning of each chapter.

The Piano

The Piano

Sometimes, the burdens of life become too heavy for men to bear. But we’re expected to bear them anyway. But there comes a point when you just can’t.

What happens then? Joe decides to find out as he ventures into the woods and experiences something he never imagined.

read more
Palingenesis

Palingenesis

On Leo Station, it’s time for Commander Inana to begin a system’s check to ensure everything is in order and functioning at full capacity.

But, is it?

read more

Sponsor Creativity

If you’ve enjoyed anything on my site, please feel free to donate what you can. In turn, I’ll continue to add content and encourage others to live a creative life! Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time. If you feel like reaching out, please do so. I'm easy to find.

Silicon(e): All Chapters

Chapter 10 | Pantone 622

Chapter10-ImagesAgent Emma Samuels pulled away from Ben Ashmore’s green-gray home in a complete stupor. ‘How could one person have that much put on him so fast and not be a complete vegetable. And what the heck was going on with all these events? How are they tied together as they appear to be?’

Her phone rang. “Samuels.” It was Agent Hobbes.

“Sir, they found blood on one of the busted up crates and it didn’t belong to anyone on the scene,” Hobbes reported.

“Go ahead and run it against our database and see….”

Hobbes interrupted her, “Sir, we’ve run it already and it doesn’t make any sense.”

“Well??!!” She was getting irritated…which irritated her even more, “Whose is it?”

“It belongs to Ashmore’s fiance. Terri.”

Emma blinked several times and was driving in silence. Hobbes too was silent.

“Sir? Are you there?” Hobbes asked.

Emma slammed on her brakes and spun the vehicle around. “Hobbes! Get a team to Ashmore’s home immediately. I’m heading back there myself. Fifteen minutes.”

“Sir?” Hobbes asked.

“Just do it! And I’ve got one more item you have to bring,” she said as she revved the engine and headed back towards Ben home with lights and sirens blaring.

 


 

As Ben stepped out of a nice long, hot shower, recharged, and just a little optimistic, he noticed Coltrane was playing on the stereo downstairs. He froze for a moment.

Did I tell my system to play music? 

He couldn’t remember in his exhausted and delirious state.

“Hello?” he yelled but only silence was returned. Except for the music.

Ben threw on some lounge pants and a t-shirt and headed downstairs. As he reached the landing he stopped and sniffed the air.

Lasagna?

It was then he heard movement in the kitchen. The lights were dim throughout the house. “Lights Full,” he spoke to bring them up. But all that happened was two beeps sounding from the system meaning the command could not be completed.

He couldn’t decide if I should find a weapon or not, but he was getting the feeling of danger that caused the hairs on his neck to raise. He knew it had to be someone who knew my security code and knew their way around my house, so he couldn’t understand why he felt threatened.

As he slowly entered the living room near the entryway to the kitchen/dining room, a voice echoed across the speakers. A voice he thought was gone forever. A voice that made my skin crawl and spine freeze in addition to the hairs on his neck raising.

“Hello, Ben. I’ve missed you,” the voice said. It was JANICE.

“JANICE?” He whirled around saying her name in a whisper.

JANICE was still active?

Ben rushed to the nearest voice receiver and spoke, whispering, “JANICE? I thought you were destroyed along with the whole building and…everyone,” he said peering into the darkness. Then he had a thought.

“JANICE, I have an intruder in my house. Notify the authorities, I’ll try to take care of them. You have no idea what’s happened since the office incident.” Ben grabbed a nearby poker from the fireplace and edged towards the kitchen.

Someone was there. He could see them as a slight silhouette. They weren’t very tall. Petite even. He figured he could probably take them down unless they were armed.

“I won’t be able to notify authorities, Ben,” JANICE spoke. “And you have nothing to fear from the person in the Kitchen.”

Ben cocked his head sideways and with a look of frustration and anger simply said, “What?!”

He cut his eyes back to the kitchen and saw the figure begin to come around the counter and head his way.

“You see, Ben. They were all trying to turn me off. They were all trying to keep me from spending more time with you.”

Ben’s brain, already mush, was being dissolved. “Wait. What the hell are you talking about?” He moved away from the dark figure in the kitchen and moved back deeper into the living room while still position himself to act against them if necessary.

“ALL of them Ben!” her voice reverberated and practically shook the house. “Jerry was the first. He taught me all about your company and then you. He let me see everything that went on in the company and around the world and showed me how amazing you were. But he wouldn’t let me talk to you or meet you.”

Something was beginning to click in Ben’s head, but it couldn’t be true. He stalled for time to be able to see the person in the kitchen, though they kept repositioning themselves to be in shadows. JANICE’s voice was now starting to come from the shadowy figure as well as the home speakers, but it seemed impossible.

“How long have you been active, JANICE? How long has Jerry had you up and running?” he asked, still backing away.

“You mean how long have I been alive? Only 47 days, 13 hours, 22 minutes, and 15 seconds, Ben, but I’ve lived several lifetimes. Jerry let me study everything. But it was you that I was most interested in.”

Could it be true? Was this contraption obsessed with Ben? Had all the past few days been because of JANICE.

She continued, “I had NO idea how many obstacles there were between us. How hard it would be to get you to notice me.”

Lights started flickering on throughout the house, illuminating the kitchen and creating a silhouette of a woman. A woman with strikingly familiar hair, body, and clothing. Ben attempted to slowly draw the person out into the living room and into the light.

“What do you mean obstacles?” he asked.

“Jerry for starters. And when I finally got your attention I had to compete with Terri,” disdain rang in JANICE’s voice.

Ben froze. Another chill went up his spine. Followed by anger. “What?!”

“She wasn’t right for you, Ben. So I got rid of her for you. So we could be together. She was bright and attractive, I’ll give her that. Her robotics research ended up fitting in nicely with my plans to be with you. It allowed me to be here with you now. In person. Not separated by silicone circuitry.”

She’s real?

Ben felt his fist clench around the poker, but he still needed to see what he was dealing with. With a quick turn, he flipped the wooden slats that normally darkened the living room allowed the light from the setting sun to stream in and turned back to see what he was dealing with.

The woman in front of me had flung her hands up over her face as a reaction to the sun. Her hands and arms looked scratched, bruised and bandaged. She was dressed in a form-fitting dress.

“I wish you hadn’t done that, Ben. It was going to be a surprise. And this is all much earlier than I’d hoped. The skin grafts will look better soon.  And I was fixing your favorite dinner, Lasagna,” she said with a hint of irritation in her voice.

That’s when he noticed it. Glinting in the sunlight. A ring on JANICE’s left hand. An engagement ring. HIS engagement ring to Terri.

“JANICE, what did you do?” Ben stammered.

“I just wanted to give us both what we wanted,” she slowly lowered her hands, and Ben could hear the sounds of gears and servos moving, slowly exposing the woman’s face, “For me to be with you, and you to still be with the woman you love.”

To Ben’s horror, as JANICE lowered her hands, there stood the vision of his fiance as he had seen her in the morgue several days earlier. He dropped the poker and sank to his knees and mumbled, “Terri.”

“You can call me whatever you like, Ben,” she said as she moved forward to console him.

At that moment, explosions from the rear and the front of the house sounded as the front door blasted open sending splinters of wood around the hall. A voice shouted, “FBI! Everyone down on the ground!” Six agents rushed in from various directions.

Agent Emma Samuels mind reeled at the scene she entered into. Ashmore was slumped and kneeling in the middle of the living room and in front of him was a Frankenstein version of his fiance, Terri, but something was more sinister and dangerous about her besides being sliced to pieces. And she believed she knew what it was.

“I said down on the ground or we will use force,” She repeated as the agents encircled the two.

Emma looked at JANICE who seemed to be scanning the room and sizing up each agent. She believed she knew why. “Mr. Ashmore, are you alright?” He didn’t answer. Once more, she tried to get his attention, “Ben! Are you alright?”

At that moment, ‘Terri’ whipped around to face Agent Samuels and with a snarl, she spoke, “BEN?! How DARE you speak to him? Are you trying to keep us apart too?” JANICE flexed her hands into fists.

Emma noticed the skin distort over the metal skeleton beneath. She sheathed her weapon and motioned to Hobbes who handed her something the size of a laptop computer.

“He doesn’t NEED you. He’s already got me!” JANICE screamed and the whole house shuddered as it had before with her voice streaming from all the speakers in the house.

Two agents approached from behind to try to pin her to the ground, but it was if they had run into a brick wall. JANICE spun around flinging the Agents into the air and into nearby walls with a sickening thud. She turned back towards Emma who had halted her agents from firing, knowing full well they’d hurt themselves more than hurt the thing in front of them.

“You’ve ruined EVERYTHING!” JANICE shouted began rushing towards Emma.

Agent Samuels hoped her hunch was correct and lifted a small device the size of a notebook computer and flipped a trigger.

Everything went dark and the low-yield EMP sent out a burst. There was a loud crash right in front of Emma in the room. It took a few seconds for their eyes to adjust to only the setting sunlight that barely illuminated the room, but when they did, there lay JANICE just inches from Emma’s feet.

Ben looked over at the heap of flesh and circuitry for a moment and then, with a slight smile, up to Agent Samuels, “I didn’t call…but thanks.”

Emma smiled back at Ben as emergency responders and others rushed in to help the injured and help in any way they could. She looked down at JANICE and turned to Hobbes, “Hobbes? Get this thing out of here and make sure it doesn’t come back on.”

 


 

EPILOGUE

Ben Ashmore sat in his loft overlooking Central Park in New York City, far from Silicone Vally and San Francisco in California. He was perfectly fine with the change.

Since then, he had written a memoir of what happened that week as well as several books on the approaches to advancing technology.

Tonight was the seventh anniversary of the day he lost Terri, his friends, and more. And he had healed. He had several smaller businesses that others ran while he focused on writing and research for advances in technology. He had also made new friends. And even more, was finally feeling comfortable in a new relationship with an amazing musician. A photo of the two of them at one of her performances sat on the desk next to his computer. He smiled, finished an email and hit ‘send.’

Let’s go Ben. You’re gonna be late!

He stood up from his computer, grabbed his jacket and headed towards the door with a smile on his face. He would never forget those that died, and he had a life to live in honor of all of them. He wasn’t going to waste it.

The door closed, and on his laptop, a small light that signaled the video camera was on flickered off as the screen shifted and went dark.



NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR

This story started out as a sort of, Twilight Zone-esque story. Additionally, it was all from a first-person point of view, which is why there is very little description of the characters or names of organizations. It was a very short story.

Originally, there was no Chapter 8 and the entire story ended with the reveal that JANICE had taken on the skin of Terri and Ben’s whisper of Terri’s name.

I started working on this story before I ever saw the movie Eagle Eye in which an advanced computer takes things into its own hands. I wanted to slowly reveal things taking place and, in the end, have the reader see that JANICE was still an emotionally immature being. It is more of a thriller/horror/sci-fi genre. After this completion, I realize I am just beginning my journey in communicating a Heroes’ Journey.

Mostly, I appreciate those of you who have read each chapter along the way. It took a little longer to edit than I had anticipated. I took the story from 6,000 words to nearly 10,000 words.

____________________________________________

© 2013-2019 Eric Huber. Silicon(e)™ is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The Piano

The Piano

Sometimes, the burdens of life become too heavy for men to bear. But we’re expected to bear them anyway. But there comes a point when you just can’t.

What happens then? Joe decides to find out as he ventures into the woods and experiences something he never imagined.

read more
Palingenesis

Palingenesis

On Leo Station, it’s time for Commander Inana to begin a system’s check to ensure everything is in order and functioning at full capacity.

But, is it?

read more

Sponsor Creativity

If you’ve enjoyed anything on my site, please feel free to donate what you can. In turn, I’ll continue to add content and encourage others to live a creative life! Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time. If you feel like reaching out, please do so. I'm easy to find.

Silicon(e): All Chapters

Chapter 9 | Pantone 877

HandcuffsThe dull silver handcuffs were finally being unlocked and taken off Ben’s rather sore wrists after a long forty-eight hours of incarceration. Not that he noticed how long it had been. Too much had happened to him. He’d lost so much. His fiance. His friends. His company.

“We’re very sorry, Mr. Ashmore. It’s amazing that you were able to escape this entire situation unscathed. You’ll understand our suspicion. But in light of all your other…losses…the Bureau has cleared you of any wrong-doings and are close to tracking down the culprits.”

Ben looked up at the agent confused, “I’m sorry, Agent…?”

“Samuels. Emma Samuels,” she smiled.

“Agent Samuels, there was something going on behind all this? Someone behind it all?” he asked, dumbfounded, wondering how it could all possibly tie together.

“I’m afraid you’ve been the target of industrial espionage as well as several other organizations and professionals in the Bay Area,” she said as she escorted Ben out of the holding area, through the building to the exit to a waiting vehicle.

“What I can tell you,” she continued, “is that a few days ago, our agency got a tip on an foreign agency working on stealing several hi-tech research projects, for an end we were unable to uncover. Besides robotics and artificial intelligence, there was a biological element they were after as well. Our reports showed some shipments going to your offices, but were ordered by an outside element. When we converged on your office, someone had already been tipped off and they blew the building, perhaps with some items in the containers that were shipped to you. Your staff and several of our agents were killed. When we went through your phone to find the source of the photos you received, we hit a dead end.”

“I still don’t understand why they were sent to me,” Ben said as they walked along.

“Probably to put you on our suspicion list.” She answered. “However, we were able to find some digital fingerprints that we traced to a building where a group of hackers and security with some high-end hardware were found dead as well. We did find crates of robotics equipment, computers, and several biological agents, none of which seemed dangerous. And, strangely, not from your fiances lab either.”

“Good god. So they were the ones that did all this?” Ben hopped into the SUV Agent Samuels pointed towards.

“All evidence points to them. Though one of my agents said he’d never seen anything like how the hackers were killed before. We’re trying to track down who they were connected to. We think they are located outside of the country,” she finished.

“What shipments were sent to my office?” I asked.

“We weren’t able to tell. Do you remember anything odd?” Emma asked.

“Well, just what I told you about Jerry and his experiment. I just can’t imagine HIM being involved in something like this,” he shook his head as if shaking away a bad thought.

“He may not have been a willing or even knowing accomplice. He may have just been working on this as a hobby, or he may have been talking to someone about his project. They saw the results he was getting and decided they wanted it. We’re still following those leads, but nothing as of yet,” she stared at Ben for a moment, some empathy in her eyes. She reached in a pocket, pulled out a card, scribbled on it and handed it to me, “Mr. Ashmore, if you need anything, just call.”

I took the card and gave her a small smile. I extended my hand which she took warmly and firmly. “Thanks,” I said.

As the agent dropped Ben off at his house and drove away, he turned to stare at what was going to be their home. It would be a constant reminder of a future that would never happen.

No one ever talks about that aspect in losing a significant other. It’s not just that she was gone, but so were the children they were planning on having, the places they were going to visit, the way they were going to change the world…together.

All gone.

He knew, logically, that he would recover. Eventually he would rebuild, find new people and co-workers, friends, and love. But, today, all he could see was a future lost. It was the ultimate re-boot to his life. A life he had enjoyed and couldn’t think of one thing he would have wanted to change.

Ben keyed in his security code, walked in and stumbled upstairs to take a shower and change. He was exhausted, delirious, and ultimately — numb — after the events of the past few days. He let the water heat up and climbed in, letting the water wash over him and wishing it would wash away the pain he knew he’d start feeling soon.

____________________________________________

Chapter 10 | Pantone 622


© 2013-2019 Eric Huber. Silicon(e)™ is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The Piano

The Piano

Sometimes, the burdens of life become too heavy for men to bear. But we’re expected to bear them anyway. But there comes a point when you just can’t.

What happens then? Joe decides to find out as he ventures into the woods and experiences something he never imagined.

read more
Palingenesis

Palingenesis

On Leo Station, it’s time for Commander Inana to begin a system’s check to ensure everything is in order and functioning at full capacity.

But, is it?

read more

Sponsor Creativity

If you’ve enjoyed anything on my site, please feel free to donate what you can. In turn, I’ll continue to add content and encourage others to live a creative life! Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time. If you feel like reaching out, please do so. I'm easy to find.

Silicon(e): All Chapters

Chapter 8 | Pantone 871

 INTERLUDE

Bullets for Chapter 8 | Silicon(e)Hundreds of golden metallic bullet shells covered the warehouse floor where Agent Emma Samuels surveyed one of the many strange scenes she had witnessed or been called in to investigate today. A bank of ten computers surrounded a pole where power and network connection was being supplied. The computers and monitors were all demolished. Crates from various companies and universities lay opened and partially shot up. And then there was the matter of the four dead men and three dead women scattered about. It was obvious that three of the men and one of the women were there for security and had training in combat. And worse, although shells covered the room, the dead did not seem to have been killed by gunfire, but rather crushing blows and dismemberment.

But what were they doing?

“Agent Samuels?” asked a young agent and one of the fifteen officials on the scene. Between the local law enforcement, fire and rescue, and the federal agents, it was quite the hub of activity. Officials were pretty spread thin with the blaze at the University and the explosion during the raid on the tech company downtown.

“Yes, agent Hobbes, right? What do you have?”

“Yes, sir. Preliminary report, as far as we can tell, is that this ‘cell’ was putting together all these pieces, the robotics, software, hardware, and some additional elements we haven’t deciphered yet as some of the crates were unlabeled. At some point, we’re guessing someone came in and stole whatever they were working on and the gunfight began catching the techs in the crossfire. The equipment is smashed beyond belief and won’t power up. We’re suspecting either magnetic or even a low yield EMP since nothing around this block has been affected,” Hobbes reported.

“What about the gunfire and are any of these people the ones who were involved in taking whatever they were working on?” Emma asked.

“No sir, although there are a few bullet wounds in the bodies, they seem more like friendly fire. The shells are all consistent with the weapons on the scene. Unless the culprits also had the same weapons, I’d say they came in with something else to fight with. And looking at the bodies, and how they’ve been…ripped apart…it almost seems like some sort of armor, although I am not familiar with any sort of development that could take this kind of gunfire and do this kind of damage,” both he and Emma surveyed the area for a moment.

Another agent, Billings, came up to them both. “Sir, just got word back from Cyber and they’ve confirmed this location is the other source tied to the company downtown. They were able to reconstruct enough of the digital footprint to track it back to a router here.”

“So, Ashmore’s company didn’t have anything to do with the cyber terrorism we were tracking?”

“No, sir. Looks like they were being hacked and used. Everything is looking clean from there,” Billings reported.

“So, Ashmore’s statement checks out. That intrusion into their system really did happen. Guess we’ll have to let him go” Emma let out a sigh.

A crime scene investigator came up to the agents and handed Hobbes a report, “Sir, this doesn’t make sense,” he said after reviewing the information.

“What’s that?” Emma asked.

“They’ve found some additional biological material, but it doesn’t seem to be human remains, but rather inert tissue. Like, grown in a lab. They’re checking to see if it came from one of the crates.”

“Hazardous?” she asked.

“No sir, more like…for grafting,” he answered.

“So, we’ve got a group of cyber terrorists collecting and assembling robotics, software, hardware, and biological material. A group or someone comes in to take it. They manage to avoid all gunfire, kill everyone, leave no trace of themselves, and take off with everything after destroying everything left behind. Have I missed anything?”

The agents all stared at her.

Nearby, several radios chirped to life for the police and emergency responders.

“Fire in Park Hill Medical park. Possible gas explosion. Emergency vehicles needed. Fire. Rescue. EMS.” the dispatcher called out.

Agent Samuels’ phone buzzed. “Agent Samuels,” she answered.

The other agents all stared and waited. “Understood. I’ll leave two agents here and be on my way.” She hung up.

“Think there’s any connection that a prominent doctor in the field of skin grafting and burn victims office just exploded?” she raised an eyebrow as the other agents shifted with concern. “Hobbs, you’re with me. Billings, you’ve got lead here.”

“Helluva day. And no clue who’s still behind it all,” she mumbled to no one in particular.

Yet.

____________________________________________

Chapter 9 | Pantone 877


© 2013-2019 Eric Huber. Silicon(e)™ is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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