The story so far:
January 6, 2009 (Continued)
My boss looked up as I burst into the office. “I want to do a memory recovery,” I declared. “Just a quick one.”
He got that look on his face that he always gets right before he starts guzzling his Maalox. “A memory recovery? Please say you’re joking, Michael.”
“No joke. Willsey did something to Du – uh, Clarence – and he feels like he had an idea of where she went, but can’t remember. A simple memory recovery should bring that right out.”
Shaking his head, he pushed his chair back and stared at me. “You’re a smart magehunter, Michael. I don’t have to sit here and lecture you on how controversial those things are.”
“Which would be a problem if I was using it for evidence. But I’m not – I just want to find Willsey.”
The conversation lasted about ten minutes total, with my boss finally relenting. As I turned to walk back out the door, he called, “Make sure you get his consent before you do it, though.”
Fortunately, I already had an edge on the matter. Dum was probably drowning in his own sweat by now, sure that he’d failed the test. If I played this right, I could get his consent without too much difficulty. I was sure of it.
Dum jumped to his feet as I walked in. “The test must’ve had a problem with it, serious. I told the truth, and I told you everything I know, I mean, everything I can remember, and I didn’t tell any lies at all, so if the test said I lied, then there must be something wrong with the test and-”
I held up a hand and took my seat. “I’m sure it’s all just a misunderstanding. I’d like to do a memory recovery to clear things up.”
He blinked. “A memory recovery? You mean, you want to root around in my head?”
I forced a smile. “No, I want to check for specific memories relating to Miss Willsey. This will tell me for sure that you were telling me the truth, you know. And hey, maybe you’ll get your memories back.”
He blinked again, then shook his head rapidly. “No, no, I don’t want anyone going in up here. I’m not going there, no chance.”
Little prat. I irritably shoved my chair back as I stood. “Then I see no reason to waste my time here.”
“No, wait!” He paused, thinking hard. I imagine that takes a lot of effort for a guy like him. “Wait, we can do the truth test again!”
Sheesh. The guy’s trying to come up with alternate ideas. This was going to take a little more pressure.
“I’m afraid not, Clarence.”
Indeed, why not? My mind raced frantically and stumbled upon a new idea, a completely new track. I smiled and folded my hands in front of me. “Clarence, you said that you didn’t know what Willsey was up to.”
“I didn’t – don’t!”
“Well, unfortunately for you, we already know everything. We know exactly what was happening in that back room of hers. Do you know what kind of jail time is attached to that sort of thing, Clarence?”
He wiped sweat from his eyes with a shaky hand. “I didn’t – I wasn’t – I don’t know what she was doing! I swear!”
I shrugged. “Like I said, we know what she was up to. The only thing we don’t know is just how much you and your pal Rick were involved.” I paused. “Now, a memory recovery would certainly confirm for sure that you had no involvement, if that’s the truth. But if you won’t let us do that, I guess that’s that. We’ll just have to work with the evidence we’ve already gathered. Shame.”
“What… what evidence?”
Shaking my head, I stood again. “Can’t say things look too good for you, Clarence.”
He chewed on his lip as I slowly turned my back. That was the hard part, moving slowly enough to give the idiots time to make up their minds while still looking natural. I was sorely tempted to give his decision-making process a little magical boost, but he had to consent of his own free will. I couldn’t tamper or those vulture lawyers would swoop in and snatch him right out of there.
I put my hand on the doorknob. “See you later, Clarence.”
“What’s that?” I allowed myself another smile as my back was still turned.
Dum sounded defeated. “Okay, you can do it. Do the memory recovery.”
It took about fifteen minutes to get the paperwork signed, the witness present, and the equipment set up. Everything I recovered would be recorded by the equipment, and the witness, who happened to be Silas this time, would keep an eye on things and make sure that I didn’t explore anything other than memories relating to Willsey.
Dum signed the final consent form and sat back like a man facing his own execution. “I’m cooperating, right? So you guys will protect me if she comes to find me?”
“I’m sure we will,” I said, connecting the appropriate wires from the recording equipment to his head. “So long as you were telling the truth and really weren’t involved in her activities.”
He nodded. “Right. Okay.”
“Ready?” I asked Silas, attaching the other wires to my own forehead.
We’d moved from the interrogation room into one of the recovery rooms. The dim lighting reflected off soft green walls, giving the room a much gentler feel than the stark white of the interrogation room. Dum was nestled in an overstuffed armchair, and I was perched on a stool at his side, facing him. Silas sat in front of Dum, ready to monitor the proceedings.
I waved my hand in Dum’s general direction. The hand motions did nothing, of course, but it always looked impressive. I squinted at the man’s forehead until I could feel my thoughts moving out, spreading, and coalescing on that one spot, more and more intense until finally they slid in.
“You okay?” Silas asked.
“Fine. That felt weird,” Dum mumbled.
I rolled my eyes and resumed my probing. It was like he’d never experienced magic before or something. Dip.
The twists of Dum’s mind were a little difficult to navigate, but I found my track quickly enough. His thought system was almost as complex as a woman’s, but there were common enough themes running through that I was able to work my way over to his memories fairly quickly.
I slid through, keeping open to any references to Willsey. The memories were most likely after I’d visited, since she would’ve had no reason to skip town until after I’d come through. I found the memory from the day he’d been hired and carefully followed the network out from there until I found the cluster that included me.
Just as I suspected, I felt the first cold twinges around that area. I slowed down immediately. Considering what Willsey had done already, I wasn’t about to plow in blind and wind up a vegetable on a breathing machine somewhere. I had to feel out the situation before I made any moves closer to it.
I worked my way through the memories surrounding the affected area. It was dark, no question, and very cold. A fairly standard memory block, it seemed. She probably hadn’t had time to perform a full erasure before putting that network of hers in place. But still, I needed to be sure.
“Clarence, tell me about the second day I visited,” I said, still focusing.
His mouth opened and closed a few times before he answered. The guy clearly had never had this done to him before. Surprising, considering his boss’s disregard for all magical laws and codes of ethics.
“Uh… You come scared bad Tatiana wait sat beanbag chair.”
I almost laughed out loud, but I couldn’t risk losing my place. I had already seen the memory light up, anyway, and that was the key thing. “And what happened after I left?”
As he spoke, the light pulsed along the connection toward the block and flashed brilliantly when it came in contact with the cold, black nothingness.
“That’s fine,” I said sharply, focusing on the image I’d seen when the nothingness had been lit up. “Silas, did you see that?”
“Sure did. What was it?”
“She put a marking on the block.”
I felt Silas pull out of his observational position, but I didn’t budge. He was staring at me, mouth agape. “Is that even possible?”
“Apparently so. Bring up some protections.”
Silas continued staring. “We should take him down to the containment center, Michael. Maybe even a secure room. If it’s true, a marking there could turn his mind inside out.”
“Uh… In out real no good!” Dum stammered.
“I’ve got it in my sights, Silas. If we pull out to go down there, we might lose it.”
“You think it’s going somewhere?”
I paused. “I think it’s trying to go somewhere right now.”
Silas stood. “You triggered it?”
“No. It’s changing somehow.” I carefully focused on it. “Silas, she doesn’t want us to get this marking off. I’m going to have to take it now if we’re going to have any chance at it.”
After a brief moment, Silas sighed. "All right. Do what you have to do."