"Richard!" I said, finding him sitting at the bar. He glanced over only to give a faint smile. I took a seat next to his and gave a few pats on the back. "It's been along time! I have to admit, you had me a little worried when I got your message. How is everything?" He didn't answer.
"Is everything OK?" I asked again, slowly. He glanced at me for a moment and then forward again, almost as though he couldn't face me. He started rolling the base of his beer bottle nervously in rotations on the table. I ordered my first drink, trying to mask the awkward feeling I was having. It HAD been along time. We were old college buddies back in the days, in fact, some would even say we were inseparable. He messaged me on the vid just a few hours prior, saying it was urgent that I meet him.
"You're not like everyone else David, you're unique." he said, breaking the silence. He retrieved a small rectangular object from his coat and placed it flat on the table. "Everything about you, your past, everything... is on this disk!" He slid the disk across the bar next to me. I didn't understand and I told him.
"What is this? You're not making since." I said. He leaned back a bit as if to choose his next words carefully. It wasn't until this night that Richard had contacted me in over 10 years. It wasn't the occasional dialog you'd expect when seeing an old friend. Something wasn't right, I got that strange feeling of something pulling on my guts.
Finally, he leaned forward, and took a deep breath before he spoke. "Look David, I know it's been along time, but I've always remembered you as... as a true friend. In my line of work, we sometimes come across very classified information, files on government experiments, projects, things that nobody talks about, or can even imagine. I found this file on you and I...."
"You what...." I said.
He looked me dead in the eyes and nervously whispered: "I couldn't let it get in the wrong hands.... I couldn't let myself be responsible for your death." Dead silence.
All I could hear was the beating of my heart, pounding it's way into my throat. All I could do was stare at the disk that lay before me. I couldn't think and I was starting to feel sick.
Richard put his hand on my shoulder and pushed me back up just as I was starting to feel faint and loose my balance off the stool. "I'm sorry.... David, I d... don't know how else to say it." He was starting to choke up. Whatever this was, had really bothered him. Without another word, he got up and exited the bar as if nothing had ever happened.
I couldn't even find the strength to get up and stop him. I had the bartender hit me up with something stronger and drank it down in one gulp. Eventually I got the strength back to get up and head my way home, the disk clutched in my hand the entire time and Richard's last words repeating over and over in my head.
I scanned my key card and entered my apartment. I had left the lights on. "Dim lights and boot." I said without even thinking. The rooms built-in computer system went through it's initial boot sequence as I waited for the online display to flash up on the wall.
"Identification?" the computer responded in a soft female voice. I placed my hand on the console that was at the center of the room.
After a few seconds, it responded. "David Walker, up late again I see. How are you?" I paused for a moment, almost thinking of a real response as if she were real and then thought again.
"I'm fine Samantha." I said finally.
"What would you like to do this evening?" Samantha asked.
"Are there any public records on Richard Loiselle? A phone number or address? Anything?" I asked.
"I'm sorry David, there are 0 results for your query." she said after a few seconds. "Is there anything else I can do for you David?"
I opened the the small rectangular case and held the disk between my fingers. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't load the disk into that console. I wasn't ready to face whatever information was on it.
"No Samantha. That will be all, signout."