August was jarred awake by her phone, which was the first she realized she had fallen asleep. "Hello?"
August's mouth went completely dry. "How did it go?"
"I used the drive. I haven't been dragged down to Guantanamo, so I'm guessing at worst it didn't do anything. I don't know how to check."
"Do you, um, want to bring it over? We can look at it ... and I can give you this report on the book..."
"Okay. Is now fine?"
"Any time's good. Did you sleep at all? It's no rush if you had a long night."
"It's two in the afternoon."
"Be there soon."
August hung up and swung out of bed, taking stock in the mirror. Her hair was a cowlick. She jumped in the shower and lathered, jumped out and toweled off, threw on clothes, checked the mirror again to make sure she wasn't inside out or wearing pants as a shirt, and was blow-drying her hair when the knock came.
James was going to wonder why every time he showed up she looked like she had just gone to some enormous effort to prepare. No helping it, since she had.
August pulled open the door and stepped back to let him through. "Hi," she said, as casually as possible, flicking the blow dryer off as greeted him.
"Your pants are backward."
She froze in sickening deja vu, then looked down, saying, "Oh hell, I definitely checked..."
"I'm just messing with you," James said, and then grinned.
"Ooh, so bloody unfair." August hit him on the shoulder, unsure whether she felt relieved, happy or furious. The moment, so incongruous to the situation, set all of her worries aside.
James reached a hand into the pocket of his jacket. "Here."
The flash drive.
August took it, almost reverently, and held it in her palm. The blow dryer dangled from her other hand, forgotten. "Let's have a look." She led him to her room and inserted the drive into her computer.
Her mouse pointer hovered over the icon.
"It's alright," James said.
August steeled her resolve, clicked on the drive, and waited. The file directory came up. "Okay, no full disk encryption. That's good."
"I'll take your word for it."
August gestured for James to look. "See these files? With full disk encryption, they wouldn't be here. I would've had to write a new program to copy everything at once."
"That isn't what we did?"
"No. I don't know what's on Donald's drive, but there's a good chance it wouldn't all fit. I wrote a program to search for certain types of files. If he has a hundred terabytes of holographic porn, it's no use copying, is it?"
"That would depend, I suppose."
August flushed and focused on the screen. She chose a file near the top and highlighted it: Conference_minutes_07_14_2016. "We can read the name. There's at least some unencrypted data."
One glance proved beyond doubt that the file was boring point-form minutes from some ancient conference on information science.
"I suppose we should have a quick scroll through the files and arrange them. If there turns out to be a lot, maybe we'll divide it so you can search the unencrypted bits while I break any encrypted ones."
YOU ARE READING
No Life to LoseMystery / Thriller
James Kirkpatrick's difficult life leads him to take solace in virtual reality—a momentary peace soon shattered by mystery, intrigue, and unseen forces bent on plunging the world into chaos. An epic tale of love, loss, and the boundless influence of...