Friday, April 30, 2004
That was fast
10am today, the Feds showed up at BioSoft.
I wonder what the judge thought when he signed the search warrant. The thing that really surprised me was that it wasn't one of those mysterious Patriot Act warrants of dubious constiutionality; if you can't think of a way that the technology used for terrorism, then you are sadly lacking in imagination. It merely gave the FBI agents who came to BioSoft the authority to search any computer Dmitri Gubanov or Carter Drummond had access to for evidence of trafficking in the buying and selling of human beings, kidnapping, and "use of unknown technology to violate immigration laws". My first instinct was to tell the agents to go to town, but I called Mr. K anyway. He, naturally, went ballistic.
After a LOUD ten-minute "discussion" in his office, during which time the agents had started disconnecting computers, my phone rang and Mr. Kraft summoned me to the office. "Michelle... is this insanity these apes are spewing true? Are they really investigating Dmitri and Carter because they were involved in brain-swapping?"
I took a deep breath. "Yes sir, although brain-swapping isn't the right term. The brains stay in the heads, but the information..."
"Yes, they told us that - a combination of the nanotech project Dmitri was working on and Erik's brain-mapping project. But it's absurd! You can't be a man!"
"I'm not, but I remember being one, and my personality isn't the result of Michelle Garber's experiences. It's very real."
He just started staring open-mouthed, and then put some steel in his back. "If my company has facillitated this in any way, I want to know. Do what you have to."
The agents left, and I was about to when he told me to stay behind for a minute. "You never said anything."
"I didn't know who I could trust. I still don't." I felt a little ashamed to say that, but it was the truth. "I was trying to work under the radar."
"And you're done with under-the-radar now?"
"Well, it's not just me any more. There are others. And maybe if Dmitri hadn't killed Car--Mikhail, I would have kept quiet, but once the police got involved, it was waaaaay out of my control."
"Yeah." There was an awkward pause. "So, you used to be a programmer."
"It's been a while."
"Well, without Carter and Dmitri, we're falling behind. I may have to put you to work."
I told him I didn't know how much good I'd be, having gotten so out of practice. He chuckled, said that must apply to a lot of my life, and told me to go tell Maureen what was going on. I said I would, but not everything. He said he understood, and I went out into the maelstrom.
It was crazy. Carter's and Dmitri's machines were the only ones being packed up, but everyone's was being searched, and they were asking Maureen what was going on. I made the announcement that "Carter" and Dmitri had been involved in some illegal activities which they may have furthered from the office; the FBI was investigating. They seemed to accept it, but not many were too happy.
Kate and Jen decided to hang around my desk since they couldn't get much work done until the network was back up. They asked how "Sam" was doing, whether I knew anything more about all this. I felt bad not telling them everything, but Carter's really not ready for this to come out to people he knew. Eventually, the agents left and everyone got back to business, although it was tense and nothing worked quite right.
Carter seemed to take the news pretty well when I told him about it after work; I think he's starting to get past the point where everything is just incomprehensible and he wants somebody to pay for what they did to him - Korpin being dead and Dmitri being in prison isn't nearly enough. I can't say I really blame him.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Contrary to what you might think from watching Without A Trace, the Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn't have a specific Missing Persons squad, nor are they called in any time someone disappears. The FBI is amazingly good at tracking people down - they have more or less eliminated kidnapping for ransom as a viable concern in the United States - but they generally aren't called in until there's reason to believe it's a Federal crime, or if a local police department requests their assistance.
I know this, because they explained it to me. There was an open case file on Samantha Haskins from when she ran away from her parents in Connecticut, so when she turned up in Boston a year later, escaping from a self-storage container where she was being held against her will, the police naturally considered that kidnappers had transported her across state lines. That's an automatic call to the FBI. And even once they found out that Sam was a runaway and the kidnapping wasn't Federal, Dmitri's involvement raised several flags. Alexei Gubanov, apparently, was a defector. He had apparently delivered some sort of GRU encryption program to America in the mid/late 1980s. His son was reunited with him when he came to America for college. I guess even after the Cold War's been over for more than a decade, our intelligence agencies still don't particularly trust the defectors.
Even without his father's history, though, the FBI still gets interested when a foreign national (Dmitri is still classified as a resident alien) is involved in a kidnapping. The whole mail-order bride/sex slave thing. They take that awful seriously. Which is why they had their very best computer crime people going over Dmitri's PC and laptop.
Which led them to me.
I didn't know all that at first, though - the two agents just waited outside the Winter Street office building where BioSoft is located, said they had a few questions they needed to clear up. They brought me to an interview room in the Post Office Square Federal Building, gave me a soda, quizzed me about the events of the 12th, same as the local police. What was my relationship with the deceased, and with Dmitri, why do I think Miss Haskins called me. I told them the same thing I'd told Boston PD - "Carter" had been my boyfriend until recently, Dmitri was a co-worker, and "Sam" and I had talked a couple of times and I'd given her my number if she needed anything. Then they asked me what my relationship with Martin Hartle was.
Some people might have been able to take that without blinking. My jaw dropped. I spoke in incomplete sentences, stuff like "how do you", "did you tell", and "how much". Seeing that they weren't going to answer my questions, I took a breath and tried to compose myself. "You found something on Dmitri's computer."
The female agent was the one who answered. "Yes, we did. Took us a while, though - Dmitri's father must have taught his boy something about making codes. And then, once we decrypted it, it was in Russian. Even before we got it translated, though, we found your name on a list next to Hartle's. 'Michelle Garber, colon, Martin Hartle.' What's that about?"
"There's a list?"
Yes, there was a list. I asked if there were a couple other entries on it - Martin Hartle, colon, Alexei Gubanov? Samantha Haskins, colon, Carter Drummond? Alexei Gubanov, colon, Samantha Haskins?
Which leads to the male agent standing over me in an imposing manner. "What. Do. You. Know?"
I sigh. This is going to sound insane, I say, but I'd really like to know who some of the other names on the list are. "It's a list of people who've had their minds transferred into other bodies--"
"No sir. Somehow they read out our minds and uploaded them into other bodies. The easiest way to think of it is that I'm Martin Hartle in Michelle Garber's body."
The woman says that's the craziest thing anyone has ever said to her during an investigation, and people claiming that aliens were sending them radio signals via their teeth were not terribly uncommon. It's true, I tell them. July 19th, 2003, I woke up in this body, and I've been trying to figure the whole thing out ever since.
"You certainly don't act like a man in a woman's body."
"Is that flirting?"
"You think this is a joke?"
"Look, I've had to live with it 24/7. I've been told to go to Michelle's job, date my own best friend, fit in, or else."
"And you didn't call the authorities? Nine months, and you just keep it to yourself?"
"Who are the authorities? You? The NIH? The NSA? Some other three-letter acronym? Who do you call for this? And when people can do this to you, you don't want to find out want to find out what 'or else' is!"
Apparently I sound sincere as well as nuts. The guy retreats from the room, probably talking to a superior officer. The woman sits down at the table, and starts trying to trip me up with girl talk. Or not trip me up; maybe if I sound enough like a real woman it'll make my story seem more implausible. What can I say; I've never had a crush on someone in a boy band. I know how to put lipstick on but can't tell shades apart. I don't wear perfume except on dates.
"But you go on dates. That surprises me."
"Not like it does me. But this body is pretty heterosexual, and I sort of got pushed into it at first. It's still weird, and I'm not looking to start something right now, but there it is."
Then the guy comes back in and looks at the other agent. "We're in X-files territory."
"There's an actual X-files?"
"Figure of speech." She turns to the other agent. "It is just a figure of speech, right?"
"Yeah. What she... he..."
I sigh. "Go with she."
"What she says matches with the insane things on the hard drive. It's for real."
Then came a new barrage of questions. They took me through practically every day since July. I felt guilty telling them about Carter in Samantha's body, since they immediately wanted to get him in here. I said he might not be up to it, and they interrupt me, asking why I refer to myself as she and Carter as he. "It's how he thinks of himself. It takes a while to accept this, and he might not want to. I mean, I've had mostly good experiences as a woman. Carter..."
They both look uncomfortable. They don't know how to deal with me. I think they'd probably planned to bring Carter right in, but changed their mind when they considered what Dmitri had probably done while holding Carter. You treat abuse victims with kid gloves, and folks like us are probably even trickier.
They let me go home then - it was almost midnight, and when I got home, Carter was practically in a panic. And telling them that I talked to the FBI and they know everything didn't help. I told him, though, that they could help. We found out the name of the guy who was in his body when it died - Mikhail Korpin. The name didn't mean anything to him, but it's nice to know. And if knowing that helps them find Michelle Garber in his body somewhere in Eastern Europe... Well, I don't know if the FBI would find her, but they must be able to get word to Interpol or local law enforcement. You'd think a guy who suddenly couldn't speak his native language would attract attention.
Carter went down to the FBI office while I was at work today, and they called Maggie in, too. We met for dinner afterward to talk about it. It's a relief, really, to tell all this to someone who functions in an official capacity; Carter looks the closest thing to calm I've seen him look since I first saw him in Sam's body. It's weird, though; the FBI want to run the investigation and us out of the way. I mean, I've been trying to figure this out for months, and Mags has been working on it since she found out, and even though we know that this is what the FBI does, it's unnerving to be told to back off and leave it to the professionals.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
The new wardrobe
Wow, that was a lot of rain.
Carter couldn't just make it easy for me. I understand his desire not to go out in public; I basically had to be threatened. It is, in a way, so tempting to try and pull something similar ("If you don't meet me after work, I'm telling people who you are"), but I don't want to be that person. I want to be the supportive, helpful person I didn't have; I want him to feel safe and not afraid; I basically want to be a good role model.
It's just a matter of inconvenience, but when I called home at 4:30 to see if he could meet me at BioSoft so that we could exchange the clothes Janet Haskins bought after work, he said he wasn't comfortable leaving the apartment. Couldn't I just bring them with me to work, check on the sizes, and just do it myself? I told him it didn't work that way for women, that the fashion industry had the screwed-up idea that putting a smaller size number on an article of clothing would make women more likely to buy it, but that since they didn't do this in any consistent fashion, you have to try everything on to make sure it fits. It's a real pain in the neck, but there's no getting around it. After nine months I've become able to figure out if something will fit me by eyeballing it, but you...
Still, he wants me to come pick him up. I grumble a little about what a pain in the neck the B-Line is, but since I figure otherwise he won't leave at all, I say I'll do it.
If you've never had to deal with the "B" spur of the MBTA's green line, it's awful. There's a million scheduled stops, and since it's a trolley, past Kenmore Square, it stops at traffic lights. And maybe, if it's stopped at a red light, folks might get on and off there, too, slowing us down. And then my apartment is another five or ten minutes' walk from the Harvard Street station... At least Carter's ready and we can just turn back around, head back to the T stop... And that's when it starts raining. At first it doesn't seem like much, but by the time we're back downtown there's thunder and lightning.
Carter, meanwhile, is sure that everyone on the subway is staring at him like he's some kind of freak. I tell him that the very idea wouldn't enter into most of their minds. Maybe if he was still wearing Sam's goth-style clothes and makeup, they'd be staring at him, but that right now he looks like any of a million college students in Boston. He still insists people are watching him, so I tell him it's probably just my boobs. I'm actually wearing an outfit where they don't look huge, but he accepts it.
Finally, we get back to Filene's (and I thank my lucky stars that (a) Mrs. H did all her shopping in one place and (b) it's accessible underground, even if you do have to know your way around the Park Street and Downtown Crossing stations pretty well to get there), locate the customer service desk, and explain the whole "Sam's mother meant well but didn't have a clue what her daughter liked" thing. We get store credit and start looking around.
It winds up being pretty straightforward - Carter wants slacks, shirts, and sneakers, so we go for that, adding a couple big, shapeless sweaters for cold days. We're done well before they close, get back on the subway, and head out. As soon as we get back to Allston we see how bad it's raining, and that's when we realize that in keeping hold of all the shopping bags, we'd left the umbrella on the train. So we basically just run back, getting good and soaked.
Carter does admit that it feels good to get into some clothes that fit. The next challenge is going to be getting him to start wearing a bra. Sure, Samantha's breasts are pretty small and likely don't need much in the way of support, but after running through the rain, it's pretty clear that they exist.
Monday, April 26, 2004
What did I say about not being Carter's mother?
Sometimes you just have to lay down the law, I guess. I'd been nervous about going to work, although I think it would do both me and Carter good not to be seeing each other after basically being in each other's company constantly since Friday. It was hard, because he feels like he should be going in there, too, but he can't. I told him that I'd tell Mr. Kraft everything if he wanted, because they could certainly use a couple more programmers right now (although my skills must be out of date), but Carter is not up for that in any way, shape, or form. I asked him to at least not sit around in bed all day, but to get up and move around, stay strong, that stuff.
Anyway, I finally noticed when I got home - and I feel stupid for not noticing it sooner - that he was still wearing the same sweats he was wearing when he checked out of the hospital. And, from the smell of it, probably the same underwear. He confirmed it when I asked.
"Look, Carter, I'm not going to make you live your life any way you don't want to, but eventually you're going to have to clean up, okay? I mean, I've got to live here too."
And then it hit me. "You haven't seen yourself naked yet, have you?"
"I've seen myself naked. Samantha Haskins is another story."
I let out a sigh. "Carter, I know what you're going through, believe me. If we ever figure out a way to put Sam's mind back in that body, I'm sure she'll forgive you. She'll be much more upset if you let it get gross, I'm sure."
"And I've been through the whole 'shocked by the totality of the naked body' thing, believe me. You've got to get past it, though."
Carter wanted to say something, but didn't. I think it was starting to bug him, too, but getting naked and soaping Sam's body up was something he had to be told way okay.
Then we had to look through my drawers for some stuff that would fit Sam's body. She's a petite thing, but Carter was just looking for some sweats to sleep in tonight; I told him we'd return the stuff Mrs. Haskins bought tomorrow and get him something he feels more comfortable in. Although he thankfully allowed he could wear some of the panties she'd bought. I didn't even bring up the bras; I think I'd pushed my luck as far as I could tonight, and it's not like Carter's anywhere near as well-endowed as I am.
So, anyway, that's what he's doing now. I think it's a good sign that he seems hungry, too - there's a box of frozen waffles in the trash and he's asked what's for dinner.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Tha Yankees lose... tha Yankees lose...
Hey, I'm excited. Sometimes good things do happen. I don't expect the Yankees to not hit all year, but then again, I don't expect Nomar, Trot, and BK to be out all year, either.
Carter's still freaking out over weird stuff, though. I guess I should try to be more sensitive, but it's hard to know sometimes what's going to set him off. Like this morning - I went out to get a paper and some bagels before he woke up. It was, however, significantly chillier and windier than it was yesterday, so when I get back, I decide to ditch the shorts and put on some long pants. Carter's in the bathroom, though, so I just grab a pair of jeans out of the dresser and do it in the main room. My cut-offs are on the floor and I'm just about to step into the jeans when Carter walks out and is all like, hey, keep it to yourself. I tell him he's seen me in my panties before, and, besides, it's a small apartment and we're not going to be able to stay out of each other's way very easily. This, however, is mere logic, and thus powerless against his rock-solid certainty that I'm trying to remind him that he's in a girl's body and that even though I know who he was, I am aggressively trying to impress upon him that I think of him as a girl. Because, hey, girls casually change clothes in front of each other.
I point out that ex-lovers do, too, but he picks up on that "ex" part - I would, admittedly, have been better off saying nothing - and starts crying because even though he knew it couldn't work between us any more, he hadn't had the single moment where he realized it yet. Then he starts hitting the walls because he's mad about crying, and I finally have to grab him because he's re-opened some of the raw parts of his hands (the stuff the cops call "defensive wounds" on Law & Order) and is bleeding. I try just holding him and telling him things will be all right, but he pushes away and slams the bathroom door behind him again.
I refrain from saying that this is exactly what teenage girls do. I'm almost tempted to call Mrs. Haskins - it's stupid, because subjectively, Carter and I are 29 and 30, respectively, even if our bodies are 25 and 18. But today I felt like he needs a mother more than anything else, and I am just not cut out to fill that role.