The client was waiting for SMS on a narrow stretch of rocky beach that ran alongside Dallas Road. Other areas of the winding beachside street were popular tourist destinations, with trails and cliffs and beautiful ocean views, but for this meeting the client had chosen a segment of the beach that was less busy, better to hold a private conversation of this nature.
Like a good animal rights hippie, the man was dressed entirely in synthetic fabrics and was munching on a carrot stick. As SMS crossed the sand and logs that separated them, he saw a seagull swoop down and perch on a rock fifteen feet away from the man, eyeing the carrot sticks. The man watched it like a cornered dog. For someone who apparently cared so much about wildlife, he didn’t appear to have an especially close connection with it.
The client was still staring nervously at the seagull when SMS said, “Hello.”
The man jumped. “Oh!”
“He calls himself Cyber.” Ian Innis declared this with some finality, pushing back from his desk and crossing his ankles. Innis was a middle-aged, slightly overweight, clean-shaven, dark-haired man with a closet full of long-sleeved shirts, tan slacks, and suit jackets. Seen on the street, he appeared average in almost every respect, an ordinary, benign, phonebook-filler kind of person. He was someone you didn’t look twice at, someone you didn’t think twice about.
But every now and then, if you caught him in a sideways glance, you got the impression he was doing plenty of thinking about you.
Innis’s audience for this pronouncement was his personal assistant, Shawn Matthew Scott, called SMS by those few individuals he thought of as his friends. The blond-haired 25-year-old was leaning silently against the door frame, preferring not to fully enter the disaster zone Innis called his office. Continue reading