Even as he sat at his laptop in a monotonously decorated hotel room in a city south of the Mason-Dixon Line, Manny’s thoughts returned to Hamlin and the fact that he’d seemingly vanished to who knew where. Manny knew he should be concentrating of finding the man who called himself ‘Dr. Help’, an on-line therapist with a huge worldwide following. ‘Dr. Help’ was far from helping many of those people who came to his site with problems. In point of fact, the man behind the name was a Scriostóir who had come up with a unique way to stir up trouble.
The Scriostóir ran his site out of a house in one of the more affluent communities of the city. A house so well secured that even if the authorities were aware of just what he was doing, they would have been unable to gain access either legally or illegally.
Manny’s job was to stop ‘Dr. Help’ by whatever means possible. If he managed to kill him in the process, so much the better, although he knew that would probably not happen. He’d lost his taste for assassination many years ago, and the battle that ended with Cerdic’s death had only reinforced it.
Forcing himself to start concentrating on the job, he studied the files he had collected plus the ones Sofietje had sent him. It was then that he realized he didn’t have to have a face to face with ‘Dr. Help’. Manny might look, and often act, like an eighteen-year-old, but since he’d been around a lot longer than that, he knew more about computers, everything involved with them and how to use them, than most people.
Hell, he’d been around when Turing had come up with the machine that had paved the way for the modern computer. He’d followed the progression from that on through to the transistor-based machines with a layman’s interest. Then he’d become hooked, learning all that he could, carrying it beyond what the average person knew, and didn’t know, about how to use and manipulate information. In other words he’d become an expert hacker, although it had been a while since he’d put his skills to use. Three plus years to be exact.
“Okay, ‘Doc’,” he muttered under his breath. “Let’s see what I can do to fuck things up for you big time.”
* * * * *
Two days later, Manny was packing up to head back to New York. He’d decided, with Sofietje’s permission, to make the city his home base for the next nine months rather than returning to his apartment in Rotterdam. She understood why he needed to be there. When she finally gave in to his request he’d said, “Who would have thought that a Witte Wieven could be a romantic.” He could almost see her rolling her eyes in response as her soft laughter echoed on his phone.
The Scriostóir’s operation had been brought down. No longer would ‘Dr. Help’ be manipulating unwary humans who turned to him for on-line therapy, destroying their dignity and doing his best to traumatize them even more under the guise of trying to help them overcome their problems.
“I done good,” he muttered as he closed the hotel room door behind him and started down the hall to the elevator.
“Too damned good,” a man’s voice said, just before two shots rang out, throwing Manny back against the wall. As he slid down to the floor he felt something fall into his lap. Then darkness overtook him.