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MYSTERIOUS VIRUS CRASHES POLICE COMPUTER NETWORK


Hammer snatched the paper out of Miss Sink's hands.

'Excuse me," Miss Sink said indignantly. 'That was rude.'

Hammer didn't give a shit. She read the story, incredulous. It even included an artist's rendition of the little blue fish that were suspected, according to the article, to be the carrier of the virus.

'Oh God. So it's hit New York, too,' Hammer said as she read. 'It's everywhere. That goddamn Roop. The media doesn't care. This is only going to make matters worse, rewarding some hacker with front-page news. Oh great, great, great. Whatever happened to people trying to work together? When I was getting started, you could plant a story with the local media and they would run things that would actually help the police.

'But can you imagine such a thing happening now?' Hammer- went on. 'Does it ever occur to self-serving people like Roop that when we can't do our jobs, he suffers too? What happens when his airbag is stolen?'

'I've read about that. Why do you call it CABBAGES?'

'What happens when he's robbed at gunpoint at an ATM?' Hammer went on.

Those are awful,' Miss Sink said with a shudder. 'I see they had another one yesterday. Of course, look how early it was. People have no business getting money out of machines at night when nobody's around."

Popeye lunged again. She got up on her hind legs, dancing about, front paws held out as if she wanted to hug Miss Sink. It made no sense.

'What's wrong with that dog?' Miss Sink said. 'It's like she's trying to tell me something.'

'Popeye is very intelligent. She's intuitive. Frankly, she knows so much it scares me,' Hammer confessed.

'And for the record,' Miss Sink went on, 'I think ATMs and the Internet are the 666 in Revelation. The beast leading up to Armageddon.'

Popeye jumped at Miss Sink again. Popeye growled. She hopped over to Miss Sink and tried to hug the old woman. Miss Sink smacked the newspaper against her hand as a warning. Popeye darted behind her owner's legs, wrapping her leash around them. She was shaking.

'It's all right, little baby.' Hammer was distressed and furious.

She squatted and put her arms around her dog and held her close. She gave Popeye another treat.

'Please don't do that again,' she said sternly to Miss Sink.

'Next time I'm going to smack her little bottom,' Miss Sink promised.

'Actually, you won't,' Hammer said in her dry don't fuck with me tone of voice.

That dog's going to bite someone,' Miss Sink chastised Hammer. 'You wait. And then won't you be in Dutch? These days people sue just like that.' She tried to snap her fingers and missed.

Popeye growled.

'Well, I've got to go in and call all the other board members. I guess telling you is the same thing as calling the police,' Miss Sink said.

She headed back down her walk, her feet loud on her Doric porch, her cat darting out from behind a hedge.


Chapter Seventeen | Southern Cross | Chapter Eighteen