July 27 at 12:00 AM
It had been twenty long, painful years since I had a geography lesson; and there she was, laying there before me in all her glory--Jakarta, Indonesia. Certainly I knew this one; I'd been there before. But I thought they called it Malaysia or Micronesia. So damn confused. What did you expect? I had a freakin high school education.
I opened the book and flipped through the pages. It was thick, probably five hundred pages in all. Damn, I hated books. Perhaps they had it on tape, or better yet, DVD. I jumped online and Googled it, but no one had ever heard of the damn thing. Even worse, it didn't have a bar code or ISBN. I broke out my reading glasses. Guess I'd have to do this the old fashioned way.
I read the first page and it didn't look promising. The pages weren't even numbered yet. The author yammered on and on about who he was and the challenges he faced and how he wanted to thank this person and that person and especially his dog Milo. Fuck! A minute later I was already asleep. It was just ink and paper; nothing sank in. Perhaps I could get Scourge to read it for me. Hell no, I still owed him a box of Twinkies.
I shook off the cobwebs and skipped to the end. Never had the patience for endings, even with nonfiction. A white strip with a magnetic underside was wedged into the binding. Probably a just security control so that patrons wouldn't walk off with the library's prized possessions.
I tossed it aside. "Uh oh, you're in deep shit now." I elbowed the naked corpse sitting next to me.
This called for scotch. I poured two glasses of Glenlivet; one for myself and the other for my nudist compatriot. I slammed it down and raised my empty glass. Now that hit the spot.
I turned my attention back to the book and thumbed to first chapter. Nearly 70 years ago at the height of World War II, Japan invaded Indonesia, wrestling it away from the Dutch. At first the advance was mistaken for liberation, and welcomed with open arms. But the populace soon learned that they'd merely traded masters.
Then three years later a miracle happened. With Japanese interests focused abroad and the advancement of Allied forces, the Indonesians rid themselves of the Japanese and seized their independence. Four short years later, the Indonesians washed their hands of the Dutch as well, bringing an end to three centuries of colonial rule.
I eased back in my chair and cracked my neck. I'd blasted through the first twenty pages; surely I wouldn't make it another twenty. I inhaled another round of Scotch and shut the book. It was time to call it an evening.
But something in the back of my mind gnawed at me.
I looked around the room and pondered, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I turned my attention back to the plastic strip. It didn't trigger the alarm when I exited the library. I picked it up and looked it over. Something just didn't feel right about it. I punctured the plastic coating and dug deeper. A microchip lay just below the surface with a tangle of silver wires that coiled around a series of tiny LEDs that flashed on and off.
Just my luck. I'd brought home a tracking device and it was far too sophisticated for a crusty old librarian. I scooped it up and crushed down with all my might.
"Don't," came a voice.
I jumped out of my chair and drew my gun. "Who's there?"