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Surveillance – Ch. 4

“Are you sure there isn’t a bug in the code or something?” Reese asked, standing in the shade of a tall maple as he watched the intensely boring Mr. Allen sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons.

“I wrote that code myself, Mr. Reese,” Finch said in his ear. “There’s nothing wrong with it. I don’t understand why this man’s number came up, but I assure you, there was a reason.”

“And what if the situation has resolved itself?” Reese asked, glancing around to make sure he was the only person watching Mr. Allen. No surprise, he was. “Maybe his would-be killer got hit by a taxi or slipped in the shower. The Machine wouldn’t be able to know that.”

“No, it wouldn’t,” Finch admitted.

“So how long do we follow this guy?”

Finch sighed. “Until we- Until a new number comes up, I suppose.” He did it again, that slip of the tongue that made them more than associates, more than employer and employee.

“Maybe I should talk to him,” Reese suggested.

“Not unless you have to,” Finch said. “The more people who can identify you, the greater the risk that you’ll be caught. Detective Carter hasn’t backed off her witch hunt and it’s only a matter of time-”

“I can handle Carter,” Reese said. “Looks like he’s on the move again.” Reese followed at a safe distance as Mr. Allen strolled through the park, emerging onto Central Park West. Reese groaned. “I think he’s heading for the Museum of Natural History,” he said.

“A little culture might be good for you,” Finch said dryly.

“Cute,” Reese said. “Tell me if he changes his mind – I’ve got to grab something to eat.” He ducked into a corner sandwich shop and ordered quickly. As the cashier counted back his change and handed over his turkey on rye, Finch’s voice suddenly came through the earpiece.

“I lost him.”

Reese hurried out of the shop. “What do you mean? How could you lose him?”

“His GPS disappeared,” Finch said, sounding annoyed. “He must have turned off his phone.”

“Why would he do that?” Reese asked, heading for the museum.

“I don’t know. Let me check the surveillance.”

“I’ll search the museum,” Reese said.

“Don’t bother,” Finch replied. “There are hundreds of cameras in there – my facial recognition software will find him faster than you can.”

“So what am I supposed to do in the mean time?” Reese asked, stopping and taking a bite out of his sandwich.

“Enjoy your lunch, Mr. Reese,” Finch said. Half an hour later, Finch’s voice came back over the line. “We may have a problem,” he said. “There’s no sign of him in the museum. I went back to his last known location, and here’s where it gets…concerning. Shortly after you go into the sandwich shop, Mr. Allen disappears from the surveillance footage.”

Reese frowned. “What do you mean, disappears? How can he do that? There’s a dozen cameras on every block.”

“But there are holes, blind spots,” Finch said. “Take three steps forward and a step to your left, for example, and you become invisible.”

“Can’t you just wait for him to reappear?” Reese asked.

“Oh, gee whiz, why didn’t I think of that?” Finch said, his tone acidic. “I analyzed the footage from every angle. People walk in and out of the blind spot, several cars pass through the edge of it, a few even get stopped in traffic. Either he’s still standing there, or he wanted to be sure no one could follow him.”

Reese was silent for a long moment. “I guess this vindicates the Machine,” he said finally. “What now?” He knew they were both thinking it – if Mr. Allen had been so careful to disappear, it could only mean one thing – he intended to do whatever the Machine had flagged his number for, and soon.

“Come back to the library,” Finch said. “I’ll run through the footage again – maybe you can see something I missed. Then…return to his apartment? Look for evidence of his intended target?” There was a muted clatter, like plastic dancing over wood – probably Finch tossing his glasses onto the table. “Damn it,” he muttered.

“I’ll be right there,” Reese said, his gaze sweeping across the crowded city street, then he stepped off the curb and hailed a taxi.

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