The files didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary for a professor. There were environmental research papers regarding the use of CRISPR. They spoke of inserting and removing genetic material from plants. There was another about the trees that miraculously survived to BWCA wildfire. It contained side-by-side genetic comparison between them and the trees that burned.
Another was co-written with a student researcher named Gage Sunderson. It indicated wildlife didn’t interact with the unburned trees and their progeny. In fact, they avoided it. It also noted the miracle trees were proliferating at twice of the ones that burned.
I looked up Gage Sunderson. Several news articles about trespassing came up for Gage. They had been arrested for chaining themselves to a tree in the BWCA. They were also charged with misdemeanors related to aggressive demonstrations and graffitiing.
The next link had a short video clip tagged with the name Gage Sunderson. A slim person dressed in baggy pants and a black hoodie shouted and waved sign a sign so violently I couldn’t read it. Other protesters held signs that read ‘Clime Biologix is killing the BWCA’, ‘Shut down Clime Biologix’, and ‘Put Doug Johnson in prison’.
The person in the black hoodie grabbed at the news reporter’s mic. Writing in red appeared across the bottom of the screen: Activist Gage Sunderson. Gage shouted, “Lasers overheat multiple times before the ‘Miracle Trees’ can be felled. They’re taking over the forest.” An officer stepped in and separated the two. Then appeared to be warning the protesters.
Clime Biologix was a name on one of Alex’s folders. I pulled it up. It had numerous entries. Even a few that included the name Doug Johnson.
One was a news article. It alleged that he had authorized shortcuts to safety protocols, defying his own company’s scientists. The advisory committee strongly recommended a sealed underground facility. Instead, he authorized an outdoor greenhouse to be built.
“No, I don’t know who that is.” Mom shouted. “No, you may not come in.”
I bolted from my chair and ran down the stairs. Mom was standing in the doorway, staring down a man at least a foot taller than her. “Is there an issue?” I asked.
“I’m looking for Alex Higgins.” My stomach ached with icy coldness. Had he given our address out as his own?
“He doesn’t live here.”
“Do you know where I can find him?” His stare was sharp and tone accusatory. The feeling in my stomach worsened.
“I’ve seen him at the library recently. Maybe you should check there.”
The man continued to stare. After a long pause, he said, “You know him?”
“He’s a classmate.”
“Thanks.” Then he turned and stepped off the porch.
I pushed past Mom. “If I see him, who should I tell him to contact?”
The man kept walking until he reached the car that had sped past earlier. Before getting in, he said, “Tell him he needs to pay me. He’ll know who.”