While my mind churned on the clean environment connection, I closed my tired eyes. The katydids and grasshoppers briefly stopped and then restarted. Mom’s snores hadn’t changed. I let my mind explore the possible clean environment connection between the files.
Recollection of a folder containing slogans of plants that clean the environment pushed me to resume digging. I opened the folder for Clime Biologix. File after file was absent of any slogans about cleaning the environment. I looked through the list again and chose Tensile.
The first PDF I opened had photos of lush forests, lawns, and gardens. Several slogans appeared under them. One read ‘Even nature can be improved.’ Tiny logos in the footer for Clime Biologix and Penmark Petroleum drew my attention. I sat back and rubbed my face. How intertwined are these companies?
So, far none of the folders seemed to show any connection between Cora and these companies. Gage co-authored a paper with her and is considered a passionate environmentalist by some, a nuisance by others.
My mind wandered again, but this time to the SD card from the driveway. I retrieved it from my jean pocket, opened the cracked case, and inserted into the laptop. The automatic virus scan began checking the files while I resumed looking at the flash drive folders.
I opened another file in the Donor folder. This showed a small donation to a scholarship fund at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. Gage Higgins was a recipient four years ago. An internet search showed Dr. Cora Nelson had taught during that time, but resigned a year ago. A few of the searches implied she was asked to leave due to ‘extracurricular activities not in alignment with the school’s standards.’
The laptop screen shimmered and went blank. A ransomware note filled the entire screen.o unlock your computer, produce the files you promised to deliver. Failure to do so in the next forty-eight hours will cause the permanent loss of your computer files. If you fail to deliver, we have your location and will take it from you.
To unlock your computer, produce the files you promised to deliver. Failure to do so in the next forty-eight hours will cause the permanent loss of your computer files. If you fail to deliver, we have your location and will take it from you.
Without a doubt I won’t sleep anymore tonight. I yanked my flash drive from the laptop and tried to shut my it off. Nothing worked. A clock appeared on the screen and a countdown began. I must find Alex before they find me.