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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Past Life - Chapter 3, scene 3

(Latest installment. To read the story in order, go to the "Writing - Past Life (story)" category)

Katherine sat down with the laptop. She had stacked the papers and letters neatly in a pile at one end of the table and placed the used coffee mugs on the bench by the sink. If this had been her house she would have been tidying and doing dishes by now. But to clean up here would imply some sort of ownership and despite, or perhaps because, of what Jean had said, Katherine was not ready to assume that role. Maybe she did not want to be ready.

Katherine opened the laptop, located and pressed the power button and watched the screen come to life. The system presented Jeff's login and, after a couple of attempts at getting the capitalisation of her name correct for the password, the system started to load Jeff's profile.

For someone who's house was so messy, Jeff maintained a very clean desktop; only the few default icons were visible. Being methodical, Katherine searched the computer for the most recently opened files and quickly realised that the police had already examined the laptop and the files she was seeing were those that they had opened. She thought back; assuming that Jeff had been killed by 10:00 pm the previous evening, she entered a search for the last week in October, that would exclude the period the police had been logged in.

A list of files scrolled onto the screen, many of them system files. She refined the search again to show only user documents. The list was quite small; email, a couple of text documents and a video file with a raunchy sounding title. Thirty seconds of the video was enough; a graphic confirmation of the files title. Katherine felt nauseated. Not because of the content of the video; she was sufficiently worldly wise to know that such material existed and had seen softer material when she was an undergraduate. But knowing that the man she had worked with during the last three years kept videos like this on his laptop, shocked her. He just didn't seem to be the type.

Katherine turned her attention to the text documents. One was a critique of a paper written by a Professor from the University of Cologne. It was on artificial intelligence, in a different but related area to that which Jeff and Katherine had been working. Without reading the other paper she couldn't understand everything in the document, but it hardly seemed relevant to Jeff's death. Katherine opened the other text document.

It was headed "Lab Notes" and contained a list of dated entries. She had expected to read about what Jeff had been doing with Past Life, but the notes seemed related to the work they had been doing at the University. Though Katherine found it hard to relate the notes to what she could recall them doing over the last month. Katherine quickly scanned down the list to the last entry.

"The aberrant behaviour of some entities is perplexing" she read. "I am reluctant to alter the underlying parameters to correct this aberration as it will invalidate any results. Assuming that the assessment algorithm is correct, then this behaviour can be adjusted by providing additional learning. If this is done through the interface, then the integrity of the algorithm will be maintained and the experiment will continue to plan. Additional learning will be initiated Tuesday 31 October."

Katherine was now as confused as ever. This note didn't seem to be related to anything they were doing at the university, nor was it related to the running of Past Life. None of it made any sense. If only she could compare these notes with the lab notes they had kept at the university, then she might be able to see the relationship but, of course, that was no longer possible.

Giving up on the lab notes, Katherine turned her attention to the email. The majority of the email was correspondence with the university and other professional colleagues. She browsed through quickly flipping from one message to another, but nothing seemed interesting in the context of Jeff's death.

There was a bunch of email in a folder called "Past Life" and Katherine spent more time looking through this. Most of it was historical and the last entries were with Jeff's lawyers about drawing up an agreement with the Crown Prosecutor about the closure of Past life. The last email was over six months old and, although the correspondence was interesting, none of it seemed to obviously relate to Jeff's death.

There was a lot more material to read but it would have to wait for now. It was 4:15 pm and she would need to leave for the lawyer's office.

Posted by fordy at 2:46 PM
Categories: Writing - Past Life (story)