“Okay, it’s started. How long is this going to take?”
“That depends how much data it has to sift through. Turing wrote a few quick algorithms to speed up the process.”
“Thirty seconds,” Steve said.
John went back over towards the door and had to duck against the wall when he heard the guard coming back down the hall. Luckily he had a broom clutched in his hands and didn’t look to his side. He was focused on getting that mouse.
“Code red, I need a distraction.”
The guard had almost reached the library when the mechanical mouse shot out down the hall. The guard took off after it. Even though John knew it was fake, it still looked real. A low beep told him the data had been successfully retrieved. He unplugged the drive and slipped out into the hallway.
“Bring our furry friend towards me.”
John heard a crash as the guard knocking something over trying to get the mouse. In a hall closet, he found a dustpan. Tearing it off the hook, he raced around the corner and saw the electronic mouse coming right at him with the guard not far behind.
A loud crunch echoed through the house as he brought the dustpan down on the machine. The guard skidded to a halt and John peeked under the dustpan. The fake mouse was squished but there wasn’t any electronics showing. Scooping up the wreck, he started moving towards the back door.
“Is there a garbage can outside I can put this in?” he asked.
“By the garage.”
As soon as he got out of sight, he slipped the robot into his pocket.
“Those aren’t cheap you know,” Steve said.
When he got back inside, Ana was embarrassed by her reaction.
“Sorry, I just have a thing about mice and rats.”
“Don’t worry. If it’d been spiders, I’d have been the one on the table.”
Now that he had the data drive burning a hole in his pocket, the back and forth about the books seemed to stretch out forever. In reality, after fifteen more minutes he was heading out the door.
“Thanks for coming over. I hope this wasn’t too boring for you.”
“No, I enjoyed it.”
“Maybe we could go to a movie or something sometime.”
“I’d like that.”
John could feel Ana’s eyes on him as he made his way down the driveway and out the gate. A half block away, the van picked him up. He handed the drive to Mal, who promptly downloaded the data to their driver’s computer. They had strict orders not to look through the data themselves. Murdoch had said it was well above their clearance level. Both the data and the drive stayed with their driver as they got off in a secluded part of the airport.
In minutes, they were in the air and headed home. Steve and Mal were happy the mission was a success. John tried to copy their mood, but he couldn’t help thinking about how Ana would be waiting to hear from him again. The burner phone he’d texted her with was already deactivated.
“Don’t be mopey,” Mal said. “We’re just celebrating the job, you actually have something to look forward to.”
“Duh, you’re having coffee with Brian.”
“Oh, I forgot.”
“There’s a smile. You two do some male bonding or whatever it is boys do. I need to check the laptop.”
Steve and John were still joking when Mal came back into the room. Her face was white and expression stopped their laughter.
“What is it?” Steve asked.
Mal just shook her head and looked at the agent who was overseeing their flight home. They could feel his eyes on them as they moved towards the back of the plane.