(You'll find chapter one in my previous post.)
About a month ago, Ben was given the grueling duty of debugging the computer systems of the Steiner Marketing co. As he was the only technician with the experience to handle an on sight job of that size and difficulty he really just got the job by default. He wasn’t happy about it. The general departure from normal and predictable things left him with a debilitating knot in his stomach that only the prospect of all the personal information he could extract from a building full of computers could give him the drive to attempt it. Unfortunately the company refused to allow him to work on their system after their working hours. But even under the impatient watchful eyes of the employees he somehow managed a timely repair for the company and a nearly full hard drive for himself.
Now Ben sits in at home in a new desk chair that he purchased with the bonus that his boss had given him. Though it was appreciated it seemed a little unnecessary; he had his prize. With delight at his new material, Ben spent every possible moment organizing and studying it, paying special attention to destroy any thing of importance to the business. With his feet propped up on his old college psychology books, he had just finished reading a long file of short, undated comments and thoughts that had been kept by one of the managers, Stacy Attwood.
It expressed deep grief at the loss of her husband and the subsequent sorrowful, empty life. She worried insecurely over the interactions she had with those under her authority. Ben was intrigued by this find because it was in complete contradiction to a long office gossip chat that an employee had saved on his computer. From the comments made by the many people working under Stacy, it seems they respect her and enjoy her company a lot. A reference to a company party where Stacy pleased the crowd with a drunken dance to the jukebox, lead Ben to think that they even saw her as friend. But the fact that Stacy was under the opposite impression was very interesting to Ben. In his expertise most people carried a certain amount of contradiction between their personal and professional lives but this woman was an extreme he had never encountered before. Her excerpts were so compelling and raw he couldn’t help but be mesmerized by everything she had written.
In the midst of his marveling, Ben realized there was another reason for his deep interest in this woman; there was something very familiar about her name. This haunted him for a moment while he scoured his mind for the connection. Then it came to him. Gasping he jumped up and raced the short distance across the immaculate apartment to where he stored past pilfered records. The collection was quite extensive but his pale fingers knew right where to find what he was looking for. He vaguely remembered studying this nameless subject about four months ago. It was a man who had returned his computer after wiping the hard drive himself, or so he had thought.
Ben uploaded and quickly searched the small number of retrieved files on the disk for her name. Each one revived his memory of why he didn’t enjoy studying this particular person. Most of the files were filed with scanned and copied news paper articles of horrible murders that had been committed in the last eight years; all were said to be connected to the Black Widow killer, who reportedly targeted young widows.
Other files contained notes about the women from those articles; all their personal information and pictures. Ben’s eyes widened, teeth grinding with anticipation as he finally found it. A chaotic mess of unfinished information and unconnected details about Stacy opened up on his screen. Ben had disregarded the entire disk before because he didn’t understand what all these things meant. But now as he took this second glance it was obvious; Stacy was this mans next target.