The briefcase story part 3: the sky masked men and bibliography

This is a continuation of a suspense thriller series: First 2 part of this series can be found here- The Briefcase story: part 1 THE BRIEFCASE STORY :PART 2

The cops greeted me with a smiling face and asked me to disembark from the aircraft. They took me aside for a talk where a thick beard mildly obese person named Mr. Job was waiting for me. Mr. Job introduced himself as the chief investigating officer of Dr. Rasley’s murder case. He extended his apologies for getting me off from the aircraft. He also said, to conceal my identity in relation to the murder case in front of other passengers and flight crews his staff lied to me that I needed to be contacted for visa issues. While conversing with him, I agreed to cooperate with his investigation and he assured me a free return flight ticket back to my homeland by the end of that day.

I didn’t think much and agreed to stay back till evening, however, under one condition, I won’t leave the airport premises. Not sure why did I say so, but Mr. Job happily nodded to that.

Immediately, I texted my situation then to my family members and some of my colleagues who might be concerned about my whereabouts.

With all my luggage Mr. Job drove me with him in his car. He took me to a room inside the airport which seemed to be used for various types of interrogations by law enforcement authorities.

Then Mr. Job narrated how he and his team found me in relation to this case. After Dr. Rasley’s death, on checking the CCTV footages from the train and railway station they came to know about me. Initially, they thought about me simply as a co-traveller of the deceased and ignored. However, at a later time in the process of their investigation when they came to know that Dr. Rasley couriered me just before is assassination they thought of interrogating me. By the time they reached my hotel address I was away for my flight and they had to come all the way to the airport to complete enquiring me.

In the meantime, I informed Mr. Job all I knew about Dr. Rasley and also showed him the briefcase. His assistants started to photograph the briefcase something I had already done during my closed door investigation in the hotel room, but they were doing it in a much mature and professional way.

Few airport authority staff showed up then and argued with Mr. Job how can he proceed an interrogation on that airport without pre-informing them. Their exchange of words became bit loud gradually and they went out of the room to fix who was right and to what extent. Such bickering between police and airport staff shook me in fear of possible expatriation from the airport premises, which I felt unsafe for me as it could have brought me in the telescope of Dr. Rasley’s assassinators.

It has been about 10 minutes, I am all alone in the interrogation room of the airport, neither Mr. Job nor the airport staff’s voice could be heard anymore. I felt like being in a truly awkward situation, and for a moment I regretted my decision to stay back to help the police. Some amount of suspiciousness was squirting out of my mind in regard to Mr. Job, how much should I trust him. I prayed to god, Mr. Job should not be connected with the wrongdoers associated with Dr. Rasley’s liquidation, otherwise, I would be in grave danger. Moreover, the surplus agonising silence of that room with no window to see outside was paralysing me more emotionally. For a moment I even felt like being in a solitary confinement.

While puzzled with such whirly thoughts of whom to trust, one of those two cops returned with two cheeseburgers and a bottle of chilled soft drink. Well, that was an appropriate token of hospitality I needed at that moment and appreciated happily. After that light snacks, I opened my laptop and tried to scan through various documents and photos I accumulated in relation to Dr Rasley’s murder. Then I thought of reviewing the particular research article which I found in the briefcase. So, I took the article in hand and slowly started to read through it, although superficially.

The article had multiple authors, Dr. Rasley being one of them and was about the effects of a particular medicine among aboriginal city dwellers who took the medicine as a part of their treatment for diabetes. Finally, I reached the last 2 pages of the article, dedicated for citing references.

Bibliography, although is a vital requirement for any publication, I always found it as the most boring part. I seldom go through it thoroughly, unless I really feel something in the article is fishy, contradictory or riveting, which sparks the urge to check back with the references. Same was true for that article in the briefcase too. While casually turning through those two page s full of references I felt something was unusual and after thoroughly scrutinising them it became apparent that the references didn’t belong to that particular article. To be sure, I tried to compare the same article on the internet and found the bibliographic pages that were in Dr. Rasley’s briefcase were not the true component of that article. These references were from some other article. Unfortunately, I couldn’t  dig out the host article to which those belonged. It was also possible that those were references to some unpublished article which would make it difficult further to find on the internet, but there was no way to be cent percent sure about it.

Why should Dr. Rasley put bibliographic pages of another article with that article? Did he do that purposefully to give me some hint or that was just a mere coincidence? Being haunted by these questions, I rescanned repeatedly over those 2 pages, full of references. Then my eye caught on the footer section of those 2 pages where the origin computer from which those were printed was mentioned, possibly by the default setting of the printer. Contrastingly, the footer section of other pages didn’t match to these last two pages. I called Mr. Job on his no. and informed him about it. He returned immediately and also found that astounding.

Part of the print in the footer line of those 2 bibliography pages was ‘/rash’, which I doubted as the name of the owner of the computer from where those pages arose. I asked Mr. Job if he can find someone called Rash, which might be the person’s first, middle or even the last name, and our only hope to solve this murder case. Although Mr. Job took my words seriously and informed his staff to look for the person named ‘Rash’, he depressed me a bit giving rise to the query if ‘Rash’ is the name of the computer the person might be using but not its host’s, because some people, instead of keeping their own name as their computer’s user account name, prefer using the following – ‘guest’, ‘pc’, ‘my pc’, ‘peace’, ‘my computer’, ‘display’ and so on. Such computer names get printed in the footer region of printed pages in such cases.

Mr. Job used his wireless device in hand and informed his staff to inquire about anyone named ‘Rash’. Within next 2 hours, it became evident that there was someone named Rash, a female trainee student of Dr. Rasley. Rasley used to visit Rash at her home frequently and he called on there two days before his assassination too. That day Rasley worked till late night on Rash’s computer. Although it proved the origin computer of those printouts but police couldn’t get much meaningful information from Rash to swipe away the cloud of puzzle condensed around the death of Dr. Rasley.

Time seemed to roll on too fast that day and it was evening when I boarded the aircraft to be back home. Mr. Job came to see of me and thanked me for my cooperation. Although the mystery of Rasley’s death remained unsolved, I was feeling quite light because I had handed over the briefcase to Mr. Job for his investigations and got rid of the gift from a murdered victim. Although the seats in economy class of flights are not that reclinable how much it should be, I attempted to adapt to it and tried to relax.

As the landing gear dropped and the flight touched the runway next morning 7 am, I presumed that the briefcase story was over. However, latter by the end of the day, I understood that it was actually the dawn of this story.

From the airport, I straight away went to my workplace and spent the entire day sharing my experiences of my tour, and my colleagues engaged themselves in drawing the various type of conclusions about Rasley’s death. At as the day was ending around 6pm, I headed towards the underground parking where my boss was supposed to pick me up and drive me to his home. While waiting for my chief at the underground parking area, I saw 4 people approaching me fast and all having sky masks masking their face. A sense of unpleasant threatening environment jerked my conscious but instead of fleeing my legs became frozen and glued to the ground, which was probably due to handcuffing of my brain by rotting fear. They were armed and targeting their ammunitions towards me. They were individuals too precise in their targets therefore without any introduction they directly asked what they want, and all they wanted was the briefcase that Rasley had given me. Since I had nothing to do with all these things happening around me in relation to the briefcase, I narrated the entire story including about Mr. Job and Miss Rash. Not sure they trusted me or not they asked for my camera and laptop which I had to give them without any major protest. Next, they took me few meters away towards a dark part of the parking area and asked me to stand to face a wall with eyes closed.

I was standing there standstill until my boss called me from my back. When I turned around I found him yelling at me; he was frustrated as I was not at the parking spot where he wanted me to wait. However, soon he read the apprehension on my face and asked for its cause. Hearing all that happened in the parking lot, he immediately called the local police station and cops arrived in another 10 minutes.

During the interrogation session, when the officers asked if I possess any photos of items found in the briefcase (which Rasley had sent me by courier) I had to inform them that all photos of the contents of the briefcase were in my laptop and camera, which were then with the robbers. Police officers made attempt to establish contact with the officials of the country to which I visited, for the contents of the briefcase, but it didn’t work out because of poor political ties between the nations.

It was gradually becoming apparent to me and the police that those who mugged my laptop and camera were well aware that I no longer possessed the briefcase and all its contents were captured in my camera and laptop.  But what was suspicious was why were those thugs after those boring content of the briefcase.

I was quite sure that the thugs wouldn’t be able to dig into my laptop as it was password protected but my camera didn’t have any password. Not sure if anyone sets a password for a camera.

During the post interrogation days, all the incidents I went through in the last few days kept brewing in my brain. Then I suddenly recollected that in the airport while I was with Mr. Job I was browsing the internet and documents from my pc generally are synced to a 100-gigabyte cloud storage software, where things get automatically uploaded and stored. I immediately checked for it and found that among all the photos I took only two pages were uploaded to the cloud and luckily those two pages of references which didn’t belong to the article in the briefcase. I right away pulled the receiver of my phone and informed the detective who arranged police protection for me. His name is Tefo, a tall and slim dark man who most of the time were goggles, not sure why but maybe he likes that style or maybe to hide his professionally obsessed scanning type vision to sense crime like a dog’s sniffing habit.

Mr. Tefo came to my residence within an hour and after seeing those printouts he praised my work as ‘impressive’.  He said that his team had gone through the article that I found in the briefcase by downloading a copy from a website but couldn’t find anything fishy.  His team felt that if there was anything of worth in that briefcase, it should be in the last two pages bibliographic pages that didn’t belong to the article in the briefcase. I too agreed with that concept and kept looking into those two pages to get some hint to all that was happening then, but it was as usual boring. Tefo scanned those pages and shared with his office staff who hold expertise in breaking encoded hidden language by various means.

It had been few days since I met Tefo, and since then I didn’t hear from him, possibly he must be busy solving some crime mystery.  I had gone through those two pages of references so many times that I can see them even when I closed my eyes. In a way, my brain got fatigued by continuous thinking about it. To recreate and divert my brain I tried to plunge into enjoying a movie. Surprisingly, despite my serious efforts to delve in the movie those two pages of bibliography were hammering my brain and then suddenly I felt that there was something wrong with 1 of the references among those two bibliography pages. That particular reference had a different citation style in comparison the rest of the citations.

If you don’t have an idea about how the references are written in a research article, let me inform you that there are particular sequences in which authors names, article title, journal name, page number, publications date etc. are arranged in a citation. Various citation systems (like Vancouver, Chicago etc.) have their own sequencing pattern.

When I informed Tefo about my discovery he called me to his office where he introduced me to experts who are professional in unwinding secret codes of terrorists. I became disappointed knowing that my discovery was not credible as his team had already spotted it two days back. But Mr. Tefo called me because he felt I can help his team with their investigation. They have checked all the citations listed in those two bibliographic pages and all were true references to respective parent articles except the one with different citation format. We all scratched our head to find out the essence of using such a different citation style.

To be continued……