Rylee suddenly noticed a middle-aged man standing in the middle of the cafeteria. A food tray preoccupied both of his hands, and he seemed to look for a place to chow down. No one needed to tell her, yet somehow, she instantly knew that the man was there only for her, and he was only looking for an excuse to approach her. He soon started walking towards Rylee’s table. Rylee then willingly moved her glance away, and even though she wasn’t looking directly at the man himself, she knew that he was standing in front of her table. A few seconds later, she heard the man’s voice, “Can I sit at your table?”
Rylee then turned to the man and looked at him. His image screamed to her- he worked for some big corporation, equipped with a costly suit and a matching tie. People dressed like this man never comes to eat at a cheap university cafeteria for students.
Rylee stared at the man. “You came all the way to this boring corner to sit at this table while there are plenty of vacant tables close to the door, meaning that you came here looking for me, right?” Rylee said coldly.
“Then I definitely came for you! You really can’t tell people with just their pictures, huh? I mean, you looked really different in your picture. Ha-ha!”
Rylee lost count for how many times she had heard this sentence from other people. She knew the real meaning of it very well. The entire purpose of that sentence was: you look beautiful in your pictures, but not so much in real life.
The man put his food tray down on the table and extended his right hand towards Rylee and said, “My name is Luca.”
Rylee touched the man named Luca’s hand with a bit of reluctance, and just as she imagined, his hand was wet and soft. Rylee loathed shaking hands with a wet-handed person.
“Why did you come to me?” Rylee inquired.
The man countered her with another question without answering her first, “Did you submit your thesis?”
Rylee nodded. Luca said while sprinkling powdered papers on the roast beef on his plate, “Tell me something, Rylee. Why didn’t you write that thesis on your own? It would’ve been considerably better had you written that by yourself.”
Rylee flinched. But even though she was terribly shocked, she abstained from revealing it outside. Suddenly many thoughts ran through her mind at the speed of light. She faked an intimate relationship with a brilliant young man so she could get him to write a thesis for her. She could indeed have written it far better, but she gets no interest in these types of formal work. After she got what she needed, she brutally dumped that brilliant young man. She thought it all worked out great for her as the young man had lost his sanity and vanished from society. She believed no one was aware of this matter, but it didn’t seem like the case anymore. Rylee knew that the young man didn’t have anyone else, so this man wa0s not someone who had any connection with him. This man didn’t come from the university authority either. Besides, they didn’t have any power to do something about it anyway. This man probably came from the police or some detective agency, it could happen if only that brilliant insane young man foolishly committed suicide and left a note describing this incident as the cause of his suicide. The young man was kind of timid, so it didn’t seem possible that he could do something as brave as committing suicide. Whatever happens from now on, Rylee must remain on guard. For the very first time in her life, she felt a slight twinge of fear inside her.
After sliding a piece of the roast beef in his mouth, the man suddenly burst out with laughter. He pointed his finger at Rylee while laughing and said, “You have nothing to fear, alright! I’m not with the police!”
“I wasn’t scared!”
Rylee felt a bitter taste of humiliation. For as long as she could remember, she has always been the one on top, dominating, controlling and manipulating the people that were around her, not the other way around. Rylee had hidden her life away behind an impenetrable wall. She thought no one could ever penetrate that impregnable fortress and take a peek into her wicked life. Yet now, someone seems to have done the impossible and indeed investigated into her life. If the man knew about the deal with the thesis writing, then he probably learned a lot more. Many things in Rylee’s life were enough to put her in prison for a very long time if made public. Rylee felt like she was sitting in front of a stranger, naked.
The man named Luca said while gazing into Rylee’s eyes, “We were waiting for you for a very long time. You’ve submitted your thesis, and now you’re ready to work. I’m here to offer you a job.”
Rylee looked at the man with a bit of a surprise. While chewing a piece of roast beef with much contentment, the man said, “We didn’t want to harm your studies, so we didn’t approach you before. But now it’s about time.”
Rylee slowly put her coffee mug down on the table and asked, “Who are you?” “Wait. First, let me tell you why we approached you.”
Rylee gazed at the man named Luca with a calm posture.
Luca said, “About three years ago, a certain country in Africa faced devastating famine. The cause of famine was population. Then you wrote an article giving a solution to that problem, remember?”
Rylee remained silent. It’s true, she gave a very facile solution to both population and famine. But how did he know about that? She made sure that no one could see that she was the one who wrote that article; Rylee thought she had brushed her trails off well. The earth’s supreme inhabitants, the humans, had yet to realize the truth that it was not impossible to consider themselves as cattle. The problem was the population. So, if the humans were to be used as a source of food, then the population would get reduced on its own, Rylee never quite understood why nobody ever noticed this before. The people on earth did not accept Rylee’s solution, but a rather great pandemonium and a burning wave of rage broke out after the article’s publication. Nobody could find out who wrote that article, at least Rylee thought so. Now, this man seemed to know all about it- if nobody else did.
Luca said, “The method you used to hide your identity was simply amazing! But as you can see, we know. I can tell you how we traced you- we used artificial intelligence. We possess the most powerful supercomputer in the world. So, we parametrized your writing style, word selection and sentence making- all of this by using AI. Then we cross-matched it with all the published writings in the world. After that, we pinpointed you by thoroughly investigating the others from our shortlist. You might not be aware, but we protected you from danger for about two times. You could have gotten into serious legal problems because you were careless.”
Being almost breathless, Rylee gaped at Luca.
“Who are you!” Rylee breathed.
The man reached into his pockets and brought out a plastic card and put it on the table. Then with a little flick of the finger, he sent it to Rylee sitting on the opposite side of the table. There were some small writings on the card saying-
…TO BE CONTINUED