Ginny scowled as she looked at the flat tires. Eight of them. She dialed Luc’s number as she headed back into the house. “Luc,” she said once he answered. “I’ve got flat tires. Yes, tires. Eight of them. Can you come pick up the kids on your way to work? Thanks.”
Patrick looked at Ginny as she thundered back into the kitchen. “What’s the matter?”
“Someone removed the valve stems from all the tires.”
“That explains what Jesse smelled last night.”
“Oh? And no one went to look?” Ginny was getting that ‘I’m going to kill something’ look on her face.
“Ginny, calm down. He did report it. I was going to look after the kids went to school.”
“Fine. Luc will be here to pick up the kids in about ten minutes.”
Patrick nodded and headed outside to look at the flat tires. Ginny called the local garage and arranged for them to come out and repair the tires.
The man at the computer watched the doorways to the classes. He smiled as he watched Luc come in with children in three different classes. He made screen shots of the kids as Luc left each set. Picking up the phone, he made a call.
“I wanted to let you know that the kids weren’t marked late.”
“Oh, and the HVAC guy was here yesterday. Thought I’d let you know.”
“HVAC? We didn’t have any service tickets in to them.” Luc looked puzzled and then the hairs began to crawl on the back of his neck. “Did he say what they were doing?”
“Some sort of annual service check.”
“Okay. I’ll check with the company later and see if there are any updates.” Luc left the office and headed for the tech office. Charles was at his desk going through invoices. Luc came in, looked around the room and shut the door.
“Charles, did you ask the HVAC guys to come in for an annual service check?”
“Sally says that a guy was here, did some work and left.”
“That sounds odd.”
“Did to me too. I’m going to check the network.” Luc sat down at his computer and logged into the system. After ten minutes, he turned to Charles. “Umm… we have some interesting traffic.”
Charles stood up, and came over to where Luc sat. “Yeah. There are eight new Mac addresses. What the hell?”
“Would you go check, while I monitor the system?”
“Sure Luc. This is just weird.” Charles grabbed his radio and headed for the HVAC room.
Luc kept an eye on the system and picked up his phone. He made two calls. One to Patrick and the second one to David.
David and Seth went down to the homeless shelter that had been mentioned by Ted. They spent ten minutes fighting the red tape in the office and gave up. As they left, a man smelling more like a vat of wine than human walked over.
“Yous guys lookin’ for the bossman?”
“The guy whats hires us bums. Gives us jobs and even pays.” The man belched and the fumes of cheap wine filled the room.
“Yeah. Here he’s real good to you guys.” David watched the wino while Seth moved to make sure the residential aide didn’t walk over and interfere.
“Sure nuff is. Gave me and George over there $50 to go pull a bunch of them stems outta tires.” The man smiled.
“Where can we find him?” David asked as nonchalantly as he could.
“Weez seen him at the church roun’ da corner. Seez ya after breakfast. Yous comes by then, an he be dere.” The wino nodded with authority.
“Thanks. Here’s a tenner for your trouble.” David handed the guy a bill and then motioned to Seth. The two of them left quickly.
Charles walked around the halls and checked a number of rooms. Then he headed back to the tech office. Once he got there, he motioned for Luc to come outside with him. When they were next to Charles’ truck, he put down the radio, his phone and then moved a little farther away. Luc left his phone on the tailgate too.
“What’s going on?”
“Luc, we have eight or ten cameras in place. All facing classrooms, including where your kids are. Slick job. I was afraid to say anything on the radio.”
“That explains this,” Luc said pointing to the pile of electronics on the tailgate.
“Yeah. It may be nothing, but hell, it makes me nervous.”
“Question is, who’s using the cameras.”
“I don’t know. They aren’t part of our normal surveillance system. That was the first thing I checked.”
Luc thought for a moment. “We need to break one and see who comes looking for it. Whoever did install the cameras isn’t going to move today. That gives us time.”
Charles nodded. “But what about the kids?”
“Hmm… we either have the kids move through the connecting bathrooms, or we pull the fire alarm. Which is it going to be?” Luc wanted to charge in right now and pull the kids out, but knew that wouldn’t be the right thing to do. They had to catch the guy.
“I… I don’t know.” Charles was nervous, but trying to think. “Umm… Sara and the boys have library time in a few minutes. I could move them out then. But what about the twins?”
“Connecting bathrooms. You go into the PreK room and talk to the teacher. She can get the kids. That way, whoever is watching won’t see me.”
They talked for a few more minutes and then began to move. Luc called Patrick and then Seth. Then he went into the HVAC room through the back door. Once inside, he checked the various connections the ‘tech’ had added. He pulled the mac address of the camera on the room near the twins. Then he went back out the way he’d come in. Once he was back in the office, he blocked the mac address of the one camera and watched the network. Sure enough, the ‘down’ camera was singing home. He smiled and waited. Then, ten minutes later, he flipped the switch on the Internet filter system. It triggered a lock down of the system. Luc then went to help Charles.
“Damn!” cursed the man at the computer. One minute, the system was up and running, the next it glitched. A few moments after that, the whole system locked up. He called Derek’s number. Dereck arrived fifteen minutes later.
“What’s the matter?”
“Your system is borked up.”
Derek moved in to look at the displays on the computer. He flipped through a few web pages and then relaxed in the chair. “Don’t worry. Seems some 8th grader was trying to cruise porn and flipped all of the security protocols. Normal shit. Happens all the time. In fact, I’m surprised it took this long. But, to ease your mind, I’ll slip on the HVAC suit and go down for a hands on check. Anything you want me to do?”
“No. Just get it done.” The man was gritting his teeth.