The Real Story – A Computer Science Mystery: Pt 1

by Luke Otley

It was never set to be an eventful day. My house-mate and friend, Jack, was already out of the house preparing for a final project show in the computer science department. I believe the entire year were required to attend; an all day marathon of sitting, presenting and talking to potential investors, business associates and the like. Knowing several people who would be there, I planned to attend – show my face, do the rounds. Was it a white collar event? I had no idea, but thought Jack was wearing a suit. I put on my best shirt and tie, paired with unwashed jeans and boots that make me look like some fresh-off-the-boat Scandinavian immigrant. Maybe it wasn’t the best combo, but it was all I could find at such short notice. I grabbed my dictaphone and notepad.

We left the house looking like a trio of Frankenstein’s monsters, outfits thrown together in such a careless fashion that they wouldn’t be out of place on a first time defendant in a juvenile courtroom . It was 3pm, and thus we were subject of the criticising glares harboured by single mothers who patiently awaited their offspring’s release from school. We were late, but made good pace. We walked briskly behind a couple of boys, around age thirteen, who I noticed were both sporting very nice pairs of smart trouser bottoms. I loudly proclaimed that we could perhaps borrow them for the event. This wasn’t received well at all, and Ismail made me stand stock still until the boys had turned the corner, presumably to alleviate their anxieties of being trailed by a small posse of paedophiles.

Nevertheless, we managed to get to University without being charged with harassment of any kind. Eifion and Ismail stopped for a smoke before we went in. I was nervous. The rank stench of Drum tobacco filled my nostrils and made me nauseous. An almost constant stream of young men in suits entered and left the building. It was a bad start; I tripped on the top step of the first stairs we came to, almost ending up face first in the buttocks of someone’s mother. Most people eyed us with appropriate caution. Eifion was dressed most erratically of all and I realise, in hindsight, what a frightening spectre he must have seemed to the general public. A towering giant at 6″1 and close to 200lb… stomping the concrete with size 12 black Doc Martin’s – sporting a mafia-esque trench coat from under which one could just see the head of a bright purple tie that garishly clashed with his burgundy lumberjack shirt. Only an hour previously I had crudely attacked his hair with clippers, displaying all the skill and finesse of a prison-yard barber. What a sight.

The place was busy and hot. We had no clue where Jack was, but spotted Jon Bailey seated the other side of an ocean of students and lecturers. I screamed “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD”  and charged forward like some animated battering ram. Upon reaching him we began the interrogation. “We wanna know what the real story is” Ismail said. “Yeah,” I reinforced, “We’re looking for the real story…I don’t know if you could ah…what’s going on here?” Jon became stricken with anxiety, “Why are you recording? I didn’t know you were recording”. “You’re doing fine” Ismail said soothingly. But he had a point. Why were we recording? What story was there to get in this oven, cranked to what felt like 220◦, in the bowels of some forgotten department? I glanced at Eifion and noticed that he was sweating profusely. We were both still wearing our overcoats, and his wasn’t even unbuttoned. “I might lose my coat” I interjected. Jon was still talking about his game. It was well made, though I was barely listening. I wiped the sweat from my brow up into my hair and scanned the room, feeling uneasy. “…I’ve had about 3 people come visit me and two of them have been supervisors…so no one’s really said anything” Jon shrugged. “It’s got 4/5 stars from me” I say, in what I hope is a reassuring manner. We turned to leave. “Do you know where Jack is?” Ismail asked. “Declan is in lab 2” he replied. What the hell did this mean? At the time I never clocked it, but listening back to the recording, that was the slip. Thank God for the dictaphone, we had our first lead…