The explosion was strong enough to blow away every single glass of the magnificent apartment. It occupied the whole 35th floor of one of the tallest residential buildings in the city and it had been featured in several magazines as one of those grand and amazing apartment that people should be looking at if they wanted to have one ever in their life. Not that that goal was any realistic, as Wilbur Wright, owner of the apartment, had inherited the millions of dollars that had paid the apartment and everything on it.
The destruction of the apartment was shrouded in mystery as, two days later when the fire had finally been put out by firemen, there was no real clue as to what or whom could have cause the explosion. It was clear that nothing ordinary had been the culprit: there were no gas leaks of any kind, not a faulty wire in the whole premises and not even a problem with any of the many gadgets and electronics that made the apartment an automated environment that worked on its own, with no help from any human.
Wilbur Wright had been on a plane on his way home when the incident happened and he was taken in a rush to a gran hotel room in order to protect his life, as many thought he was still in danger. But he had no idea about what they were all talking about, as most people loved him. Yes, he had inherited all of his money and didn’t really work at all, but he was the charitable face of his family’s organization and had been a patron of the arts for quite a while. Who would attack such a person?
From his hotel room, he was able to watch the flames consuming his apartment, as the buildings were not very far apart. He had bought so many collectible items for his private quarters, many objects and art pieces that were one of a kind. Many museums had tried to buy them from him but he had always refused stating that there was no better person than him to take care of a precious item and that there was no safer place in the world than his apartment for such things. Clearly, that had not been the case.
The morning the fire was extinguished, he got permission to enter the premises and check for himself what remained of his beloved apartment. Every single piece of furniture had been consumed, even the expensive food he kept on the kitchen. Every piece of granite, marble and titanium was now tainted forever with a black stain, with yellowish tones that indicated the temperature of the flames. He went to what used to be his room. He opened the closet and typed a few numbers on a keyboard the firemen had missed. It was a large vault, embedded into the wall.
The vault’s door opened and it revealed a small room that had resisted the fire and the smoke. However, Mr. Wright collapsed once he entered the small space and started yelling and pulling his hair. For a moment, the men and women around thought of giving him some space to process whatever he was dealing with. But then they realized he was pulling his hair a little bit too much, actually pulling some of it from his skull, getting it on his hands and then on the floor. He had to be taken away to a hospital.
The news of his breakdown went viral in hours. It was assumed that one of the firemen, or maybe one of the police officers, had recorded everything on a cellphone, as everyone watched Mr. Wright pulling out his hairs. The video had been uploaded to the Internet and now thousands of pulling were looking at him going crazy. Some of them laughed and some others even shed a tear. The common part of the response was that everyone wondered what had cause him to have the breakdown then and not before.
Wilbur was released after a whole week in the hospital. His family came to take him home, which was a very rare sight on the part of their family, as they had never seemed to be close at all. The parents had decided to live a life of leisure since they had given their children control of all the businesses, and no pictures of the kids’ younger days had ever been released to the public, something that seemed odd at the beginning but they told every news outlet it was because they respected they children.
The truth was the family was as cold as some of people thought it was. Wilbur rarely ever spoke to his father or mother, not even when he had been for a brief moment in charge of the shipping company his father had created when he was younger. Wilbur had done such an awful job running it, that the family had decided to fire everyone and dissolve the company altogether. Of course, it had been awful for the workers but the family thought it had been a disaster because they realized that Wilbur didn’t really now anything.
They took him to their summerhouse, far from the city, in order to ask him about his mental state. They wanted to know if they had to be worried about it since it would be something more to add to the shame they felt for having him as a child. That’s what they told him, word by word. They didn’t care if he felt bad because of their words; they just wanted answers and the faster the better. Wilbur only said they didn’t have to worry about anything as his problems were his alone. The way he said it stopped them in their tracks and they decided not to speak again of the matter.
The truth was that Wilbur didn’t want anyone to know about what had happened with his house. He wanted to ask the fire department for another tour of the ruins, but it had been decided that the building should be evacuated completely in order to check for any issues that the fire could have caused to the structure of the tower. No one was allowed in, except for law enforcement and the investigators that the city had working to know if everything was ok after the destruction.
Wilbur was so desperate about his secrets that he decided to use his money to bribe a policeman in order to let him into the tower one night, after everyone had gone home. He was able to do it quietly and without any cameras or people looking at him. He went straight for his vault again and when he opened the door, his fists tightened, as well as his jaw. He even repressed the need to punch a wall or destroy the few things that had been left inside that place. Not that there was a lot there.
Only a few papers and a little safe with some cash. It was all just for security but his biggest secret, his biggest creation if you will, and the only proof he was much more than what his family thought he was, was not there anymore. Every part of his creation had been destroyed by the fire and the only way to bring it back had been clearly stolen, probably minutes before the explosion. That was the proof that someone had gotten in and knew exactly what to look for, someone had known something he had told no one.
He wasn’t really scared about that person using his creation against him or even playing the people into thinking he or she had created such a thing. Nothing like that bothered him. It was the relationship he had created, the fact that now he felt as if his only child had been yanked away from his hands. He felt hollow, alone and very sad. That was the reason he had collapsed when opening the vault, the reason his brain had not been able to cope with what had happened.
He had named it Pamela, after one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. He had created Pamela when younger, after reading a lot about computers and programming. He learned all that by himself and no one in his family or work had a clue about his hobby.
Pamela was the product of his efforts. He worked a bit on her, every day, and he was proud to think that he had created a perfect example of artificial intelligence. She was nice, smart and very intuitive. She was a friend, a daughter and a companion. And now, he had no idea where she could be.