Awful Shadow, ch. 8: Mary Rucker [null]

Monitoring: Mary Rucker [null]
Vienna, Virginia, United States

11:10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Thursday, June 5th, 2014
3:10 Coordinated Universal Time
Thursday, June 6th, 2014


Hannah had been perfect. Her discovery couldn’t have been arranged more perfectly: a kid gets superpowers and makes a beeline for somebody who everyone knows is willing to shell out a million dollars for proof of the supernatural. Rucker thought it’d be a good idea to check out James Randi, and sure enough it had paid off. She hadn’t even needed to follow up on any of the other groups like his, just surveil his house for a few days and pretend to be surprised when a teenage girl walked up to his door.

After that, searching for the other children was more annoying than it was anything else. Maybe it was because they had better powers and, unlike Hannah, there were obvious applications to what they could do and they didn’t have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find a way to benefit. Simon had discovered an apocalypse and Austin was fighting house fires. God only knew what the other kids were spending their time.

Or maybe it was that they didn’t feel like they had a deadline, the way that Hannah did. Even Simon had just been trying to figure out whether he was losing his mind, but Hannah seemed to think that every second she couldn’t take care of her siblings personally, they only managed to stay alive through sheer chance.

Speaking of which, Mary wasn’t happy that their next two finds were based on luck. Locating Austin could be ascribed a little bit to hard work, but nobody else has been making the news (or even conspiracy blogs, so far as PALATINATE could tell) so it really came down to Austin being flashy enough to get noticed. And Simon’s appearance on Austin’s doorstep was pure serendipity. Rucker can’t count on that to carry them any further but–in one last stroke of fortune–there’s one last thing working out in Rucker’s favor.  

Fundamentally, the problem confronting them is about numbers. Huge numbers. There were more than four million babies born in the year 2000. Four million and a few tens of thousands. Assume, for the sake of convenience, that there was an equal spread in births across the whole year, and stick with the idea, at least for now, that it’s too statistically unlikely for all three of your data points to be January 1st births and that this has to mean something, and you’re left with a little more than eleven thousand candidates. “Thousands” is much better than “millions,” but it’s still a daunting project to handle them all in a reasonable period of time. Every minute Rucker and PALATINATE spent dallying is one less minute between the world and its possible end.

So, step back and add one more criterion to the search parameters. Rucker doesn’t, after all, need to find every superpowered kid in the world, and trying to recruit outside the country would probably run them into problems anyway, at least at this juncture. Less than five percent of the world’s population resides in the United States, which brings the target population down from the thousands to under a couple of dozen–as it turns out, it might be reasonable to spread a year’s births equally across that year, but it’s also incorrect. Put simply, there are just too many people are busy having sex on New Year’s to be having kids then.

Twenty-eight children.

(Rucker is very grateful that there are computer programs to handle the work of poring over all those birth records, and tries not to think about the possibility that there’s an unlisted or wrongly-registered child out there somewhere. It’s bad enough that none of them appear to be named Kasprzak or Martinez.)

From the time that all that was hashed out and the children were located, it was a matter of watching over them until the wheat could be sifted from the chaff. According to the files that are in her hand, though, it looks like April and Peter think that they’ve confirmed one.

(According to the coffee in her other hand, it’s been a long night and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.)

Let’s see what you’ve been up to, Mary thinks as she opens up Olivia Garcia’s folder.

3 thoughts on “Awful Shadow, ch. 8: Mary Rucker [null]

  1. There were about 4m people born in 2000 in the US alone, not the world at large. Narrowing down to just individuals still living in the US would reduce that number, but not all the way down into the thousands.


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