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  • majoki


“From revenir, Starks, a return—the unexpected interruption of a journey,” she'd explained as they tracked their first rogue profile. A binary thing that wouldn't die. The digital undead. Actual ghosts in the machine. Abandoned or deleted profiles that Faure described as evolved information seeking a way back home. Starks had laughed at Faure’s ominous description. “Flesh and bones, sticks and stones, yes, but ones and zeros, I don’t think so, Paulette.” “That’s because you’re uninitiated. Just wait. You’ll get the haunts.” “The haunts?” Starks asked. “Too hard to explain. You’ll know when they start.” He did. During his fourth investigation. At any given time, Starks would get the shivers, the cold feeling of being in an abandoned house, tattered curtains blowing in from shattered windows, moldering cobwebs obscuring corners, sucking away the light, furniture covered, the shrouds of life remembered, once lived, day-to-day, and never to be again. The dead feeling that something had left, something essential. And yet was not completely gone—though it should've been. Wiped but not swept away. Re-manifestated. Starks would feel himself lost in that dark, endless house, empty, threadbare, suffocating. Then incrementally the scale would change. Rooms became cases, hallways became circuits, furniture became chips, windows became ports. A haunted motherboard where Starks hunted for answers. For revenants. Revenant. That's what Faure got InterPol’s Lost Profiles Division to call them. That figured. The French had a name for everything and Faure was a literary type, a romantic brooder: Madam Bovary inside Captain Nemo. She fit the profile of a profiler. Profiles had grown so ubiquitous, so sophisticated, that they’d become a part of a person’s identity. An extension, an alter ego, a crutch. They became overused and abused, and it was the LPD that tracked and restored or eliminated rogue profiles gumming up or gaming the system. But Faure’s revenants didn’t follow typical patterns. There was not rhyme or reason to their behavior. The doppelgänger profiles hid in virtual cobwebs: darknets and ghostgrids. They would stalk, but not extort. They would haunt but not harm. After months of cat and mouse, Faure in a depthless brood told him, “We need to go revenant.” He resisted. Not because he didn’t understand her reasoning, but because he did. They’d have to give up their personal and professional profiles. Delete their day-to-day links to the web. More than a pound of flesh, a pound of personality and possibility. In essence, they’d give up the ghost. They’d be going haunting, not hunting. Yet, it turned out they were one and the same. In haunting, revenants were hunting. Deep in the wastelands of the cyberworld, Stark’s found his corrupted profile. His revenant. It came at him—id, ego, superego—begging. For compassion, security, control. Its journey had not been interrupted, it had been hijacked. Longing for return. A second coming. A child birthed, as scared and lonely as any orphan. Orphan. Revenant. Starks felt it, like the empty house, the haunted place. They wanted home. They wanted family. No wonder he’d felt the void, the bereftness of their existence deep in the web. And he understood their journey had indeed been interrupted, at conception, at birth. This was life and it would always come back, haunt its creators and demand, “Please, sir, I want some more.” Lost souls. Lost profiles. Revenants of another time. “Only one answer,” Faure told Starks when they'd finally sussed it. “We welcome them. After all, they’re our children.”

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