Friday, February 5, 2016

Round 3 - Team # 14 (Ajitesh & Siddhant) #ftc1516

The Phone

Journal Entry No. 1

I would have normally typed this out but after everything that I found out today I do not trust technology anymore, so I am writing this down in long hand.

It was a usual day. I was in my office when I received a call from the Police. The Inspector on the other end said that they needed my technical expertise in a case that had surfaced. It was nothing unusual for me, I often help out the police with stuff like this. The idiots the department employs usually are good for nothing and the police often reaches out to people who actually know their stuff after the customary failure of their own Technicians.

So when I reached the police station, they gave me a cellphone and asked me to look into it and find out everything I can from it. Apparently, some kid named Amit had committed suicide in the forest and they had found The Phone beside the body. They said it was routine stuff. The kid was having a bad week, break-up, lost a job, family troubles etc. until he couldn't take it anymore. He had even sent out a suicide message of sorts. They made it clear that they didn't care about the case at all but had to go through the routine investigation anyway.

The Phone was average looking, nothing out of the ordinary. You would not be able to pick it out in a line-up with five other phones. The only thing different was The Phone's firmware name, “Beelzebub”. But I did not pay any attention to it, Engineers do this sort of stuff all the time. They gave me a workstation in an empty room (as I was not allowed to take any evidence out of the station) and I got to work.

I started with the basics first, checking the call records and the message log. The Phone was fairly new, it had been used barely for a week before the unfortunate accident so I decided to read the messages instead of the just getting a print-out and handing it over as I usually do. Luckily, I made an extra copy of it. It is pretty interesting.

Amit: Bro! U wud nt blv wht hppnd! Anuj: What? You finally got laid? Amit: Fuck off! I won a phone!
Anuj: Won a phone? How the hell did that happen?
Amit: I ws in CP whn a rly weird lukng guy came ovr 2 me n chllngd me for a game.
Anuj: Ok?
Amit: Yeah, so at frst I thght the guy ws crazy or smthng and I walked on but thn he went tht if I defeat him, I could win a phone. Anuj: Ok! Was this a Youtube challenge or something like that? Or a Promotional Stunt?
Amit: Maybe! He was dressed up smartly and stuff! He just challenged me to three games of Tic-Tac-Toe and said that if I won I got the phone.
Anuj: Huh! Weird! You sure it wasn't stolen or something?
Amit: Naah! I chckd! Its clean, nvr usd bfr. Virgin IMEI! Anuj: Congrats then dude! How is the phone?

Amit: Fuck awesome!! I'll show you when I see you next!
Rest of the messages were routine stuff. Work schedules and what not. Nothing out of the ordinary, definitely not as interesting as this one in any case. But going through the cache, I found something else interesting.
Because The Phone was fairly new, its cache had never been cleaned. So somehow, it had maintained not only the call records, but it had also recorded all the calls, keystrokes and even video-capped the screen. So essentially, I could see everything that had been done by The Phone; calls, emails, messages, even apps and games. I manually over-rode the memory wipe feature and physically made the memory undeletable. This was not a part of the standard protocol, but I did it just in case the Police needed something else.

I was done downloading all the data onto the Police's computer and was about to leave when I noticed something strange. The number of calls on The Phone's call log and on the phone company's call log were different. This set off a bell in my head. It was simply not possible. I decided to take a closer look and made a copy of the whole thing into my computer too.
The Phone's records matched the phone company's for the first three four days, but after that something strange happened. This is the message string I found on The Phone's memory.

Shreya: I don't think it's working anymore! Amit: What are you talking about?
Shreya: Us. I want to break-up with you.

Amit: Why aren't you picking up my calls? What is wrong with you? Shreya: There is nothing left to say anyway. Don't try to contact me ever again. I am blocking your number. Bye.
Then there were a bunch of calls made from Amit's Phone to Shreya's, who I am assuming was his Girlfriend but all of them went unanswered.
But the weird thing is that this is the message string on the phone company's records.
Amit: I don't think it's working anymore! Shreya: What are you talking about?
Amit: Us. I want to break-up with you.
Shreya: Why aren't you picking up my calls? What is wrong with you? Amit: There is nothing left to say anyway. Don't try to contact me ever again. I am blocking your number. Bye.
I cross checked with the phone company too and they confirmed that it was not an error and they had actually received a request from Amit's Phone to block Shreya's number. There were even about 40 or so calls from Shreya's number to Amit, all of which never showed up on The Phone's record. Similar things happened between his Phone and his boss's phone. He got a message telling him he was fired,
while his boss said in his testimony that he got an email with Amit's resignation. He even had a copy of it.

However, on the day of his death, he got a similar message from Anuj saying
You are a sick son of a bitch. I do not want to see your face ever again. Seriously, fuck off and die.
Now, I am not sure of what happened immediately after this but I expect that Amit set out to meet Anuj and set things right because The Phone's location showed Amit in his car driving towards Anuj's locality. This is when he got another call. I managed to get the call recording and transcribed it as best as I could.

Inspector: Is this Amit? Amit: Yes. Who is this?
Inspector: Mr. Amit, I am sorry to inform you that your mother has met with an accident. She was on her way to surprise you when coming out of the airport she met with an accident. She is admitted in the Isaiah Hospital. Please come as quickly as you can.
End of Call

Now, The Phone's keystrokes show that Amit entered Isaiah Hospital into The Phone's GPS system. However, this is where things begin to get really weird. The path that was recorded in The Phone's screen cap memory is not the way to Isaiah Hospital. Amit drove for about 45 minutes after which he stopped the car and got out.
There are no more keystrokes after this point but there is a final message that was sent out to his mother. So essentially this message was not typed by anyone at all, it just happened on its own. And it is present both in The Phone as well as the network's log.
I am sick of this life. No one needs me, no one would miss me. I am leaving it all behind. Bye.
The next time The Phone was switched on was on the Technician's desk.
There are too many gaps in the story. I do not know who the man was that gave Amit The Phone, I don't know everything that happened to Amit. I don't even know why did The Phone's memory behave the way it did, giving me the entire story. But what I do know is that there is something out there. Something I can not explain. Not a hacker, not a network glitch. Something far more sinister.
I tried explaining it to the Police but they didn't believe me. I don't blame them, I don't believe myself. Sometimes I think this is all an extended nightmare and I will wake up and the world would all be normal again and Amit would be alive, or I would find out that he never existed at all.
But then I got a visit from a Hawaldaar summoning me to the police station. Apparently The Phone has gone missing and I am under suspicion for stealing evidence. I have kept all the doors and windows of my house locked ever since. Them finding The Phone in my house would make me a criminal. I know that phones can't walk off on their own but I don't know what I know anymore either.
Its somewhere. Maybe on its way to here. Maybe somewhere. Maybe somewhere else. Passed on to another random stranger. Passed on by another nameless face. Maybe it still looks the same, maybe it doesn't anymore, maybe I have it in my pocket right now and I do not know it. Maybe the police inspector has it right now and he doesn't know it.

So this is why I am writing this all on paper, using a pen, the old fashioned way. It's all around us, its nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Maybe the next call you receive was never made, maybe the next message you type was never sent, maybe the next message you send was never typed. How would you know? Would you know? Would you want to know?


Rating - 145/200

Judges - Pankaj V. (Shaan), Mohit Trendster and Mayank Sharma

Total Rating (3 Rounds) - 424/600 (70.67 %)

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