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Josh Brodsky drove through the early morning mist, approaching the La Quinta Inn outside San Francisco International Airport. His brother Donny stood outside, gripping his rolling travel bag.

“Throw your gear in the back,” Josh said.

On the drive to Menlo Park, the air was cool, but a row of perspiration formed on Josh’s brow. Ten minutes after exiting Highway 101, the car turned down a long gravel driveway that led to a sprawling rustic home. 

“Very nice, bro,” Donny said. “This is more of what I’d expect from a Silicon Valley big shot. Really freaked me out thinking you were living in a trailer park.”

“Let’s go in,” Josh said as he got out of the car and bounded up the porch steps. “Mom’s diaries are inside.” Diaries that Donny believed held the truth about how their father died, over thirty years ago. 

Donny removed his luggage from the trunk and limped up the stairs. He crossed into the living room, admired the surroundings, and said, “I didn’t see you as the---”   

Before he could finish, he felt a blow below the knees, and his feet slipped out from under him. A flurry of arms and legs pounced on his chest. 

Josh shouted out instructions. “Hold him down!” 

Donny fought back, swinging his arms wildly, when a second voice called out, “Stop hitting me, you motherfucker!” The voice of their younger brother, Louie.

Josh and Louie pinned Donny to the ground, securing his legs with zip ties. Josh placed a large piece of duct tape over Donny’s mouth. They dragged him to a back room, where the bed and furniture were pushed to one side. Miniature cameras were visible in each corner. A laptop and a speaker sat on a single table surrounded by three chairs.

“Listen to me, Donny,” Josh said, after they lowered Donny onto a chair. “I need you to calm down. Everything’s okay. We’re just going to have a nice conversation here—”   

Louie pushed his way in, shook his fist, and said, “Unless you want to delete your fuckin’ ransomware right now!” 

“Louie, that wasn’t the plan!” Josh shouted. 

Donny tried to speak but could only manage a series of muffled groans through the duct tape. Josh sat and flipped open the laptop and started typing. Suddenly, a humming sound came from the speakers, followed by a voice. A distinctive, elderly, female voice, with an unmistakable Brooklyn accent.

“Hello, boys. It’s good to see you all together,” said the voice of their mother, who had died and been buried nine days earlier. “But why is Donny tied to that chair?”

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