© Copyright 2005 Kurt Snyder

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Somebody's Watching Me

A few days later I returned to Annapolis. Not long after that, Woody and Judy left for their summer home in Aspen. At the same time, I had started to work more vigorously on Woody's mutual fund project. Often, I would work at their house on Woody's personal computer, writing code and testing my programs. On one of these evenings, while I was at Woody's desk, I started to get the feeling that I was being watched. I was all by myself, and no one else was at home, but the feeling persisted and began to make me uncomfortable. I started to look over my shoulder and around the room. Woody's office was an unusual shape. It was built in a form similar to a circle, or an Octagon. As I looked around the room I saw a vent on one of the walls. I distinctly got the feeling that someone was watching me through the vent. At first, I dismissed this idea because I thought, "How could someone be inside the vent? It's probably too small! There can't be any room in there!" However, the feeling would not go away, and I began to think about how much room was behind the wall. I knew that most residential walls only have 3 1/2 inches of space in them. But then most rooms are rectangles, with another room directly other side of the wall. THIS ROOM was an octagon. I walked out of the office into the hallway to examine the other side of the wall. The wall of the hallway did not follow the shape of the office. I walked down the hallway and into the next closest room, a bedroom, also directly behind one of the office walls. This room's walls did not match the shape of the office either. There was a small closet in this bedroom that was located on the side adjoining the hallway. The hallway wall and the walls of the bedroom seemed to be perpendicular to one another. Upon closer examination of the bedroom, the hallway, and the office, I determined that there must be an empty space behind the office wall, exactly where the vent was located, and that this space was at least 4 feet deep and 4 feet wide. There was no doubt about it. Exactly where the vent was located, there was a small hidden room, behind the office walls! I had never noticed this before. Then, I realized, "There actually could be someone in there!"

For a little while, I thought, "I should find the hidden opening to this room and check to see if someone is there." I soon determined that the opening to the room was probably in the bedroom closet. For a few seconds, I thought about going into the closet and looking for it. But then I thought, "No, I can't do that, that would be snooping around Woody and Judy's house. They trust me. They confide in me. They expect me to watch over their house, but not to search through their stuff. I can't go looking through their things." So, I decided to continue working and forget about it.

A few days later, I was back at their house. On my regular rounds of checking each room, I came into the bedroom that was located directly behind Woody's office. The closet door closest to the office wall was wide open. Very clearly, I could see another door hidden inside the closet that obviously led to the empty space. This hidden door was also partially open but I could not see into the hidden space. Prior to that time, I had never seen the inside of this closet before. Everything else in the house was in place. Nothing else was left open. I thought, "That's so odd! Why would THIS closet door be the one left open?" Then, it occurred to me that perhaps the maid had left it open. At that time, Woody and Judy had a person who came to clean the house on a regular basis, even when they were away for several months. But obviously someone was in that hidden room at some point in time, why else would the door be open? I thought "That's just strange. I'm going to call Judy." I called Judy at their home in Colorado, and I explained what I had found, asking if I could check the room that was located 'in the closet'. She said, yes, no problem. I went back to the closet, opened the hidden door, and found just what I expected. There was a small hidden space, and you could see Woody's office through a small vent in the wall. I did not note anything else in particular about the room. It was just an empty space. Then, I finished surveying the rest of the house.

I reported back to Judy that I did not find anything amiss. I still wondered whether there had actually been someone in that space a few days earlier. Obviously, if someone WAS there, Judy and Woody must know the person, how else would the person have gotten in the house, and found that space? I knew that Judy and Woody had designed their entire house themselves. They had it custom built. I also wondered whether they had intentionally designed the shape of Woody's office to allow for that hidden space. I wondered if someone had left the closet door open so that I would definitely find the hidden space. Was there some intention that I should know about it? I wondered whether Woody or Judy could somehow be cooperating with the surveillance crew. Why would that be true? Could that be true?

I went back into Woody's office and started to look for other signs or strange things. I couldn't go rummaging through his stuff...that would be wrong. But, certainly there would be no harm in looking at things that were in plain sight. I started to look around his office. On one of his bookshelves, he had some kind of commemorative plaque or engraving that had been given to him. On the plaque, there were several names, but one of them stood out... it was the last name of my friend from Iridium, Matt. Other than Matt, I had never known or even heard of any other person with that last name. There can’t be that many people with that last name in Maryland Could the person referred to on the plaque be a relative of Matt’s? Maybe his father? Could Woody know my friend Matt? Could Matt be dealing with the surveillance crew? Prior to this time, I had never associated Matt with THEM. Could there be a connection? Maybe somehow the surveillance crew had found a link between Matt and Woody. Maybe they were communicating with Woody through Matt. Maybe Woody was cooperating with them. Perhaps Woody knew Matt before I even worked at Iridium. Maybe the reason I am working at Iridium is BECAUSE he knows Matt. Maybe I got the contract at Iridium because of Woody's influence. Maybe Woody is helping the surveillance team because he thinks it is in my best interest! (I always expected Woody would act in my best interest). Maybe Woody can't tell me directly that he is helping the surveillance team, but perhaps having the door left open is some kind of communication to me that he is working with them. Maybe he wants me to know. How was Woody involved? What was the truth? At this point I was beginning to experience another delusional expansion. My delusion was growing to encompass more people and more places.

Near the middle of July 1999, this was my mental state: I thought with near certainty that a group of people whom I could not observe myself was observing and tracking me 24 hours a day. The reason I did not see them is because THEY were professionals. I thought THEY were employed by one of our national intelligence agencies. I did not know what agency THEY were with. They were very good at their job. I thought perhaps the surveillance had started out at a very low level (possibly utilizing private detectives) and had increased to a high level operation (utilizing a team of career intelligence officers who were professional spies). I was fairly certain the surveillance had been continuing for more than one year, possibly the entire time I worked at Iridium. I thought that Bill, the security director at Iridium, was probably in contact with the surveillance team, probably collaborating with them. I expected that Bill was directing the surveillance at the facility, and that someone else unknown to me was directing the surveillance outside of the facility. I thought that I was being observed very closely at Iridium by the Iridium security staff, but in general, I did not think that any security staff besides Bill knew about any surveillance outside of their facility. I wondered whether Bob was working for THEM. I wondered if Bob had been assigned to work at Iridium to get close to me. I also wondered whether Jim, my roommate, was working for THEM. Perhaps he had been assigned to infiltrate my apartment. I thought that THEY had probably tapped my phone, and were monitoring my cell phone transmissions. I thought that THEY had probably hacked my personal computer and had placed software on it to keep track of all my online activities. I thought they probably had a GPS tracking device on both my vehicles. I expected that they had also placed a microphone somewhere in my truck to pick up any conversations I had there. Obviously, the reason THEY were still following me was because they still have unanswered questions about me.

I still wondered very often why the surveillance would have started in the first place. I had several theories. First, I thought perhaps it started because the staff at Iridium thought I was paranoid. Second, I thought perhaps everyone with access to sensitive information at Iridium might have been put under surveillance. I had keys to virtually every room of the facility. I kept in mind that the Iridium project cost over $5 billion dollars, and the MASTER CONTROL FACILITY was one of the most important parts of the project. Third, I thought perhaps I wasn't under surveillance when I first thought so, but maybe I came under surveillance later because they had intercepted my 'secret' message. Perhaps they are wondering how I knew they were monitoring the Internet. Perhaps they think I will expose this monitoring to the public. Lastly, perhaps THEY were following me because they thought I was a corporate spy.

I had just as many theories as to why the surveillance had continued for so long. Perhaps THEY are still wondering whether I am paranoid or not-They can't decide. Perhaps they think I might be a genius that has discovered some new method of encryption. Perhaps they still think I am a corporate spy-they are waiting for me to make contact with my 'employer'. Perhaps THEY are thinking about hiring me for a job that requires special security clearance. This job requires such a high level of clearance that they have to keep me under surveillance for years prior to offering me the job. I imagined this was the case with maintenance men who work at the CIA-they need access to all areas of the building-this would certainly require a very high level of clearance. Perhaps they wanted to offer me a new contract at some secret facility. Also, I wondered whether ALL my theories could be true at the same time. Perhaps they think I'm paranoid, AND perhaps they think I'm a genius, AND perhaps they think I might be a corporate spy, AND perhaps they want to hire me. They are still trying to figure out the truth. I thought, I'm wondering what the truth is about THEM, and THEY are wondering what is the truth about ME.

I still didn't entirely understand why I was under surveillance, but I believed more than ever that it was true. However, I still had a little bit of doubt. I thought for sure that they would give up the surveillance eventually and someone would come talk to me directly-at least that was my hope.

I had developed enough trust in Bob, that I thought I would talk to him about what I knew to be definitely true...that I was having anxiety problems at work. Bob and I went out to lunch one day and the conversation went something like this:

"Hey Bob, I want to talk to you about something important."

"Ok, Shoot...what's up."

"I think you know that sometimes I seem agitated and nervous at work."

"Yeah. And?"

"I just want you to know that I really am concerned about how well I do my job. I really just want to do the best job possible. I get performance anxiety. You don't have to worry about me. I really just want to do a good job."

"You think people are watching you all the time."

(I was surprised by this, and said nothing in response.)

After a short pause, he said, "You know, they have medication for anxiety. Maybe you should go see a doctor."

"I said, Ok I'll consider that."

Later, I did consider it, but I decided that a doctor couldn't help me very much. I thought my performance anxiety was actually caused by poor performance. How could a doctor make me perform better? I also believed the related anxiety I experienced was caused by people observing me. I did not associate the anxiety with the idea--I associated it with a perceived fact. How could a doctor get people to stop observing me?

I thought I should make one more effort to get THEM to come talk to me directly. I thought they had been monitoring my cell phone and my apartment phone for months. I decided I would send THEM a message, only I would play a little game with them, just as they had played a game with me by leaving a doll on the seat of my truck for me to find. I decided I would send them a message in code-one that they would have to decipher. I made up a very easy code using numbers for letters that I thought would be easy to break. I expected the intelligence community could break this code in less than an hour. I called my apartment number from my cell phone and proceeded to use the touch tone numbers on the phone to send the code. Basically, the decoded message was as follows:

"I am tired of you following me around. I don't know what information you are looking for or expect to find, but why don't you just come talk to me in person? If you don't come talk to me soon, you will never get the information you are looking for. This is almost your last chance. What harm would there be in talking to me?"

On Friday, July 23, 1999, I was driving home to my apartment and I happened to look off the main road onto a side road that led to a dead end. Parked on the side road, perhaps 20 feet from the corner, I saw my roommate Jim sitting in his car. After I passed by, he pulled out onto the main road behind me. I arrived at our apartment within minutes, and directly behind me was Jim, pulling into the driveway. I asked him what he was doing parked on that side road. He denied he was ever there. He feigned ignorance. I didn't push the issue, and I let it drop. However, I wondered again if he was working for THEM.

On Saturday, July 24, 1999, I was returning to my apartment late at night with a girl I had been dating. As we came towards the apartment, we saw a van blocking my parking space. Just as we got to the van, the headlights of the van came on and it quickly pulled into the road and sped off. It seemed very suspicious to me. I had never seen that van before. I wondered why it had been parked in front of my apartment, and why it had driven away so quickly. I immediately thought it was THEM. I got out of the car and told my date to stay in the car. I found the apartment door was unlocked. I went inside cautiously and looked around. Nothing seemed to be missing or out of place. Even so, I remained very cautious. I wondered about my roommate Jim, and whether he was involved with the person in the van. I told my date I didn't want to sleep there. THEY were playing games with me. We went over to a friend's house to spend the night.

Sometime during the week of July 25, 1999, I ran into Jim at our apartment. We started talking about our jobs. As far as I knew, Jim worked at a warehouse about 30 minutes away where he operated a forklift. He started talking about his workday. Suddenly he said, "How do you know when you are paranoid? I've been seeing a doctor, and he put me on medication. But I don't know if I really need it. How do you know when you are really paranoid? How can you tell?" I wondered if Jim was asking me this to see what I would say about myself. I didn't say very much. The conversation ended rather quickly. I expected he was testing me. I think I was experiencing personalization.

© Copyright 2005 Kurt Snyder

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