15 March 2014
To Whom It May Concern,
In furtherance of the ongoing investigation of the late John Standish, former Information Technology Director at Abstergo Entertainment, I have been asked to provide a short reminiscence of our working relationship with the hope that it may shed some light on his bizarre actions immediately preceding his death in November 2013.
I should begin by saying that I did not know John well. His time at Abstergo Entertainment was brief - 7 months, 3 days, to be precise - and in that time our friendship was almost exclusively professional. We attended the same directors' meetings and often found ourselves on the same side of longstanding discussions about this or that project. The subject of these conversations was always work-related - professional, appropriate, nothing out of the ordinary.
On two occasions only did I see him in what could be called "social circumstances." The first was in June 2013 on the evening of Abstergo Entertainment's yearly assembly, held that year in a riverside park in the heart of Montreal's Old Port. I remember it was a lovely evening, and very hot so the lines for the bar were quite long. At some point, I too was waiting in a queue for another glass of white wine for myself and a beer for a friend when I realized John was standing just behind me.
He said hello and we discussed the various bits of news Olivier had just announced at the assembly meeting. Then our talk turned to more personal subjects. I remember he said he was from the United States, born in a small town in Maryland, the name of which escapes me. I asked about the peculiarity of his accent and he thought it had something to do with the amount of traveling he did with his family. He hinted at a rather lonely childhood, with few stable friendships, though he laughed this off as though it no longer bothered him.
Our conversation then difted to generalities about our current projects. I was, in those summer weeks, still in preproduction for the Sample 17 project, and told him things were proceeding well. He then asked me if Abstergo Entertainment had access to any of the old Animus 1.28 models. I told him I didn't think we did, as these models were not Helix compatible and were therefore of no use to us at Abstergo Entertainment. He said that was too bad, and when I asked him why, he said something to the effect of "I'd love a quick trip through my own messy past."
This didn't strike me as odd at the time - at one point or another, most of our employees express a desire to peek into their own genetic memories. But I had to disabuse him of any ideas that this was a possibility. "Abstergo has a very strict screening process," I told him. "We take donations of gene material, yes, but the actual live sequencing process is done by trained professionals only. The Animus is a tool, not a toy." After listening to my explanation, he said again that it was too bad. When I suggested he donate his genetic material to the company anyway, he said nothing and wandered away from the queue. I noticed he hadn't taken any food or drink at all.
The second occasion was not so much a meeting as it was a sighting. It was on a Saturday in Montreal, at some point in the late Summer. I was walking down Parx towards Sherbrooke when I decided to stop by my fabourite café for a drink. While waiting for my coffee, I happened to notice John was there too, sitting by himself in a far corner of the establishment, hunched over a small laptop and staring at the screen intently. His face was very flushed as streams of tears ran down his face. He looked distraught, as if a close relation had died and he had just heard the news.
As I waited, watching him intermitently, I realized that he was talking to someone, most likely via video or voice chat. This was not so unusual, of course; yet the manner of his speech was very odd. His conversation, from the little I could make out, seemed to be filled with joy and happiness even as his expression was one of a man being tortured to the limits of endurance.
Deciding against a quick "hello," I grabbed my coffee when it came and moved to the exit. Unfortunately, I could not resist a final peek at my colleague - I wish I had not paused.
Turning again to the back of the room, I found John staring directly at me. All emotion had drained from his red, raw face. His expression was blank, yet his eyes were fixed on me, boring like two screws through my skull. I exited the café as quickly as I could.
When I saw him at work the following week, he greeted me in his same laconic fashion. I said nothing about seeing him at the café and neither did he. We spoke only a handful of times after that, the last time being outside the Helix server room in A.E.'s lower "bunker" area. We argued about the employees we had recently detained on suspicion of espionage. I didn't see him again, and he was dead soon after.
Apart from these details, I have only generalities to offer. He was an odd man, but no stranger than most of the more technically-minded employees here. He was known to mumble to himself quite frequently, though I never witnessed this behavior myself. He was somewhat arrogant and haughty, but this again was not so unusual for his line of work, especially for a man whose intelligence and talent were not in question. He was undoubtedly skilled and had technical aptitude that surprised even some of our most senior Technicians.
If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact me.