Soar (4)

It didn’t hit me until I was alone in that little box: Killed? What the hell kind of- what the hell-

I made it to the IT floor. I went into the bathroom and threw up. I had to force myself not to curl up on the bathroom floor and fall asleep.

I saw a cab pull up, take its time disgorging three suits and a bunch of bags. Airport shuttle. I stood there and stared. When they were out and paid I climbed in and caught a ride to the impound. Where I paid four hundred bucks, drove my car home, parked in the shade, and slept in the driver’s seat until I’d gotten up the energy to get to my bed.

The next day I drove in an hour early, unchained my bike and put it in my back seat. Nobody had stolen it. One of the perks of having a really shitty bike. Back in the bullpen I learned that the company had given each of us who’d stayed late a $300 bonus. And the company would be covering the entire cost of my impound. And there was enough leftover take-out in the breakroom fridges to keep us all fed for a week.

“You never punched out yesterday,” Pinar said.

“Oh. Sorry.”

“It’s OK. When did you get done with the security staff?”

“Um… I don’t know, like 8 or something.”

“Jesus!”

My theory was, if they worked you so hard you weren’t really sure when you got done, you were allowed to approximate. Wildly.

She smiled at me. “Let’s call it midnight. Looked like you did good there, shooting off your mouth.”

“Um.” I smiled. “Thanks, Pinar.”

“Have fun on the phones,” she said. I wouldn’t say I did – but having 27 hours of overtime under my belt sure didn’t hurt.

Gerhard came in and spent most of the day on Etsy spending his $300. Jane didn’t come in at all. I guess with enough overtime to equal the better part of a week’s work she could afford to take a day off.

I decided to punch out at 5, not be greedy, get a little extra sleep, shower about a dozen more times. I was winding down my last flash game when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was attached to Chuck, and a better-rested Bob was just behind him.

“We’re gonna steal him for a few minutes, if that’s OK.”

Pinar nodded, though it obviously wasn’t a question.

I found myself in the elevator again. This time up to the observation deck. Bob made a beeline for an empty corner. He sat down on a bench. Chuck stood there comfortably. I stood there awkwardly.

“You ever thought about working for security?” Bob asked.

I’m pretty sure I made some sort of noise.

Chuck smiled in a way that said Don’t look at the mouth-breather, look at me. “Drew – our Chief of Digital Security Operations – liked your idea. Liked it so much that he gave it to the directors and as a result he still has a job today. Liked it so much that he dropped your name to them. Several times. So the directors asked him what role you’d be playing in the upcoming investigation. And he said a big one. So.”

“So you’ve got him by the balls,” said Bob. “Ask for six figures.”

Chuck rolled his eyes.

“The money’s better,” Chuck said. “So’s the work. Come work full-time on the 24th floor.”

They looked at me, until I realized they were waiting for an answer.

“Sure?” I said.

I guess that was enough. “Welcome aboard,” said Chuck, shaking my hand and then walking past me. “I’m going to go home and sleep for three days, Bob will bring you up to speed, fuck off and have a nice afternoon.”

He headed for the doors. Bob leaned back and cracked a smile.

“He’s a good enough guy,” he said.

I just stared at him.

“We’ve already run a full audit,” he said. “Clean. There’s nothing that looks suspicious *at all*. That’s good. It’s good because I designed the security layers – lots of them – and I designed them to not tolerate even a whiff of shit. So they worked. That’s good.

“The problem is that clearly *something* happened, and in not noticing it, my security missed it the fuck entirely. So that’s bad.”

I just nodded.

“Do you understand?” he asked.

I nodded. Which seemed to make him even more skeptical.

“You have any background in computers?” he asked.

“I can put a new screen in your iPhone,” I said.

He grunted, rearranged himself on the bench. He wasn’t a big guy but he moved like he weighed four hundred pounds.

“Yeah, look,” he said, “I’m sure we can find a use for you, but I was ordered to hire you, and I’m not particularly thrilled with life right now, so having an employee who knows conspicuously dick about what it is that I do is not exactly making me want to break into song. The good news is, you’re not coming out of my section budget, so really I don’t actually care at all.”

Wasn’t much to say to that.

He seemed to reach some sort of decision. “Go down to HR,” he said, grunting some more and and getting to his feet. “Get your paperwork filled out. Clear out your desk. I guess you don’t have a desk. Get your shit together, get ready, and show up first thing in the morning. Ready to find the rat prick who did this and feed him his fucking head after running it through a meat grinder.”

And he walked away, leaving me with a view of the setting sun.

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~ by davekov on 20 June 2014.

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