Soar (5)

I found my way to HR. I filled out form after form. I found out that my salary had about doubled, which I filed away under things that were too good to be true. I felt pretty sure I was going to prove my incompetence, get fired, and spend the next three months trying to find an IT job that paid half as well as the one I’d just had. Then I spent the whole night in bed with my laptop, making Amazon wish lists of all the things I could buy with an actual salary. Like, furniture. Or a bike that was actually worth stealing.

I showed up at eight the next morning. Nobody was there. At nine-thirty Chuck came in. He told me Bob usually came in around eleven or noon. I hung around and read a book until I felt really super awkward, then went up to the observation deck and twiddled my thumbs beneath the sky.

At noon I asked if Bob had come in yet. He hadn’t. I went to his office to wait for him. Where I learned that he’d been there all morning. Because he hadn’t gone home the night before.

I cringed, swallowed, walked in preparing to get yelled at. He didn’t seem to care. Or notice.

“This,” he said, turning around one of his three monitors, “is a list of all authorized accesses to the Program hardbox. And this-” another monitor spin “-is forty months worth of video surveillance.”

My eyes must have betrayed me. That or my general expression of abject horror. “You can’t-”

“Motion-captured,” he said. “But, yeah, it’s still about eighty hours of video. And several thousand log entries. And you in the middle, cross-referencing like a motherfucker.”

I blinked. Eventually.

“Welcome to security,” he said, “where the fun never starts. Now get to work.”

I wasn’t told anything about the Program. From watching the footage I could make a few assumptions. The Program was – had been – stored in a computer made up of a series of large beige boxes. Which I gathered had the computing power of all the iPads east of the Mississippi.

The footage didn’t vary much. Every once and a while a person would come in and feed the computer a few megabytes of instructions or a few thousand gigabytes of data. Or they would open up the computer and play with it. And the video cameras in the room would record their every little movement, which would be logged by what I imagined were six armed Terminators waiting just outside the room.

I spent the next six days correlating the cameras and the log. It was exactly as boring as it sounds. I was getting paid a lot.

I made a game of trying to learn everything I could about the Program from the data in front of me. I learned nothing. I knew better than to ask.

I found out that two other people were doing the same thing I was. I’d encountered plenty of redundancy in the corporate world but none of it was intentional. Some people upstairs were taking this more seriously than I wanted to think about. I did what I could, meaning I made really sure not to fuck up.

I found discrepancies. Log entries that didn’t match up to the video. And some log entries that didn’t make any sense at all. I reported them. I found More Competent People and together we investigated them. They all had an explanation. THey all checked out. Nothing that could have led to the Program disappearing in the night.

When that didn’t work Bob had us try something else. We pulled every piece of hardware from the Program boxes and went over them for errors, intentional or otherwise. I learned a lot about computer hardware in a very short amount of time. Mostly they had be unscrew a lot of very small screws. We were down there for eight days, looking at silicon boards underneath digital microscopes, taking picture after picture to be reviewed by God-knows-who. And we didn’t find anything. Everything was perfect.

“Of course it was,” Bob said to nobody in particular. He was sitting behind his desk, I was standing there in the new clothes I’d ordered online. They didn’t fit very well, but I didn’t really care. Too busy working.

I knew enough to wait for him to continue. I liked Bob, but he wasn’t big on needing prompting.

“Everything was perfect. Because we made it perfect. Not just because it was secret, and a really big budget item that nobody upstairs believed in anyway. We did it because it was a labor of love and we loved every fucking line of code.”

“We’re going to audit every single line of code, aren’t we,” I said.

He smiled. “I’m almost not sorry they made me hire you.”

It took three weeks. Half of that was writing programs to audit the code for us. There was an absolutely ungodly amount of code. From little things Bob said, when he didn’t realize I was listening or that other people existed, the team had made slight modifications to all sorts of code that was already out there, that had been developed over the years by researchers and academics and all sorts of nerds. From what I gathered, this was how most computer programming was done.

I learned a lot about coding in those weeks. Hardly enough to begin to understand the Program’s code. It was a giant bundle of algorithms which made up one great big algorithm. In retrospect I’m proud I managed to put together that much. In retrospect it should have meant more to me. It didn’t.

I came close to asking some solid questions about the Program. Bob sensed this, I think, because he made sure to drop some sledgehammer-like hints about how I should keep my eyes pointed downwards, do what I was told. So I did.

The better part of two months had passed, and we still had no idea what had happened.

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~ by davekov on 20 June 2014.

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