Help! This is my first story, I have others locked away in my head, but I fear these will be longer tales and before I share these I need to ask you, as a reader, a favour. Do I, in your opinion, have the ability to write a good story that is worthy of your time, or am I simply wasting mine and your time? I welcome your opinions and constructive criticism — Thank you, Adam Paul
It was Sunday evening in late February and the Globonautics building was all but deserted. Outside the wind was whipping up a storm, and Chad Nelson stared at the swirling rain lashing the car park on the video monitor in his office. He hoped the weather wasn't going to ruin his night.
Nelson was stocky in build, with a close cropped military style haircut and a rigid demeanour. His grey eyes were strong, with a gaze that seemed to cut through anyone who challenged him. At fifty-two, Nelson knew he had risen as far as he would rise in Globonautics. Although he had always dreamed of a 'real' post with the company, he had somehow ended up as Internal Security Manager — a grand title for someone who basically took care of cleaning staff and mostly retired men working part-time as security guards. He took his job seriously though, but recognised his career had somehow wound up in a cul-de-sac.
He glanced at the clock on the wall and flicked the video monitor to show the front desk. It was six o'clock and Hale was sitting at the counter reading a newspaper. Nelson picked up his phone and buzzed him, smiling to himself as he watched the old boy jolt to attention.
"Hale, why don't you get yourself off home," Nelson said amiably when he picked up the phone. "I'm going to be stuck here for a few hours so I'll keep an eye on things 'till change over time."
"Are you sure Mr Nelson?" The astonishment in Hale's voice carried over the phone. "I mean, I don't mind — it's what I'm paid for."
"Book your usual hours Hale, and get yourself home. I'll be down in a few minutes to lock up behind you. Oh, if you've finished with your newspaper..."
"I'll leave it right here on the desk Mr Nelson."
"Thank you, Hale. Goodnight." Nelson hung-up. That was the second time in two nights he had sent Hale home early, the old guy would be starting to think he was going soft.
Nelson watched Hale on the video monitor as he gathered his things and zipped up his coat. Hale paused as he crossed to the entrance doors and half-turned, looking up directly into the camera before waving his hand. Nelson nodded to himself in satisfaction and headed out of his office to lock the doors behind Hale.
Standing in the foyer behind the heavy plate glass doors, Nelson peered through the rain, watching Hale's tail lights fade into the night. He pulled out his mobile phone and thumbed a number. His call was answered after two rings.
"All set?" Nelson asked.
"Yep," The voice replied.
"Come on in." Nelson disconnected the call, locked the front doors and walked purposefully back to his office. He had things to do.
Systems security analyst Rachel Holden was at home finishing off some monthly reports ready for the morning. She leaned back in her chair and stretched, raising her arms above her head as she curled her toes into the carpet. An unfinished cup of herbal tea sat cold on the table beside the disorganised piles of papers she'd been working on. Although Rachel was relatively new to Globonautics, she was ambitious and at twenty-three she had time on her side. She worked long hours and her results were gaining attention in the right places.
Globonautics was a software publishing company and Rachel was part of a team whose job it was to check everything the company produced for backdoor entry points that programme writers liked to insert, along with any other potential system weaknesses. In her first month at Globonautics she had spotted a weakness that none of her co-workers had found, just as a product was about to go into production. She had saved the company millions and given herself the heads-up with her superiors.
In just eight months at the company, she had credited another two major coups to her personal tally, as well as a number of minor ones. Rachel Holden was a rising star and was already tipped for supervisor when the next vacancy appeared. She didn't care that her discoveries usually resulted in the firing of programme writers. If they were stupid enough to fuck with the system, they deserved to lose their jobs.
She surveyed her apartment appreciatively. Her standard of living was far higher than most in her age bracket, and that was due entirely to her ability and attitude. She worked hard, put in more hours than her colleagues in the department and was on the brink of a blooming career. Not only was she bright, but she was attractive with it, cause for more than one or two grumblings of discontent behind her back by career rivals.
Rachel gathered up the papers from the table in front of her and organised them neatly before replacing them into the office files. She could hear the low, mournful, sound of the wind outside as she checked her watch. Maybe if she took a shower before she drove back to the office, the storm would have abated by the time she was ready.
Nelson saw the car headlights enter the parking area on the video monitor and headed quickly down to reception. The cameras were on, but they were no longer recording. The missing footage had been replaced with similar footage from the week previous. On first glance, if for any reason they were reviewed over the next week, nothing untoward would appear amiss.
As he approached the plate glass entrance doors he recognised Lou Jensen hovering impatiently from foot to foot outside. Jensen was four years his junior and about a dozen years slower, until it came to computers — then he was a whiz. At six foot two, he was taller than Nelson, though not as broad in the shoulder. He had a crooked nose and a weak looking chin.
Nelson smiled to himself, thinking about the haircut he'd forced upon Jensen. He unlocked the glass doors to let him in. Jensen had silky, straight, soot-black hair, which until recently he kept very long. Nelson argued that a security guard did not wear his hair long. If Jensen wanted in, he had to get it cut. The difference in his appearance was startling, and that was for the good. As an ex-employee of Globonautics, he was easily recognisable with his trademark long black hair.
"Jesus, what a night!" Jensen greeted as he step inside. His narrow charcoal-coloured eyes quickly danced about the dimly lit interior of the reception foyer as Nelson locked the doors behind him.
"Keep off the tiled floor." Nelson cautioned, "Stay on the carpet, I don't want puddles everywhere giving the game away."
"Uh! Oh, right." Jensen's tone altered, he sounded hurt. "No — hello, how are you?"
"Fine — thanks," Nelson forced a smile, "How about yourself?"
"Great. Never better..."
"Good." Nelson cut in. "Now can we cut out the bullshit and get on. We've got a lot to do — did you bring a pair of black shoes like I told you?"
Jensen swung a duffle bag from his shoulder in answer and Nelson grunted. He turned and led Jensen along the carpet, carefully avoiding the tiled path leading to the reception desk as he moved to the staircase leading up to his office. At the top of the first flight, he turned right and headed left at the end of the corridor.
Nelson's office was at the back of the building, not on the front where he felt he belonged. There were other, junior, members of staff that had office's out front, but not him, and that jarred with him. Not tonight, tonight he was moving office temporarily to one on the front of the fifth floor. An office the two of them had spent several hours in last night making everything ready and rehearsing for tonight.
Once inside Nelson's office Jensen glanced quickly at the bank of six video monitors. "They're not recording are they?"
"Of course they aren't, and I've already inserted the files like you showed me last night." Nelson replied indignantly as he rounded his desk. He looked up, his eyes widened angrily as he looked at Jensen in the full glare of his office lights. "I thought I told you to make an effort — come clean?"
"Huh?" Jensen looked at him in surprise.
"You didn't shave!" Nelson snapped.
"Oh, that! I was just about to when you called."
"You got a white shirt?"
"Yep!" Jensen pulled the front of his coat open to expose his clean white shirt.
Nelson searched the drawer to his desk and pulled out an electric razor. "Three doors down on the left is the bathroom, take your shirt off and then shave." He tossed him the razor. "Go!"
"All right, I ain't your fucking dog you know." Jensen complained, "There's no need to be talking at me like I was!"
"Look, just get a move on. I don't have time for nice. When we're ready, I'll be fine ok." Nelson fired back at him irritably. "I'll bring the uniform down in a minute. Hang your coat behind the bathroom door and leave it there to dry."
Jensen left with the razor, grumbling quietly under his breath as he went. Nelson sighed and glanced at the monitors showing the car park and front entrance. Everything was as it should be. Lou Jensen was nerd, but what he lacked in common sense he more than made up for with his computer wizardry. He also had a vendetta, and that made him the ideal accomplice. Nelson needed Jensen's skills to pull things off tonight. Together they made a formidable team.
.... There is more of this story ...