I would like to once again thank my editor Bechgen, for putting forth the time and energy required to correct this work. It is our hope that through our combined efforts can bring you a story that is for the most part free of errors and enjoyable to read. – Double_entendre.
Have you ever wondered if your life was preplanned long before you were ever born, or does it simply fall into place randomly by a series of choices that either you or someone else makes that directly or indirectly effects the outcome of your existence? That is a question that has pretty much plagued mankind since the beginning of time, and yet we still have not been able to reach a consensus on the answer. My name is Ryan Foster, and like everyone else, I have formed my own opinion on the subject, but instead of sharing it with you directly, I ask instead that you read my story, and from there you can decide for yourself what you believe to be true.
I am an only child from a working class family. My parents, Henry and Virginia Foster, both held down jobs, while I of course went to school. Although I never really considered myself much of a brain, I did manage to hold my own when it came to classroom work. There was one area, however, that I truly excelled in, and that was computers. My initiation into the world of keyboards and mice came in the form of a scrawny nine year old boy whose parents had recently moved in next door to my own. Jimmy Lance and I took an instant liking to each other, and he became my best friend for the entire seven years that we were neighbors.
Jimmy's dad Walter was a major computer geek, and from an early age taught his son everything he could about the wonders of technology. Jimmy started to relay some of his father's wisdom back onto me, and we were both amazed at how quickly I picked up on it. Mr. Lance, who secretly always wanted to be a teacher but chose the life of professional instead due to its monetary rewards, loved the fact that he now had two eager pupils in which to pass on his vast array of knowledge. As our skill level advanced he made us both take an oath that we would never use what we were taught for evil purposes. It was after we took this pledge that things really started to get interesting.
Five years into my friendship with the Lance's, tragedy struck on my end when we suddenly lost my mother in an automobile accident. My heart was in torment, and Jimmy, bless his soul, knew that what I really needed was a distraction to keep my mind off of my trouble. He graciously talked his dad into stepping up our lessons to more advanced levels.
By the time that Jimmy's family had to move away, which although following far behind my mother's death was still the second worse day of my life to date, I was able to do things with computers that most people couldn't even dream about. It was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, and without Jimmy being there to help occupy my free time I desperately needed to find something else to do. My father and I argued relentlessly about me getting a part time job. Dad feared that once I got a taste of what it was like to have a steady income, college would lose some its appeal. He complained that too many kids take time off from their schooling in order to either "find themselves" or save up money, and then life gets in the way preventing them from ever returning to their education. In all actuality I don't think my dad minded the fact that I wanted to work, but it was the paycheck he was scared I'd get hooked on. We finally managed to reach a compromise when I suggested that I look into some volunteer work for the summer and reminded him how good stuff like that would look on college admittance applications.
One would think that the offer of free labor would be in very high demand, especially with the declining economy. The truth of the matter was that there were really not that many opportunities to choose from. In the end there was one detail, that although well below my skill level, was still somewhat worthy of inquiring about. It seemed that with budget cuts the state needed someone to upgrade software on a few of their older computers. The work itself would actually be of no challenge to someone like me whatsoever, but the real shocker was that the PC's they wanted worked on just happened to be located in a medium security women's prison.
I debated with myself as to whether or not I should even apply for the position, but figured I could at least go through the interview process and then see what they had to say.
Naturally I sailed right past the computer portion of their examination, but the hoops they made me jump through in order to pass their extensive security background started to make me question as to whether this shit was really even worth messing with. Evidently I must have met their quota, because they did offer me the job, and that's when the second shoe fell. I learned that if I took the position I would actually be working with a real live inmate. What the fuck was I getting myself into?
In the end it was my sense of loss and sheer boredom that convinced me to go through with it, though I did feel a little better when they assured me that the woman I would be working with was incarcerated for a white collar crime and I would essentially not be in any real danger. "Famous last words"
Melody Farnsworth was not exactly the most pleasant woman I have ever come into contact with. To be honest, she was an absolute bitch from the moment we said hello, obviously blaming the world for her lot in life. I would come to realize much later, however, that she really did have good reason to feel this way. Our work was long and boring, as we had to upgrade the operating systems on over 70 computers. Since they didn't want any leftover residue from the previous version to potentially cause problems down the road, we had to dump each hard drive and start from scratch. This was a slow process and would have given us ample time to engage in conversation. Unfortunately it became abundantly apparent early on that Melody had no desire to talk to me.
It was about a week into our assignment when Melody came across her first problem machine.
"This damn thing just won't work," she complained.
"What seems to be the problem?" I asked.
"I keep getting this damn blue screen," she said.
"Here, why don't we switch computers?" I suggested.
"What makes you think that you can do any better, genius?," she asked.
"All I can do is to try," I replied smiling.
"Fine," she relented. "I was getting sick of that piece of shit anyway," she said.
The problem was easy to resolve, and I had it fixed in a matter of minutes.
"It seems to be loading fine now," I told her.
"How did you do that?" she asked in amazement.
"These older machines sometimes don't respond very well with their hardware components. I ended up just changing a few IRQ's in the bios. It seems to like this configuration much better," I explained.
"You really are pretty good at this kind of stuff. So when are you going to start quizzing me about the money?" she wanted to know.
"What money?" I asked totally confused by her question.
"You don't have to play dumb with me. You are not the first spy they have sent in to try and get me to crack. I will tell you what I told them, I am innocent, and have no idea where all that cash disappeared to," she stated.
"You'll have to forgive me, but I don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about," I told her.
"Yeah, right, do you honestly think that I am going to believe some kid just happens to volunteer to work in a women's prison installing software on his summer break from school for no good reason. Face facts, you are after the money just like everybody else. The problem is I don't have it, and I have no idea who does," Melody said.
"I still don't have a clue as to what money you're referring to, but the reason that I am volunteering this summer is that my mother died last year, and my best friend for the past six years just recently moved half way around the country. I am trying to find something to occupy my mind so that I am not constantly dwelling on it," I explained as a tear rolled down my cheek.
"You are telling the truth, aren't you? I figured that they would have told you all about me before having you start working here," she said.
"All I was told about you is that you were pretty good with computers, the crime you were convicted of was white collar, and I would essentially be in no danger while helping you," I admitted.
"Everything you just said is correct, but the truth is I really am innocent. I don't have any idea what happened to the money," she told me.
"First of all Melody, I still don't know what money you are referring to, and secondly, I believe you," I replied honestly.
"I am talking about the eighty-seven million dollars that suddenly disappeared from the accounts I was managing at the investment firm I used to work for," she said, while watching my face to gauge my reaction.
"Wow! That certainly is some huge hunk of change," I replied, totally shocked by the figure she just quoted.
"You really had no idea about the money?" she asked in wonderment.
"No ma'am, I didn't," I replied.
"You said you believed I was innocent, do you still feel that way now that you know what I was convicted of?" she asked.
"I'm sure of it," I replied, staring her straight in the eye.
"How can you possibly be so certain, we barely know each other?" Melody asked.
.... There is more of this story ...