Sunday, June 04, 2017

Excerpt 4 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 4 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley

Darrell hated them. He wanted them dead. He knew they laughed at him behind his back. He was the geek. The one with all the pens. The one with stains on his shirt. The one who could fall over his own feet. The one who dropped papers at meetings. The one that had actually passed gas at a company get-together. The one that the bosses would clap on the back at office parties and say good job even as they looked for someone -- anyone -- else for them to foist him off on. When he tried to talk to them, when he tried to explain how the flow of the R327 network was both compartmentalized and yet open and that it kept the hackers out but allowed interactivity as well as intra-activity, the same lame comments started. "Speak English, man." "Watch a lot of Star Trek, don't you?" "Over my head."

He hated them all, but he particularly hated Rachel because her cubicle was next to his. Had been for five years, but she still didn't say hi to him. She would barely nod when he passed, and if he spoke to her, her eyes would glaze immediately.

He had often thought of reporting her to the HR department for violating IT email policies. She used her computer as if she owned it and it was her personal entertainment box. She emailed her mom, her brother, twenty or so girlfriends, a few boyfriends, people she chatted with online and would never be in the same room together, school and college friends and possibly the whole population of her hometown and several small European countries. She sent them jokes and prayer and recipes. She sent them web site links and quotes and pictures. She sent them advice and gossip and opinions. Rachel was a mass media. And her online activity was in direct violation of the restricted personal use policy clearly outlined on page 46 of the Gallant and Sons Company Employee Handbook.

Darrell didn't know why she hadn't got caught. What was IT doing? Did they notice the bandwidth being used whenever Rachel was at her computer? Were they blind? Or simply too stupid?

Darrell would turn her in, but he'd be asked how he knew what she did. He'd be fired as soon as they realized he was exploiting holes in their security ice to ghost her computer. He wasn't a good liar and couldn't think of a plausible story to explain his knowledge.

So he sat in his cubicle and hated them all, but mostly Rachel. Sometimes it was hard for him to focus as he sat there, listening to the faint sound of her voice on the phone to her mom, smelling the damned perfume she drenched herself in. The last year had been worse. He nearly quit every day, but he wasn't good at job searching. Actually he was good at job searching; he wasn't good at job getting. It had taken him nearly two and a half years to find this one, and he didn't want to go back to living with his mom again.

Two months ago, though, he had found something that made it better. Something that helped when he felt his hatred of them choke away his thoughts, when he wanted to scream in frustration and rage, when he wanted to run down the halls like a madman. He would reach into his briefcase and touch it. He would hold it, and he could feel cool and calm again.

Two months ago, Darrell started bringing a gun to work.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

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