Saturday, 28 August 2010

Episode 54

His name was Steve Corner and he had been in telecoms ever since he’d managed to escape the dunghill town (as he privately thought of it) of Cold-Stone, Missouri. Although he’d been armed only with his high school diploma when he escaped, he’d impressed the hiring manager at Rainbow Telecom enough to get a place as a trainee engineer. He’d been bright and hard-working, and in a few short years had made it to Lead Systems Engineer, a good, well-paid position.

This morning, he was whistling Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head’ softly to himself as he sat down in front of his computer and logged in for another shift. His inbox was bulging with all the usual work requests, chasers for work requests, company Health & Safety bulletins and the like. One email, however, caught his eye. It was from a sender he hadn’t heard from in a while and had really hoped not to have to hear from ever again.

The sender was RolexBoy99. Steve sighed: they’d been trainees together and close friends once upon a time. So much so that RolexBoy had been the one he’d turned to when he’d hit and killed a pedestrian one night while driving home from a night out. There’d been no witnesses and Steve had fled the scene, terrified of what he’d done. RolexBoy had been supportive, had even urged him to go the cops at first, but had stood by him even when he hadn’t.

After a few months, RolexBoy had moved to another job and that had been that – until the emails started. They had always been just simple requests, getting Steve to alter RolexBoy’s phone records and reduce his bill, give him unlimited texts, that kind of thing. This one was different, though.

Hi Steve

One last favour – and I do mean the last one ever this time, buddy. I need the text of all messages sent to and from these numbers since 00:00 this morning


Do this for me and you’ll never hear from me again, promise.


Accessing subscribers’ messages without authorisation was cause for instant dismissal, of course, but Steve’s heart leapt at the thought of never having to give in to RolexBoy’s blackmail attempts ever again.

His hands fairly flew over the keyboard in an effortless dance of access codes and menu-shortcuts. Soon he had the information on screen. There was very little activity, as it tuned out. All of the traffic, it seemed, had been between just one of the numbers in RolexBoy’s list and one other.

There were several outbound calls – not answered, evidently, then an exchange of texts, starting with an outgoing one:

07993345276: All safe here. Please call or text as soon as possible. Othello.
07744332257: Safe also. Box says there is a traitor in OGS. Meet us at 1472 Goose Egg Drive. H
07744332257: Do you have an ETA? H
07744332257: Do you have an ETA? H
07744332257: Do you have an ETA? H
07993345276: On our way. O.

Out of curiosity, Steve called up the subscriber names for the two numbers. The first one was registered to Aunt Aggie’s Family Cheesecake Company, the second to a Mr Raymond Donnelley.
Not recognising any of the names, Steve shrugged and pasted all the information into a reply email and hit send. Now maybe RolexBoy would finally leave him alone. He started whistling again.

Seconds later, a tinny little computer speaker beeped to alert its user to an incoming email. The user shut down the game of solitaire with which he had been amusing himself and opened up the message.

It was a good thing he was currently the sole occupant of the room – his air-punch and whispered exclamation of Yessss! would have raised more than one eyebrow.

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