Happy Easter everyone.
I had intended to write something totally different today but it wouldn’t flow, and for some reason these characters insisted they wanted this story instead. It was inspired by a remark on social media when a fellow author posted about sneezing in front of her laptop, and the anti-virus started a scan on its own. 😀
‘Damn. It’s happened again. That’s the second time this week.’
‘What’s up, Mandy?’
‘My computer just crashed. I’ve been working hours on those stats his nibs wanted for his meeting tomorrow.’
‘Don’t you have a back-up?’
‘I did one last night, but it won’t include this file. And I was hoping to get away early tonight. No chance of that now.’
‘Get the IT boys up to have a look; they might be able to retrieve it. I’m going out for a couple of hours so you can use my laptop if you like. It’s on my desk. Password is JimmyB96, and there’s some spare USBs in the drawer. Use one as you go along, just in case. I’ll be back around 4.30.’
‘Cheers, Jim. I meant to ask stationery to fetch me some more to save my files, but in the rush to get this finished I forgot. See you later.’
Collecting up her notes, Mandy dumped them on her colleague’s desk, started up his laptop, and went to make a cup of coffee to sustain her in the long hours ahead. After a quick call to the computer maintenance people, she entered Jim’s password and waited while the incomprehensible squidges and background apps did their thing. The screen flashed black, then blue and finally came up with the usual company logo.
As she minimised it, another file appeared, which he must have been working on before he left. The name of their main competitor caught her eye, and after a guilty glance round to ensure no one was watching, she started reading. An hour later, with her own work forgotten and the coffee stone cold, she was disturbed by a knock on the office door.
‘Hi, Mandy. You reported something wrong with your computer.’
‘Yes, Ben. Can you have a look at it, please. It died on me a few days ago, but sorted itself out. This time I can’t get anything to come up. I particularly need to find the file I was working on. It’s called something like ‘Summary relating to lost business, and dated today. Do your best. I need it desperately.’
‘I’ll see what I can do, but this is one of the older machines. I’ll find you one of the modern ones and transfer everything across while you’re not using it.’
‘Thanks, but if you could find the file first, I’d be grateful.’
While Ben was engrossed in her problem, Mandy borrowed a memory stick from the drawer and downloaded the file from Jim’s computer to read in private later. From what she had seen so far, it appeared he was conspiring with the opposition, but she needed to be certain before she spoke to her boss. It would be awful if he had been authorised to gather information and she appeared to have been snooping. Slipping the USB into her pocket, she tried to remember what stage she had reached in her report.
‘Found it,’ came the cheerful shout from her desk. ‘You’d called it “re” rather than “relating to” but I’ve put it on a backup, all safe and sound.’
‘Ben, you’re an angel,’ Mandy thanked him as she took the flash drive and opened the file on Jim’s computer. Everything she had done that morning was there, and another hour’s work saw it finished and emailed to her boss.
‘I’m off now, Mandy. I’ll leave it running tonight, and pop up in the morning to check everything’s OK, but it shouldn’t be any problem. You’ll probably find it a lot quicker than the old one.’
‘Thanks, Ben. I owe you one. See you in the morning.’
True to his word, the following day Ben checked her machine and assured her everything was fine.
‘It’s all yours, Mandy. Oh, by the way, I’ve added an extra anti-virus programme. You shouldn’t have any more trouble.’
‘Fantastic, Ben. Thanks. I could kiss you,’ Mandy said without thinking, then went bright red as the words left her mouth.
‘I might hold you to that,’ Ben replied with a wink, before returning to his other duties.
Mandy had always had a soft spot for Ben. He was cheerful, ready to help anyone, had a warm personality, and behind his studious glasses was actually quite good looking. ‘Mooning around won’t get the work done,” she thought, before returning to her own desk and trying out her new computer. She was amazed at the speed it responded and had soon cleared the backlog. Jim hadn’t returned yesterday afternoon, and with no sign of him today she had the office to herself. Closing the door, she took the USB containing the file she had copied from him and opened it up. Immediately there came a noise like a loud sneeze from her laptop, and red warning lights flashed all over the screen.
“Attention, attention. Virus detected,” it said. “Scan initiated.” For a few seconds it flashed a series of gobble-de-gook, before showing another message on her usual worktop. “File deleted. ‘Paranoia’ bug obliterated. You may now proceed.”
There was no trace of the file on either her recently opened documents, or on the original back-up. Any proof she had that Jim was secretly working for the opposition was gone. What could she do now? Pretend she had never seen it, or take her suspicions to the head of the company without any evidence?
To be continued. Thanks for dropping by. See you next week.
© Voinks April 2020
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