Paranoia virus Part 2

The second part of the story posted last week.  I had hoped to have it finished today but the unusual circumstances of current life got in the way. 😀

woman secretary phone cropped 17.4.20

‘Geoff, have you got a minute? There’s something I’d like to discuss with you.’

‘I’m due at a meeting shortly, Mandy. Can it wait until this afternoon?’

‘Yes, of course. No problem.’

It was probably a good thing as it would give Mandy the opportunity to get her thoughts together, and present the facts in order, rather than waffling and appearing jealous or vindictive. Her boss was aware she hadn’t exactly hit it off with Jim, which was why it was a surprise when he had been so accommodating. Had he deliberately left the file for her to find as a trap? Realising she was becoming paranoid, Mandy took out her notebook and wrote down the bullet points.

*Her computer had packed up.
*Jim offered her the use of his and gave her his password.
*She inadvertently saw an open file where he appeared to have been discussing company business with their competitors.
*She saved the file to a back-up but then it disappeared.

Did that sound an odd thing to do?  Why would she save someone else’s file? Was it believable that it was deleted? Perhaps a better approach was to ask Geoff if he had given any specific instructions for Jim to liaise with Blaggard Plc, then she could explain how she saw the file.

‘Been having a nice chat with the boss then, have we?’ Jim made her jump as he suddenly appeared at her desk. He must have crept in very quietly for her not to have heard him approach, but she decided to act nonchalant.

‘Oh, Hi Jim. Sorry I was miles away. Thanks for the use of your laptop the other day. Ben found my missing file and I’ve been given a new computer so I won’t need to bother you again.’

‘Which missing file would that be then?’ he asked. ‘Nothing to do with Blaggards, I suppose?’

Why did he mention Blaggards? Was he suspicious? She hoped her smile didn’t look too false as she turned to face him.

‘Blaggards? No. The one I was working on was a boring accounts thing. Just looking at cashflow, sales projections and figures for the business plan. You know what Geoff’s like. Needs to have everything well in advance.’ As he had brought the subject up, she took the opportunity to do some delving of her own. ‘Is that what you’ve been working on; how we stack up against our competitors?’ she asked in what she hoped was an innocent voice.

‘No, nothing to do with me. Well, I can’t stand here chatting all day. I’ve got work to do.’

‘Yeah, me too. Thanks again.’

From the corner of her eye she saw him watching her with a suspicious look on his face, but turned back to her computer and pretended to be engrossed in facts and figures. For the next hour or so they both worked silently until he shut down his laptop and stood up.

‘Well, that’s my password changed,’ he said with a smirk. ‘See you when I see you.’

‘OK. Bye,’ Mandy said, thinking it was an odd thing to say. Usually when one of her colleagues went out, they said ‘Back by lunchtime,’ or ‘I’m going straight home after the meeting. See you tomorrow.’ It wasn’t her problem, and at least she would have some privacy to speak to Geoff if Jim wasn’t around to eavesdrop. As if she had conjured him up, her boss phoned.

‘Hi, Mandy. Sorry, I’ll have to give our chat a miss for this afternoon. Something’s come up so I won’t be back today. Put Jim on, would you? I’d like a word with him.’

‘Sorry, Geoff. He went out a few minutes ago, and I’m not sure when he’ll be back. Do you want me to leave a message on his desk?’

‘No, don’t bother. His phone’s been turned off all morning. Did he take his laptop with him?’

‘Yes. Is something wrong?’

‘I’m not sure yet. The discussion you wanted wouldn’t have anything to do with Jim would it?’

‘Yes, actually it was, but I’d rather explain face to face. It might be nothing.’

‘Fine. I’ll be in early tomorrow so we can speak first thing. I’ll be interested in hearing what you’ve got to say, but keep it to yourself for now. OK?’

‘Of course. See you in the morning.’

The call had given her confidence. At least it would be easier to explain to Geoff if he already had his suspicions. The rest of her day was spent fending off enquiries from other members of staff looking for Jim. Although it wasn’t unusual for senior management to leave the office, Jim didn’t fall into that category, and the company diary gave everyone an outline of where they were and when they would be expected back, in case of emergency. It was an unusual policy for most offices, but due to the nature of their work a sensible precaution.

‘Have you seen Peter? He was supposed to be helping me this afternoon but I can’t find him anywhere?’

Peter was another newbie to the company, and had started around the same time as Jim, about four weeks previously. When Anna also disappeared, rumours spread like wildfire. All employees had to undergo extensive enquiries into their backgrounds, and even then, there was a hierarchy of security clearance. There was definitely something strange going on. This was confirmed when the announcement came over the tannoy shortly before Mandy was due to leave.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen. This is a Code Red announcement. You will shortly be receiving an email reminding you of the procedure, but as from now we are in lock-down. Nobody is allowed to leave the building. Please remember any contact with the outside world is strictly forbidden. The advice message for family and dependents will be dispatched automatically, but please check your individual contact file to ensure it is up to date. We apologise for the inconvenience and will give you further information as soon as we can. Thank you for your cooperation.’

To be continued….

© Voinks April 2020

Final part next week with news of a possible new direction for the site. 

Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoy these stories and look forward to seeing you again.

Meanwhile, if you would like to check out my published books you can find them here:
Amazon author page

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