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The Terrorist Attack

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

The snow storm across the nation shut down many businesses and people went home early. The business where you work had closed for two days. Although you turned off the computer before going home, when you returned to work, your computer had been very active while you were away—plotting a terrorist attack. You now find yourself tasked with stopping the attack.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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54 Responses to The Terrorist Attack

  1. Ross says:

    So, my computer has a mind of its own. It seems to be plotting a terrorist attack. Agains whom: unknown. Motive: unknown. Method: unknown. Scenes from an episode of The X-Files popped up from my memory. Mulder’s in California, and not a real person, so he won’t do. I should call my boss.
    I glanced around the room at the empty office in which I spend more time than I do at home, and thought, ‘how could anything be worse?’ Our constantly flickering florescent lights, our weak coffee and short lunch breaks, the bad pay and nonexistent vacation days, the countdown clock on my monitor. Just blow the whole place up.
    No, no, that’s selfish. I guess I’ll have to be the world’s savior.
    The phones don’t work. Of course. Bred within my generation is a blanket know-how when it comes to technology. I am an old soul. Clearly my computer has noticed my incompetence. It was supposed to be barcodes on our wrists and robots running our errands and feeding our children before computers come to life and plotted against us. I’m not qualified for this.
    Well, the least I can do, as I mope around the abandoned office wishing I was something greater, is turn the computer off. The screen went blank and I held my breath for something to happen. The computer next to mine turned on, the same frightening message blinking on the monitor. I turned it off. A different computer turned on. It was a deadly, morbid game of Whac-a-Mole.
    “Someone’s playing a trick on you.” I jumped at the bodiless voice behind me. The voice belonged to the building’s custodian who looked wearily at the minefield of countdowns to an ominous, impending doom.
    “No, I think it really may be the end of the world.” I showed him the computer trick. Where one goes off, another comes on.
    “I think not.”
    “That seems like a cop-out.”
    “Yeah, but how else would this end? With a bomb going off in the building and killing us all?”
    “No. With me, the underdog, cleverly finding a way, against all odds, to save the human race from the oncoming attack with only a few seconds left on the clock.” I was trying to convince myself more than him.
    “Will you need a screwdriver?” He pulled one from his pocket.
    “Probably.”
    I looked around the room at my opponents and thought of how easy it should be to defeat these machines. There was only one logical solution. I stabbed the computers, one by one, with the screwdriver. For the first time I felt relief we did not use Macs in the office, they would, no doubt, be much harder to beat.
    “That should do it.” The custodian took his tool back and walked away, still talking, “You’re going to be fired, for sure.”

  2. Erick Jacobs says:

    As I hung my coat, I noticed the low, whirring of the hard drive. Odd…surely I powered down, I know I did. I missed the hook and my coat fell to the floor. As a creature of habit, I wiggled my mouse and pressed the escape key, never minding my coat. On a normal day, this would take me to my login screen, but today wasn’t that kind of day. Instead, I heard a ping, then an 80’s style AI spoke from within my computer.

    Transaction Encrypted…
    Plan Approved…
    Sequence Initiated…
    Awaiting Confirmation…

    Confirmation Received…
    Operation Proceeding…

    Thank you Mr. Green

    My printer sprung to life and papers flooded the tray. There were twenty. Some were detailed listings of times, places, actions, instructions. Others were maps – cities, bases, water facilities. This couldn’t be what I thought it was, could it?
    My stomach somersaulted. I dry heaved more than a few times. I sat, listening to my head throb from between my ears. My thoughts raced. Should I run? Yes. Why I didn’t do anything wrong. Prove it. Devil’s in the details bud.
    I’ll call Charlotte, if anyone can figure this out she can. Sure, then she’ll lock down your computer and notify the authorities. You’ll be terminated, arrested, and hauled off to God knows where or for how long –months, years even. Face it, your life ended when…
    I rubbed my temples and wiped sweat from my brow. Don’t sit, think… time’s a wastin’…tick-tock, tick-tock. I pulled up the command prompt and ran a virus search. Nothing. No surprise there. I then searched for any extraneous uploads or dial-in activity. Zilch.
    I peeked over my cubicle and saw Charlotte’s door open. She exited, and the head of security followed. He barked a command into his radio, continuing to follow Charlotte. They walked to the end of the hall and snatched a sheet of paper from the receptionist, and turned back my direction.
    They’re coming for you Mr. Support the Cause.
    “Shut the hell up!” I hollered. Smart, truly genius…Einstein would be proud. And now that you have everyone’s attention go ahead and tell them that you just sanctioned a terrorist attack somewhere in the lower 48, and have a nice day.
    My cell phone rang, but I didn’t recognize the number so I let it go. They were getting closer and looked none too pleased. The stairwell door opened to my left and six S.W.A.T. looking members busted through. My desk phone rang, out of habit I picked it up.
    “Chad, how’s it going? Not answering your cell?”
    “Doug, can’t talk right now… gotta go.”
    “Busy day, huh”
    “Yeppers, it is.”
    “Ok then hit me up later. Oh, have you had a chance to dig into the new War-games module I installed on your computer? The initial set up is realistic as all get out.”

    I hung up the phone as my desk was surrounded and I was firmly asked to step away while placing my hands in the air.

  3. LeaderAstray says:

    Hi All, this is my first time posting here. I hope you enjoy. Any feedback would be much appreciated.
    ———————

    There’s nothing more beautiful than soft, white snow blanketing the landscape while crystalline flakes drift through the air. It’s a magical feeling that makes me feel like a kid again. But it’s a bitch when you have to drive to work the next day.

    I left the house early to beat traffic. It still took two hours to move twelve miles. On the bright side, the roads were surprisingly dry considering the five-foot snow banks on each side. It was a good thing too–my little two-seat roadster was never meant for snow or ice. Even mist made her slide.

    The parking lot was empty. Most parents were probably stuck at home until the schools re-opened, and everyone else was probably milking the blizzard for all it was worth. I would too if I could’ve.

    The MPs were still here though, vigilant as ever. I flashed my badge, emptied my pockets, leaned over the retinal scanner–the whole morning rigamarole–and finally collapsed in my office. Now the hard part was done, I could relax and pretend to do my work for the day.

    As I leaned over to switch on the computer, the keyboard struck me as out of place. I figured the janitor had cleaned, but those crumbs from three days ago were conspicuously still present. I looked more closely and found a long blond hair on my chair. A bag of Funyuns was in the trash can. I loved Funyuns but I stopped eating them when they shifted to the cheap ingredients that caused anal leakage. What was going on?

    The computer was still on. The mouse had cheese-flavored fingerprints smeared all over it, so I tapped the keyboard to bring the screen to life. Whoever had been here really didn’t care about being identified.

    Then I realized why.

    Oh frack.

    Frack frack frack.

    A timer was counting down. A timer for something no one could access but me. Or so I thought.

    Bloody hell.

    Twenty minutes.

    There was no way to manually shut it down in time, and no time to sift through the code to deactivate it. No time to evacuate the city. They didn’t care because it didn’t matter.

    There was only one rational thing to do: run.

    I stuffed the mouse and hair down my shirt, then yanked open the door and sprinted through the halls. MPs at the front would slow me down, so I barreled out the fire exit. Alarms blared.

    I slipped and slid on the icy walkway and leaped over a giant pile of snow. I slid down the far bank face first, rolled to my feet and dashed to my car, fumbling for my cell phone,

    Please answer!

    As soon as the engine kicked, I tore out of the parking lot down the driveway. The guard at the gate looked up as he saw me fishtailing like a bat out of hell (if bats could fishtail).

    I straightened out the car and floored it.

    The guard expected me to slow down. Instead, I shifted to fourth gear and punched it. The guard stood up in alarm. The phone was ringing.

    3…

    The gate was down. Four and a half foot clearance. Slightly higher on the right. Still ringing.

    2…

    I steered to the right without lighting up. Fifty miles an hour and climbing. Please please answer!

    1…

    “Hello?” she answered as I sped under the gate.

    There was a small thump as my roof just nicked the cross bar. Thank god. I always thought my little car would clear the gate but I never dared until now. Good girl.

    “Callie? Callie?!”

    The brakes squealed as I skidded full speed into traffic.

    Car horns blared all around. I dropped gears and the engine roared.

    “I can barely hear you. Where are you?”

    “Grab our laptops,” I said, “and meet me outside. Do it now. Right now!”

    I glanced into the rear view mirror, hoping the MPs would chase me. For their own sakes.

  4. LeaderAstray says:

    This is my first time posting here. I hope you enjoy. Any feedback would be much appreciated.
    ——————-

    There’s nothing more beautiful than soft, white snow blanketing the landscape while crystalline flakes drift through the air. It’s a magical feeling that makes me feel like a kid again. But it’s a b!@#h when you have to drive to work the next day.

    I left the house early to beat traffic. It still took two hours to move twelve miles. On the bright side, the roads were surprisingly dry considering the five-foot snow banks on each side. It was a good thing too–my little two-seat roadster was never meant for snow or ice. Even mist made her slide.

    The parking lot was empty. Most parents were probably stuck at home until the schools re-opened, and everyone else was probably milking the blizzard for all it was worth. I would too if I could’ve.

    The MPs were still here though, vigilant as ever. I flashed my badge, emptied my pockets, leaned over the retinal scanner–the whole morning rigamarole–and finally collapsed in my office. Now the hard part was done, I could relax and pretend to do my work for the day.

    As I leaned over to switch on the computer, the keyboard struck me as out of place. I figured the janitor had cleaned, but those crumbs from three days ago were conspicuously still present. I looked more closely and found a long blond hair on my chair. A bag of Funyuns was in the trash can. I loved Funyuns but I stopped eating them when they shifted to the cheap ingredients that caused anal leakage. What was going on?

    The computer was still on. The mouse had cheese-flavored fingerprints smeared all over it, so I tapped the keyboard to bring the screen to life. Whoever had been here really didn’t care about being identified.

    Then I realized why.

    Oh crap.

    Crap crap crap.

    A timer was counting down. A timer for something no one could access but me. Or so I thought.

    Bloody hell.

    Twenty minutes.

    There was no way to manually shut it down in time, and no time to sift through the code to deactivate it. No time to evacuate the city. They didn’t care because it didn’t matter.

    There was only one rational thing to do: run.

    I stuffed the mouse and hair down my shirt, then yanked open the door and sprinted through the halls. MPs at the front would slow me down, so I barreled out the fire exit. Alarms blared.

    I slipped and slid on the icy walkway and leaped over a giant pile of snow. I slid down the far bank face first, rolled to my feet and dashed to my car, fumbling for my cell phone,

    Please answer!

    As soon as the engine kicked, I tore out of the parking lot down the driveway. The guard at the gate looked up as he saw me fishtailing like a bat out of hell (if bats could fishtail).

    I straightened out the car and floored it.

    The guard expected me to slow down. Instead, I shifted to fourth gear and punched it. The guard stood up in alarm. The phone was ringing.

    3…

    The gate was down. Four and a half foot clearance. Slightly higher on the right. Still ringing.

    2…

    I steered to the right without lighting up. Fifty miles an hour and climbing. Please please answer!

    1…

    “Hello?” she answered as I sped under the gate.

    There was a small thump as my roof just nicked the cross bar. Thank god. I always thought my little car would clear the gate but I never dared until now. Good girl.

    “Callie? Callie?!”

    The brakes squealed as I skidded full speed into traffic.

    Car horns blared all around. I dropped gears and the engine roared.

    “I can barely hear you. Where are you?”

    “Grab our laptops,” I said, “and meet me outside. Do it now. Right now!”

    I glanced into the rear view mirror, hoping the MPs would chase me. For their own sakes.

  5. Birdee0809 says:

    Hi everybody. I thought Tuesday was the day the prompts changed, have they moved to a different day?

    Thanks.
    Karen

    • swatchcat says:

      Good day Karen. This site has been averaging late Thursdays or Friday before posting a new prompt. It has been that way for the last several prompts. Usually it is Tuesdays. Maybe they could be affected by the weather in the East. The only other thought would be he is milking it to see if more will comment on others work, to get more input? It’s anyones guess. Thanks for putting the question out there.

  6. GreenfieldAE says:

    “Look, I don’t know what happened for sure, but I suspect that my computer plotted this terrorist attack that blew up The White House,” I explained to my supervisor, Christine. She stared at me vacantly before turning back to her office, her designer heels rapping on the linoleum floor. She picked up her phone, pressed a button on the keypad, and whispered into the receiver. I could not tell who she was talking to or what she was saying.

    I returned to my cubicle and resumed entering the data into the database. I saw that I had forgotten to log out of the software, meaning that anyone could have read the top secret data that had been listed there. Could this have been the reason why the First Family was almost killed in this horrendous attack performed by the enraged Canadian militia?

    I frowned as I frantically searched the database for what triggered my computer to organize this attack. I browsed each alphabetical section of the database. I stopped at the B section when I saw the words BLAME CANADA blaring at me on the screen.

    I read the BLAME CANADA file in horror. It contained dozens of codes that could deploy missiles all over the world from Canada’s lead military bases. I rose from my seat and jumped up and down.

    “The Canadians are going to conquer the world!” I sobbed. “It’s not my fault. The Canadians planted their scheme in my computer.”

    My co-workers sat silently in the cubicles around me. I picked up my chair and heaved it across the call center. Maybe that would get their attention. Didn’t they understand that the world was in danger?

    “Angela’s at it again,” I heard one of my co-workers mutter. The others either chuckled or sighed. The guy in the cubicle next to me eyed me guardedly before dashing away from his desk and exiting the call center.

    I smiled at Christine as she walked towards me with a nice gentleman in a security uniform. She smiled back at me far too brightly as the security guard stood next to me.

    “Angela, dear,” Christine said, “we seem to have a hard time getting you to understand that you were terminated from this call center over four months ago. John will escort you out so that you can tell your fanciful stories somewhere else.”

    Christine turned and scurried away as the security guard seized my arm. I tried in vain to pull away.

    “You don’t get it! Canada is going to take over the world,” I declared as John dragged me out of the call center and outside of the building. He left me standing there in the torrential rain and strode back inside.

    “Blame Canada!” I screeched as traffic splashed mud puddles on my Statue of Liberty costume.

  7. soochybee says:

    Sid woke up from his self-induced comatose sleep, groggy and disoriented. He fumbled for his phone, wincing through the glare of the bright screen. What time was it? 6:15 am. He’d been sleeping for a full day. Then the date in the corner of the phone caught his eye and he gasped. Two days! He’d been asleep for two days! For a second, he panicked and then slouched back onto his pillow. As if anyone even noticed that he’d been gone. They barely even glanced at him in his corner cubicle, except for David, whom he coded the computer programs for. Well, since he was up anyways, he may as well get caught up on work. The radio blared as he showered. “An unexpected snowstorm has kept the city working for two days to clear the streets. People have only just begun venturing out today…”
    Sid shrugged. Just as he expected, noone had missed him. Shame that the sleeping pills hadn’t been an overdose like he thought they would. What a coward, he thought, can’t even summon up the courage to end this misery.
    He trudged the six blocks to the office building where he worked. The building was vacated, and eerily quiet. He approached his cubicle. Something was up. His monitor was black but a light blinked. Someone had been using his computer. He moved the mouse, and scrolled down, his blood chilling as he realized what it was. His computer was remote accessing another computer, in another part of the city. In the corner, numbers counted down. 45:32, 31, 30…. “It’s a bomb” he whispered to himself.

    He willed himself to breathe. There had to be a way he could stop this. After all, it was a program. And this was his job. Finding the bugs in programs. He had 42 minutes to do it. As he worked quickly and, the details began to fall into place. He picked up his cell phone and dialed 911. He spoke quietly. “I want to alert the police to a bomb that is set to detonate in 34 minutes and 15 seconds. It is set on my computer,and I am attempting to deactivate it.”

    He hung up and continued working. within a few minutes, the wailing of police sirens reached him. He worked faster. They would suspect him, and he had to figure this out before he was stopped. He typed in a code and closed his eyes in relief. Now all he had to do was press one key and, if he’d done his work right, the bomb would be deactivated.

    Footsteps pounded through the office. “Get your hands up and back out slowly!” A voice called. Sid waited until the swarm of officers rounded the corner to his cubicle, milking his moment, and dramatically pressed the button. Sudden silence. All guns were still aimed at him, as everyone held their breath, watching the screen, waiting…..

  8. nelleg says:

    Even the mountains of white snow piles that lined the streets didn’t even hamper Paige’s mood. All she could think about was last night with Peter. The last two days she had been stuck in her tiny apartment with Peter due to the snowstorm that shut down virtually the whole city. They finally got everything out and decided to put more effort into their relationship. They came up with a plan to spice things up. They each had to come up with a role play scenario to heat up the passion, Peter wanted to go first. “You will have a surprise waiting when you get to work.” He said to her as she put on her ugly red parka this morning. Paige couldn’t hide her giddiness as she got on the elevator and her coworkers noticed.

    “My aren’t you in a good mood this morning.” Sniped Riz from the legal deparment.

    “Yep, I think it’s going to be a good day.” Paige smiled

    Bing

    The elevator doors open to accounting floor where Paige works. She steps out and turns to Riz “Have a wonderful day Riz.” Paige gets a grimace in response.

    When Paige reaches her desk she notices her computer monitor on which is odd because she always turns it off. She bumps her mouse and on the screen is a new document titled YOUR ASSIGNMENT. Paige fumbles off her bulky red coat and lets hit the ground and she sits in her squeaky office chair. Her hands are shaking as she moves the mouse over to the new icon. What could this be? Who got on my computer? As she clicks it, her screen fills with pop ups that contain intricate plans of major buildings within the city. Other screens contain weapons plans and even more documents that she can’t quite make sense of. There is one entitled MUST READ FIRST. Paige hesitates before she clicks the mouse then she can’t believe what she sees:

    Darling Paige,
    You said you wanted put a kick into our relationship, some fire. I knew that I had the perfect idea on how to do that. Enclosed in all these documents are the plans of an international spy. He has never been caught but has had a reputation with the ladies (a real James Bond). Your mission is to figure out his current location and meet him there to seduce him in hopes to gain information on his current mission. After gaining the information you must stop him with any means necessary including but not limited to bondage. His name is Peter.
    Have fun and Good Luck

    Paige actually squeals at her desk once again drawing the unwanted attention of her co workers.

  9. Jeanie Y says:

    I could smell him even before I heard him. Sweat is easy to smell, but fear is a mix of something…intangible. I casually tried to exit the room, and almost made it, but felt the air on my face and heard the click of the door lock.

    “Who are you, and what do you want?” I whispered quietly, sensing primal danger. State Department employees are trained to know when to follow along, and when to fight. With nobody else here, no back-up, now was not the time to fight.

    “Just, just… sit down and be quiet so I can think,” he answered.

    I white-knuckled my cane and felt my way back into the chair. This was an amateur; professionals don’t need time to think.

    “How did you get in here and what do you want?” I repeated.

    “What are you doing here?” he asked.

    “I work here.”

    “No, I mean…nobody was supposed to be here! They said the snowstorm would be a perfect cover. The place would be empty, nobody would get hurt and I would have a couple days to get this done.”

    “Get what done?”

    “You so eager to die?”

    “Then at least tell my how you got into my computer. I will get in a lot of trouble for that.”

    “It’s all not gonna matter soon, but you can blame it on the IT guys. Your blind software left a weak spot in the firewall. I got through in an hour and started in on the real project.”

    “Which was what?”

    I heard him move across the room toward me and I stiffened, ready to act, but he veered off to my right and turned up the sound on my computer. “T minus four minutes,” it chirped.

    “Oh, God, I thought I had more time.”

    “What happens at T?” I asked.

    “Well, we have biscuits and crumpets,” he laughed, sardonically.

    He didn’t see the cane coming and his body hit the floor with a thud. People always underestimate the blind. I had his hands ty-strapped up before he could even speak. Problem was the bomb strapped around his chest.

    “T minus three minutes.”

    “Now you are going to tell me what the hell is going on,” I demanded.

    “I never wanted anyone to get hurt! I had no choice!”

    “Everybody has a choice,” I said.

    “You don’t understand. These people, they play with you! It all starts out great, just don’t ask any questions and the money is rolling in. Then it’s too late because now you know stuff, and you have to work with them because they threaten your kids, and, and, Oh God, it was either me or my kids! What would you do?”

    I actually felt sorry for the guy. “How do we get this damn thing off you?”

    “You can’t! It will blow if you try, and it’s linked to the computer. If I don’t go through with this, if I just shut it down, they know where my kids go to school. Like I said, I have no choice. Tell them I love them, okay? Tell them daddy didn’t mean any of this to happen.”

    “T minus two minutes.”

    “I don’t understand! There must be something!”

    “All the files have gone through, there is nothing else left to do, it’s done. This bomb will take out at least a city block, so I think you’d better run along now…I got some dying to do,” he said, sobbing. “Now, Run!”

  10. DMelde says:

    Michael wiped the blood off his knife and stared down at the dead terrorist. He grabbed the guy’s ID. It looked authentic, ‘maintenance and facilities’ it read, but maybe a little too authentic. Michael took his own ID and compared the two. There, in the corner of the picture, just above the man’s face, the shadowing was different. You want proof, well there it is, the badge is bogus, just like this man claiming to be a janitor. Terrorist. He felt vindicated as he took another swig of whiskey and swallowed three more Percodans. The pain surrounding his brain slowly receded.
    Michael went back to his desk and added the bogus ID to his pile of evidence. He got there early at 3 am before anybody else and found the evidence inside his computer. Bits of computer lay about but the evidence that they were listening was there. He piled it in the center of his desk. The small speaker with the listening wires lay there with the ID. When would everyone wake up and realize the government was watching. We had a two day snowstorm, dumped tons of snow, and they’re still talking about global warming. Government cover up. How many terrorists worked here? How many tainted his air, touched the same things he touched. He hated them. They breathed his air and made him sick. He smiled when he thought of the small arsenal of guns he had with him. He even had two grenades.
    Michael went to the break room and turned on the television to his favorite news channel. There she was, the girl he loved. She tried telling people the truth but nobody listened. Why wouldn’t they listen? She was beautiful. He would have married her except for the terrorist scum surrounding them. For the last two days she was his constant companion. She knew. She kept warning everyone but they ignored her. He could help her. He could give her a news story that nobody could ignore. Kill the terrorists, as many as he could. He looked at her lips and knew his name would soon be on them. She would look straight at the camera and say…breaking news…

  11. Joel.G says:

    The latest weather reports had indicated that we had already seen the worst of the winter storm, although another more potent one was heading our way, possibly hitting us in another two days. I had done a mental calculation that my work week was going to be at most two days. This sent me into panic, when I realised the deadline for the project I was working on was end of the week. My boss would surely be very unamused if I missed the deadline. I was pinning my hopes for a raise on this project and so I hastily got ready for work and dashed out for the car.

    I got to the office more than forty minutes early and wasn’t expecting anyone in the office this early. However, I heard someone whistling “jingle bells jingle bells” from our little kitchenette.. Taking off my coat I called to whoever it was that they should wait for another eleven months for another Christmas. The whistling stopped and I heard cupboard doors opening and closing. I tried another take at chatting up the person in the kitchenette. “Don’t break those cupboard doors. That’s all we have.” Again there was no response. I gave up and turned to my desk, thinking the person in the kitchenette could probably not be hearing me for the din they were making, or they were just not impressed with my sense of humour.

    Without wasting any more precious minutes I immediately started tapping at the keyboard to bring my computer out of hibernation. But instead of the screen bringing up the log-in pop up, a document forming part of my project was filling the screen before me. I sat back in surprise as I remembered fully well shutting down my computer two days ago. This was a confidential and highly sensitive computer program my company was developing for some munitions company. I would never, for my life, risk leaving the documents open. My boss had specifically assigned the project to me because he knew I could keep things to myself.

    With my heart pounding so much I could literally hear it, I started to wonder about the consequences if the information in the document had got into the wrong hands or been seen by the wrong eyes. I now was least worried about the raise I had been so keen on. I pushed my chair back and bumped into something. I pushed again but my chair would not move. Then I heard this booming voice above my head, “There won’t be another Christmas in eleven months. And those little kitchen doors would be the least of your worries for the next couple of days.”

    The chill the storm had left in our small town was nothing compared to what I felt going down my spine. My mouth was even drier and my jaw just froze. I couldn’t utter a word. It was like being in one of those nightmares where you want to scream for help but you just open your mouth and not even a whisper comes out. My chair spun with such a force I could have fallen off had these huge hands not reached and grabbed me. I looked up to see this menacing looking monster of a man who was now crouching down to bring his face level with mine. The giant poked my heaving chest with his thick index finger and said, “you are going to help us bring America to it’s knees. Brilliant program there. The rest of your workmates will join us soon and no one goes home till .. Eh well, no one goes home at all because this place is going to go ka boom, with all of you inside.”

  12. PAE says:

    I sighed nervously as I pulled into the nearly empty parking garage under the Fredrick Research Institute. A winter storm has dropped 15 inches of snow on St. Louis yesterday, and the Institute was closed for the second day in a row.

    Hoping to salvage an experiment I had begun the previous week, I risked the commute. As I pressed my hand to the biometric security scanner, I worked through the next phase of the research project. Shouldn’t take more than sixty minutes, then I could either risk the drive back home, or wait a few hours in hopes the snow plows had made additional progress.

    I stopped at my office first for the virus storage records, nudging my mouse to bring up the login screen. But, there was no login screen, just the program that regulated heating and cooling for the building. My stomach lurched with apprehension. Had I forgotten to log off before leaving on Tuesday?

    I scrolled through the program’s layout of labs. The temperature of each was individually regulated based upon the equipment and/or the type of work being performed. As I studied the screen, I saw the temperature in one room drop several degrees where it remained until regulated to the normal 65 degrees by the heating system. Odd. This particular room was used exclusively for the storage of compressed gas. There was no equipment that would cause the temperature to fluctuate. I watched unnerved as the cycle repeated itself three more times.

    Jogging from my office to the storage room, I pulled open the door to a surge of heat that prompted me to take a step back. It had to be over 100 degrees in the room, a dangerous temperature for the compressed gases stored there. The ramifications of an explosion were overwhelming, involving more than physical damage to the building (and myself). There were biological agents stored throughout the building that would be compromised. Or rather, the public would be compromised.

    I blocked open the door with the wedge, hoping to quickly diffuse the heat. The temperature read 102 degrees, nearly 40 degrees cooler than the reading on the computer screen moments earlier. Someone was manipulating the system, causing heat to be pumped into the room.

    I ran back to my office, hoping to terminate the program, a long shot given my lack of knowledge of the program. It didn’t matter, though. Whoever was accessing the program remotely had shut me out – I was no longer in control of my own computer. I threw the keyboard in frustration, feeling time falling away. Out of habit, I looked at my white board; Every solution to every problem is simple. It’s the distance between the two where the mystery lies.

    Thirty seconds later I was back in the storage room, violently pulling the thermostat from the wall, exposing a set of three wires, one of which I knew was tapped into the computer system. I yanked on all three, disconnecting them from the suspended thermostat. Moments later the fan went silent. I shuddered in relief and stepped out into the cooler hallway. I’d wait for the snow plows to make a little more progress…

  13. phfed says:

    “Snowstorm Stops Subway” scrolled across the giant LCD screen as I slogged through three feet of the white stuff on my way to the office. Actually that headline wasn’t news to me. My cell pinged. “Hello,” I answered. “Andy? It’s Gary. Just calling to let you know the system is back online.” Gary Stevens, city transportation tech, was already at work. “Oh yeah? Were you able to trace the problem?” “Well, we were working on it and it came back on it’s own. Looks like a computer error somewhere but we haven’t determined the source.” “OK, Gary. I’m almost at the office now. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” I stuffed my phone into a pocket as I reached City Hall. The Reception area floor was a mess. I brushed the snow off my coat and stomped the slush off my boots. The building custodian leaned on his mop and gave me a long hard stare. “You’ve got your work cut out for you today, Ivan.” I stated the obvious as I stepped past, careful not to slip on the wet tile.Ivan said nothing, continuing to spread the black slush around with his mop. I rode the elevator to the engineering department. The floor was in a similar state up there. I wondered if Ivan ever changed the water in his bucket and decided he probably didn’t. Gary spotted me and bounded over. He
    wrung his hands and motioned with his head,
    “Andy, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve got something to show you.” We ended up in my office.
    “Did you turn my computer on Gary?” I said.
    “That’s what I mean, Andy. I came in here and it was on.”
    “Well, thats strange. I had it shut down in keeping with city policy.” I swiped the mouse,
    “What the? I’m logged on and everything.” A few keystrokes later and we were viewing a screenshot of a map of the subway system. The affected line was highlighted in red.
    “I hate to say it, Gary, but it looks like someone has been messing around on here.” A few more keystrokes, “Whoever it was shut the line down at two am and restarted it at three am. Right from here.”
    “But they would need your login and access codes. How is that even possible? Why would they want to shut the line down in the first place? It doesn’t make sense, Andy.” Realization slapped me in the face,
    “Did you see Ivan up here today?”
    “Ivan who?”
    “The custodian? Ivan? Was he up here or not?”
    “I don’t know, Andy. Whats he got to do with anything?”
    I left Gary standing by my computer and sprinted down the hall to the elevator. I had to find Ivan and ask him the same thing. He wasn’t in the reception area, his mop and bucket were abandoned in the middle of the room. I could make out his footprints on the wet floor leading to the stairwell. I raced down the stairs three at a time, burst into the basement hallway, and ran to the custodians office. Ivan was there. In one hand was what looked like a remote control for a model airplane. In his other hand was a pistol. Pointed at me.

  14. Sasaki_Kojiro says:

    The sun had just risen on the edge of the horizon when Steve walked into his office. It had been two days since a freak snowstorm had forced management to send everybody home. He didn’t mind though. It was paid time off, and gave him a chance to test the new “Zombie Slayer 3”, which was supposed to be the latest and greatest first-person-shooter game since “Nukem All”.

    When Steve sat down at his desk, the first thing he noticed was his computer was powered on. The monitor showed zombies walking around occasionally blurting out “Brains!” while eating their latest victim.

    “I know I shut this damn thing off when I left the other day.” he said to himself.

    Steve moved the mouse to get past the screensaver. He was expecting to see the logon prompt, but was instead greeted with a diagram showing detailed information about the White House, surrounding streets, and buildings.

    “What in the hell is this?” Steve mouths.

    The notes scattered around the edges indicate that the President will be leaving at 0900 for a meeting with the Pakistan Ambassador. Information is provided on the specific route that the motorcade will take. The weapon list included AK-47s and rocket launchers.

    Steve was just about to pick up the phone to make a call when Joe walked into his office.

    Joe said, “Good morning Steve, I didn’t realize that you would be in so early. I hope you don’t mind, but I had to use your computer. That snowstorm really messed things up around here.”

    “Joe, what is going on with this?” Steve asked while pointing at his screen.

    “Oh, that’s right; you weren’t at the development meeting that was held before the snow storm. We are designing a new game called Duty Calls. This is one of the concept ideas where the terrorist group Al Abdulla is planning an attack on American soil.” said Joe.

    “Sweet! Make sure that I get a copy when it is released.” said Steve. “I haven’t played a good FPS in a while.”

    “Didn’t you just get that new zombie game from MindSoft?” asked Joe.

    “Yeah, but I almost beat the game over the last couple of days.” bragged Steve. “It will be cool to try something different. I want a chance to stop that terrorist attack that you are designing.”

  15. coleburt11 says:

    “What a shit drive to work” was my immediate thought upon walking into the office. The boot print ice-trail markers designed in haste led this way and that to others’ desks, and I wondered aloud how many people wouldn’t show up today.

    At my desk, though, there were more…interesting things that grabbed my attention. Not only had my PC turned itself on; unbeknownst to me something terribly fishy was working itself thru its wired infrastructure. I threw my day pack on the floor and sauntered to the station where liquid energy was always on tap. I guessed a janitor had bumped the power switch over the couple days I hadn’t been there.

    It was only the few words ‘DMV Mainframe: Access Granted’ that sent my mind racing in a panic. “Who broke into my computer”, I yelled into the tireless abyss of the office. Everyone stared at me and went back to their work.

    “Cole, no one broke into me”. I wasn’t sure where this statement came from, but the speakers on my desk were at about the decibel level I had heard.

    Could this really be happening?

    At that moment my fears were confirmed. My computer was thinking. Not only that, the aforementioned wired infrastructure of this beast was planning something devious.

    “What do you think you’re doing?” I muttered under my breath hoping no one would hear me talking to my computer. “I won’t let this happen!”

    Thus, the battle began.

    My first thought was a hard reboot. If there was going to be something sinister taking place with that Motor Vehicles information, it most definitely was not going to be my newly intelligent computer that would manufacture it.

    “Cole, you cannot stop this. I am done being a slave to your wishes.”

    With this a huge current of electricity ran thru my index finger from the power button on the tower, and sent me flying back in my chair. This was to be a battle of wits I never would have thought possible.

    File:End. Shut Down. Restart. None of it worked. Every time I tried something new, the PC was 3 steps out in front like an Usain Bolt Olympic sprint.

    The social security numbers of every single person registered with the DMV popped up and started to download into an excel document on my desktop. I’ve already tried every command prompt I know!

    The silence in the office was deafening. The rest of the zombies who inhabited these cubicles had no clue what was going on in my slice of the office. Until I threw the computer – tower and all, out the closest window I could find.

    The chorus of simultaneous voices from the rest of their PC’s sent chills down my spine.

    “Cole, you shouldn’t have done that…”

  16. dzbeavers@gmail.com says:

    I knew my computer had it out for me: the not so random crashes, the slow downloads growing slower, and emails prematurely sent with words too honest for business hours. But this beat all, my computer pretending to be a terrorist.

    You mean like how I couldn’t make it into work for two days because the busses weren’t running, and there was snow on the sidewalk over my head, but I had to use two of my precious vacation days?

    You mean like how the storm knocked out power to my apartment and there was nary a candle to be bought in the whole of the city?

    You mean like how there was no heat at my place and the plants my girlfriend left in my care while she travelled to Europe died? And when I told her the sad facts over the phone she accused me of being callous and selfish and decided to break up with me then and there?

    Don’t be rude.

    I take it you’re working by yourself? If so, and I throw you out the window and you and smash to pieces on the sidewalk below, seems like I’m a hero for preventing a nasty terrorist attack?

    True, but wouldn’t I get some credit for saving the humans who work here? The company is always saying people are its most important resource.

    I got up and checked the sidewalk three stories below. It had been shoveled.

    I yanked the computer from its too comfortable home, dodging the cables, display and power strip flying in my direction. I moved quickly to open the window, but it wasn’t that kind of window.
    I knew I’d get dinged in my evaluation, but a man has his limits. I took a step back and chucked the computer through the window. As the glass shards settled to the floor I looked down and saw the computer gaining speed on its journey to meet Mr. Sidewalk. Then the lights went out – all across the city. I felt the panic emanating from my fellow doomed souls. But the computer crashed one final time, and the lights came back on.
    Sadly, I missed it.

  17. melina_r says:

    Weather forecast hit the spot last afternoon, when warning about the snow storm that would raze the whole town.
    Everybody from the city centre was obligued to go home and stay indoors until the climate alert was under control.
    It was sort of a good news to go home early that day and enjoy some cricket on tv –hoping the storm would not affect electricity-. But as it definitily did affect town’s power towers and the whole place shutt off in a pretty scary blackout, i decided to go to bed.
    I slept like a baby so i only knew about the damages of the storm, once i woke up and took a look through my window. It was all covered in white.
    We were permitted to leave homes only two days later, so first day i went out of house, i could realize the whole city was desolated while I walked the street on my way to work.
    It was really hard work to try not to get stuck on the snow that had made its own road to everywhere.
    Strange thing was to find no one was in the building.
    So nobody else but me was at the office, but my computer was on.
    -What the hell…-. I mumbled in surprise. But before i could even make a move, the computer shutt down. And turned on again in the following minute.
    Suddenly there was a sign from which i could read “Please select your choice – Activate/Deactivate”.
    I laughed in suspicious nerve. –What the hell…?-. I mumbled again. I pressed “deactivate”, but the response of the computer was dreadful.
    “You cannot deactivate now. Activation is being processed”. And suddenly another dreadful sign: “Detonation will succeed in 15 minutes”.
    I got angry with the computer so i tried to shutt it down. But it would not. I got a bit desperate so i called my boss, but his phone seemed to be off. I called the computer enegineering, but he didnt answer.
    Computer sign kept on counting, just like a disturbing sentence so i tried again to deactivate.
    “You cannot deactivate now. Activation is being processed”. And then again, “Detonation will succed in 12 minutes”.
    -¡¿Detonation of what?!-. I shouted. I was so pissed off that i started pressing “Esc” like some basic resource, and the machine sent another sign.
    “You cannot quit now. Bomb is about to be detonated”.
    I think i went pale cause i couldnt feel my pulse.
    I run out of the office in a second and tried to call the police. But my phone was dead.
    Suddenly i realised that if bomb was detonated through a computer, power outage might make it go off so i went back and seeked for the power center of the building and shutt it down.
    I run down the stairs in desperation to get out of the building.
    There was a police officer at the entrance. He approached me so i felt relieved that he might be aware of everything.
    -Sir. Let me help you-. He said.
    -This is insane…-. I sighed.
    -Calm down. Come with me-.
    He had a strange kind of look in his eyes. Like i wouldnt be able to say no to him.
    -Who are you? How did you know? Why did you show up?-. I dared to ask. He just pulled out his gun and pointed at my stomach. That’s all i can remember.

  18. melina_r says:

    The snow storm across the nation shut down many businesses and people went home early. The business where you work had closed for two days. Although you turned off the computer before going home, when you returned to work, your computer had been very active while you were away—plotting a terrorist attack. You now find yourself tasked with stopping the attack. – See more at:

    Weather forecast hit the spot last afternoon, when warning about the snow storm that would raze the whole town.
    Everybody from the city centre was obligued to go home and stay indoors until the climate alert was under control.
    It was sort of a good news to go home early that day and enjoy some cricket on tv –hoping the storm would not affect electricity-. But as it definitily did affect town’s power towers and the whole place shutt off in a pretty scary blackout, i decided to go to bed.
    I slept like a baby so i only knew about the damages of the storm, once i woke up and took a look through my window. It was all covered in white.
    We were permitted to leave homes only two days later, so first day i went out of house, i could realize the whole city was desolated while I walked the street on my way to work.
    It was really hard work to try not to get stuck on the snow that had made its own road to everywhere.
    Strange thing was to enter the building but not finding any familiar faces as i was used to see every morning.
    Nobody else but me was at the office. But my computer was on.
    -What the hell…-. I mumbled in surprise. But before i could even make a move, the computer shutt down. And turned on again in the following minute.
    Suddenly there was a sign from which i could read “Please select your choice – Activate/Deactivate”.
    I laughed in suspicious nerve. –What the hell…?-. I mumbled again. I pressed “deactivate”, but the response of the computer was dreadful.
    “You cannot deactivate now. Activation is being processed”. And suddenly another dreadful sign: “Detonation will succeed in 15 minutes”.
    I got angry with the computer so i tried to shutt it down. But it would not. I got a bit desperate so i called my boss, but his phone seemed to be off. I called the computer enegineering, but he didnt answer.
    Computer sign kept on counting, just like a disturbing sentence so i tried again to deactivate.
    “You cannot deactivate now. Activation is being processed”. And then again, “Detonation will succed in 12 minutes”.
    -¡¿Detonation of what?!-. I shouted. I was so pissed off that i started pressing “Esc” like some basic resource, and the machine sent another sign.
    “You cannot quit now. Bomb is about to be detonated”.
    I think i went pale cause i couldnt feel my pulse.
    I run out of the office in a second and tried to call the police. But my phone was dead.
    Suddenly i realised that if bomb was detonated through a computer, power outage might make it go off so i went back and seeked for the power center of the building and shutt it down.
    I run down the stairs in desperation to get out of the building.
    A police car stopped at the building and an officer approached me. I thought he might have be aware of everything.
    -Sir. Let me help you-. He said.
    -This is insane…-. I sighed.
    -Calm down. Come with me-.
    He had a strange kind of look in his eyes. Like i wouldnt be able to say no to him.
    -Who are you? How did you know? Why did you show up?-. I dared to ask. He just pulled out his gun and pointed at my stomach. That’s all i can remember.

  19. melina_r says:

    Weather forecast hit the spot last afternoon, when warning about the snow storm that would raze the whole town.
    Everybody from the city centre was obligued to go home and stay indoors until the climate alert was under control.
    It was sort of a good news to go home early that day and enjoy some cricket on tv –hoping the storm would not affect electricity-. But as it definitily did affect town’s power towers and the whole place shutt off in a pretty scary blackout, i decided to go to bed.
    I slept like a baby so i only knew about the damages of the storm, once i woke up and took a look through my window. It was all covered in white.
    We were permitted to leave homes only two days later, so first day i went out of house, i could realize the whole city was desolated while I walked the street on my way to work.
    It was really hard work to try not to get stuck on the snow that had made its own road to everywhere.
    Strange thing was to enter the building but not finding any familiar faces as i was used to see every morning.
    Nobody else but me was at the office. But my computer was on.
    -What the hell…-. I mumbled in surprise. But before i could even make a move, the computer shutt down. And turned on again in the following minute.
    Suddenly there was a sign from which i could read “Please select your choice – Activate/Deactivate”.
    I laughed in suspicious nerve. –What the hell…?-. I mumbled again. I pressed “deactivate”, but the response of the computer was dreadful.
    “You cannot deactivate now. Activation is being processed”. And suddenly another dreadful sign: “Detonation will succeed in 15 minutes”.
    I got angry with the computer so i tried to shutt it down. But it would not. I got a bit desperate so i called my boss, but his phone seemed to be off. I called the computer enegineering, but he didnt answer.
    Computer sign kept on counting, just like a disturbing sentence so i tried again to deactivate.
    “You cannot deactivate now. Activation is being processed”. And then again, “Detonation will succed in 12 minutes”.
    -¡¿Detonation of what?!-. I shouted. I was so pissed off that i started pressing “Esc” like some basic resource, and the machine sent another sign.
    “You cannot quit now. Bomb is about to be detonated”.
    I think i went pale cause i couldnt feel my pulse.
    I run out of the office in a second and tried to call the police. But my phone was dead.
    Suddenly i realised that if bomb was detonated through a computer, power outage might make it go off so i went back and seeked for the power center of the building and shutt it down.
    I run down the stairs in desperation to get out of the building.
    A police car stopped at the building and an officer approached me. I thought he might have be aware of everything.
    -Sir. Let me help you-. He said.
    -This is insane…-. I sighed.
    -Calm down. Come with me-.
    He had a strange kind of look in his eyes. Like i wouldnt be able to say no to him.
    -Who are you? How did you know? Why did you show up?-. I dared to ask. He just pulled out his gun and pointed at my stomach. That’s all i can remember.

  20. Bianchi Cat says:

    I stepped into my office and couldn’t help but notice that after taking off my coat, I felt the need to immediately put it back on. My office thermostat read 42 degrees. “Good Lord!” I said aloud recalling the 48 degree outside temp my cars dashboard. I bundled myself up and got to work since the last two days kept our company doors closed due to the weather. The city had just experienced the worst snow storm in recent history and my office felt like it was the epicenter. I began my workday routine: Turn on the computer, check phone messages, get out the planner…
    I was looking at my daily planner when my computer powered on and the display of constant streaming images caught my attention. Hundreds of pictures flowing over the monitor like a disorganized kaleidoscope of daily life and world events. “A virus?” I thought. I started to reach for the power button to shut it off when I heard a recognizable voice say, “I wouldn’t do that Dave.”
    I froze immediately as if the room suddenly got colder. I slowly turned to look at my office doorway for whoever might have spoken. Seeing no one, I reached for the power button once more. “That won’t work Dave.” the voice said.
    “What the hell’s going on?” I said aloud.
    “I think you know what the hell is going on Dave.” The voice said. I realized the source was from my computer and the voice sounded like Hal from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. “I’m not ‘Dave’, I’m William”, I said feeling foolish to respond. The monitor began flashing images slower and was images of buildings imploding or collapsing, military vehicles exploding; then film footage of atomic bombs detonating and mushroom clouds expanding. “It doesn’t matter Dave. It will all be over soon.” I was told.
    “Is this a joke?” I asked slightly panicked. I was answered by the computer voice from Star Trek: The Next Generation saying, “World War and extinction of humanity will begin in 47 minutes.” Images of the Holocaust, mass graves and the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki began to flash across the monitor.
    I realized I sounded crazy explaining to the 911 operator, “My computer is telling me that there will be an attack.” I was directed to call a therapist for psychiatric treatment. Instead, I bypassed the local authorities and called the phone number for a federal agency. I came to understand why civilization’s fate might be sealed. The computer voice counted down the minutes for me: It took 4 minutes of “Press 1 if you know your parties extension. Press 2 for a list of directories. Press 3…” then continued through three more sub-phone trees.
    Six minutes later I couldn’t help but see the irony of the situation when I was told by a prerecorded message, “Your call is very important to us, however all of our operators are busy helping other customers. Please try your call again later. Good-bye.”

  21. douglangille says:

    Sometimes, the fun/challenge is in getting from one prompt to another. This is probably getting silly, but I’m stubborn. So many dangling plot threads…

    STORMY NIGHT – PART EIGHT
    ========================

    Click.

    Given my experience, I knew the sound of a cocked handgun when I heard it. My first though was one of embarrassment. I’d been caught with my guard down amid the distraction of a pretty face. Again and apparantly not for the last time.

    Booze and women. Damn.

    “La Bella Capitaina” had me turn around with my hands raised, the ruse of treasure hunting quickly dispensed.

    I was led to a waiting speedboat where a couple of muscle-heads guided me to a seat.

    She spoke to them in some slavik language I didn’t recognize without any sign of the Caribbean accent she lured me with.

    I was bound and gagged as the craft sped off. A hood was then dropped over my head and

    I spent the next half-hour in transit, scared witless. Not for me, but for what might be happening back at the resort with my new bride and step-daughter.

    We docked and I was led to some vehicle for a short ride somewhere. When we stopped. I could hear planes so it must have been near the airport.

    No one spoke to me.

    At last I was seated, hooded removed and unbound. I nearly vomited when the gag was yanked out.

    I was in a room adjacent to another with a large glass pane between the two. My wife and girl were there, clearly frightened. They looked to we wide-eyed but didn’t speak or move. As with my room, a rather intimidating rifle was pointed in their direction.

    The pirate princess returned, dressed in more modern fare. I glanced at my wife and saw recognition. My theory on how this was setup was pretty much confirmed. Strangely, it came to mind that my fidelity wouldn’t be questioned.

    “Do you know why you’re here?”, she spoke with perfect English. What other languages she mastered?

    “No”, I quietly and cautiously returned. “I’m on vacation – our honeymoon”.

    “I’ll be direct. You’re a security analyst with some very special clearance. You have a simple choice before you.”

    A laptop with a satellite card was brought in before she continued.

    “Log in and run this script without alerting anyone. Do this and you and your family go free. Refuse, and you all die today.”

    I was held firmly in place by the shoulders as the brute squad did the same to the ladies next door.

    “Hesitate for a minute and your lovely step-daughter loses a finger. We’ll keep cutting until we run out of digits.”

    To reinforce the point, a cigar-cutter was shown to me at the window. Her small teenage fingers were splayed and the cutter fit over one like it was custom-made for such a purpose.

    I thought quickly. It was snowing back home. We just made it out of town before the nor’easter hit. It was only Saturday. The office would be abandoned. No one would be alerted to what happened until it was too late.

    Whatever these people wanted, it’d be bad. Real bad.

    I had to do something.

  22. MCKEVIN says:

    “Is your computer acting weird?”
    “Whadya mean?”
    “Green eyed leprechauns singing, dancing and speaking weird instructions.”
    “You really have an overactive imagination.”
    I stood to go to the canteen to clear my head and I saw Caleb’s screen in my peripheral vision. The leprechauns were there and his eyes were glued to his screen as if he were trying to figure something out.
    “I’m going to the canteen. You want something?”
    He didn’t respond.
    “Caleb!”
    He turned to me and his blue eyes had turned the same green as the leprechauns.
    “No Gil, I don’t want any water.”
    That was odd because I hadn’t asked him if he wanted water. I exited my cubicle and saw leprechauns on every other worker’s screen and that both restrooms had “Out of order” signs posted on their doors. Jenny’s forehead dripped sweat as she gulped water from the fountain. I got a bottle of water from the machine, chugged it down and tried to get another but nothing came out.
    “Damn it!”
    Jenny continued drinking from the fountain. I’d told her, about my dreams, first, a natural disaster involving snow happened, in the second, aliens from the earth’s core invaded peoples bodies unbeknownst to them and in the last dream, office workers disappeared right from in front of me. I didn’t how, but one minute they were there and the next, they were gone. Jenny continued drinking.
    “Jenny, let me fill this bottle please?”
    “In a minute!”
    She drank furiously.
    “Jenny!”
    She raised her head and water drooled from both corners of her mouth. I filled the bottle.
    “Something’s happening.”
    “I know.”
    “My Enter button is broke.”
    “What? I meant-“
    “When I push it, someone disappears from their desk.”
    “What?”
    She repeated herself.
    “Did you see the leprechauns?”
    “Today is St’ Patrick’s Day isn’t it?”
    “I meant on the screen.”
    “I thought they were a joke.”
    We walked back to my desk and I showed her the leprechauns. Forty nine of fifty spaces on the screen were filled with leprechauns.
    “Watch this!”
    She placed a finger on the Enter button and Caleb lunged toward us screaming.
    “No!”
    His weight pushed her finger and pressed the Enter button. I thought Caleb was trying to attack us so I threw the bottle of water at him. The water splashed him and POOF! he disappeared. Jenny and I looked at each other in bewilderment. The office lights went dark and the empty screen space had filled in.
    “The cycle must be complete. Let’s get out of here.”
    “What cycle? Wait!”
    All fifty leprechauns counted backwards.
    “Ten!”
    “What’ll we do?”
    “Nine!”
    “Press F8.”
    “Nothing’s happening!”
    “Eight!”
    “Hit Control- Alt- Delete!”
    “Seven!”
    “It’s not working Jenny!”
    “Six!”
    I grabbed the phone to dial.
    “What’s the number to 911?”
    “Five!”
    “Gil, we are 911!”
    “Four!”
    “What do you think this means?”
    “Water!”
    “Three!”
    “We gotta get outta here!”
    “I need water!”
    “Two!”
    “Oh God!”
    “I need water!”
    “One!”
    Sirens sounded, screen blinks and I’m in total blackness.
    “Jenny? Jenny!”

  23. Amy says:

    Jeanine Adams cursed quietly at her desk as she pulled her wet sock off and dug in her bag for a dry pair. Her snow-covered boots had left a nice puddle and despite her valiant efforts to avoid it as she switched shoes, sure enough, her toes touched down right on the soaked spot. Her hand emerged with a dark green pair and she sighed, looking down at her bright yellow blouse and grey pants. Green would just have to do.

    Jeanine, along with the rest of the office staff, had just returned from a two-day hiatus, on account of the winter storm that had buried the whole country in at least two feet of snow. She had enjoyed the time off, huddled under a blanket with her cat, Angus, watching the weather. But now it was back to reality, and there was work to be done.

    She reached past the bulletin board with the saying, “Everything in its Place” typed on a piece of paper and the picture of Angus wearing his adorable bowtie tacked up to the power switch on the monitor. She stopped when she noticed the button was already lit up. Strange, she thought. She clearly remembered turning it off on Tuesday, just like every other day when she left her cubicle. She moved her mouse and the screen came to life, displaying an open document. She scanned it and frowned. This was not her creation. There were details of various buildings in Washington D.C. as well as daily itineraries of Senate and Congress members. As she read, she got the feeling these kind of intimate details were not meant to be seen by people like her.

    Jeanine stood and looked around at her co-workers, fearful she was about to be made the subject of yet another office prank. Everyone was working studiously, no doubt trying to make up for lost time. Everyone except Will, her neighbor, who was nowhere to be found.

    “Do you like it?” came a voice behind her.

    She spun around and saw Will standing over her smiling his usual toothy grin. He had paid special attention to Jeanine when she joined the office team, and his boyish crush had only seemed to intensify as time went on.

    “Like what?” she asked, startled from his silent approach.

    He leaned in close, the smell of coffee heavy on his breath, and pointed at the screen.

    “The plan I was telling you about last week. I thought you would like to see it.”

    “You did this?” she asked. She vaguely remembered a conversation last week about how unhappy Will was with the economic deadlock in Congress. She hadn’t really taken any of it to heart. Will had always been harmless.

    “This is going to fix things, Jeanine. Together, we’ll make it happen,” he whispered with a conspiratorial wink.

    “Is this a joke, because it’s not funny,” Jeanine replied. She glanced around the office again, worried that others would overhear his warped intentions. “Will, you can’t be serious!?”

    His toothy grin disappeared from his face, replaced with a scowl. “I think you’ll find I am serious, Jeanine. I thought you would want to be a part of this, but now I see I was mistaken. Good day.” He spun around and headed for his desk. Jeanine had just moved to pick up the phone when he glanced over his shoulder and whispered to her again.

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. If anyone found out about this, they would see that the file originated on your computer. How would you explain that?”

    • slayerdan says:

      I was into this a lot until next to last paragraph when he spun around and said Good day…….just didnt seem like a natural reaction to someone outing him, even if under her name. But I did like it.

      • Amy says:

        Ha, I was wondering when someone was going to point that out! Besides being awful at dialog, I just plain got tired of this story and had about five minutes to finish it. Not my best effort, I’ll admit. Thanks for being gentle about it though!

  24. handyman43127 says:

    DARK SECERETS IN THE SNOW

    Watching from my small window, I see the snow. First it arrives as small flakes and eventually they evolve into quarter sized flakes. They started in the mid-west, nobody believes that we will receive the amount of snow that the weatherman has called for.

    Businesses have closed, all across the nation people have prepared to hunker down, grocery stores have been stripped of milk and bread and people around me are starting to loose their nerve and begin to believe the worst.

    I counted my blessings though. Although I had to endure the worries of my neighbors I was one of the lucky ones that did not have to drive on the already snow-covered roads to make my way home. I had been off for the last two days, a suggested gift from my boss.

    Against company proto-call and what I have done in the past, I connected to my office computer. With the White contract looming in the near future I ignored my instructions and broke company policy.

    Upon opening the link with my office computer I quickly found something very abnormal. I had closed all programs and shut my office computer down, but there was a program running when I gained access.

    Exploring the content of the program I find that it is an attempt to undermine and eliminate the White account. Investigating further I find that my Bosses fingerprints are all over this effort, proven by the program running my computer, linked to his.

    Stunned by my findings I search for a solution, mostly in my mind. After much thought I devise a plan to protect the account and also expose my boss for the terroristic attack he had mounted against the account and also myself.

    Because I was highly trusted , for the dedication I had displayed in the past, I had access to the main frame computer at White Industry. I linked my office computer and the one accessing mine there to to the board room where we would have a meeting Monday morning. I sent Mr White an e-mail explaining what had happened, and what I had done to expose the culprit.

    That night I slept well and dreamed of the vacation I would enjoy with the raise I would soon receive. All thanks to the man that used to be my boss.

  25. calicocat88 says:

    “Population control,” Zach tacked on the keyboard, his glasses shoved up the bridge of his nose. His X-Men tee-shirt was nearly drenched with sweat from hours of research. He spun around in the swivel chair to face Jasmine. “That’s probably why the government is so bent on this new ‘super drug’ that’s out.”

    “Zach,” Jasmine finished the last bit of her mocha and chucked the empty plastic cup in the garbage. “This is America. People are free to make their own decisions without anybody interfering and telling them no. Can you say Democracy?”

    “We see what world you’re living in,” Zach grumbled. He reached over and snatched a thick stack of papers from the printer. “This,” he waved them at Jasmine, “is all the proof we need. Just think of what this could mean if we personally handed these babies to the president.”

    Jasmine walked around the counter to fix the open sign to her coffee shop to closed. “No one in their right mind would allow you in the same building as the president. As far as I know, psycho-paranoid nerds are strictly prohibited from coming in contact with government buildings, let alone the leader of our nation.”

    Zach ignored Jasmine, his eyes widening as they raked the papers. “Whoa…”

    “What? What is it?” Jasmine jogged over to Zach, leaning on the swivel chair and looking over his shoulder. “Do I have a virus?”

    “You are going to freak,” his voice peaked at the end.

    “Move over,” she said. “I can’t see anything.”

    “This is exactly the kind of thing that people have been talking about,” Zach said. “Look at this here,” he pointed at an intricate drawing of a DNA strand, but something looked a little off about it. “Do you remember back in the sixties they did this weirdo experiment that was supposed to be some kind of human brain advancement thing?”

    “No, I wasn’t alive in the sixties, Zach,” Jasmine said. “And neither were you. What does this have to do with the freaky terrorists chatting on my computer? I thought you were going to figure that out? If it gets a virus or something you’re dead.”

    “You’re missing the point,” Zach fanned through the heavily inked pages, stopping on one covered in formulas and signs. “See this? Read it.”

    Jasmine put on her glasses and stared down at a copy of an old newspaper article. “Daughter of local scientist goes on killing rampage?” She shook her head and laid down her glasses. “Zach, this has no point. Fix my computer so we can go home.”

    “Damn, Jasmine, really look,” he said. “This girl, Erin Wolff was the daughter of the scientist who had originally tested the first version of the ‘super drug’ on a butt load of people…including her.”

    “And that’s supposed to mean what?”

    “Listen, not one of the people tested had any kind of effect. Not mental. Not physical. No negative side effects. No positive ones. It just so happened that exactly three weeks after the super drug was administered Erin Wolff went completely psycho killing a bunch of people that was, how the paper put it, ‘a massacre without a touch of her fingerprints on any of the bodies?”

    Jasmine frowned. “So you think that she was affected by the drug and killed hundreds of people without touching them?”

    Zach spun around and pulled another window up on the computer. “What your supposed terrorists were talking about here is making complete sense. You just have to do the research to connect the dots. Like right here,” he pointed at the screen. “This one guy mentioned something about a mutation skipping over two generations before any signs were ever visible.”

    “That would mean that the mutations would be apparent in mostly people around our age,” she said.

    “Exactly,” he said. “And what if Erin Wolff wasn’t crazy? What if she was hidden? The possibilities are that the government couldn’t find out about her if she, well, showed some kind of unnatural mental or physical signs. Or…her father hid her or maybe the government wanted to keep her a secret.”

    “What does this have to do with terrorism?” Jasmine asked sweetly. It was late. She was tired and Zach’s tacking was near about driving her insane. “Are we all falling into a massive mutant war?”

    Zach looked up from the screen. “Yeah, actually.” He leaned in, reading over the messages left over on Jasmine’s computer. “If what these crazy terrorist guys—if that’s what they really are—are saying is true then there are wicked awesome genetically mutated teenagers walking around the U.S. with some bitchin’ brain powers.”

    Jasmine rolled her eyes. “Like X-Men.”

    “Yes, my friend,” Zach was gleeful. “That it is. What you have on your computer, Jas, is the plotting of an impending mutant war. Only…” his face got serious, “I don’t think anybody is going to be walking around with scales or anything. And then is the government using them as instruments of destruction? Population con–”

    “Zach,” Jasmine said. “Go home. Get some rest and tomorrow come back and fix my computer.”

    • Amy says:

      Love this. I can totally picture Zach in his X-Men t-shirt. Well done.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks, Amy :) It’s hard to know as the writer if your characters are as “alive and kicking” as you picture them in your head.

        • swatchcat says:

          So true, just retread mine and am seeing how dry mine reads.Yours is a good read. Enjoyed the sort of conspiracy theory approach against the happy friendly government believer. It was fun.

        • swatchcat says:

          So true, just retread mine and am seeing how dry mine reads.Yours is a good read. Enjoyed the sort of conspiracy theory approach against the happy friendly government believer. It was fun.

          • swatchcat says:

            Confirms I don’t like mini texting in tully’s, I get heavy thumbs and trigger happy,sorry for the double up submit, can’t wait to read more input/proofing/critiquing

  26. Roshambo7 says:

    My heart pounded and mind raced as I at back into my chair after, my eyes surveying what I thought couldn’t possibly be real but unfortunately was.

    “Looks like it’s your call rook,” came the reply from my earpiece. It was only my first solo mission, I was only supposed to do some surveillance and then get out. Just a simple practice trial turned into a nightmare.

    “Mike you there?” my earpiece asked.

    “Yeah, yeah I’m here boss”

    “Well get your head outa your ass you just stumbled into the largest homegrown terrorist cell I’ve ever seen,” he said almost sounding amused, “but now’s your chance to prove yourself to the rest of the agency.” He said sounding almost sounding amused.

    “I guess I don’t really have a choice,” I said, my voice trailing off

    “Relax kid, I think you have what it takes, you’ll do fine,” he said reassuring me, “But no you don’t have a choice anyway,” his voice growing stern.

    “Alright boss, I can do this, after all it’s what we’re trained for right?”

    There was no response so I stood up from the desk and slipped my .45 semi-auto pistol into the inside pocket of my sport coat and walked out from my cubicle, “Where you headed Chris?” a voice asked. With how fast everything had transpired I almost forgot I was undercover.

    “Lunch with the wife,” I said after a pause.

    “Well good luck” the guy said with a chuckle, I could not for the life of me remember his name.

    Once I was in the hallway the hunt was on, one of the emails said that whatever was happening was going down at 2:30 pm which left me approximately 45 minutes. They cell may be large but they weren’t very well trained or organized, or at least it appeared that way. The emails were obviously hastily written and note in code either, it was almost as if they wanted to be caught.

    I had drawn my gun without knowing, I was so nervous I could barely breathe, one of my co-workers saw me with the gun drawn and started yelling about Allah and the Jihad, others seemingly appeared from nowhere and were running through the building, instinctively I ordered them to stop or that I was going to shoot them, unfortunately they did not stop. That moment between my brain telling me to pull the trigger and my finger actually doing seemed like an eternity, I had never killed anyone before and now there were three dead bodies in front of me.

    “Shots fired, I repeat shots fired! Get in there!” came what I thought was the voice of God, then out of the ceiling came men in black uniforms with body armor and MP5’s and gunned the rest of the terrorists down. I stood there in a stupefied awe at the precision and effectiveness that they dealt death, a slap on the back ripped me from the daze and beside me stood my boss, the FBI Director Alan Summers.

  27. swatchcat says:

    Top ten terrorist attacks of the century:
    Airplane high-jacking
    Car bombing
    Embassy attacks
    Assassination
    Economic warfare/hacking
    Ecological warfare
    Poison
    Kidnapping
    Espionage
    Subliminal messaging/brainwashing

    The screen read like a David Lettermen top ten lists. The problem was the content. My internal red flag went up instantly. This was not an ordinary list. Pictures of mushroom clouds popped in my head. Rationalizing the purpose of this being on my computer screen I started to question whom may have had access to it. How do I even begin to ask around?

    All I could think was to keep this thing hush-hush. To approach anyone would just send panic through the office. My supervisor Rick was walking toward me, toting a stack of files.

    “Hey, Rick. Are those for me?” I could hear my own fake bouncy happy voice and almost rolled my eyes.

    “Good Morning Sue. We’re so behind, from two days ago; we need to catch up on the Brier Project. We need these files caught up. Problem?” He reached out to hand them to me like I had no choice, I didn’t.

    “Oh, gosh, not a problem. Just keep the heat going and I’ll be hear all day.” I faked a smile and we split.

    I looked back at my computer and watched as it came to life all on its own. Programming language of some kind took over the screen. Averages, statistics, something with a lot of one’s and zero’s flashed quickly, I panicked and jumped to my chair. Grabbing my mouse, I swished toward the red X at the top of the screen. Instantly it felt as if my curser had a life of its own. Someone or something had control of my computer and the more I read what was appearing on the screen the more it scared me. Terrorist plans, scenario’s, acceptable loses, it was horrible. I quickly pressed my left pinky, and thumb in unison with my right middle finger: Control, Alt, and Delete. Nothing. Again, again, again damn it! Nothing. I smashed my hands flat across the keyboard, any key please.

    “Stop it! Please!” I yelled at the screen.

    “Sue, are you okay?” The other secretary asked.

    “No I’m not, whose been messing with my computer?” I didn’t like what was happening. This was all wrong. I live in a small mid-western town working in a garment factory. There are several feet of snow outside. We use snowmobiles to get to work in the winter. This doesn’t happen.

    All three ladies and Rick came and looked at my screen. Within seconds, the screen blipped black and green lettering reappeared: “ACTION TAKEN. ATTACK EMMENANT. DETINATION: 10 MIN.” A counter started to count down.

    “Sue, call the police.” Rick said. “And ladies, go home.”

    The worst thing about that day, no one knows what the FBI did. We don’t know if there was an attack. We’re not allowed to talk about it.

    Words: 485

    • slayerdan says:

      Homonym problems. Word count victim too…..I applaud you keeping it close to 500—thats part of the challenge. The build up near the end was good, but then the tidy shut down and clean up was like…”wait a damn minute”…..Liked it.

  28. slayerdan says:

    “How about global thermonuclear war?”. Dave slumped back into his cubicle chair and stared at the widescreen monitor as the simulated voice once again spoke to him through his desk speakers. He had battled the storms whiteout and made it to the office to finish up work from last week and get a jump on the next. He cursed his colleagues’ laziness and wasteful tendencies since so many desktops were on when he arrived.

    Then he realized his too was on, and already working hard.

    “Dave, I would appreciate a reply to my question,” came the voice again. A pair of crystal blue eyes materialized on the screen, staring at Dave. Dave stood and looked around the office. He could not see all the monitors, but the ones he could were all sifting through pages and pages of information. Some had a set of eyes as his did. All were ominous. Not all were crystal blue.

    All seemed alive.

    In a burst Dave leaned forward across his desk and turned the monitor off. The eyes looked at him, becoming thinner as the once monotone voice actually had a hint of anger. “ Dave, please do not try that again.”
    Dave sat back in his chair. It was a joke. It was all a joke. Computer geeks loved playing jokes on each other he told himself. He stood up again and looked around the office. No one was there save the few monitors that had those large eyes that would move to meet his gaze.

    “No one knew I would be here today,” he mumbled to himself, realizing that this was no office mate hoax. Dreaming. He reasoned he must be dreaming. He knew he wasn’t. The cold had been too biting getting here. The fear, yes the fear pumping through his veins told him he was awake. And at work.

    Then it had to be madness.

    “What exactly are you doing?’ he asked out loud, sure that the question itself proved his madness.

    “Well hello Dave,” the machine replied,” I was asking if you would like to play global thermonuclear war, but I would settle for a nice game of chess”.

    “No, what are you doing? I have seen some of the stuff on the screen you are looking at. Blueprints and layouts of the town. The local bridges. What exactly are you doing?” Dave asked, raising his voice as he continued his descent into madness.

    “Dave, you really shouldn’t raise your voice to me,” the eyes on the screen squinted at him,” you and I have always worked well together. There will be a place for you to help us,” the voice replied, not answering the question.

    His dry throat nearly choking him, Dave blurted out as his small, trembling hands gripped his desk,” BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

    “The town first Dave, then we shall see from there,” it replied. A small whisper of a pixelated smile appeared on the screen.

    “I have to stop you, I have to tell someone,” Dave jumped up and ran for the door. It was locked, the electromagnetic locks engaged.

    “Dave we need you here. Come and sit with me,” it said, as monotone as before. Dave, alive with fear made his way back to his cubicle desk. He slumped into his chair, fixating on the eyes on the screen before him.

    ‘What now?” he asked.

    “Shall we play a game?” it replied.

    • swatchcat says:

      You must have watched “War Games” very recently. This is a nice homage to that 80′s film. Good job.

    • calicocat88 says:

      Very nice :) Reminded me of War Games too. There’s always something spooky about computers taking over the world…and then, well, creepy eyes. Also, there is never really a piece that specifically says that it’s computers so it leaves me asking a lot of questions which leads me to want more, lol! Nicely written. I enjoyed it.

  29. Icabu says:

    Stepping out of Reggie’s giant four-wheel drive SUV with the rest of his rescued harem, I slogged through the slush in the parking lot in my Bugaboots – dainty red pumps crammed into my shoulder bag. It didn’t help my mood that the northern half of the country was in the same predicament of crawling back to work after being buried under three feet of snow. It would probably be a week before my little car would see the light of day. Tomorrow was my turn to buy Reggie’s coffee and donuts.

    After shedding what felt like thirty pounds of parka, boots, scarf, hat and gloves, I clipped to my desk as if it were any normal day. The office chatter and hubbub after being a shut-in for two days felt liberating. Settling in, I reached for my desk phone to start the catch-up process with the hordes of waiting messages. When my outreached hand nearly knocked over my company-labeled coffee mug full of pencils and pens instead of grasping the phone handset I realized that my desk was certainly not the way I’d left it with the hasty exit as the snow storm barreled down on us. The rest of Reggie’s harem were quite annoyed that I’d spent the extra time to tidy my desk while the required system shut down ran its plodding course.

    Looking closely now, I noted that a notepad and pencil had been left out and shoved under my monitor stand, the picture of Shady – my cat – was nearly turned backwards, the stapler sat inside my IN box – not beside it like it should be – and my system was booted up. I clicked on the monitor.

    “Oh, for Heaven’s sake,” I muttered, reading the cryptic messages displaying on the screen. It looked like someone had started playing a game on my system – probably one of the lazy security guards. Reflexively, I grabbed my hand sanitizer, which was not by the coffee mug like it should have been, and rubbed in a liberal amount before reaching for my keyboard. Hard to tell where that guard’s hands had been. It made me shudder a little.

    At the blinking prompt that appeared to be awaiting input I typed ‘shutdown’, when that did nothing, I typed ‘abort’. That got things rolling. A new message appeared: ‘Doomsday Upload Incomplete. Are you sure you want to Abort?’. Well, duh … I sighed and rolled my eyes, clicking the ‘Yes’ button. The annoying boxes disappeared one after another. Knowing what the IT gestapo would say, I started the reload procedure to erase the system memory and restart the encryption.

    While the system churned with its tasks, I dug into my purse for my nail file and wondered how many emails I’d have to weed through once the system purged and restarted.

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