Her search through the digital archive turned up disappointment. The employee database contained bare bones – name, phone number, address. No emergency contact, she noted. She chewed over the start date as she activated the elevator with her white key fob. Three days ago. Probably the date the profile was set up.
No mention of his previous years with Cable.
The elevator doors opened to a frosted glass door that yielded to her key fob and passcode. During her first year with White Cable, she had spent months scanning the mountains of paper documents in Central Files to a secure server, reducing the old paper archive to two file cabinets. She doubted anyone had been up here since the project had been completed.
The elevator doors closed. By the light of her smartphone, she opened the M-N-O drawer and there he was: Nell, K.
He hadn’t been kidding about the K.
Two pictures were stapled to the cover page – an unsmiling young man with dark tangled hair and an equally depressed older man with somewhat manageable hair and dark circles under his eyes. Same deadpan stare taken twenty five years apart.
She snapped the folder shut as the light from the elevator illuminated a path to her and the door slid open. “What are you doing up here?” Way to sound like you’ve been caught, she berated herself.
“Legal wants my old records.” Nell eyed the folder. “Are you authorized to be up here?”
She handed over the folder. “I’m part of White Cable.”
“Were part of White Cable.” He didn’t check the name as he tucked the folder under his arm. “Now you’re Red Cable. Didn’t they put you through transfer reprogramming?”
“That’s illegal nowadays.” She had heard stories of reprogramming. If you transferred departments, experienced trauma out in the field, or were under corrective action, you had to submit yourself to a twenty-four hour session of audio stimuli tailored to your specific needs. And repeat as often as your lead thought necessary.
Most of the stories whispered of the sinister side effects of the corrective action reprogramming.
“Too bad. I’m sure I could dig up one of the old tapes if you want to experience it for yourself,” he said, unsmiling.
“No. Thank you,” she shouldered past him to get to the light of the elevator.
“If there’s something you want to know just do that finger thing and ask.” He pantomimed writing in the air.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” she said as the elevator doors closed between them.
I wrote this interaction back in early August. I’m posting it after some helpful prodding from Spiral Artist.
Kind of bland but no overused love-at-first-sight tropes.
Connect with me on Twitter: @sm_saves