Colleague_2.5

[Back by popular demand! Well, someone mentioned it in passing… Find the rest of the story here and enjoy!]

I glanced over again. He was still busy talking, hands gesticulating and eyes locked on the girl stood at his desk. I nudged Alex as he was packing up for the evening.

“Who’s that talking to Tom?”

Alex shrugged. “Katie, from downstairs. Don’t know her surname. Why?”

“Just not seen her up here before,” I replied casually.

Truth was, I was very suspicious of why she’d been talking to Tom for so long. I’d been building up the courage to confront him all afternoon over Kerry’s disappearance, but he had been busily engaged for an hour now.

I looked at the clock. It was getting late – Alex’s leaving had left just the three of us in the office. I carried on pretending to work; a few minutes later I saw Katie nod and shift her feet to leave, and took my chance.

“Tom,” I called as I walked over. His eyes caught mine – grey, metallic. Then they flickered away from me, towards the doors. Sarah, the pretty but uninterested girl from my first day at work, had burst through them and was heading in our direction.

“I just need a word with you-” I began to Tom but Sarah cut me short.

“It’ll have to wait until tomorrow, Kyle Broomer,” she snapped. “Tom, I need to see you upstairs now.”

I’m usually subdued on work matters and outspoken on conspiracy ones. The situation here seemed to combine the two – my conspiracy voice won out.

“No, Sarah, I need to speak to him.” Tom put his hands up towards me apologetically; pre-empting his excuses I continued, “He knows something about Kerry’s disappearance.”

Time blurred.

Sarah shot towards me as Tom leapt from his chair.

The two collided, almost in midair. Sarah’s fist met Tom’s chest and she immediately jumped back into a crouch.

I didn’t know what Sarah was up to, but a fight with a cyborg wasn’t going to end well for her. I grabbed Sarah’s hand and turned for the door.

“Run!” I shouted. Sarah’s grip tightened as her other arm swung towards my face, fist clenched.

Just before it hit me, my legs gave way and I collapsed. Tom had dived forwards and held my ankles like a vice.

In one movement, he flung me backwards along the floor and rose to his feet. I crashed hard against a desk and my breath rushed from my lungs.

I could only watch as Sarah and Tom squared up to each other. They reached a strange impasse – one would twitch, almost imperceptibly, as if just starting to move, drawing a similar feinted response from the other. It was as if they were predicting the other’s movements, and only a glimmer of a reply was needed to dissuade it.

After a few seconds, Tom dropped to his knees and swung a right hook at Sarah’s midriff. She caught it and twisted as he spun round to reach her head with his left hand, trapping her neck just as she pulled his arm clean out of its socket. The pop was followed immediately by a crack and Sarah slumped to the floor.

Tom turned to me, still slumped against his desk, popped his arm back into its socket, and spoke in the artificial voice I’d always known he must have.

“Good cyborg; no time to explain. Kerry’s safe. Come with me.”

I got unsteadily to my feet. Powerless to resist, I followed.

Colleague_2.4

[Part of a flash fic serial, one of two on this blog at the time of writing – you can find the rest here]

//mission update
//files downloaded from “Tom” (protection unit PU90-series model 147)

//extract activity log for Monday
print(log_events.scans[8d]);

/”scanned employee.anthony_swan
status=no_threat
detained in safehouse.silo”/

//extract activity log for Wednesday
print(log_events.scans[8f]);

/”scanned employee.kerry_varney
status=no_threat
detained in safehouse.silo”/

print(list_targets.remaining);

/”remaining targets are
employee.kyle_broomer,
employee.sarah_cooper,
employee.katie_whittaker”/

//notes: List now 3 targets. 2 more detained this week, 5 in total. Likely resolution tomorrow. Will brief HQ on progress.

From: Base_4 (N221SG@protectionsolutions.st.mil.us) [to be encrypted]
To: HQ (central@protectionsolutions@st.mil.us) [to be encrypted]
Subject: Racing Update from Paddock Four (private)

Harry,

147 has run well. Slipped under the radar somewhat yesterday as usual! Five close finishes so far, three more races entered. One of them’s bound to be a winner! Should be good by Friday

We’ll catch up soon.

Nigel

*This email and any attached files are confidential and copyright protected. If you are not the addressee, any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. Unless otherwise expressly agreed in writing, nothing stated in this communication shall be legally binding*

Colleague_2.2

[Colleague_2.1 and 2.0 also available]

09:22 Broomer, Kyle wrote:
Busy this morning hey? Missed our 9 o’clock catch-up the day we have SERIOUS news! Pop round my desk when you’re free

09:47
Come now, you can’t be that busy. Your calendar says you’re free.

From: Kyle
To: Kerry
Time: 10:14
Hey, just been by your desk, your manager says you’ve not called in sick, what’s up?
K

Call Log
Today
Kerry (mobile) (6) 13:37 >>

Monday
Kerry (mobile) 21:27 <<

My best friend Kerry has disappeared. She was in work yesterday – we had lunch together as usual and discussed various theories including that about Tom, the suspected cyborg who works in our office. I mention this because Kerry’s disappearance has coincided with Tom’s getting rid of his glasses. This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s something Kerry and I were waiting for, because we reckon his eyes hold clues about his real identity. This morning, he came in without his glasses. I haven’t gone over to chat with him yet, though I could on any flimsy premise, but Kerry’s disappearance has rattled me because I’m sure Tom’s behind it.

Kerry and I have been friends since our first day of work. We were two of several new starters that day, and bonded within ten minutes of arriving in the building. As a group of us waited at reception, Sarah, another newbie, asked if I had seen the fifteenth anniversary memorial service of 9/11 which had been on recently. I hadn’t but I know plenty about it and when she brought up the footage of the Pentagon impact, I mentioned the hole in the building which is suspiciously half the width of a Boeing 757.

“Come now, you don’t believe those conspiracy theories, do you?” Sarah asked. She was quite a pretty girl, and the conversation had been going well until now, nevertheless I have always been one to stick to my guns.

“There are too many anomalies in the evidence to believe everything the FBI investigations found,” I replied. “Thermite in the wreckage, insider trading on United Airlines stocks…”

Sarah smiled and laughed lightly. The polite response. I was used to that, at best, by now, but was still disappointed when she turned away to talk to the guy across from her. I looked around at the rest of the group, most of whom averted their eyes, but found Kerry’s locked on mine. She gave me a slight nod, and when we spoke at lunch later that day the 9/11 Truth was our first topic.

Kerry was what I like to call a ‘bambi’ – wide-eyed and impressionable, with views that could slide around like a young deer on ice. But she was also a meticulous researcher, and soon we became a great team – more than the sum of our parts. My endless creativity and curiosity coupled with her knack for uncovering information led to prestige in the online world of ‘conspistadors’, as we called ourselves (I came up with the name). And while we had plenty of topics, none was so under-our-noses as Tom.

We thought we had the upper hand, an eye on him, but now I fear he’s got to Kerry and I don’t know what to do.

Colleague_2.1

[You’re welcome to read this post first if you’d like]

There’s a guy at work who’s not quite right. I don’t mean he’s crazy or anything – he seems, at first glance, to be a pretty normal guy. At first glance. If you look closer, you’ll see it. It’s that he’s not (totally) human. That’s what isn’t right.

His name’s Tom, apparently. Probably more like evil_office_v9.2.cyborg. Ok, so I don’t know he’s evil. He could be here on a protection mission. But the more we know about him, the better, and we can’t rule out the possibility he’s dangerous. His heightened senses suggest intelligence-gathering; I’ve yet to see any hostile capabilities. Maybe I’ll have to find a way to provoke a response and see what he’s programmed to do.

He’s definitely a cyborg. I considered alien, or demonic possession, but an alien would have a more similar (to blend in) or more different (getting their alien disguise wrong) appearance, not just one of a tall but slightly hunched man with glasses as thick as reinforced doors, and a demon would have caused more disturbances – phantom draughts, weird drawings, suicides, that sort of thing.

I’m convinced his eyes are a key clue. They’re so obscured by his glasses and there must be a reason for that. You can see the machinery working, or something.

I resolve to watch for a chance to knock them off ‘by accident’ so as to get a better look, but he doesn’t turn up to work the next day. I’m packing to leave at 6, the last one in the office, drained by a long day and disappointed my plans have stalled, when Tom walks in.

No glasses.

“Hey Tom,” I call with a smile. He waves back and wanders over to my desk. “Where you been and where are your glasses?” I inspect his eyes. They’re a dull, metallic grey.

“Laser eyes… surgery,” he replies, the pause for me to hear that extra ‘s’ all too intentional.

“Laser eyes?” I say, raising my eyebrows. “What do you need them for?”

Tom touches a fresh scar on his temple, and his eyes flash red as a whirring noise starts.

“Elimination.”

Colleague_2.0

Kyle’s long had his suspicions about Tom. The nagging feeling something wasn’t quite right; that the guy wasn’t exactly what he seemed. If asked to pin it down, he’d struggle, but mutter something about possession or aliens being likely.

Superficially, they got on pretty well – they’d chew the cud at lunch in the canteen or exchange the manly ‘nod & grunt’ greeting if they passed each other in the office – which seemed to suggest no one had mentioned to Tom all the aspersions on him Kyle blurted out to anyone who would listen.

“I think he’s a cyborg,” he was saying to Alex one afternoon by the water cooler. “I think they messed up his eyes but he wears those thick glasses to hide that fact.”

“I think it’s probably just that he’s got bad eyesight,” Alex said.

“He got telescopic eye sight and probably spy-satellite hearing as well,” Kyle replied. They looked across to where Tom sat at the far end of the long office, his eyes fixed on them. Alex reddened and looked away, but Kyle kept his eyes fixed on Tom as he spoke again.

“He can hear…”

He watched as Tom’s lips mouthed the words with him,

“Every…Word.”