Monday, March 21, 2011

Flash Fiction - Plenty of Fish

Good day,

 Hammered out over a few days, I'm basing this on some experiences around the office.

***

After hovering over Ben’s computer trying to figure out what the problem was, Ning scratched his chin and hummed aloud: “Yep, it’s the virus.”
The office had been facing this problem all week. Files had gone missing or were moved around, with questionable websites popping up in place of homepages. With the I.T. department severely lacking in personnel, it was up to Ning to take a break from brokering to tap into his once-forgotten computer programming skills.
Wide-eyed, the intern Ben looked like he had just been slapped. “The virus? What’s the virus?”
“Some joker released a worm into the system and it’s been eating everyone’s files one by one,” the technician-for-a-day said, drumming his fingers on the desk, “How come you haven’t heard of this? Jacqueline sent out a memo.”
“I,” the younger man said with a cough, “I may have skimmed it.”
Ning rolled his eyes but wasn’t surprised. He shook his fingers loose and stretched them. “Alright, step aside. I need to borrow that for a few seconds.”
            Ben blanched and pulled himself out of his seat, “Okay?”
            Swiftly, Ning planted himself in his co-worker’s chair and pulled out a post-it note, setting it beside him. I.T. was kind enough to provide him with a map of the company’s security systems. He suspected that after five years of service and with a perfect record, he could be trusted with a few more trade secrets.
Flexing his fingers one last time, he started typing away. Window after window of text came on and off in manners of seconds. His eyes darted back and forth between the screen and the paper on his left. After a bevy of windows flew by, one with two blank lines appeared in front of him.
            “Okay,” Ning said, pulling back, “What’s your terminal password?”
            The younger man turned his eyes to the ceiling sheepishly and answered: “Swordfish.”
            Ning looked at him like he was crazy, “Seriously? Are you running a speakeasy in the 1930s? That’s the easiest thing! No wonder your system got hacked.”
            “I got hacked?” Ben said, his pupils dilating as Ning typed away.
            Ning groaned, stretching his neck, “Well, the virus fairy didn’t bring it.” Another log-in window came up as he spoke, “And this one couldn’t be caught by going to the wrong website so, yeah, you got hacked.”
            “Oh.”
            Ning shrugged and pointed his head at the screen, “Alright, what about here?”
            “Fishsword.”
            “You’re serious.”
            “Why, what’s wrong?”
            “That can’t be right.”
            “Well, it is.”
            Cautiously, Ning brought his hands to the keyboard and typed it out. When the window faded away, he turned red. “You just reversed the words!”
            “No I didn’t!”
            “That’s not a password! That’s a joke! Passwords are supposed to be complex so they can keep people out of your computer!”
            “And it did!”
            “Yeah, until someone got into your computer.
            Ben threw his hands up, “Can we just do this?”
            Nearly spitting, Ning typed through another set of windows. He gave his co-worker a pleading look when one last log-in page came up, “This one. It’s not like swordfish, right?”
            “It’s not,” the younger man said, adamantly.
            “Then what is it?”
            “Wordfish.”
            The whole floor heard Ning’s head hit the desk. “I demand a raise.”
            Using one hand, Ning typed the word in blindly and bitterly. There was a knock at the cubicle wall. Both turned to see Jerome, the giant of a man from two rows down, striding over to the pair of them, “What’s going on, my sons?”
            “Genius here has an entire aquarium in his computer,” Ning said, petulantly working through the last of the pop-ups, “It’s no wonder he caught the worm.”
            Showing his bright white teeth proudly, Jerome gave a smirk, “I heard. I thought you was an English major or something.”
            “I am!” Ben squawked, pulling his hands back in a flustered gesture, “My GPA was 4.0!”
            The newcomer shook his head, “That better be out of ten.”
            “Shaddap, both of ya,” Ning cut in.
            A proud clack; Ning struck the Enter key with dramatic power. “And you’re good.”
Jerome slapped the office saviour across the shoulder, basking in his triumph. “Good going, man. Now what’re we doing for eats?”
            The impromptu I.T. man shrugged again and turned a mean smile to Ben, “I dunno. How about sushi?”

***

See you next time,

-RWI

EDIT: May 20, 2012. Fixed the flow.

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