Monday, September 19, 2011

Employee of Evil

At 2:23AM, Nitin Yangzom discovered Lila Kala sprawled dead across the Comnetrix Corporation server room floor.

Nitan froze and forced himself to retrace every detail in his life that led him to the very wrong situation. His parents had immigrated to America when his father, working for the very same Comnetrix Corporation, was transferred to the company’s U.S. offices, and in their celebration, Nitan had been conceived. While he was considered gifted at a very young age, it did little to keep his young peers from calling him “Nitwit” throughout even his years in high school. School did little to challenge him intellectually, and the few times when it did, his studies only aggravated his difficulties building a social life. He eventually grew accustomed to a more solitary life, finding the benefits of an ignored life such as peace and a degree of independence. There were times he considered whether he was grateful for his older siblings, for having married and obtained vast wealth and generally having satisfied the desire of his parents. As it was, though, Nitan had no real direction of his own, and so he didn’t object when his father recommended he follow in his footsteps as an employee of Comnetrix Corporation. Nitan did not know exactly what business Comnetrix Corporation practiced, nor did he terribly care. It was just like any other soullessly simple company that paid the bills, he felt, and just like most companies these days, they needed people to run their IT. So it was that he had fallen into a sea of a poorly-managed IT department, left mostly in charge of babysitting programs mining away at whatever real work needed to be done.

The months Nitan intended to stay while he found a better job crept into years. He dropped out of college as his grades fell and the hours at work demanded of him rose. His only pleasures at work, which he indulged in when nobody was looking, included playing games on his smartphone and staring at Lila Kala’s curves when she walked by his desk. What she was doing at a place like Comnetrix, instead of high above the lowly earth within the heavens as Nitan imagined, was beyond his understanding. It would make his day whenever she acknowledged him with a smile or even a “hello” in passing. He never had talked to her, though, and therefore only knew of her what fantasies he conjured in the vast and unexplored palace of his mind. Not that he would have had much of an opportunity, as work forced him to stay in the offices for twelve-plus hour days, six days a week. As it happened this Saturday night, Nitan filled in for the work of three people as the others had called out sick, and during one of the routine server checks, a message pinged back, asserting that the server was unavailable. Normally, protocol would dictate that his immediate superior (who claimed to be working on reports at home) had the sole authorization to enter the server room, and should no proper authority be present, Nitan was required to e-mail his immediate supervisor, his supervisor and the assistant department manager and await further instructions. Because the gods of business derived pleasure from the ironic misery of their worshipers, the operations required that the server never be down for longer than the minimum two hours required for monthly maintenance, and any response Nitan received from his superiors would inevitably take at least five hours, after which they would undoubtedly blame him for the incident. Nitan briefly considered the advantages of unemployment and, having decided he would not be so fortunate as to be fired, took the keys to the server room from his supervisor's desk drawer to check up on the servers. He figured the servers simply needed a reboot.

His back now against the wall, Nitan continued to beat his own mind, having scavenged through what little the totality of his life answered for his current life-and-death situation. Nitan's eyes remained locked on Lila, noticing the blood stain on her shirt still appeared wet, and even in his shock, pieced together that she could not have died more than a day ago. The realization of foul play finally sunk into his head, and despite his full awareness that the killer was long gone, instinct screamed at him to leave immediately. His hand reached for the door handle when he stopped in place. Nitan snapped his gaze around the corners of the room, fearful of possible cameras present and staring back at him. When he saw none, the yell of instinct seemed more distant, and his attention back on the dead form of Lila. It was then that he noticed writing on her hand. Nitan bent down and, with the most delicate of care, turned her hand over to see “operation_apocalypse.exe“ and “sisyphus” below it. The server monitor glowed its multicolor screensaver upon Lila's face, which caught his attention. Nitan moved to the monitor, nudged the mouse, and glanced at Lila once more, before typing the executable file in the command prompt. A password field appeared, and his hands struggled to type “sisyphus” before hitting the enter key. His eyes grew wide as he saw a database, listing all the programs he watched run over the years, images of satellite trajectories and media feeds pouring over military networks across the world with launch codes to various secret instruments of warfare. Programs all made possible by business made through the Comnetrix Corporation. Programs all made possible from those like himself: faceless and unable, or unwilling, to face what was right in front of them.

Nitan turned once more to look at Lila. He knew he was facing a fate just like hers. The company he had worked for loomed too large, and Nitan stood too small. However, there was at least one force larger than even the Comnetrix Corporation, though it was a long shot. Furiously, he opened internet browser tabs, one after another, opening every major news site, blog, message board, and social network he could think of to try.

The public would have to be made known.

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