The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chapter 7)

Yep – laziness got the better of me yesterday. I’d like to say I’m sorry, but ehhh, it happens. To placate you, here is a picture of me and Jak from this morning’s Donuts with Dads. Babies make everything better.

jak and me

Now on to the show!

jcroston81-4_resized

Chapter 7 –

Monday Evening; Station Public Library

The work was tedious, yet I found myself enjoying the challenge. Something that didn’t come easy for me; that’s what my life had been missing. I was in deep on a secure tablet, trying to ping something off the serial numbers I had stored here.

My first stop had been to the national treasury to see if I could pick up the batch that had any of these numbers in it. That produced no results, which was very odd. I got the feeling someone deleted the information, or at least tried to. My next step was to go a bit deeper, really get into the encrypted files and see where the deletion came from. Whoever it had been on the other end, they knew how to cover their tracks. I was chasing a ghost, almost.

From the back corner of the library, it was time to use a little Negative magic. I did a quick look around and breached into the mainframe with my power. I’d used this trick a lot as a young, mischievous kid, and I overpowered the firewalls. I had about five minutes before anyone would notice.

I quickly scanned the lines of information, looking for the lost entries. I found them, deleted just two days before the truck heist by a user named EC. I pulled up the deleted serial number batch and began my trace. From the mint, this particular batch came to Pacific Station and was put into circulation at an ATM outside of Pacific National Bank. No sooner did I get that information than I was locked out.

It was time to go before they could retrace me. I scrubbed the info off my tablet, put my ball cap back on and made a beeline straight for my apartment complex.

**** 

The next morning, after saying a quick hello to Erin, I immediately went up to Wonderton’s office. His assistant was surprised to see me unannounced, but John waved me right on in. “Jericho, what brings you up here this early?”

“It’s about that cash transaction you asked me to look into.”

He immediately went from CEO to Dark Lion. Lowering his voice, “What did you find?”

“I traced the stack to an ATM right here in the city, outside of Pacific National.”

This piqued his interest. “Let’s talk more about this after hours. I’ll set up a meeting.” This was probably all for show, as his assistant was very nosy. Taking my cue, I walked back out and took the elevator back down to my hole by the server farm.

No sooner did I get off the elevator was I accosted by Erin. “Dude, what’s going on? That’s two visits in less than two days! Plus, I hear you’ve been promoted or something.”

“What?” I thought his line about his new head of IT or whatever crap he told Whisant was just more Wonderton bullshit. Erin had the email printed out and gave it to me.

Wonder-Tech Industries

Congratulations to Jericho Staley.

He is the new head of the IT Department. 

-John Wonderton 

It was as short and painful as actually talking to the man himself. Then I wondered if this came with a pay raise. Either way, Erin was ecstatic. “This rocks! Beers are on you Wednesday night, Staley!”

I could live with that. “I had no idea. Either way, I don’t think it means a whole lot.”

Well it didn’t to me. The rest of the day, Erin would slide on over and toss in one of his crazy jokes, smiling and laughing each time. We ended up working through lunch as Research and Development accidently closed a firewall to the internal network. That idiot Phil Jenkins was a hazard. I’d only been here a little over a month and I knew that.

At four thirty, I was done. Wonderton’s assistant hung around until about five, so I grabbed a few gyros at the food truck that was closing up across the street and ate in peace. When I saw the rest of the minions file out, I finished my dinner and made my way back in.

Wonderton was already in the hidden portion of his office when I strolled in. He was working on something on a makeshift work bench, but was doing a lousy job with it. He put down his tools when he saw me. “Okay, we can talk a bit more freely.”

“Like I said, I traced the money back to the ATM at Pacific National. I figured I’d hack into the security footage and maybe get lucky finding the guy who withdrew it. However,” there was always bad news in this town, “I think this goes deep. The files containing the serial numbers of this batch were purposefully deleted just a few days ago.”

“Do you think our new general friend might have anything to do with this?”

That I didn’t know yet. “Anyone could be involved. The best chance we have is getting a face on withdraw. Besides, the amount of cash they paid, either a portion was withdrawn from this ATM or they needed extra funds to meet Valiant’s demand.”

He nodded in agreement. “So it’s settled, you look into that and I’ll do my thing – take to the streets.”

I couldn’t help but notice what he was working on. It was a glove that had what appeared to be claws on the fingertips. The idea was solid, but the execution was horrid. “Do you mind?”

“Oh?” He saw me looking at his glove. “I don’t usually let others work on the gear…”

I went over and flicked one of the claws and it popped right off. “I think it’s about time you did.”

-Jeremy

You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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About Jeremy Croston

I'm a comic loving, soccer playing, devoted husband who has a writing addiction. I can be found at Orlando Solar Bear hockey games, at the local sports bar cheering on my teams from Philly (go Flyers!), and being led astray by my schnauzer, JJ. Check out my Amazon page at www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston to see my collections. Feel free to friend me on Facebook too at www.facebook.com/jcroston2 (there is another one of me out there apparently). Outside of writing, I work in business development and am considered an expert in all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to talking to you soon!
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