A few seconds later, a reply appeared on Geoff's screen, the only source of light in the office. Squinting at the keys, he tapped out a few lines and clicked "Send". He leant back in the padded office chair, cranked all the way back so that he wasn't sitting so much as sprawling. Perched so precariously, he turned his music up a little to distract him from the silence. The little speakers mounted beside the wide monitor whined, distorting the vocalist's cries, so he turned the volume down again and sighed.
Flicking up the chat window again, Geoff checked for the third time the channel was secure and undetected by the facility's firewall and cybersecurity technology. A new reply popped up. He grimaced, tapped in "Anyway, nite - work to do."; this girl wasn't his type, it seemed. Setting his status to 'offline' he switched onto the security systems screen. Lots of little blue lights in a utilitarian grid layout shone down to him.
01.04, the time display read.
The vocalist's voice became a woeful howl whilst the band crashed into the final chorus. Geoff winced, and changed screen channels back to his music, selecting some more relaxing tunes. He stared up at the shadowy ceiling of his little cupboard of an office; corrugated polystrene panels crossed with little lines of dark among the dull shadowy grey.
He started, his eyes flicked open. There was no music playing. The playlist had ended... Sure enough, the time display read 01.56. He twisted himself over to reach the keys, scrabbling to open the security systems screen.
His eyes widened; red across the board.
He tipped the chair and fell over trying to stand. Why wasn't the alarm sound working? How long had it been like this? What had happened? What should he do?
He stood dazed, hands in his short, ragged hair. He had to think clearly. He checked the screen again, panic growing in him.
Wait... what? He began to smile. This wasn't the screen for his zone. Relief was cut short however. Sector 4 security hadn't responded. Sector 4 was the no-go zone, the no-questions-asked secret area he'd thought was a rumor. A frown appeared on his face. This can't be right...
The things he'd heard... if they were true, no way should he be able to see this screen, and there'd be half an army of staff on station at all times, even if this was a holiday weekend... but it read "Sector Four - Emergency Alert - All Security Personell Respond"
A trick? It'd be just like those morons at sector 2...
He stood indecisive, the red illuminating his 'uniform' (black company shirt and jeans). Ignore it? He couldn't be the only staff on hand... the student on part time work the only person here?
No. He had to see for himself. He snatched up his keycard and torch, bursting out the door and running down the corridor,left, down the unlit stairs to sector 2, opened with his keycard (which gave him access to sectors 2 and 3 only in emergencies, it seemed) the thick doors into the shadowy, empty control deck of sector 2.
He stopped. Where was sector 4 anyway? He looked doubtfully at his minimum level security access card.
Huh. Down had seemed like a good idea at the time. What was it he was looking for anyway? He booted up the cameras on the security desk. All the doors were unlocked? That's very, very bad... He shivered unexpectedly, heart pounding in his chest. What was happening? What had gone so wrong? Why was it so quiet? So dark... empty...
Trying to control his fear, he realised he had no idea where to go, what he would find or what to do if he found it.
You never know, if he couldn't find the trouble, maybe it would come to him...