Fear by Simon Bell

“Standing in the necromantic pit, in the depths of the crypt of his tower the Dark Lord could feel the Wyrd Work of the King. He could sense the deceitful and untrustworthy akashic forces leaving him and coming under the King’s command – inexpertly at first but with growing confidence the young monarch wove the patterns.

As the light of the fires of Hell flickered uncertainly around the walls of the chamber and the floor moved suddenly under his clawed feet the Dark One could not help a sallow smile from crossing his thin, cruel lips.”

“What is a necromatic pit Daddy?”, the small voice issued from the snug confines of the midnight blue sheeted bed by which he sat.

Still be-suited, hair tousled from the daily-slog experience of commuter heat and sweat rather than fashionable cool, he put the book down.

“I think that is probably enough for tonight” he said. He had been late in (again), rushed into reading prior to supper and not known the book. What was this stuff? He was concerned that this really was not an appropriate night-time read for Ben. For goodness sake how had he got hold of this book?

He had had a long and cruel day and he really did not need to be reading about Dark Lords and necromantic pits, nor did he need the intense job of trying to explain what it was all about to an innocently curious, wide awake ten-year-old.

The bed-time read curtailed he slipped into his study prior to the descent to kitchen, supper and cross-examination. Some days it really was not ‘good to talk’.

In the comparative safety of his study, behind the Ikea desk and the Mac desktop, he felt a little command and control coming back to him. He seemed to have been running scared, out of control for most of the day.

An evil process seemed to be at work. Sitting back on his ‘venom’ games / office chair (“Good for work and play” he had explained to his disbelieving partner when Amazon had delivered it. It was a half decent office chair but great for games and maybe she guessed more than she let on about his main occupation in his study). He rubbed his eyes tiredly and pondered the sequence of events which he summarised as; being targeted, weapons being used, emotional consequences and ensuing state of mind.

Target.

To say he had been targeted was an understatement. He and his crew had all been simultaneously victimised by what they had experienced as a wicked internal office process. From seemingly innocuous beginnings they had gradually found their work streams closed down, undergoing evaluation and then gone. Just gone. The H drive did not lie and nor did the Dropbox folders. Weeks of work was as if they were not and never had been. No explanation and no responses from line management, they had sat about in incredulous disbelief as they had seen their computers taken away, their hot-office space closed (‘for cleaning and hygiene’) and had been nudged more than thrown out of their usual office space. Huddled together they found that their ID badges no longer functioned. They had to ask for help from a Security Officer to get the lifts to accept them as legitimate denizens of the eighth floor and grant them a ride down. At ground floor, more Security Officials questioned them about their status, took their badges and, finally harried them out of the thick glass doors.

Weapon

Uncomprehending and panicking they had stood like idiots, clustered on the pavement in front of the twenty-story office block, a group moved from power, competence, coherence and purpose to lost sheep in the space of 30 minutes. Even now, standing in the wind of the street they did not fully understand that they had been targeted and that a potent weapon had been deployed against them. All that they knew was the entry conditions of fear, that things had happened and that the world which they had known an hour ago was no more. From being secure, well paid professionals, they were now reduced to an uncomprehending rabble, anxious, angry and confused. Their task in their former role had been as a shock, SWAT team of software engineers, tasked to manage an aberration in the company’s digital record. They had been making progress and had identified what seemed to be a huge anomaly in the digital build of some parts of the legacy architecture. Some of this stuff was beyond them in that it had been put in place years before they were born. Assembler code and FORTRAN skills needed to be understood. They had identified that the digital equivalent of a mega city had gradually arisen upon the ancient foundations, they were also beginning to think that the foundations were not only faulty, it could well be that there was stuff going on in the crypt-like depths of the code which was suspicious and potentially corrupted, or in the process of being corrupted. Unknown agencies seemed to have been at work. They were zeroing in on what seemed to be a hot spot of current illicit activity when the world had gone crazy. They and their mission had been revoked.

Emotion

When the numb shock had passed, they began to jabber. His team-lead role was the natural starting point for questions to begin:

“What is going on Steve”, “Did you know about this?”, “Has Chantel been in contact?”, “Why are they doing this?”. “What did we do?”.

“What did we do”, Steve repeated to himself.

The team were no longer a team and panic was eating them from the inside out. Some of the younger members were in tears and an over-whelming need for information, frustrated in act, was working its way out in a range of emotions, anger, rage, fear, horror, panic and; increasingly dumb despair.

What was becoming obvious was; there was no cavalry coming to the rescue, history would not rewind, and they were sacked. Tears, rage and confusion amplified in the absence of no information, no leadership and no shared group point of focus. Not yet anyway.

State

They had repaired to the local Costa, ordered coffees and clustered around two tables hastily joined. Steve had tried to impose his authority (which he no longer had as he no longer had a job) and seek an answer to the question: “what did we do?”. But in question and answer it became increasingly obvious that no one had done any thing which could have been construed as treasonous or illicit. Far from it. The whole team had been super-cautious as it found the crypt (that is what they called the anomalous area of code), wary of their lack of knowledge of the antique code and anxious not to make matters worse or give away their investigation. Add to tears, rage and confusion conspiracy, distrust and a yearning for it all to end.

One by one they had dispersed. They could not go back to the office; the only options were endless cups of coffee or going home. Steve and two of his more senior team members stayed, made futile efforts to enter the office block, call their Line Manager Chantel and find new and revealing parts of the story so far untold. Failure met them on all fronts and, at 6pm they had decided to leave it for the day. With no plan they dispersed to their various residences.

So, he found himself back at the house, so he found himself numbly reading a child’s story and so, at last he found himself in his study looking with incredulity at the messages appearing on his computer screen. The words came together slowly to form a meaning he already knew and indeed had read but did not understand. Now, perhaps he did understand the fear that had gnawed him all day and the likely cause, unbelievable but irrefutable. He could not look away. He was the target. The code was the weapon. Confused panic had been the emotion but the state, the state was nothing, but fear and this fear had no end in sight. Indeed, this seemed to be amplifying on a logarithmic scale. He read his computer screen again and again. The message could only be from one system:

“As the light of the fires of Hell flickered uncertainly around the walls of the chamber and the floor moved suddenly under his clawed feet the Dark One could not help a sallow smile from crossing his thin, cruel lips.”

Simon Bell 

Banner – Pixabay.com

4 thoughts on “Fear by Simon Bell

  1. Hi Simon,
    I enjoyed the realism on the job loss mingled with the ideas of the fantasy elements.
    And reading inappropriate subject matter to kids – Well that would be much more fun than ‘The Adventures Of Peppa Pig’!
    Great to see you back on the site so soon!
    All the very best my friend.
    Hugh

    Like

  2. Creepy and ominous! I don’t know much about computer programming but I guess the imaginative possibilities are endless… to the point of the program taking over and becoming conscious, etc. I like the way the story is organized into sections that describe and show the progression of the virus or whatever the hell it is and the total confusion of the workers as they’re fired. And at home, there’s no escape. I like the sentences about “he was the target, the code was the weapon,” the emotion, and the description of amplifying fear.

    Liked by 1 person

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