Broots hands me the disk and turns away quickly.
Before I can utter a word he has disappeared again. So now what? I'm sure that nobody has seen me together with him. One last look over my shoulder and I'm off to my office. I let myself fall into the seat in front of my desk. Still staring at the disk in my hand and the piece of paper. It's one thing to look at the contents of a disk than sneaking around the sub-levels at the Centre. Maybe it's just my imagination but somehow I feel watched. Well, SL-20 can't be a threat to me, I hope. I have never been to any sub-levels because I'm only a simple techie, but maybe Broots wanted to tell me something.
I switch on my computer and a sign starts flashing, telling me that I have mail. Mail? At quarter past nine in the morning? Funny. It's from Broots. Why me? I have never worked for him or with him, he's a little higher ranking than I am. He's working with Mr. Parker's daughter and the most famous psychiatrist of this institution, what does he want from me?? The mail only says that I should have a look at the disk and meet with him at the main elevator at 9.30 a.m.
I imagine what will happen if I'm not there, if I just ignore this email, if I just ignore that I ever got the disk. Maybe I lose my job or I'll be in a lot of trouble. No idea. Maybe it's better just to do what I've been told.
I insert the floppy into my computer and hold my breath but nothing happens. I try again and this time a text file opens. Read it or not? Read, I decide and go through the text. Uh, I never thought that I was stupid but this text makes no sense.
ENIN TSAP FLAH TA ROTAVELE EHT TA TEEM TUB DIAFRA ER'UOY TAHT WONK I DNA EM TEEM OT TNAW T'NOD UOY TAHT WONK I. SGNIHT TNATROPMI FO TOL A SSIM LLIW UOY TUB NEPPAH LLIW GNIHTON T'NOD UOY FI. EREHT EB. WONK OT DEEN UOY GNIHTYREVE UOY LLET.
Ok, I guess I'm really an idiot. Five minutes I've been staring at the screen now, it's nearly 9.25 a.m. and I'm still not closer to an answer. Ouch, yes, I'm an idiot. Backwards. I have to read it backwards so it makes sense. I call myself a techie?
"I know that you don't want to meet me and that you're afraid but meet me at the elevator at half past nine. Tell you everything you need to know. Be there. If you don't nothing will happen but you will miss a lot of important things."
I grab the disk and storm out of my office. It's unfair. Everybody knows I'm curious and I can't stand it. I start to hate myself as soon as the doors of the office are closed behind me and I see Broots standing in front of the elevator.
He doesn't say a word, doesn't even smile, just points at the elevator. The doors close behind us and I have the strange feeling that something's wrong… Maybe I'm still in bed and this is only a strange dream. I hope so. The elevator makes its way down into the sublevels and there's an eerie silence inside the cabin. I'm afraid.
The doors open and there's a long corridor in front of us. Nobody's there, no noise, nothing. Like a ghost corridor. Broots pokes me into the back to make me moving. Nervously I play with a stray of my hair that keeps hanging into my face. 'Why don't they stay where the belong to?' I think and almost miss the movement to my left. But it's too late. A piece of cloth is over my face, someone holds my hands behind my back. I can't move. The smell -- it's chloroform. NOOOOOO; this was a trap. My vision becomes blurred, the voicesseem far away. The last thing I hear is laughter.
"Three minutes, 57 seconds," I hear a voice, "She's waking up. She's strong. Never thought she would wake up this soon."
I slowly open my eyes. The room's spinning and I can't see the people in the room clearly. But there are a lot of people. At least ten. Someone's face is right over mine. Oh my God, that's Miss Parker. Shall I faint again?
She offers me her hand and I slowly sit up. What is this? A kidnapping? Do they want to murder me? "Neither of that, young lady." Oops, I must have thought that out loud.
"You're save. This is just a test. Well, do you want to know what's the matter?"
I only nod. That woman, Miss Parker, is somehow creepy. She looks great but there's something about her that scares me. Maybe it's just her piercing blue eyes. "You're about to be promoted."
"You'll be an assistant to Broots. Hope you are smart enough to do your job."
"I'll -- I'll do -- my best," shit, I'm stammering again.
Miss Parker only grins down at me, "We've been watching you the last few months. It seems to me that you leave chaos wherever you are." It's not fair.
"Is this a problem? Do I have to change to be promoted?"
"No, you're the perfect match for Mr Broots, he's the same chaotic type, he's stammering when he's nervous and his birthday is the same as yours. Oh yes, happy birthday."