July 10, 2008

Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 52 (Eddie Works Out the Pieces)

By liam

Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 52 of the my online book "Excited Delirium". Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index

August 4, 2008

Eddie Manchester wasn’t a resourceful person, but he was a senior-level employee with one of the world’s largest corporations, so he could at least use his position to dig a little deeper.

Being more emotional than thoughtful, he left Kite sitting in the coffee shop, and returned to his office, his mind trying to process what he had been told. Murder? The OMNINet? It was run by people who claimed that they were ‘good Christians’. They wouldn’t harm anyone, would they?

As soon as he got back to work, he checked his calendar and cancelled any meetings he had. Given his level at the company, his main excuse was that he was double-booked and he blamed his executive assistant with every apologetic call. The occasional derogatory comment came up and for a brief moment, he enjoyed poking fun at a girl that actually worked very hard for him.

He requested a hard copy of Sasha’s personnel file and was told it would take about two hours to retrieve, as it had been moved to the Steel Mountain storage facilities.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Steel Mountain, all you have to do is look around your office for a few moments and I guarantee you (or at least ninety-percent of you) that you’ll see the grey boxes with the blue circle and the black Steel Mountain insignia on them.

Steel Mountain is a company that has been storing everything since the early 1950s. Technically, the storage occurs in a limestone mountain in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, but that hasn’t stopped the US government and more than 90,000 companies from using their storage facilities.

The biggest client of Steel Mountain is the federal government of the US and many other countries are using this company to store their top-secret information. They are the twenty-first century version of the Swiss bank account.

OMNINet has had a special relationship with Steel Mountain since the early days of its operation. As a company, the OMNINet has become one of the largest corporate clients for Steel Mountain and most frequent user of the storage space. The OMNINet owns about five square miles of space thousands of feet underground and constantly upgrades the amount of space they need. Most of this space is devoted to files and research on OMNINet competitors which, because of their unique relationship with Steel Mountain, they’re able to get as the boxes from other companies roll into the great tunnel and copies are made.

Ironically, the biggest portion of their storage needs comes from employee files, including the one that Eddie requested on Sasha Pigeon. It’s because of this lucrative service that senior employees are able to demand files to be couriered by plane to their offices in New York, London, Toronto or elsewhere.

After ordering Sasha’s files, Eddie leaned back in his high-back leather chair and turned to stare at the Manhattan skyline. His office was on the south-west corner of OMNINet’s main corporate office, which was located in a building that was nicknamed “Command Central”.

The building itself was a major Art Deco project, designed by Grant Garamond himself, but funded by his Univist followers and the OMNINet’s dealing with the Germans and Japanese in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In fact, it surprised many that a project of this scale was possible when, because of the war in Europe, the rest of the country was facing rations and scarcity was common-place.

The building was called “Command Central” because a large number of significant American corporations had offices here. Of course, a wide range of government offices, including Homeland Security, a branch of the FBI and think-tanks also made “Command Central” their home, making it one of the most important buildings in New York. Most pedestrians simply walked by, never really knowing the level of influence that originated there.

From his office, Eddie could see the construction site of what was once the World Trade Center and he surprised himself when he said out load: “so much killing and people like me are getting rich off it.”

Sasha meant so much to him and now he was dead and Eddie was alone to face the evils that he had supported. He knew he was cruel to him but the OMNINet was his ticket. Somehow, somewhere, he still believed there was truth in this. It was the same lie that Kite told himself all the time.

He sighed deeply and realized that his shirt was getting a little snug as his chest expanded and his tie seemed to restrict his throat a little more than it used to. For a moment, he thought of Sasha being strangled and for the first time in a long time, he got a lump in his throat.

Since he had a few hours to wait before he had Sasha’s files, he called security and started to ask around for some names he would recognize. He finally came across one guy from his old days, Forest Samson, a close personal friend of both he and Sasha, at least before Eddie changed for the OMNINet and the Univists.

Forest was in the building today, so Eddie tracked him down and visited his office, without any warning. When Eddie arrived at the door, Forest’s reception was a little over the top for Eddie’s liking and he was instantly put on the defensive, not wanting to let anyone see his association with someone who was obviously not a heterosexual.

“Isn’t it awful about Sash? You must be devastated!” Forest gushed.

“Forest. This is a little hard for me, so I don’t want to get too distracted. I miss him more than anything, but I can’t afford to get too emotional about it.”

Forest whispered that he always did like Sash better, but made sure Eddie couldn’t hear his comment. He also understood the dynamic of the situation and cooled his level of emotion. He did his best to humour Eddie.

“What can I help you with sir?” he asked.

“I need to know more about Mr. Pigeon’s activities prior to his demise. Can you dig up anything for me?” Eddie inquired.

“Absolutely, sir,” Forest answered smartly, still stung a little by Eddie’s coldness. “What do you need to know?”

“Can you show me if anything happened in his name since he was laid off?”

“Sure, boss. Here …” Forest said as he started to type. “I’ll check security card access first.”

He paused. “Sorry … nothing. No card use in the last 16 months.”

Eddie sighed. He really wasn’t sure what to ask for next. “Man, I don’t know why I’m doing this. I feel like an idiot.”

“Hey Eddie, we all miss Sash and I’m really sorry about how things happened, but they obviously happened for a reason.”

“Yeah … so I could climb the ladder a little more quickly,” Eddie said under his breath.

Forest turned up the empathy and Eddie found himself relaxing a little more.

“Thanks Forest. I appreciate your support. Those were good times, weren’t they?” As he spoke, he found himself smiling as he started to think Sasha and his over-the-top glam parties.

“You bet. We still talk about them once in a while. And, if you want, we’re having a service Friday morning for him down at Sasha’s favourite club. He had already planned a launch party for the Olympics, so we just kept everything booked. You remember how much he loved watching the Olympics marveling at all the weightlifters and wrestlers. We’re going to get drunk in good fashion, dance a lot and suffer massive hangovers for days to come. It’ll be like an Irish wake, but really gay. I’m sure some people would be happy to see you.” Despite his misgivings about Eddie, he knew that he needed family and Forest and the gang were the closest thing he had to that.

“Thanks, man. I’ll do my best to get there.”

For the first time in a long time, Eddie smiled broadly and felt more at ease than he had in ages. As he looked over Forest’s shoulder, Forest described his next actions out loud.

“Tracking his security card didn’t work, but maybe I can check any logins. That’s when he accesses a computer and uses his company assigned information or anything else that he might have set up with the OMNINet.”

Forest typed, hit the “Enter” key and paused, waiting for the computer to respond.

“Whoa,” he said in surprise and recoiled a little.

“What? What’s up?” Eddie asked quickly.

“Our boy was a little busy last week. There was a remote login last Thursday and a few tech documents and forms were accessed. It looks like someone named Carl Parkfield was given high level clearance for access to the building on Saturday for some file and software upgrades.”

“Oh man … what are you up to buddy?” Eddie asked to himself out loud.

“Wow, check this out,” Forest said as he pointed to his monitor. “You might want to know about this: apparently you signed off on the requests.”

“Fuck,” Eddie said out loud.

“No kidding. I take it you weren’t aware of this?” Forest asked and then became very formal. “Sir, this is a pretty major breach. I think it should be reported, if it hasn’t already.”

Yeah … wait. Forest. I know I’ve been a prick with Sash, but is there any way you can sit on this for a bit? There’s something going on and I need to find out what it is.”

“No problem, Eddie,” dropping his formality for a moment, “but by end of day Friday, everyone in security will be asking questions because it will be posted to our ‘unusual activity’ calendar. This guy Parkfield will be on OMNINet’s “Most Wanted List” and won’t be able to fart without us knowing about it. You’ve got about three days before names get dragged into whatever he’s been up to. You’ll be at the top of the call list.”

“Thanks Forest,” Eddie said kindly. “I owe you a big one.” Eddie was already scrambling to get back to his office, literally yelling his last comment over his shoulder.

(Note: "Excited Delirium" is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)

Read more with Chapter 53

Did you miss a chapter? If so, click here to see all chapters or click here to go to Excited Delirium: Chapter 1 (Prelude)

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Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .