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Monday, 15 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 33: Moved Downstairs

The World Health Organisation contact centre looked just like any helpdesk or call centre. The sprawling open plan office housed a team of one hundred and fifty staff, whose job it was to answer the phones to agents in the field, coordinate resources between the World Health Organisation and their suppliers and monitor essential systems for faults and abnormalities.

For two years systems monitoring had been the sole assignment for just one man. He used to work in the Operations team on the floor above, coordinating members of the Black Ops team who were infiltrating hostile territories. Two years ago, he was found to be aiding an operative who was working outside of her jurisdiction and was moved downstairs quicker than he could say ‘disciplinary action’.

His name was Will Harris.

Will had been coerced by the senior agent Becky Clarkson, and the transcripts of their conversations proved it. For this reason, he hadn’t been fired. No matter how much he didn’t want to continue working there, he knew he couldn’t leave. He had known a few members of staff who got fired but after they were escorted from the building, no one had never heard from them again.

Not a day went by that he didn’t think about Becky. Once he had been removed from his desk, she had apparently only maintained radio contact for a matter of minutes before going dark. No one had heard from her since. Her name was still on the top of the white board at the end of the office, along with a printed photograph of her and a message written in board marker that had faded in the last two years.

Wanted: Becky Clarkson. If you see her, call this number immediately…

That was such a long time ago. He doubted she would ever be found.

Now he was happy to sit at his desk and watch his systems monitoring screens. All day long, he was faced with screens of scrolling green messages, confirming that servers were up and running and file system sizes were within expected thresholds. If a check failed, the green message would change to red and he would log onto that system to sort the problem out, but that hardly ever happened and he knew exactly what to do in every situation whenever there was a fault to fix.

Everyone kept out of Will’s way and while he felt lonely in his job from time to time, that was pretty much how he liked it. The usual career path was to serve your time at the contact centre then move upstairs if you showed your superiors you were trustworthy. No one ever moved back downstairs.

Except Will, and they were all too worried about being associated with him to get too close.

Will walked over from the kitchen at the end of the office with a mug of coffee and threw his bag under his desk. He had long since stopped asking his so-called team mates if they wanted to join him. For some reason they all needed a break from the almost permanent flow of caffeine as soon as he announced he was thirsty so he went directly to the kitchen as soon as his shift started and ignored his colleagues the same way they ignored him.

Will sat down and logged onto his computer to see a red alert scrolling through the monitoring system. He turned round and asked no one in particular ‘Hey, is anyone dealing with this alert?’

No one in particular answered.

I take it that’s a no,’ he said and clicked his mouse on the alert message to get the details. The file system sizes on the storage manager were analysed at midnight every night and alert thresholds were set for the next day. The idea was that nothing should be deleted without prior approval and if the size of the file system dropped below the threshold, Will found out about it.

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 43.2% full

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 42.9% full

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 42.6% full

Will stood up and shouted down the office. ‘Hey, listen up! Someone’s deleting a shit load of data from the storage manager! Anyone know anything about it?’

His question was followed by the silent shaking of heads.

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 40.8% full

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 40.5% full

Without sitting down, Will picked up the phone and hit speed dial number one.


Hi, it’s Will.’

Will, what do you want?’ It was Jodi, the manager of the team upstairs and Will’s old boss.

I’ve got a problem I need you to look at.’

Look Will, this better not be another…’

Look, trust me, this is a real problem. Someone’s deleting a load of data from the Mantek file system on the storage manager. It’s just gone under forty percent.’

It’s not someone down there compressing the file system is it?’

No, of course not.’

Okay, leave it with me.’

Okay, but this alert will be going off all day so let me know what happens.’

There was no reply to his last comment and Jodi hung up, leaving Will thinking that would be the last he would hear about it.

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