Three data files. The future on my internship at Exude was reliant on retrieving three data files from Jessica’s computer. Between what Evelyn Bellamy has told me and my own detective work, I’ve determined that Exude Inc. is much larger than it appears. It’s really one small piece among many others, not all of which pertain to fashion. This discovery explains why the office building is huge while Exude only occupies a few floors. Evelyn Bellamy must not have access to certain files because she only directs the styling department. I did wonder why she needed files on Jessica’s computer specifically or how she even knew they would be there, but I figured it was better to ask less questions while completely my mission.
The problem with Jessica is that one, she almost never left her desk, and two, her office was right near the entrance meaning someone would definitely see me. The only comfort I had was knowing Evelyn had connections in the security room and was going to make sure any footage capturing me on Jessica’s computer was lost. But despite that, getting these files felt impossible. I was sure somebody would see me. The worst part was the one-week deadline Evelyn gave me. I had to act quickly meaning I have a greater chance of making a sloppy mistake. “Data theft prison time” I googled on my phone.
“What are you up to?” Gen startled me. I jumped.
“Jesus Gen,” I said, “don’t sneak up on me like that.”
“What’s up with you?” Gen asked.
“Besides being stuck in a boring job and not having an outfit for the August White Party?” I replied.
“Is that why you’ve been so distant and jumpy? Also, ugh, I can’t believe you’re going to that stupid theme party” she replied.
I rolled my eyes, “I have a lot on my mind, and it’s my first time being invited. It’s a big deal. Everyone who matters in socialite society will be there.”
“Still lame,” she sat down in her chair and turned back to her computer screen.
As soon as she turned away I immersed myself back into my scheming. I’d already observed that Jessica generally eats lunch at her desk, rarely goes to bathroom, and usually has employees come to her rather than walk over to their desks. In this moment I almost wished she was still trashing Gen’s lunch. If I had figured it out first then I could’ve tipped Gen off and hopped on the computer while they were having a confrontation.
“Hey Gen?” I said.
“Yeah Mass?” she replied.
“What ever happened with the Jessica-lunch thing? I noticed she’s been laying off us lately,” I asked.
“Oh,” she snorted, “it was hilarious. I presented it in the middle of our big family dinner and embarrassed the crap out of her in front of my grandparents. They were so ashamed.”
“Ouch, cruel,” I replied.
“I don’t fuck around,” she replied.
With that once again we returned to our work. And once again, I couldn’t focus. I had to figure out a plan and fast. Another thing to consider was password protection. I didn’t know Jessica’s password and I wouldn’t put it past her to lock her computer everything she gets off it. Whatever the plan it needs to push her away from the computer unexpectedly. Perhaps an emergency of some sort.
And then it came to me: an oppertunity to remove not just Jessica but everyone, significantly reducing the risk of being seen.
Today was the day. I was sporting patent leather flats, a cheap LBD, a larger canvas boho bag, fashion gloves, and third day hair. I looked somewhat of a fashion faux pas. In other words, I didn’t care what happened to my outfit, or more specifically I didn’t care that I was going to get all wet. I had mapped out my exit strategy, practiced file searching on my computer’s database, and bough a plastic watch to keep my eye on the time. Around ten o’clock I took my ten-minute break, rushing into the fax room. Unlike the supply closet, there was no camera around the copier and fax machines. That was one less piece of evidence Evelyn had to erase. Waiting a minute to see if anybody would show up, I pulled a chair under the sprinkler and promptly hopped on top. After securing my balance, I removed a lighter from bag, flicked it on, and held it as close to the sprinkler as possible.
It was no use, I was too far away. Thinking quickly I opened my bag again, tore out some mini-notepad papers, rolled them up, and promptly set them on fire. Holding it by the edge as to not burn myself I saw the smoke rise up to the sprinklers. I had no idea whether or not this would cause all the office sprinklers to go off or just this area of the office, but it was a risk I had to take. If I had just pulled the fire alarm I knew that Jessica would have time to lock her computer, but I figured she was rather opposed to getting wet. It paid off. Before I knew it the sprinklers and fire alarm sounded, extinguishing the papers in my hand. Of course, it also meant that I was immediately soaked in water.
I could hear the uproar in the office and everyone shuffled out. Hiding behind the corner, I watched as people shuffled out of the office quickly, nearly bumping into one another.
I snuck closer the Jessica’s desk, hiding behind cubicle walls and peering around corners until I was sure everyone was gone.
I approached Jessica’s desk cautiously making sure nobody was in view. I had to act quickly. Water and electricity don’t mix well. Digging into my bag I whipped out a rain poncho, hopped into Jessica’s chair, and placed the poncho over the monitor. The consul was under the desk so it was already protected. Sure enough, Jessica had left the computer unlocked.
I inserted the flash drive Evelyn gave me. With the clock ticking and my adrenaline pumping I searched through the database as fast as my fingers would let me type.
Minute five. I was running out of time.
The search yielded no results and I was getting anxious. I had just seconds to figure it all out.
I got it! It wasn’t the data entry database, but a larger database that Jessica had access too. Search. Loading. Bingo. I found an entire folder with files, only three of which Evelyn wanted, but I copied the whole thing onto the flash drive.
Complete. Words cannot describe how quickly I bolted out that office. The fire alarm were blaring through the entire building. As I reached the stairwell I saw many people were evacuating. I exited the building as quickly as possible into the parking lot, distanced myself from the crowd of people, and hid behind a Cadillac Escalade.
“It’s done. I exited from the copy room and through the office. I also headed to the south stairwell and exited from there.” I texted Evelyn Bellamy. I was still in awe I had one of her personal numbers.
Just as I sent that text I received another from Gen:
And that’s what I did, trying not to draw too much attention to myself. I could hear the commotion and the fire engines pulling into the parking lot. I went back to the back end of the crowd, sat down on a curb, and tried to calm myself.
What if I accidentally got the wrong files? What if I was seen after all? I couldn’t say I was full of regrets because I wasn’t. I wanted a real internship badly. I was, however, full of fear. If I showed up to Evelyn with the wrong files by some chance I risked looking a total moron. If I was caught I risked losing everything. The promised internship and my credibility as an employee would vanish. It would be impossible for me to get a job in the styling industry and maybe even the fashion industry. Now, of course the fashion industry is large but I’d always be looking over my shoulder hoping my skeletons are not thrust out of the closet. Who knows how many jobs I wouldn’t be able to get or how many people would fire me if they knew. As much as I wanted to dwell I could see Gen approaching me so I had to push down the thoughts as to not arouse suspicion.
“There you are!” she said.
“Here I am,” I replied.
She gave me the up and down with her eyes, “your hair is wrecked.”
“Yeah, I was in the bathroom when the alarm went off and the stupid door was stuck for a minute so I got drenched.”
“Why didn’t you text me! What if there was an actual fire?” she berated me. I ignored it.
“You mean there’s no actual fire?” I asked.
“Doesn’t appear to be. Of course they have to search the building thoroughly and nobody can go back inside until it’s clear. Wanna go to Starbucks?”
“Sure,” I said, “what about Jessica?”
“Mass, do you really think we’re the only ones ditching? Besides, I’m going to come back later and grab some things from my desk when we’re allowed back in. If Jessica is even still here then I’ll take care of her.”
I half-smiled and nodded, “let’s go then.”
As I stood up Gen gave me a weird face.
“What?” I said.
“Somethings different about you,” she replied, “hmmm…”
“Well I am semi-drenched,” I replied.
“No…ah! You’re shorter. No heels.”
“Yeah..” I replied, “well, gotta give my feet a rest every now and then.”
“Ha!” she giggled, “you’re so lucky. All those bitches from Exude were running down the stairs gripping the railing for their lives.”
“Must be my superior intuition,” I joked.
With that, we slipped away from the crowd and hopped into Gen’s Mercedes-Benz. I was somewhat relieved to get away from the building and surround myself with a calm cafe atmosphere and some overpriced coffee. All I could do now is wait, hope, and pray.
My Word is my Bond,
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