|Photo courtesy Ashwin Rao|
He stood in the chill silence staring at the switch plate on the wall. Two of the three innocuous-looking toggles had already been shifted to the on position with only the third remaining inactive. His hand clenched tightly to his radio, he wanted nothing more than to hear something…anything from his security staff before he would be forced into act.
His gaze flickered to the digital readout mounted opposite the plate, showing less than three minutes remained. Those bid fair to be the longest and most agonizing minutes of his life.
To pass the time he contemplated the absurdity of whoever had deemed this arrangement an acceptable self-destruct mechanism. In all fairness, it was located in the building’s sub-basement behind a locked solid-steel door that only he and the Center Supervisor had access to. Nevertheless, given the seriousness and the implications of the center’s activities, he would have expected something more…sinister. His expectations might have been grounded in his lifelong career in the security field or, more likely, be based on his guilty pleasure of reading dime store adventure novels.
Down to two minutes on the counter, he had yet to receive the all clear and he felt that to be rather unfortunate. This was to be his final, cake-walk assignment with Vigilant Securities Inc. before he turned in his badge and spent the remainder of his days fishing and drinking beer in Cabo. That he was, instead, very likely to end his days in the withering fury of a thermite implosion seemed far less attractive.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t understand the client’s wishes their data remain absolutely secure. He did. What bothered him was he couldn’t pinpoint when human interaction had become so repugnant that all commerce now took place electronically, via centers just such as this. Computer networks and databases could be securely locked down but physical theft of customer lists, buying trends and product offerings could still be stolen by determined competitors. It appeared increasingly likely he would die today to prevent that violation from happening.
This story was written for the new Flash Frenzy flash fiction writing challenge photo prompt.