Apr. 25th, 2017

drewkitty: (Default)
FICTION

Globall War of Terror: 5150 Post SF

After a long day of planning, schedules, unscrewing the latest screwups by my people and our clients, and attempting to find a way forward through the postapocalyptic madness, I find it restful to take an hour and actually do the job.

Besides, watching people scurry like mice as I walk through the halls like a slightly underfed tomcat is fun.

So I walk off dinner -- a pepper flavored pasta with unidentifiable bits of alleged protein floating in a thin oil based gravy, with occasional leaves -- by going from door to door, trying door handles.

We require that company offices be locked after hours. This requirement is especially important because we do allow visitors and guests during normal business hours, and (if someone is able to pay) dinner.

Another sign of apocalypse: people are happy and pleased to have the privilege of paying $25 a plate for this goop, which would have been sent back to the kitchen with great prejudice before San Francisco had her coming out party in a burst of thermonuclear plasma.

So far I have resisted the pleas to open a bar. The speakeasy in the perimeter compound that I officially don't know about, serving the distilled brake fluid Buddy makes with the still I don't know about (and the bartender has tested by the infirmary for safety, which I also don't know about) will have to serve for now.

I have also turned a carefully blind eye to those employees who sleep in their offices, and more than sleep. So I fail to hear the two toned low moaning in the janitor's closet, after a moment's listening to make sure it is at least deniably consensual.

I go from door to door, checking locks. Locked, locked, locked. Not locked. I listen for a moment. A low regular buzz. I slowly, carefully open the door and see a passed out developer slumped over his desk. Unconscious and ... I look carefully ... breathing. Well, snoring. Probably exhaustion, but he's going to have a stiff neck if he sleeps like that.

So I reluctantly knock on the door. "Excuse me, sir?"

He groans, flinches, opens his eyes and sits bolt upright in a panic. "Not asleep!" he gasps.

"Badge check, sir." I relent slightly. "It's after five, you're good."

He shows me his badge; it matches the plate on the door. Then he carefully stumbles towards the door, in search of whatever weak warm tinged fluid we are presently serving in place of coffee or tea.

He has code to finish. Code wins wars. It is also the only reason we are all still here, getting fed and paid and shielded from the angry hungry masses.

I hand him his keys before he locks himself out of his office, and make sure he is actually able to keep his feet before continuing my patrol.

This really is a customer service business. I will keep telling myself that for as long as I have to. Even if the customer being serviced resembles a pop up target on the 50 meter line.

Two floors of hundreds of coder, developer and software engineer offices later, and all but two locked -- I lock those, noting their locations on a small slip of paper for a nasty E-mail to their boss, their bosses's boss, my boss (who is their great grand boss) and all the little bosslings -- I have only two floors to go.

I am in the Support Services area. All the miscellaneous folks who don't fit either the paradigm or the org chart accumulate here. Security should have an office here, but we don't. Not anymore. Our job is now a lot more tactical than that, and kind of like combat engineers, our burrows are conveniently placed so that we are the first to die.

The infirmary is located adjacent to the former loading dock. This is partly left over design from the days in which there were ambulances who answered 911 calls and partly convenience in rebuilding - the old security offices were renovated by a satchel charge, you see. C.f. "first to die" above. Well, I felt, then heard, then saw. Then raged.

Our doctors have their offices (and their carefully locked medical files, no longer maintained by HR) immediately adjacent. I'd rather have them saving lives doing doctor stuff than going back and forth down the less than completely secured halls.

There is only one set of medical HR files in this wing: Psychological Services. I have keys to almost everything, and fully authorized access to all the other keys. I listen for a moment and hear nothing. The "IN/OUT" sign is flipped to "OUT." So I key into the outer office of our clinical psychologist, intending to check that the standing file safe containing her records is properly locked.

The bottom drops out of my stomach, my mouth goes paper dry and my traitorously shaky hands drop the key ring, allowing them to jangle against the face of the door. Hundreds of hours of training forces me to open my mouth slightly and take a silent but enormous breath as my right hand drops instantly to the retention strap on my holster, working it free as my thumb and forefinger tighten on the backstrap.

My eyes widen as my legs pile drive my body through the door and my hands come up as my torso goes into a flying tackle head first.

My right hand has departed company with my still holstered handgun. I briefly take flight as (generously) two hundred fifty pounds of terrified security manager collides with less than half that of seated clinical psychologist.

My entire focus, the entire reason for my continued existence - which is now dangerously in question, to my mortal peril and hers - is the Armscor clone of the Colt .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol that she had been holding in her right hand, against her right temple, held tightly enough to make her hand turn unnaturally white.

Tightly enough to disengage the grip safety?

Time sped up, as it does when you are fighting for your last seconds of it, and I found myself sprawled over her in a parody of a romantic embrace, a threesome with her overturned chair that she still occupied.

It was only with great difficulty that I kept myself from smashing my head into hers in a desperate stunning move. I only made the attempt because I had successfully stripped the firearm from her hands through sheer surprise and shock, and tossed it behind me with little regard for angles.

Grip safety. But Colt .45s were prone to negligent discharges if dropped with a round in battery. It kind of evened out.

The muffled thump of the handgun hitting the carpet was louder if anything than the gunshot I expected.

I was already halfway to gaining control, so I kept the initiative. A busy minute later she was once again seated in her righted chair, hands flat on her freshly cleared desk, with me sitting on said desk an arm's length away - my handgun on the far side of my body from her, retention strap restored. In the interim between sweeping her papers off her desk and briefly but vigorously frisking her well enough to count as second base, I switched the door sign to "IN" and closed the door without locking it.

"Keep your hands on the desk, Doctor," I repeated. She nodded her acknowledgement.

I hadn't searched her _desk_ drawers.

I had dealt with the immediate tactical problem. But according to the Standard Operating Procedure I had written, I should now call for backup (both Security and Medical), secure her to a gurney or backboard or wheelchair or (in a pinch) high backed office chair, and page the duty psychologist ... our only psychologist ... her ... to conduct a clinical assessment of whether she was presently a danger to herself or others. Welfare and Institutions Code Five One Five Zero of California state law. "5150"

I decided to skip all that part. The answer was obvious.

This was a bit of a switch.

In interviewing (which is the bread and butter of Security) and interrogation (which is not supposed to be part of Security, for values of not apocalypse), allowing silence to stretch out can be a valuable technique.

This was neither.

"Have you had dinner?" I asked instead.

She mutely shook her head.

"Let's go have dinner. I am afraid I really must insist."

Aping gentlemanly manners, I offered her my left arm so that she would have to occupy her right hand holding my elbow. My right arm and hand were free to keep control of my firearm.

She could probably grab my pepper spray. I would let her, call for backup, and this time apply handcuffs pending Medical, securing her to a backboard, gurney ad nauseum...

Just as so, we made it to the cafeteria just as they were starting to lock up.

The cafe manager started to shake his head, saw the look in my eye and immediately grandly opened the door for us, then led us to a table in the far corner that was rarely used unless the cafeteria was completely full, or I sat there.

My eyes reluctantly acknowledged the plaster patches on the facing wall, the most visible evidence of why.

"Two dinners, sir, right away."

She sat down carefully in her appointed spot and still didn't speak.

They were served with forks, knives and spoons. I discarded the fork and knife from my tray and traded trays with her.

This caught the server's attention, and taking advantage of the invisibility of service workers, promptly excused herself to the kitchen. I could see through the service window her frantic gestures at her boss, and his swift departure from my tiny line of sight.

I took a bite left handed. Unconsciously prompted -- in neurolinguistic programming ("NLP") we call it mirroring -- she also took a bite.

My radio broke squelch.

"Echo 18, Control, status check."

I put down the fork, keyed up with my left hand on the hand mike dangling from my left shoulder lapel (which is as awkward as it sounds), and said, "Status normal."

"Norm..." a rising tone started to say, there was a brief pause, and the duty supervisor interrupted the dispatcher and coolly replied, "Copy status normal."

Neither of us said the words "Over" or "Out" because neither of us was done talking, although I let go of the mike and resumed eating.

The psychologist ate like an automation, with the occasional interspersed drink of water.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw three of my people - CS or Contractor Security - take trays to tables where they could with lidded eyes indirectly but fervently watch us like hawks. One had a slung rifle, which we generally avoided indoors, and another wore a pair of Tasers like Wild West handguns, quick draw style.

Message received and understood clearly. Good.

One of their radios squawked and before they turned it down, I heard "...gency traffic only on Dispa..."

I picked at my food, normally a cardinal sin given the enormous effort required to gather and prepare it, but I needed my head as clear as possible.

It didn't help.

This was far, far outside my skill set.

So I punted and keyed the mike.

"Echo 18 to David 8, respond Code 2 to cafeteria."

Perhaps madness would have something useful to say to madness.

Because a crazy psychologist is much more dangerous than a merely active shooter.

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