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Please Reset your Password

A Short Story

By Matthew FrommPublished about a year ago 10 min read
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By A.I.Dox

Please reset your password

“You fucking kidding me?” Miles swore under his breath and punched in his old password with a one tagged to the end.

“You get your coffee yet Miles?”

Not enough Brad, not enough. “Hey Brad, got her right here. You have to reset when you logged on?”

“Happened to check last night and got the prompt. Weird. They say updates were coming down?”

Like they’d tell us if there were. God forbid compliance actually check with the IT people. He pushed his glasses up his nose, “I didn’t see anything. Can you chase it up the chain?”

“Would you mind? I have a full slate of meetings. They want me to talk through those upgrades…again.”

Bastard. “I’ll see what I can do, might slip to tomorrow. I still have to do that training too.”

“Damn same. Few months behind on that I think. What’s the worst that’s going to happen?”

Ohh I don’t know idiot, there’s absolutely nothing that could go wrong in this place.

Much to Miles's joy, Brad disappeared into his dull gray cubicle. A chorus of instant message notifications flowed over the padded wall.

“Man long queue already?”

Miles closed his eyes and lowered the coffee cup hovering a millimeter away from his lips, “yeah looks like everyone got that same message.” Maybe if you got in early for once…

He dropped the angst. It wouldn’t be productive, and he wasn’t wrong, the queue was ridiculous. Luckily, he had a nice list of Cardinals pods to help get him through–the only perk of playing on Monday. Tuesdays were always the worst. Always. Everyone ignored their computer grievances on Monday, then saddled Miles with them on Tuesday. Without fail.

A red-flagged incident popped into the top of his queue:

Urgent: Password reset - VP.

Always urgent with these guys…

“You got that urgent one?” Brad said over the barrier. “I’ve got to head into the safe containment for these meetings. Hate crossing over there.”

“Yupp on it.” God forbid you grab it. Miles was surprised his colleague had not already disappeared to the bathroom, or the breakroom, or both. Crossing that line was always enough to send the sweat down your back though so he decided he’d cut Brad a break this morning. “And hey think about it this way. If it really hits the fan, no different over there than here.”

“That’s pretty sick man. I try not to think about that.”

Miles shrugged, “Hey it’s the truth. We’re fine anyway–redundancy generators on redundancy generators and all that.” At least that’s what he told his mother when she asked. They already had one incident of someone trying to bring a bomb in and they handled it flawlessly, though getting home late after they had to await the all clear and finding his dog Meeko had wrecked the apartment sucked. Miles worried way more about paying the rent than he did someone barging their way in here and doing some damage.

“I guess you’re right on that one,” Brad said and made his way across the scratchy gray floor, toward the bathrooms.

Classic. Truth be told, Miles didn’t mind his colleague. He generally was not the most social of butterflies. But even for him, it got lonely back here amongst the blinking server lights when Brad went off to his meetings, and they were meetings they needed. Both of them had been on their hands and knees asking for these upgrades for months now. The fact that the uppers went ahead and made some changes without them it seemed made it all the worse. The suits would bob their heads along as they talked, tell them they appreciated the feedback and how they took things “very seriously”, and then send along a note about how the margins this quarter were below the benchmark and that it’ll have to wait till next quarter.

“But who cares about the drones?” He said to himself as he opened up the VPs ticket–it had come from his Gmail.

Urgent: Password reset - VP

Guys, need this fixed ASAP. Have to get some urgent billing info over to the senator.

Miles typed away until he was remoting into the VPs workstation. Not even a thank you, ridiculous.

The prompt box flashed before him on the remote terminal. Please reset your password.

How do these idiots get paid the big bucks? He flipped back to his documentation, and in under five minutes was typing back his response.

Issue resolved, please let me know if you have any other issues!

His mug sat empty. Well, one ticket calls for a refill right? Miles glanced down at his watch and shook his head at its lack of progress toward five PM. He had a degree in Computer Science and every certificate under the sun in InfoSec, yet here he was fixing password resets. He shoot his head.

Brad was nowhere to be found and the creamer sitting front and center in the breakroom fridge was four days expired. At least the coffee was hot. The lines of server racks blinked at him behind their glass prisons as he made his way back to the dull gray cubicle he called home.

The login screen greeted him back at his desk.

Please reset your password

He frowned and plugged in the one he put in this morning. The dialogue box disappeared and the queue replaced it.

The first podcast and the next seven tickets flew by. He was onto the second one when he saw the telltale shadow on the ceiling of the steel blast doors to the containment area opening.

“Back already?” He took his headphones off and said over the wall.

“This morning was the easy one. All the big ones are in the afternoon. Hey, what the hell?”

“What’s up?”

“You get the password prompt again?”

“Yeah–mine took just fine.”

“Weird. Let me see if I can shoot vendor support a ticket. Ahh shit–Hello?” Brad said, picking up his phone on the first ring.

Miles went onto the next ticket, mindlessly helping another one of their colleagues who couldn’t follow the simplest of instructions.

“Uhh huh, yup. Yes. Yes. Well of course but–uh huh. Okay, I’ll be right over.” Brad slammed the receiver down and headed back toward the door mumbling under his breath.

Looks like you’re all mine, he thought with a glance toward the queue. The world needs more coffee in it. He had better things to do than sit around and fix things that the users should have been able to do on their own. Shit, all they needed was an intern to fix half these problems. Another of the many recommendations that were shot down by the suits.

Please reset your password

The dialogue box was waiting for him when he returned with a fresh cup. Miles punched in the password again as he put on his headset. He clicked on the next ticket and checked his phone while it loaded.

Please reset your password

The dialogue box flashed at him again instead of the next ticket. What the…?

A few keyboard strokes followed and he clicked enter again.

Please reset your password

Please reset your password

Please reset your password

The dialogue boxes cascaded across all three of his three screens.

Please reset your password

Please reset your password

Please reset your password

They flowed until they filled up every inch of his monitors and then…black.

“What the fuck!”

The lights above cut to black. He pushed himself back from the desk and hit his head on the cushioned cubicle wall.

Alarms sounded in the distance, past the doors to the safe containment area. Loud, shrill bursts that all the training videos said were the ones you did not want to hear.

Red emergency lights tripped on throughout the office, illuminating the way to the exits.

Miles turned his gaze back to the screen in horror. It flickered on of its own accord.

The message flashed before him on a mockery of the dialogue box.

You should have reset your passwords. Please don’t have a…meltdown :)

Ohh shit.

His coffee cup smashed to the floor and he tripped over the leg of his chair trying to escape his cubicle. The ceramic fragment cutting into his side was the least of his problems—he needed to get out of here. Now. He had warned them that this was a possibility. He had warned them.

I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. The backups are on. They’ll wind her down slowly. Keep her cool. I’ll be fine. Just follow the emergency lights. All he had to do was make the minimum safe distance.

The rest of the fragments of his Palo Verde Generating Station mug bounced against the glass as he scrambled into the server hallway. The endless racks of normally winking green lights all lay in darkness.

The hallway was bathed in pitch blackness with the exception of the emergency lights. Miles felt his way through the halls while his other hand fumbled for his cell phone. He dropped it once, getting onto his hands and knees to pick it up off the scratchy gray floor. The backups are still working, they’ll keep her cool.

The warning sirens went silent.

Uhh ohh.

Miles paused, straining his ears. Maybe it’s an all-clear. He glanced up to the blackened ceiling, praying that the lights were about to spring back on. Maybe it’s just a drill.

The emergency lights went out.

Shit.

Miles had never been out of shape, but he screamed at himself for all the turkey trots he had turned down. The tiny halo of light from his phone bounced along the maze of glass and drywall as he sprinted as fast as his legs could take him. He hadn’t even made it to the breakroom when the Geiger counters started. Within seconds, the battery-operated monitors clicked in a steady rhythm.

Miles gazed into the depths of the shadows. Darkness seemed to swirl around him, although he knew it to be nothing more than fear. The demon now chasing him was one that could not be seen, but would taste like metal once it ensnared him. Or so he was told.

Fuck.

The flashlight on his cell phone flashed and flickered until it went out. Already Miles could feel the fatigue course through him, the telltale sign of the ionizing radiation seeping through every inch of the building from the heart of the station. He always told his mom not to worry about him working here. That nothing could go wrong.

I’m still okay, just need to get out of here. At least I’ll be alive. We’ll take care of the rest of it later.

The massive steel doors lay before him.

Fucking shit.

The blast doors were sealed. Of course they were. Because that was the procedure. Because no one could have anticipated this threat. Because that’s what they kept telling Miles. He scratched at the door feabily. Without power, no one was going to get these open, but his frying brain told his hands to try.

Who’s going to let Meeko out? He collapsed to the ground. The world around him turned to black. The last sound Miles heard, was the unyielding shriek from the Geiger counters.

Short StorySci FiHorror
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About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

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