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The Codex File - Chapter 2

Removing the competition

By Miles EthertonPublished 2 years ago 14 min read
The Codex File by Miles Etherton

The shadows were lengthening as the dark blue Mercedes ground to a halt alongside the deserted playground. Two men exited the car, following the path running round the edge of the play area. One wore a smart black suit, the other in dark combat trousers, a thin jumper and carrying a black holdall.

Swings creaked, rocking in the breeze as the men turned onto a narrow path running along the back of the houses on the small, quiet estate. Vincent Trevellion looked around him, ensuring no-one else was on the path. There was no-one. The only sound was the gentle crunching as their shoes trod down on the gravel.

The men strode up the quiet path while Trevellion counted the houses, making sure they reached the back of their intended location. Conservatory after conservatory loomed up over the tall fences, the wooden structures decorated with a mixture of trellises and climbing plants, all backing onto the path.

At the seventh house, Trevellion stopped counting. They’d reached their destination.

Above the fence, they could see the upstairs of a large mock Georgian house. A vast conservatory ran along the entire back of the building. In front of where they stood was the back gate of the garden, shrouded in ivy hanging down from the bricked arch above.

Trevellion watched as his stocky accomplice, John Kennedy, prised open his holdall. Kennedy handed him a pair of white rubber gloves before pulling his own pair over his large fingers. With no words spoken, the two men pulled on the gloves.

Kennedy returned to the holdall and slid out a well-used crowbar, a glance confirming they were still alone on the path. Confident the high fences obscured any view of their activities, he inserted the crowbar in between the gate and its wooden frame and leant his bulk against the tool. The lock creaked and buckled and gave way to his weight. Beyond the gate was a tidy, manicured garden. The vibrant mixture of flowers and shrubs subdued by the twilight.

Once inside, the gate was closed and a nearby shovel propped against it, hiding the evidence of their entrance. The two men stole up to the back door of the house, Kennedy still gripping the crowbar in his right hand. With the tool raised to the glass, Trevellion nodded as it punched a jagged hole through the glass above the door handle.

Kennedy returned the crowbar to the holdall and slid his hand through the hole in the glass, turning the key lodged in the lock.

A thin smile cracked Trevellion’s expression as they entered the empty house. They both knew the owner would be back soon.

Trevellion looked around the large galley-style kitchen until an item on the tiled wall opposite caught his eye.

“This should be very persuasive,” he said, lifting the meat cleaver from its hook on the wall and passing it to Kennedy.

The meat cleaver glinted from its newness. Trevellion smiled as he studied the sharpness of the edge while his assistant gripped it in his right hand. Eight inches of metal so sharp it could slice a wrist off in one vicious strike.

The kitchen sparkled from pristine clean work surfaces, a well-stocked wine rack with its excellent vintages, and shards of glass decorating the polished wooden floor from their forced entry.

Armed with the meat cleaver, the two men passed from the kitchen into the study, careful to avoid making unnecessary sounds. The room contained what they were expecting — a touchscreen computer, mounted at 45 degrees, and shelf upon shelf of paper files, computer disks, DVD-ROMs and flash drives. Almost a lifetime’s work of a man dedicated to developing computer technology. The location as tidy as the mind who had arranged it.

The bookcase along the adjacent wall was full of manuals on advanced programming techniques and the online world into the 21st century. A filing cabinet sat beside the bookcase, doubtless containing more technological secrets, Trevellion thought, his gloved hand stroking the top of the storage unit. Their briefing had been accurate. The contents of the room were just what they were expecting.

The sound of the 7 Series BMW pulling into the luxurious gravel drive filtered through to the two men, and Trevellion cast a glance at his watch. On time as usual, he thought, as the second hand moved on to 7.10pm.

Kennedy placed the meat cleaver down on top of the bookcase before slipping his hand into the pocket of his combat trousers. He pulled out a length of thin rope, about a metre long. The key turned in the front door turned and Kennedy wound the thin rope around his fingers. Just inside the doorway to the study, they both waited and listened.

With the front door opening, the sound of creaking hinges filled the quiet house. David Langley trudged into his darkening hallway, dropping his heavy briefcase onto the thick pile carpet with a dull thud.

A sickly odour of stale aftershave and a day’s sweat permeated the hallway. Langley tossed his keys onto the wooden table inside the door before closing it. A hoarse, asthmatic cough echoed in the hallway and he pausing for a second to catch his breath, reached into his pocket for his Ventolin inhaler. The heavy briefcase from the car had stirred up his asthma yet again.

Two pumps on the inhaler eased his breathing, and he looked down at his stomach. A mountain of flabby flesh hung over his waistband. A puddle of sweat stained his Yves Saint Laurent shirt where it clung to his skin. He knew he should lose weight, he thought, replacing his inhaler back in his jacket pocket.

Langley wiped the perspiration from his face and bent over to collect the post congregating on his doormat, and began gasping for breath again. The thin rope bit into his flesh and tightened around his windpipe. Duct tape wound round his head and over wide, fearful eyes as struggled from where Kennedy was restraining him.

“Oh my God, if it’s money you want I can get you money.” Langley’s voice rose in panic as he gasped for air, the rope constricting his windpipe further.

“Shut the fuck up, fat man,” Trevellion said.

His clenched fist smashed into the man’s right kidney. Through a stifled cry, Langley crumpled as his legs gave way beneath him. For a moment, he hung like a limp puppet; the rope cutting into his throat.

Kennedy’s grip loosened, and the man slumped to the floor. Motionless, his reddened face began turning blue.

“Great, where’s his fucking inhaler?” Trevellion asked, his polished shoe thudding into the man’s back.

Still with a grip on the rope, Kennedy rummaged through Langley’s suit pockets. His searching stopped as his fingers wrapped around the inhaler.

Kennedy yanked Langley into a sitting position before loosening his grip. The man’s face had turned to a darker blue as he fought for every precious breath. Trevellion shoved the inhaler between his quivering lips and pumped five rapid squirts into Langley’s mouth.

You’re not allowed to die yet, fat man.

The man spluttered for a few seconds before his colour returned.

“On your feet,” Trevellion said as Kennedy hauled Langley into a standing position.

“Look, what do you want?” he panted, sweat oozing from every pore.

“I’ll ask the questions.”

Bundled into his study, the assailants shoved the man into the swivel chair. For a moment, he sank into unconsciousness as Trevellion ripped a vicious blow across the side of his face with the outside of his fist.

Kennedy moved in and wound the silver duct tape around Langley’s ankles, fastening his chubby arms and wrists to the thick wooden armrests. The man’s fleshy fingers were next, each digit taped to the chair.

Trevellion stood close by, looking down at the fat, balding, middle-aged man before him. His face was bright red, sweat congregating in his furrowed brow. His stomach hung over his pressed trousers, rising and falling as his body shook.

“Look, who are you? What do you want from me?”

Trevellion didn’t reply. Instead, he walked to the bookcase, picking up the meat cleaver.

“I want access to ACE Solution’s records relating to the state network tender and everything that’s in your company’s R&D pipeline.”

Trevellion approached the chair, passing the meat cleaver to Kennedy.

“You must be bloody joking. I can’t give you that,” Langley said, eyes wide with shock. “I don’t even have access to all that data.”

As he finished his sentence, Trevellion lurched forward and brought his hand over the man’s mouth as Kennedy drove the meat cleaver down. Langley struggled in his chair as his little finger shot two feet in the air, blood gushing from the gaping wound.

Trevellion pulled his hand away as the man whimpered.

Langley felt the nausea well up inside him. The smell of his sweat and the metallic odour of his own blood filled his nostrils. His shirt drenched in perspiration as he writhed in vain against his restraints.

“Oh Jesus, oh fuck. I’m going to bleed to death. Oh God, no.”

Kennedy wound the thin rope back around Langley’s throat and tightened the grip.

“Don’t fuck with me, fat man. It’s only going to get worse if you don’t work with me.”

He paused, looking down at his polished shoes. The fat man’s wound had dripped blood onto the Italian leather. With the slightest shake of the head, he wiped his spattered shoes on Langley’s trousers.

“You listen to me. We know you’re the project manager for the state network tender at ACE Solutions. That means you have access to the project information and the R&D pipeline. Tell me where it’s stored and this will soon be over.”

“I can access some of our network through a secure VPN connection from my computer here. But I don’t have access here to everything,” the fat man lied.

The meat cleaver whistled again, slicing through the air, severing the man’s thumb at the knuckle. The sickening sound of metal ripping through flesh, tendons and bone drowned out by the fat man’s screams.

Trevellion leant in again, closing his hand over the man’s mouth.

“Well, you won’t be able to jerk off anymore with just three fingers. And if you don’t start talking, you won’t have anything to jerk off with because I’ll cut your dick off and fucking feed it to you.”

Trevellion removed his large hand from the man’s mouth and stood back to look at where the man bled.

“Alright, alright.” Langley’s words slowed by asthmatic gasps for breath. “All of our developmental state network and intranet projects are on a suite of secure remote servers. I can access all of it from my machine here. We don’t keep hard copy files at ACE Solutions. It’s not company policy. It’s part of our push to the paperless office and meeting the needs of the Freedom of Information Act.”

Sweat continued to pour down Langley’s reddened face. A thin smile crossed Trevellion’s.

Trevellion tapped the ‘On’ button of the elegant tablet computer. Within seconds, an array of software options filled the uncluttered desktop.

“Where am I going from your desktop? Via the VPN link?”

The man nodded and Trevellion noticed the duct tape across his eyes working itself loose from the continual sweat seeping from his pores.

With a gesture to his accomplice, Kennedy slapped a fresh piece tighter across the man’s eyes.

Trevellion slid his index finger across the glossy screen and tapped the VPN icon.

“User name and password?”

The fat man flinched, anticipating being maimed by the meat cleaver again.

“Er, ‘ace497#dl’ and ‘home794#fv’.”

Trevellion keyed in the details and the screen transitioned to display further options:

1. Connect to ACE Solutions Email services

2. Connect to ACE Solutions corporate LAN

Trevellion grinned, his narrowing eyes scanning the screen. Within moments of selecting the second option, the rapid VPN broadband link had connected to ACE Solutions LAN.

A fresh menu of user options appeared. In the screen’s corner the company’s logo, a defined sphere, rotated with a smooth motion. Six buttons ran along the bottom of the screen.

Trevellion glided his finger over ‘Advanced user options’ and pressed the screen.

His expectancy faded, and he sighed with annoyance, his lip curling as a further dialogue box popped up. A cursor flashed in the centre of the screen.

“What’s the PIN for Advanced user options?“

The fat man’s resistance left him as rapidly as his finger and thumb as he divulged the password. More waves of nausea swept through him as Trevellion entered the code.

Trevellion scanned the new on-screen options:

1. Upload information

2. Copy information

3. Help

The thin smile returned as he pressed for the second option.

‘Please specify the destination drive and directory’ a further dialogue box insisted.

Trevellion’s hand hovered over the on-screen keyboard. The fat man’s hand continued to ooze blood that dripped onto the dark blue carpet.

Trevellion retrieved the high-capacity flash drive in his jacket pocket and slid it into the USB port before turning back to Langley.

“How many files are there on your LAN?”, his gaze checking the time on the antique clock above the monitor.

Langley jumped a little, stirred from momentary unconsciousness.

“I don’t know, three or four terabytes, I suppose.” The asthmatic pauses for breath were growing.

Fuck it, Trevellion thought. It wouldn’t all fit on a single drive.

His focus returned to the screen, and he continued to type and watch the small red light on the flash drive flicker. Less than five minutes later, the technological secrets of ACE Solutions sat on his flash drive. The entire operation had been far too easy. And with a couple of finishing touches, everything would have gone to plan.

Aa second flash drive completed his data theft, and he slipped the usurped information into his suit pocket.

The screen in front of Trevellion had returned to its previous options. With a wry grin, he selected the ‘Upload information’ option.

As the FTP application opened on the screen, Trevellion again turned to the bound, fat man.

“OK, it’s almost over now,” he said almost soothingly. “I just need your FTP username and password for your company server.”

Langley replied, the words slow and laboured, a stream of sticky sweat sliding between his swollen lips.

Trevellion typed on the command line, a slight grin crossing his lips as he accessed the heart of the system. And the area where they would wreak most long-term havoc.

Now he’d confirmed Langley’s login details were authentic, he’d pass the details on to his technical specialists. From there, it wouldn’t take them long to wipe the server clean of all its data and render it unusable. With their skills, no-one would ever retrieve the lost information. And with all the ACE Technologies’ backups being destroyed in a further covert operation, it would put the company’s R&D pipeline back years. Just as they’d planned.

From his jacket pocket, he pulled out a fresh flash drive, inserting it into the USB port. The irrevocable formatting and scrambling of the hard disk with a virus would suffice for Langley’s own computer, he thought as the drive flashed up an option on the screen.

One of his team had developed a destructive virus that ensured no-one would ever retrieve any data from this machine, no matter how technologically gifted they were.

After clicking the ‘Run’ option on the screen, the storage device whirred as his program disassembled the hard disk.

Trevellion rose from his seat, reached into Kennedy’s holdall, and pulled out an aerosol paint can. In less than a minute, jagged, black words daubed the wall.

‘Fuck the Net. Reclaim the World’

His stocky colleague grinned as he stood close behind his prisoner, poised to strike if required. Trevellion looked down at the bound, fat man who was shaking in his chair.

Langley sensed the strangers’ attention had returned to him.

“Please don’t kill me.” Tears ran down his reddened cheeks as he heard the meat cleaver slide across the surface of his desk. “Why are you doing this? What do I have that you want?”

Trevellion thought for a moment as he studied the bloodied, sweaty man.

“A piece of the future.”

Kennedy slapped another piece of duct tape over Langley’s swollen lips. Trevellion smiled as his colleague raised his right arm.

The meat cleaver tore through the fat man’s left wrist, severing the hand. Langley’s arm shot free, flapping about, arterial spray staining the carpet. The severed hand remained attached to the armrest, the duct tape keeping it in place.

Langley howled in muffled pain as his lips split as he fought the duct tape.

Trevellion watched motionless, careful to stay out of the arcing arterial spray as the fat man’s restrained body thrashed about in the chair.

One more glint of the cleaver severed Langley’s other with equal clinical precision.

How long does it take a man to bleed to death?

He watched as Kennedy also stepped back from the dying man, the widening pool of blood spreading further across the carpet.

By the time he collected the flash drive from the computer, Langley had stopped bucking in his chair. Unconsciousness had taken over.

Trevellion grinned. What a pleasant neighbourhood this was.


About the Creator

Miles Etherton

Author/activist — writes on politics, equality, racism, social justice, social media, marketing, writing, sports and more —

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