She stroked her fingers down the scroll pad of her laptop, changing the page of the current profile she was reading through. She knew none of the files would just blatantly say: ‘patient hears in colour; requires further tests,’ but there should be symptoms that would be indicative of an abnormal spectrum of hearing. For instance, the profile she was currently reading was of a Caucasian gentleman in his 40s who has lived in the city all his life. On the surface, he seemed normal enough, just another citizen, but a year and four months ago he travelled, the first and only time in his life, out of the country to China. Maybe it was for a business trip or a sudden midlife crisis to travel somewhere different? No, because further research done by one of her underlings, unearthed a medical file that indicated details of a unique procedure that actually purposely muffles one’s hearing. This patient had no prior records of having violent headaches or chronic migraines that would normally be a precursor to prompt such a surgery. So why have it done? Perhaps because he employed another medium in which to hear, or it was an attempt to stifle a form of hearing he could nether cope with or come to understand? Considering he sought no further action since his visit to China, even if he was the subject she was looking for, he would ultimately prove to be useless. But, she still copied his name to a short list of individuals who she would discretely question.
This man was only the beginning of a massive list of people who had displayed odd behavior or requested medical testing for potential hearing issues. Mave knew it was too early to eliminate too many candidates, so she had to resort to creating further lists with different priority levels. Once her subordinates completed their own sorting of subjects, they could begin questioning those she placed as low priority with generalized questions that would keep all in the dark, except herself. It went without saying that each interview would have to be recorded so she could watch for body language and look for cues of anxiety or lying. Considerably adding to her already immense workload, she had yet to decide if she could trust her workers to this task as well or not.
Sighing, she massaged her temples and wished there were two of her. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind of everything clouding it. Her mind began to wander, and she began to fall asleep-
“Mave? What are you still doing here? It’s morning, people are already coming back into work,” a voice, loud are being surrounded in dead silence for hours, spoke to her from her officer door. Startled awake, her hand instinctively reached for the lid of her laptop and slammed it shut from any prying eyes. “Whoa Mave, didn’t mean to frighten you… I was going to drop my things and grab a coffee, do you want one too?”
Mave caught her breath and rubbed the sleep from her blurred vision, straining to recognize the person speaking to her. It was Kayden, the associate who occupied the adjacent office next to hers. She was never quite clear what his position in the institution was, and never once cared enough to ask for him to clarify the mystery. Considering her current state of exhaustion, she decided to acknowledge him, “sure, black.” She began straightening the pieces of hair that had escaped her hairpins during her short nap.
Kayden smirked, “yes ma’am, on its way.” He disappeared from the doorway within moments of responding to her.
She guessed he has nothing better to do than go on coffee runs for other associates that he barely knew and barely knew that he existed on the building floor. She could use the caffeine though to help keep herself alert. Her plan was to stay until lunch, make sure those around her sa her working, so when she didn’t return afterwards, they wouldn’t assume she came in only to leave. Nearly everyone made it a habit of minding their own business on a regular basis but just as many would jump at the opportunity of making their coworkers appear more ineffective than they were. They all knew the cosmic joke about their employment at the Hosp Corporation, namely that their ‘work’ accomplished next to nothing for society. Processing out of date data, compiling reports on old events, making obvious connections that any child could make. Mave hoped that they knew how unnecessary they all actually were, and that the reason they sought to demean their fellow associates was because they desperately wanted all to feel just as useless as they felt about themselves.
Mave reopened the lip of her laptop and quickly scanned the number of profiles she had already gone through. 23 so far, all being low priority subjects and zero she would consider to need any effort in finding and questioning further. She then looked to her work computer screen that was still verifying individual’s faces. It had found over 30 profiles from stills of clear faces from the cameras, and even more pending that would take time as other programs cleaned and clarified the partial and blurred faces. She would need to look in on her subordinates to make sure they were making decent progress and tell them their next task of interviewing her growing low priorities. She turned back to her laptop and opened her email to send a warning message to them; hopefully they would actually be prepared for when she arrived. Hopefully being the key word, she had already found them to be next to useless like the other ‘colleagues’ on her own floor.
Speaking of useless, where was that fool with her coffee? Probably became distracted by people coming on to the floor from the elevators and passing the office kitchenette. The man was lucky to be employed, one would think he would at least make a better effort at working, so he wouldn’t run the risk of needing to fool someone else in an interview. Mave was in the process of rising from behind her desk to attain her own refreshment when Kayden reappeared in her office doorway, steaming sup up coffee in hand.
“First cup of a fresh brew, that’s why it took a bit, coffee was still a percolating,” Kayden said, chipper than ever and smiling. He walked to the desk and placed the paper cup away from the computers and stack of hardcopies. “Better safe than sorry, wouldn’t want an accident, not that you would knock it over. Just wouldn’t want a setback considering all the hard work you’ve accomplished so far.”
Mave’s entire body stiffened, her eyes widening n shocked panic and anxiety. Could he know what she was working on? No one else was told, it was impossible. Her mind raced with questions and possibilities of the exposure of the Project and what that would mean for her exclusive notoriety or lack thereof if details of the advancement became common knowledge. Heart thumping like a caged rabbit in her chest, Mave put on a mask of composure and chose her next words carefully: “all my hard work? Is it really any more important than what anyone else does on this floor or any other floor for that matter?”
A knowing smile crossed Kayden’s face that caused her breath to catch in her lungs. “Maybe, perhaps not, who really knows what anyone else does for this company? I bet you have just as much of an idea of what I do than I know about what you do… or anyone else on this floor or any other floor for that matter.”
Is he being coy or was this just a ridiculous attempt at sparking an office friendship? Mave knitted her eyebrows together, she decided to respond the only way she knew how: “you are very odd, you know that, right? You talk when everyone else here radiates self-preservation and laces distrust in every word they do happen to speak. Why do you think you’re safe from their back-stabbing, especially when you seem to chat and wander from office to office more often than you seem to work?”
Kayden’s smile broadened as he pretended to feel chest pains, stumbling backwards in to the doorway, faking being taken aback by Mave’s brutal honesty. “No sugar in your coffee is there? No sweetness at all in your words. I’m a tad shocked Mave, I didn’t know you were so opinionated, and to boot, I think that is the most I’ve ever heard come out of your mouth. You definitely need to share more often!”
The pair just looked at each other: Kayden looking like a fool to Mave, and Mave looking like she was sucking on a rotten lemon to Kayden. Mave assumed he was waiting for a response, since her silence was obviously not projecting the correct displeasure of his continued presence in her office. She cleared her throat before picking up the cup of coffee and taking a short sip. “Thank you,” she states matter-of-factly before returning her eyes to her laptop screen and placing her free hand back on its scroll pad.
Kayden gave her one last smirk before silently saluting her with to fingers to his temple and slipping out the doorway once more. Mave heard the door to his office close shut. What could he possibly be doing that would warrant a closed door? He didn’t seem to know what I was working on, and she was told she was the only one working on this assignment. Could he actually be working on his own high priority assignment for Hosp? She thought for a moment and slowly sipped her coffee. She quickly concluded that the notion was as ridiculous as he was and began sorting files and papers from her early departure from her office for the day. Mave decided to transfer the files that were ready to view on to her laptop and then lock her desktop computer so that it could continue processing but without anyone able to access it except herself. Just as she was about to enter the crash code incase her computer were accessed without her permission, a notice appeared in the bottom right corner of the screen.
It was an email from her superiors.