27 bytes of terror.

This is another story I’ve started developing. This one looks promising.

Ding.

Stevens turned to his computer which just notified him of a new incoming e-mail. Sure enough, there was a new message waiting from Cavez, whom Stevens had just fired earlier that day. Stevens was wary of what the message would read given the unfortunate circumstances but decided to read the message anyway to clear his mind of the morning’s events. He hated firing people and Cavez was no exception as he was one of the best employees in Stevens’ department but unfortunately he had to be terminated due to the company’s strict policy on Internet usage.

Stevens noticed the e-mail had an attachment. No doubt a infected attachment but if it were really infected, it wouldn’t have made it past the company’s e-mail server, which would have deleted it on the spot. And there the attachment was, still intact, so it must be safe.

Stevens braced himself and opened the e-mail.

Mr. Stevens,

It is unfortunate that my 5-year tenure with your company had to end like this. I could very well fill this message with angry rants and insults but I know you are very busy doing whatever it is you do during the day, so I will let the attached file speak on my behalf. Rest assured it is a plain text file I created with Notepad and it’s only 27 bytes and I encourage you to read its contents. Only then will you understand my innermost reactions to this morning’s events that led to my untimely termination.

Cavez

P.S. Go ahead. Open the attachment. It’s only a text file.

Stevens was very suspicious about opening the attached file but again remembered it wouldn’t have made it past the virus scanner if it contained anything dangerous. Cautiously he double-clicked on the attached shoub.txt file and up came a window asking which program should open the text file. Notepad was already selected, so he clicked OK to open the attachment.

27 bytes.

A plain text file.

It wouldn’t have made it past the virus scanner.

A Notepad window opened containing a single line of text. Stevens read the strange formation of letters, numbers and high-ASCII characters. Then he read it again before letting out a loud, shrill scream. Seconds later one of his co-workers came running into the office to investigate and gasped in horror. There sat Stevens at his desk, his eyes wide open and his mouth still gaping from what was his last breath. When the co-worker looked at the Notepad window on the screen, he too let out a loud scream and dropped to the floor, dead. On the way to the floor the co-worker’s hand got in the way of the power strip, yanking it to one side and ripping the power cord out of the wall socket. Instantly the power to the computer was interrupted, forcing an ungraceful shutdown and clearing the mysterious circumstances that resulted in the deaths of two employees at the office where Cavez once worked.

A sinister smile formed on the lips of Cavez as he read the headlines the next morning.

Two bodies found in office, police puzzled as to the cause of their deaths.

I got two birds with one stone, and this is only the beginning.

This is going to be better than I thought.

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