Checking in with Kevin.

“Ready, Charles?”

“Let’s go.”

Robert and Charles walked into Kevin’s empty office and removed the floor tile in the corner behind the desk to reveal a ladder under the floor descending into the darkness below. One by one they climbed down the ladder to the bottom where they encountered a door next to a numeric keypad.

“What’s the code?” Robert asked.

“2-1-4-9-3.” Charles replied as Robert tapped the numbers in.

Beep.

The door slid open to reveal a short hallway with an elevator at the other end. It too was guarded by a numeric keypad.

“3-3-6-0,” Charles said, as if reading Robert’s mind. Again Robert’s agile fingers tapped the keypad in nervous anticipation.

Beep.

The elevator doors opened and Charles and Robert stepped in. There was only one other floor for the elevator to go, and Robert pressed the button to begin the descent.

A short while later, the elevator stopped with a slight tremble and the doors opened to reveal a busy underground office with cubicles everywhere.

“Look,” Charles pointed. There, seated at one of the cubicles, was Kevin, working at his computer while going through a pile of papers on his desk. Just hours ago Kevin had been fired from his job as director of the Information Systems department at the hospital and now here he was working in an office of a mysterious underground office building. This only added to the ongoing confusion.

“What’s he doing down here?” Robert wondered. “I think it’s time to pay him a visit.”

Kevin was too busy working to notice he had company. When he finally saw Robert and Charles approaching his cubicle, he let out a terrified yelp.

“Robert? Charles?” Kevin stammered. “How did you get down here? You’re not even allowed down here!”

“Hello, Kevin,” Robert smiled. “To answer your question, I was cleaning out your home folder on the server when I noticed a rather interesting library of documents about this place, including how to get here.”

“Not exactly a safe place to store information about a top secret organization like this one,” Charles added.

“Visitors, Kevin?” asked a deep voice behind Robert. “I didn’t know today was open house.”

“No,” Kevin sheepishly replied. “These are my friends.”

“Friends,” said the older man now in view, “who have just committed a serious security breach and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, provided they live long enough.”

“Not so fast,” Robert spoke up, “Maybe we can work out a deal.”

“What kind of deal?” snarled the older man.

“Well, according to the documents we read in Kevin’s folder, your organization uses our hospital’s network for its operations, which often slows us down to the point where we can’t get anything done on our end.” Robert explained.

“Apologies,” offered the older man while casting an angry glance at Kevin. “But your network does use the outdated protocols essential to our security. While hackers keep moving forward to hack the newer networks, they leave older ones like yours behind. That alone spares us a huge expense in our budget.”

“That explains why Kevin never signed our purchase order requests to upgrade our network,” Charles said. “Ultimately his job was to keep the network unchanged, a move that eventually cost him his job. Kevin, I had no idea you were really a double agent.”

Kevin hung his head in shame, his secret life finally exposed due to a careless move on his part.

“But it does make sense though,” added Robert, “but why don’t we do this. We’ll upgrade our network and give you our old one.”

The older man smiled. “For a bunch of intruders, you sure drive a hard bargain.”

For the next several months, the deal was carried out. The hospital finally upgraded its network to the latest hardware and donated its old equipment to the secret organization under the hospital. Even though Robert and Charles were the only ones who knew of its existence, they were still clueless as to what the organization did.

After the network was up and running at the organization, Robert and Charles took a vow of secrecy and severed their ties with them forever. And that meant losing their friend Kevin forever as well.

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