The Payload

Sitting at his desk in the Wells Fargo Bank Center, 1000 Louisiana Street, in downtown Houston John Cope eagerly opened an email which said “Carol Wood wants to meet with you, please click here to find her”.He clicked and the virus payload was executed.

Suddenly he was no longer in his office is on the 61st floor the buildings had and he was now floating above a field in Tranquility Park. Not the Tranquility Park he could see from his office but his hometown in the heart of Florida, 50 miles from Tampa where he had met Carol Wood, the only woman he had ever given his heart up to and who had left his life as quickly as she had come into it 18 years ago.

Below him in the park there she was. Throwing a ball for Buster to catch.

There was a young man with them.

From his floating position John realised that the man was him, eighteen years ago.

John watched as Carol and his younger self embraced and he watched as the younger John fell to the ground apparently asleep.

Then Carol joined John floating above the field.

“You got my message” she said dramatically.

Carol was exactly how he remembered and despite the extraordinary position he found himself currently in all the old feelings rushed through his bloodstream.

“I suppose an explanation would help here” exclaimed John.

Carol smiled her sweetest smile, exactly how John remembered it, and told him everything.

Carol was indeed working for a company in Tampa but not back in 1989 but in 2007, the present day. Her employers were not, however, in pharmaceuticals, they were computer security experts.

She was working on preventing an outbreak of what was feared to be the worst computer virus ever. In March 2007 people started to get emails dated December 31st 1999 containing this virus.

“The virus was called “Y2K Pandemic” and John, you wrote it.

“The Y2K Pandemic virus did its damage by resetting the date on corporate mainframes back to December 31st 1999 and resetting all the computer databases to their state on that date, and wiping out all subsequent records.

“The consequence was dramatic disruption to government and business, aircraft falling out of the sky, medical records being lost, cancer research wiped out – it all lead to economic collapse, world war and mass population loss.

“My job was to stop you.”

John was struck almost speechless.

“So you stopped me – how?”

“John, back at college in 1989 you were becoming a loner. You were on target to becoming a drop out who was destined to become a computer hacker.

“In 1998 you realise you could make money becoming a Year 2000 consultant and did just that. You planted what you christened “Time Bombs” set to go off when you triggered the event. You set the default start date for March 2007 unless you cancelled the command.

“But in 2003 you had a nervous breakdown, you were sectioned and nobody believed your story. By 2004 you gave up and took your own life.

“My job was to prevent this happening and I was sent to the Bauman Moscow State Technical University where they have been secretly working on time travel.

“From there I was sent back to meet you, befriend you and to bring you back with me to 2007 to ensure you would change the track your mind was going down.

“We arranged that we would take you when we were out walking the dog. You were in Moscow with me for 10 days whilst your mind was reprogrammed and you and I were returned to the same moment in 1989 that we had left so there would be no disruption.

“I could not help but fall in love with you and my deepest regret was leaving you so abruptly.

“As you know it was a complete success.”

John laughed at this concept of complete success. He had indeed been a loner for the past eighteen years, but it was Carol he pined for.

True though, he had not become a year 2000 consultant and he had no idea of what a virus is.

“What about the email you sent me, and the phone call? And how come we are apparently floating above a field in 1989?”

“As I said John, I fell in love with you. The Russians set this up for me so that if you want it you and I can be together.

“If you are still interested in me, despite our age difference I would love to build a life with you.”

John went quiet. Is this what he wanted? It was surreal. Here he was in 2007 floating above himself in 1989.

But Carol is all he had ever wanted for the past eighteen years and here she was and she wanted to be with him.

“O.K.” John said.

Carol beamed with delight, nodded and suddenly they were in Tranquility Park, Houston staring up at the Wells Fargo Bank Center.



Copyright © Stuart Danton 2007



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