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"Dan Brown."

"What?"

"Does that name tell you anything?"

"Who's Dan?"

Ben looked up to a man, five feet eight " tall, while rummaging through the desk he sat at to find a hardcover novel, which he threw at the man.

A scruffy hand reached out to catch it.

"Don't I look like a fine librarian?" asked Ben while tapping his fingers on the table woodwork.

The man frowned, taking the time to inspect the book.

"Da Vinci Code?" mumbled the man. His frown grew even deeper while glancing at the synopsis, holding the book at arm's length, and he relented; "Lucky bastard. Being able to be both a librarian and a gardener. How much's the pay?"

"Around two grands."

That's cheap," let out the man with a disappointed voice.

"As cheap as it comes."

"I wonder. A miser like you looks more than cosy in a stifled place like this. What do you even do as a librarian? Haven't they already gotten things sorted out with the computer database?"

"They would rather not go blind early. Catch the blue light from electronic displays. Sensible people, no?"

"Stuff it, Ben! Why are you even here? The family gave you the means! It gave you everything! Why don't you go to a university already?"

"Why? To do all those bland jobs with restricted opportunities and no originality? 'Coz that's all you end up with after the university!"

"A job in the government... And you tried those outsourcing jobs, didn't you?"

"And I tell you that being a librarian is more fulfilling than following those lame, desperate careers. Life's too short. Haven't got the time to become a robot."

The man lifted his eyebrows, before briskly walking forward, and drew a chair sharply back, before sitting down, arms and legs crossed.

"You are wasting that short life. Don't you agree?"

Ben drew his body back and stretched his right arm to rest it on the table.

"Should I?" Ben intoned wistfully, "don't you find it funny that more and more social networks and banks and such are being made and more people get into these? Wouldn't things be simpler with relatively less of these networks and infrastructure? It's like people are purposely making even more elaborate boundaries than ever. Not even time for funnier and more interesting things like researching and teaching."

"Well, just become a teacher. A game creator is a bit..."

"There's more than enough teachers. I foresee a decline in that profession if things remain orthodox with technological disturbances like social networks. And I'm bored of being here. It's been... What? Twenty years since I was born here? I must say that it's fantastic that people haven't as much wanderlust as I have."

"But, we do have wanderlust! And your problem is that you've read that accursed encyclopedia thing. We haven't the means for outside-"

"You know what. You are thinking about the dishonour of the family. I don't allow for temporary social discrimination to disturb me. Using me as a pawn just to keep the honour and prevent people from talking is sheer stupidity. Please tell me why unknown people even talk about me? Don't they have a mind to decide things on their own and keep the talk to their own business?."

"What do you plan to do?"

"Isn't that simple?"

"..."

"..."

"You don't mean to start inventing futile game softwares again, do you?"

"Can you make a single software?"

"So what if I can't?"

"Please tell me my age."

The man was about to launch into a tirade, expecting more arguments about the thing he considered 'bad' business. He breathed hard, calming himself, as much as making a show of it, before saying:

 

"You were one of the bright guys our family has had since it got branched aside...."

"Yeah, I know, I know. We haven't got deep family roots, and we need something to make our family proud and stand up to people. In fact, it might be the very reason that families exist, for all I know. But, I'm a trifling guy, I love my absolution. You should come back to me in ten years. I'll have an answer for you, and you already know what it'll be."

The man sighed:

"Damned if I know... Look, I did my job as your father-"

"And you had to tell me you did."

"Oh well, scratch what I said. Where's your latest software?"

Ben looked at him a full second, before telling him to follow.

Five minutes later, they were in a vast room, various computer terminals to choose from, each screen connected to a main processing unit at the center of the room.

"Is it fine for us to be here? What would your employers say if they found me along with you here? Aren't strangers prohibited from this room? It looks too sleek..."

"It's fine, it's fine." Ben stopped in front of the third terminal from the left, inputting a password on the blue screen, before opening up some files, and tapped on Geist Yeager Online. Just then, the screen went black. "Weird... Just a moment, dad! I've got to check on something."

"Yeah, alright." His father nodded to him, before glancing about idly.

Ben marched to the processing unit, opening a metal case, before starting up some tweaking with the hardwares. He tried removing and reconnecting the cables, but they didn't seem to work out for much effect. The display's power indicator was green, so it wasn't a circuit burnout. Ben was about to reconnect the specific processing segment to another terminal, when his father suddenly yelled in fright.

"Whoa! Hey!" started Ben, thinking that it was a joke, but as he turned to see, he found his father dropping to the floor, a knife embedded to his throat.

Dark wisps danced about as they embraced an skeletal body whose dull, bloody eyes glowered at him. Ben took a step back, out of instinctive fear at the horrorific sight in front of him, before ripping a display off the wall and charged at the wraith; he swung his weapon, and... hit nothing.

Dark wisps surrounded him, and Ben thought he heard coaxing voices, voices trying to entice him, and he thought himself blacking out for an instance, trying to escape the dark wisps' illusion as his body grew limp and he fell to his knees.

Just when he was about to lose consciousness, a scream tore through the air.

Ben opened his eyes wide to find a woman looking at him, aghast, from the doorway, and tried to defend himself - he couldn't talk.

The woman ran away after emitting another scream, and the dark wisps danced around Ben one final time before diving into the suddenly lit-up display, the game Ben had wished to show his father closing up, initiating a WAN transfer, and a window popped up, showing the progress for deleting the game and things related to it, with no cancellation button.

Ben quickly checked on his father's pulse, only to conclude that the latter was dead.

"Shit!"

Command prompt would not work. Forceful switch-off wasn't working.

He tried removing the cables connecting to the display, and was electrocuted. He lifted himself up, and tried again, successfully doing so, only to find that the process was ongoing on the other displays, which suddenly lit.

"What the hell..."

The memory was shared to the main processor, so it was a real hassle. Ben did not understand the meaning of this ongoing elimination of data evinced from the displays, and threw the freshly detached display onto the processing unit preemptively, before picking it up, and shoving it aside, then pressed on the power button.

"...I hope the memory does not get stunted from this abrupt power cut!"

"Did you kill him...?"

Ben looked at the doorway again, just about to make his exit, only to find a little girl looking at him with apprehension.

"I didn't."

That one word was surprisingly enough to convince her. Ben was glad that it was just a child.

"Uncle, please save me!"

"Huh? Why?"

Hearing those words puzzled Ben, and he swiftly took her in his arms, before heading for the surveillance room; he was pretty sure that a footage of the incident was available.

He walked and walked. The hallway was rather quiet.

He neared the surveillance room, and greeted his employer along the way. Just as he was about to enter the room, the door leading to it opened, and a woman appeared, smiling with what appeared to be pity.

"No need to enter, Mister Benjamin, you have my condolences," she said, in a soft voice.

Ben thanked her, but insisted he stayed until the evidence was retrieved for inspection by the police. At that, a voice from behind said:

"You don't seem to understand Mister Ben. You have our condolences, because there is no evidence."

Ben found his employer, gray-haired as the man was, standing behind him.

"You followed me back here..."

"Indeed," replied the man, his eyes flickering red.

Ben looked at the woman for support, but found her with red eyes as well, seeming different from usual.

"Huh...? Are red eyes a fad or something?" reflected Ben.

"Their eyes were black just now..." commented the girl.

"Yeah, I know that...!" he replied, backing off and running away.

A minute later, he came across a young woman, running away, like he was, only to stop on noticing the little girl in his arms. 

"You need to hurry. We gotta run. They've almost got us surrounded!"

"Who?"

It all seemed surreal to Ben, but just then, a horde of people came out around the bend, behind the woman.

"Run!!" urged the woman anew, and Ben broke into a minor sprint, taking care to watch his steps with the child in his arms.

"There's two more ahead..." pondered Ben while racing forward nimbly.

"Huh?!" asked the woman, panic visibly on her face.

"No, nothing," said Ben.

'Why is my father dead? Why didn't that thing kill me as well?' Ben wondered, the adrenaline evident to his mind, and yet, he had this nagging feeling of calmness which told him to remain vigilant and yet, pessimist - to open conversation with the pursuers.

However, as Ben turned back to face forward at the moment, greeted by two hostile faces some meters ahead, there was no mistaking what would happen if he stopped now.

 

***

 

 

 Note: Flash fiction isn't really my thing. This lacks description, but thought I could give it a try while I'm progressing in rl. Well, slow updates here.

 

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Thykaeus Helmelius Meistrom

Bio: https://royalroadl.com/fiction/10594 https://royalroadl.com/fiction/3807 Ambitions: Light novelist, mangaka, Professor, O.S builder, anything fun Zodiac: Tiger

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