There sat a man in a dark room, illuminated only by the dim light of his computer screen. He shifted in his chair, ripping the blanket from his body as pillows fell from where his head lay.
He padded around the desk, searching for his headphones. As soon as he found them, he slammed on the spacebar of the keyboard, answering the call as his headphones found their place atop his head.
"Hello, my name is Marcus with Foundation Tech Support, could I get your name please?" He tried to sound as cheery as possible, but couldn't keep himself from mumbling the last part.
"Yeah hello? My name is James, just got a new laptop from Tech at Site-47, and I'm having some problems."
"Of course James, let's get started. Can you describe the problem?"
"Oh sir, first I would like to inform you that this call is being recorded for improvement in our help in the future, is that okay with you?"
The man on the other end seemed slightly annoyed. "What? Um, yeah I guess, sure. But anyways, I've been having some problems with this laptop I got about a week ago."
Marcus cut back in, twirling the phone cord in his fingers as he spoke. "Sorry but quick question. Is this a hardware issue, or something involving a program?"
There was a brief silence on the other end. "… How the fuck should I know, that's why I'm calling!"
The chair Marcus sat on leaned back up. "Woah there, let's just calm down, I'm here doing my job and trying to help alright? Go on please."
"Yeah yeah, whatever. Whenever I start the computer, the graphics get all weird. It's like I can reach into the screen. Well, I can. The last time I did, I couldn't feel my hand for three days! The damn thing is always playing some soundfile of a little girl crying or cursing at me too. Sometimes, stuff creeps out too. Like, last time I browsed my files, tentacles started to come out of my screen!"
"Have you tried restarting your computer?" Marcus leaned back again.
"What? I've restarted it like fifteen fucking times, I don't think that's it."
"Alright, alright. Hmm. What files were they?"
There was short silence on the other side of the phone. "Umm… They were just, uh, accounting stuff, numbers and all that." James' voice trailed as he finished the sentence.
Marcus rolled his eyes. "Yeah, sure. Accounting stuff. Is the computer on right now?"
"Okay. Describe your room."
"What the fuck? Why?"
He sighed. "Sir, we have a checklist to go through here, so just try and be as compliant as possible, okay?"
"Alright, alright, I'm sorry. It's just my room in my apartment, nothing really around."
"So you aren't on Site-47?"
"Yeah, above below and on the side."
"Okay. Wait, what screen are you on?"
"Umm, just the home screen. No programs are opened."
"Good, good. Alright, before we move on, can you read me the code on the Standard Issue sticker on the bottom of the laptop James?"
There's some shuffling on the other line. "It's… 33RT5OPB985GG8. Got it?"
Marcus enters it into the system, and becomes a slight bit more alert as the screen of information regarding the laptop issued pops up. "Okay, I need to you go to another room, and prepare a glass of warm 2% milk, some ramen, and some tin foil."
Silence returned briefly on the other end. "… Alright, whatever."
A few minutes later, Marcus heard a loud thump on the other end. "I have all of the shit ready, what now?"
"Is the ramen hot?"
"…Yes, it's hot."
Marcus smiled. "Great, while you were cooking that I ran some searches on the problem. I have one question for you here James, is it a PC or Mac?"
"Oh dear. I'm going to have to redirect you to a specialist here, one moment please."
An audibly loud sigh was heard on the other end of the line as Marcus transferred James to Rho-9's eldritch expert.
"Do you have a visual?"
A bearded man in a headset watched intently from the open slits in the hanging air vents. He had been crawling for nearly an hour, but was finally in good position. Below him was a door, enveloped in a long hallway. He tapped the green button on his headset. "No visual on either target. Are you sure this is going down?"
He looked around in silence for a minute, before he was answered. "Yeah, should be any minute now. I have confirmed visuals of them leaving the bar about a minute ago. Just stay-" The voice cut out.
"Command? Command, can you read me?" The man was met with brief silence. "JOHN, COME IN, RHO-9 AGEN-"
A new voice, drenched in boredom, cut into the headset. "Hey Nathan, it's Marcus. You got a minute?"
He paused. "…What? Not now Marcus, I'm in the middle of-"
"Oh the thing with Brandon? Yeah good luck with that, but I'm gonna need a minute of your time here."
"Listen, I'm in the field taking care of-"
"Hold on, we have an issue with a laptop on Site-47, looks like a class two eldritch computer virus. I have a card right… here, that says to transfer these kinds of things to you, sooo… Transferring the call now!"
Nathan nearly slammed his head on the top of the vents. He angrily whispered, "Don't you fucking transfer him to me, I just told you that-" He heard a ringing through his headset. He sighed audibly before clicking one of the buttons on his headset.
A new voice came to life in the headphones. "Hello? I've been on hold for at least 10 minutes, let's hurry up."
Nathan slumped in defeat, and adjusted his headset. "What's your name sir."
"Alright James, I'm guessing you just got done making the ramen?
"You're going to want to start up the computer and go to your folders, alright?"
There was a pause. "Alright, now what?"
"Find the folder named 'R8H8916YTR' and let me know when you have it."
Between sentences Nathan searched through the openings at the bottom of the vent.
"Okay, I found it. Now what?"
"Alright, now I need you to do exactly as I say. Wrap the tinfoil around your hand until there are no openings, like it's a glove. Once you do that, I need you to delete the folder." He sighed. This part was always so obnoxiously loud.
"Okay…. Okay…. OH GOD, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS"
Nathan rolled his eyes as the screaming intensified.
"HELP ME, IT'S EATING MY HAND, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?"
"James, you need to calm down. That's what the tinfoil is for, alright? I'm going to need you to throw some of the ramen at the screen."
"Throw the ramen at the screen, and what I'm guessing would be the toothed tentacles trying to eat your hand will let go. It shouldn't take that much, so you can eat the rest if you're hungry."
"AHHHHHH…ahhh… Okay….Okay it's gone. Jesus Christ…"
"Alright, now drink the milk."
Nathan was starting to get anxious. This was the fifth call this week about the bug, and he was getting tired of telling researchers to drink their milk. He saw two figures talking below him, their voices quiet. "Is there anything else you need?" he asked in a hushed tone.
"Will the laptop work right now?"
"Is the folder gone?"
"It will work. If you don't have anything else, just shut the laptop off and report to your nearest med bay so they can look at your hand, don't take that tinfoil off until you get there."
Nathan hit a small red button on the side of his headset. He returned to his reconnaissance mission, the two shadows below talking in hushed tones. The dial on his headset turned, and a familiar voice came back to life. "Nathan, are they there? What's going on? Did he say something stupid?"
The two figures conversed for another minute, before silence ensued. The shorter of the two turned and opened the door behind it, and leaned against the frame. They moved closer and embraced, before the taller figure began to walk away.
"Shit, Rho-9 Delta reporting, looks like this mission is-"
In an instant, a woman's voice shot from the open door into the hall, stopping the fleeting figure in it's tracks. Upon turning around, a Rho-9 patch was visible on the taller figures jacket. He returned to the door, and was led inside with his companion. The door shut with a loud thump.
"Control, Rho-9 Delta reporting success! I repeat, the date was a success. Permission to extract?"
A static voice came through the headset. "Granted. Good work Delta, looks like Brandon owes us both a drink. I doubt he'll mind buying though!"
Nathan chuckled as he began to shift himself back through the vents. As he went on, he turned off the audio retrievers inside the apartment.