Company Policy

Copyright 2010 by Carl Garrett

Gerald Beckwith's scowl was legendary among his underlings at HealthChoice, but the scruffy, sorrowful man on his computer screen could not see it, and was therefore immune. "I see you've logged on, Mister Beckwith," the man said, his voice a dreary whisper. "I guess we can start, now."

"If this is a joke," Beckwith snarled to his trembling VP of Operations, "I swear to God I'll personally sign your final check. Who is this piece of shit?"

"M-Martin Westover, sir. He was employed by Techflow. A m-minor client. Fifty employees. Lost his daughter to cancer last year. After we canceled Techflow's contract. Due to her expenses." The wispy wreck that was Martin Westover backed away from the camera, but the concrete-walled room he occupied revealed nothing. "Again, I'm sorry to disturb you, sir, but h-he's tied up our entire network with this, said he wouldn't stop until you logged on. We can't shut him down. He's... very good."

Westover pressed a button, and the image began to pan left. "I know you don't understand, Mister Beckwith. I know you can't. You don't know what it's like to see your child die..." Beckwith boiled. This hacker, this dirtbag, had no idea what he was in for. "You've got no idea... to see her die, little by little, bit by bit..." And when the camera finished panning, when Gerald Beckwith saw the table, saw the small, terrified form strapped to it, saw the gleaming, sinister implements in the tray beside it, his scowl fell to pieces, and the rest of him with it.

"Madeline," he stammered. "Maddy. MADDY!"

"You don't know," Westover said, tears pouring out of his mad eyes as he reached for the tray, "But you will."