Seroje: The Seeing Eye

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Chapter 16

Seroje waited an hour before positioning herself under the access opening, which was one of three. This one had the least number of cables running through it and enough space to allow her to fit. The cabling ran up into a cabinet used to hold the equipment. That meant there was no floor tile above her, but the cabinet was unmovable, bolted down on the floor supports and overhead to the ceiling. A metal grid floor of the cabinet prevented her from going through the cabinet.

The tricky part was finding a place to hold that would allow her to could pull herself up under the floor. The floor of the cabinet had many openings, but the metal proved sharp and she grabbed hold with caution. She pulled her whole weight up with one hand, then wedged in her knee to help push herself under the raised floor of the computer room.

She panted from the exertion, laying half under the floor and half hanging through the access opening. Cables rolled uncomfortably against her back. She squiggled inch by inch under the floor, getting her whole body up and free of the access opening. Her purse was now an annoyance since it seemed to catch on everything. She kept having to pause to free it.

There were lights under the raised tile floor—red lights for the fire system sensors and green lights on electrical boxes—allowing her to see. She pushed a tile but it didn’t budge, so she inched up underneath another. That one didn’t budge either. She tried again, knowing if she hit a wall, it’d be hard to turn, but it was the tile against the wall that yielded to her pressure. She lifted it with caution, making sure the computer room was clear, just in case someone knew to sit there as quiet as a mouse. There was no one in sight.

The room was bright, but not from an overhead light. There were the blinking lights from the computer equipment and the four large monitors that Mark used to monitor the equipment. The monitors were on, creating most of the light in the room.

She wiggled her way out of the tile opening, then put the tile back in place. There would be no quick exit out of this room unless she went through the door.

The desk with the monitors was in full view of a large window that looked into the room from the hallway. She already knew a solution to keep from being seen. Mark liked to use a wireless mouse and keyboard because he liked to lean back in his chair and roll around.

Seroje grabbed the keyboard and mouse, putting a cabinet between her and the window while she sat on the floor. She leaned against another cabinet with her legs straight out in front of her. The large monitors were easy to see from where she sat.

This was the exact system she was going to try and hack into from Byron’s computer. Now, she didn’t have to.

Her first step was to check the cameras. They must have gotten someone new because all the ports were turned back on and the cameras were back on-line. She labeled the port switches, so she knew which was which. She next jumped into the HR system to check for new employees. There were none and there was nothing for this Dom. He was an outside person brought in.

She checked the tracking system. There was nothing on her ring. They weren’t using this system. She also double-checked to see if her car was being tracked. There was nothing.

What is my IP address, she thought, typing into a browser window. She looked up who owned the IP address and a company she never heard of came up. Seroje searched for information on this company, but only learned it was located in New Jersey.

Dead end. If OSLO was a subsidiary of another company, she’d not find it out unless she could check accounting records, which was impossible. The accounting done for this company was outsourced and not done on site. She knew this through Mark who loved the fact he didn’t have to help the accounting ladies, who only did the payroll and expenses, sending everything else off site to the accounting firm.

She moved her attention to the screen that contained the monitoring software for the network. The color coding made it simple to see networks extending beyond OSLO. There were three other networks through three separate routers. She did some preliminary searching at each location before deciding to stick with the largest one.

She logged onto a switch that still had the default username and password, which was a security hole. Then she searched for a specific vendor code in the mac addresses on the network. Any device on a network had a mac address. The first half of the mac address identified the vendor. She was looking for another tracking system like the one OSLO used, and she got a hit.

She ran a lookup of the mac address and obtained the IP address, allowing her to try accessing the system. She used the same root user and password as OSLO’s system and she was rewarded when the system appeared on the screen. There were maps of devices being monitored. She sorted through the maps, finding her storage unit. There was an icon representing the ring. She rechecked the maps, making sure there wasn’t anything on her car. There was nothing. Her car was clean of tracking devices.

She held her breath as she did another what-is-my-IP-address test and looked up the company. Craig Manor’s name appeared with his company name.

The shock hit her hard, taking her breath away. The part of her that wanted Craig to be good cried.

The building creaked, but the air conditioning didn’t turn on. A door opened.

Seroje tensed, already breathing hard.

Someone passed the window, whistling.

Cleaning crew.

She stood, knowing she had to hide. There was a full waste basket situated right by the desk with the monitors. She backed up, bumping into a cabinet that hadn’t been there the last time she’d been in the room. The cabinet was half empty. Seroje found she could bend over and back in. She closed the door, keeping the mouse and keyboard with her.

She squatted down, waiting. Her muscles cramped from the position as time passed. The door to the computer room opened fifteen minutes later.

“Make it quick. This is a secured area,” a voice said.

“Yeah, yeah,” another voice said and Seroje heard the waste basket picked up, then put back down. The lights were never turned on. The door shut.

Seroje stepped out of the cabinet, stretching the muscles in her back and legs. She knew she’d have to be extra careful until the cleaning crew was gone. She sat back down where she’d been. The monitor with the network monitoring software flickered, indicating a change had occurred. Backups were running.

Seroje keyed on the computer changing screens only every five minutes so not to alert anyone who might be looking through the window while she navigated to the cameras. She could now watch the parking lot.

The time was one am.

The last of the cleaning crew was gone, but there were still three cars in the parking lot. She figured the man by the basement steps was still there, but there was no camera to verify. The camera by the front doors showed two men sitting at the desk.

Seroje checked the username and password she’d setup for herself and found them locked out. She created another and put in the memo field that this was Hank’s back door access and not to touch.

She logged onto the email server and created a backup job that would delete itself when completed, sending the contents of the backup to a temporary account she set up out on the internet away from the hands of OSLO. That might provide her with a little insurance should she have to go to the police.

For the hell of it, she accessed the payroll system and was surprised to find she was still an active employee. She entered in some bogus expenses that would be paid into her checking account automatically at the end of the month and gave herself a raise.

Seroje didn’t feel she’d gained much more information for having risked coming here, but she had done a lot: the email backup, her raise, new access to OSLO. She knew Craig was involved in all of this, but there were tensions between him and OSLO based on the words he’d exchanged with Harold. She now felt she needed to ask Craig some questions.

She just had to find a way to get out of OSLO. Going back to the basement would get her nowhere because of the man on duty down there. How about going through the front door?

She changed to the HVAC system screen. This system controlled the heating and air conditioning for the building. She shut down the air conditioner in the main building and in the computer room, which was on a separate system. In the security system, she switched to the controls that managed the camera positions and changed the angle of the front camera away from one side of the door, creating a blind spot. Through a web browser she ordered a cab, then cleared the browser history and cache so if anyone checked they’d not see any of her activity.

She put the keyboard and mouse back on the desk and left through the computer room door toward one of the back offices. Her nose found what she was looking for: scented candles. There were three scented candles on a desk. One looked as if it was used at some time and when she looked through the desk, she found a long stick lighter. She lit a candle and positioned it over some paper, creating a perfect little accident waiting to happen.

The main hall ran down the middle of the building. Seroje moved as quietly as she could toward the front door. There was a turn in the hall that made it impossible for anyone sitting in the front desk to see down the hall. She stepped into an office just before that turn and waited, staring at the floor.

The man in this office ate too many sunflower seeds. She could smell the salt and the stale shells. The cleaning crew hadn’t done a very good job because there were still shells on the floor.

Seroje counted the time until twenty minutes passed, expecting something to happen at any moment. She could smell the smoke from the fire.

“Getting damn hot in here,” one of the men from the front desk said, passing the door of the office where she stood just out of sight.

His footsteps paused at a thermostat on the wall.

“Don’t you think it’s getting hot in here?” he said, calling back to the man still at the front desk.

“Building shuts down at night,” the other man called back.

“Shit. I’m boiling.” His voice was loud because he was coming back her way. “Hey, do you smell smoke?”

“There’s a fire alarm here, we don’t need to worry about smelling smoke.”

“Holy shit, the building’s on fire,” the man nearest her yelped. “Where’s the fire extinguisher?”

His footsteps faded as he headed down the hall toward the fire.

“Damn,” the other man said, running past the room. Someone pulled the fire alarm.

Seroje left the office, running for the front door. She left the building, staying on the side the camera couldn’t see, then ran full speed down the street. The area appeared empty and she hoped no one saw her when she turned the block, running back toward the hospital.

The time was three am.

The cab pulled up.

“Can you take me to the airport?” she said.

“Yes, mum,” the driver said.

She had him drop her off by her car. Craig’s car was parked next to hers. Seroje couldn’t see beyond the building to see if the jet was there. She put the fuses back in and drove off.

Seroje wanted to talk to Craig, but she didn’t want to call him. She wanted to make a point, so she drove to her storage unit and got the ring. Then she drove back toward his office, parking her car in the parking garage where she intended to leave it for a while. She was using her car in order to prevent them from IDing the rental car, but she knew even the rental car’s usefulness was coming to an end.

The alley was still pitch black. She slouched down and waited, wondering who would get here first, Craig or OSLO. She was putting her money on Craig since OSLO was dealing with a small fire. Seroje figured Craig probably had an alert on the ring, letting him know if it moved.

The time was four-seventeen am.

Craig’s car drove by slowly, then turned around and stopped at the curb by the alley. He rolled down the passenger side window.

“Seroje?”

She didn’t move or respond back to him, knowing she was invisible in the alley.

“Seroje?” he said in a louder voice, then he waited five minutes.

He stepped out of his car, leaving the driver’s side door open as he approached the alley.

This was the first time she’d ever seen him in jeans and a t-shirt. He needed a shave. She almost didn’t recognize him.

“Seroje. It’s Craig,” he said. “May I talk with you?”

There were five more minutes of silence.

“We can dispense with the ‘how did I find you’,” he said, with resignation in his voice.

She rose from beside the garbage bin, startling him because he’d not been aware she was so close to him.

“Seroje, I love you,” he said in his soft quiet voice that was supposed to melt her into his arms, but she didn’t work that way.

She handed him the ring. The questions she wanted to ask him were gone, forgotten. She also handed him her cell phone.

“If you want to keep something a secret, you need to make sure I can’t see, hear, feel or smell it,” she said, and she turned and walked away down the alley.

“Seroje. We can figure this out together,” he said. His voice was strained.

She stopped, leaning against the wall, sliding down to wait, knowing he could not see her in the darkness.

“Seroje. Seroje.”

He stepped into the alley.

“Seroje, please. You must let me explain. Please.”

He paused again as if listening.

“Seroje,” his voice was now imploring. That was not the right tone of voice to use with her at the moment. Her ears were no longer hearing his words, just the annoying sounds.

“Please Seroje,” he said. “I need to tell you...”

A car screeched to a stop, grabbing Seroje’s attention. Doors opened.

“Oh, shit,” Craig said, looking over his shoulder. He broke into a run down the alley, passing her.

Seroje stood, calculating the three men’s positions as they neared the alley. She fired the three shots she needed. The muzzle flash from her gun lit up the alley and the sounds of the shots echoed against the buildings.

I don’t need time on the firing range, she thought as she stepped over the bodies.

The car the three came from was cockeyed in the street with three of the four doors open. The motor was running and a constant ding emitted from the car indicating doors were open.

You lost three more employees, Hank.

She got into Craig’s car.

Seroje drove down the street, around the block, catching sight of Craig in a doorway. She pulled up by him.

“Get in,” she said, without looking at him. Her voice carried through the open passenger side window.

He got into the car, shaking.

Seroje hit the gas pedal and squealed the tires as soon as the door was shut, causing him to tense and hold on. Seroje was in no mood for conversation as she drove as fast as she could and still made the corners. She disregarded the stop lights, only calculating if she could clear the intersection without a collision. Her destination was Quiet Waters Park where she stopped the car, leaving skid marks. The sounds echoed through the park.

She sat staring at the steering wheel, breathing hard for a moment.

“You have a problem,” she said, then she said in a terse demanding voice. “Fix it.”

She opened the car door, leaving it open, and jogged into the darkness of the trees, stopping as soon as she knew she was out of sight to wait and watch.

Craig sat in the car, not moving. He stayed that way for twenty minutes before opening the passenger side door and moving to the driver’s side. He sat another five minutes before driving off in a much more subdued manner than she had.

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