Clear Springs Press

The Non-Conformity Chronicles

Chapter Chapter 21 - Something is Wrong

"It is imperative to not deny or suppress the inherent power that resides within even the least of us, but to recognize its nature and strive to render ourselves worthy of it." - From The Non-Conformist Training Manual

         At Central Accountant administration in Arlington, Virginia, a man sat staring at his COMM terminal with deep lines of worry etched into his face. He was Seymour Code, Omega chief of security and supreme director of operations of the Central Accountant. His COMM terminal told him that there were presently 1329 individuals with Omega level security clearance. He was certain that there had been 1328 Omega level clearances the day before. There was no way to confirm his memory, however, for the use of paper had been discontinued over two centuries ago. He also knew from recent personal experience that any discrepancy between human memory and the Central Accountant's memory meant trouble for the human involved.

         "How many Omega cleared individuals were on the roster yesterday?" he requested.

         "1329" the terminal replied.

         "When was the most recent Omega clearance issued?" he queried again.

         "On December 7, 2319," the terminal replied.

         "That was over five years ago," he thought to himself.

         "What does the entry log show as the most recent input to this data file?" he asked.

         "An entry was made on December 7, 2319," the terminal replied.

         "This is maddening!" he thought to himself. "I know my memory is correct, but how can you argue with the Central Accountant? The memory in a computer is the most sacred absolute in our society!"

         His eyes narrowed as he rolled them from side to side scanning the office to see who might be able to observe him.

         "I'm certainly not going to say anything about this to anyone, especially my Psycho!" he thought to himself.

         Seymour remembered the systems level programmers who had come to him with the same complaints. They reported that something in the system had been altered and that the only record of the alteration was their personal memories. He had not believed them. Their Psychos sent them to a hospital to have their neurons repolarized. It was a technique discovered in an ancient medical archive. In its time it was called 'electroshock therapy'. He shuddered. They were never the same again.

         Now it was a completely different story. "If I am discovered, I will suffer the same fate!" he thought to himself. "There must be someone tampering with the system who is very very good. If I can't prove it, I am either forced to accept that fact or suffer the same fate as everyone else who has questioned the sanctity of computer memory."

         Seymour turned back to the terminal and said, "Initiate a complete system wide diagnostic survey. Scan for any evidence of hacking or unauthorized system alteration. Scan all levels of system function from the Central Accountant's principal algorithms down to the electronic thermostats in every home on the planet! Report all anomalies, even the slightest ones."

         As Director of Security, he was entitled to order such an action at his own discretion. He hoped it would vindicate his memory.

         "Scan initiated. Estimated completion in nine hours and seventeen seconds," the terminal replied and went blank.

         To him nine hours was an eternity. Finally, at 0100 hours, an assistant woke him from a fitful sleep.

         "Yes?" he replied.

         "The COMM terminal is displaying the results of your security audit!" the assistant reported.

         "Thanks! Now leave me alone."

         The assistant departed and Seymour rubbed the sleep from his eyes and faced his terminal.

         "Security scan complete. The results are available for review."

         "Display all anomalies detected," Seymour ordered.

         "In Ulan Bator, Republic of Mongolia, a gas meter was illegally accessed to alter fuel usage measurements. Do you wish to engage enforcement protocols?"

         "No. Continue display," he replied.

         "In Bronx, New York, A Central Primary School computer was illegally accessed and test scores altered. Do you wish to engage enforcement protocols?"

         "No. Identify the offending party and recruit him into an advanced prep class to become a Central Accounting programmer. Continue scan," Seymour commanded.

         "In Beirut, Lebanon, the Central Accounting Breeding Files were accessed and an unauthorized sexual compatibility file was entered for purposes of obtaining preferential sexual treatment. Do you wish to engage enforcement protocols?"

         "No. How many infractions were detected?" Seymour asked.

         "73,103,247" the COMM terminal replied.

         Seymour rubbed his face in exhausted exasperation. "How can there be such widespread disrespect for Central Authority?" he asked himself. "Scan the entire list for unauthorized access to Central Accounting core files!" he ordered.

         "Scan complete. There were 27 unauthorized accesses to Central Accounting Core files."

         "Display results!" he ordered.

         "Unable to Comply," the terminal responded.

         Seymour was stunned . . . speechless. He could have imagined one or two unauthorized accesses, but 27! And the Central Accountant was unable to provide the data. He cleared his throat and tried again, "This is Seymour Code, Omega chief of security! Initiate retinal scan, verify identity, and initiate Omega security over-ride Omega Gamma Alpha Omega and provide the information requested!"

         "Retinal scan complete. Identity verified as Seymour Code, Omega Chief of Security. Omega security over ride Omega Gamma Alpha Omega acknowledged. Unable to provide the requested information."

         Seymour stared at the COMM terminal. Something was seriously wrong, and without the Central Accountant's help, he didn't have a clue where to begin.

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