Copyright 2012 by JT Lewis
Annie arrived at the address indicated the next day @ 9:30…at least she thought it was the right place. The dilapidated old warehouse on the riverfront looked anything but high tech.
Actually, it looked abandoned!
Driving around the back of the building, she spotted a newer car nosed up to the back wall. Pulling in beside it, she shut down her old
and waited, glancing at her watch…25 minutes to wait. Toyota
She was just about to hit the lock button for her doors when
stuck his head out of the door in front of her, smiling and waving her in with his free hand. Niles
“You’re early!” he said excitedly when she exited the car, “that’s awesome!”
Holding the door for her,
stood aside as Annie entered a small vestibule with a single flickering fluorescent light inside. Niles
“I wasn’t sure this was the right place,” Annie said quietly, still not sure if she would even now call it the right place.
“It’s quite deceiving,”
said as he punched in some numbers in a keypad, the electronic brruupptt indicating that the lock had been released. Holding the door for her once again, Niles stood by as Annie entered yet another room, this one slightly larger, with recessed lighting around the perimeter of the room. Niles
Closing the first door behind him,
then walked across the room and entered yet another code in a keypad, then placed his finger on a blue glowing pad. A clank that reminded Annie of a bank safe sounded before the stainless steel doors slid open quietly. Niles
“Welcome to our abode Annie,”
intoned as he invited her through the door with his hand. Stepping through the door, Annie was greeted by a small but brightly lit office with three desks interspersed throughout the room. Niles
asked as he sidled up next to her, “seeing that we have a real office I mean, the start of one anyway.” Niles
“Yes…I guess I was kind of wondering if any of what you told me was real. How long have you been in this …business?”
“Wow,” Annie said out loud, “I had no idea you had been working on it so long.”
Annie looked around the office, trying to decide how much to believe what she was seeing in front of her. “You do all of this on these desktops?” she finally asked when she realized that what she saw on the desk were not even high-end computers.
Leading her into a small conference room off the side of the area, she took the seat indicated by
as he went over to a side desk and picked up a stack of papers. Returning to the table, he sat down next to her, picking up the first document before continuing. Niles
“This is the biggie, the Non-Disclosure Agreement, signing this says you agree to never reveal what you see here today, or anytime in the future. If you break this agreement, we have the right to sue you in court, it’s standard policy for any company with Trade Secrets that need to be kept…well secret.”
Annie read through the document and then signed it…she wasn’t sure who she would tell anyway….or for that matter…who cared. After that were a multitude of other forms to sign from the government and insurance companies. By the time she had completed all of the forms, a half-hour had passed.
said as he stood up with the documents in his hand, “Now that that is done, it’s time to meet Cat.” Niles
“And Cat is?” Annie asked.
“She is my partner…so to speak. You could say, she is the brains of the outfit.”
Turning on his heal, he moved across the floor toward yet another solid looking stainless steel door, indicating with his hand for her to follow. Arriving at yet another keypad, Annie watched in awe as
entered a long code before he placed his hand on a biometric screen and leaned his head forward into an eyepiece for a retinal scan. Niles
A female voice intoned “Good Morning
,” while a clank sounded and the door slid open. Niles
Indicating Annie should go in first, she timidly entered through the door into the semidarkness of the room beyond. A large half circle desk with four chairs greeted her, with eight flat screen monitors side by side across the front. Four high-end keyboards were placed one before every chair as pools of light spilled down over each station from unseen fixtures above.
“Wow,” was all that Annie could think to say.
“Impressive, isn’t it?”
interjected from behind. “This is the hub of it all, where all of the connections are made and analyzed.” Niles
Remembering something, Annie looked around the darkened room, squinting to see into any corners.
“Where’s your partner…where’s Cat.”
“You’re looking at her,”
said excitedly as he walked past Annie toward the large desk. Reaching the side of the counter-like workstation, he turned and leaned comfortably against it, one elbow resting on the top and his hands clasped together at his chest. Niles
“Meet Cat, or as she is known by our employers: CATA- the ‘Circle And Thread Analyzer’.”
“Your partner is…a computer?”
“Oh, she is much more than just a computer; she is a Super Computer…the largest of her kind. I’ve been assembling the components for three years to get to this point. Most of the processors are in the warehouse next door…also highly secured by the way.”
“Say hello to Annie, Cat.”
“Hello Annie Chang, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance!”
Hesitantly, “Hello Cat…umm…how are you today?”
“Fine thank you.”
Annie’s head was spinning, not sure what to think. “Do you program her…with vocal commands?”
said, the smile still on his face, seeming to enjoy her discomfort. “At least not yet, her programming only makes use of the voice interface for greetings, maintenance warnings, things like that. All of the programming is still done the old fashioned way.” Niles
Feeling uncomfortable talking in front of Cat, Annie asked
if they could go back to the office to talk. Seeming confused himself, Niles shrugged his shoulders and led Annie out of the dark room and across the office to the conference room. Indicating an empty chair, Niles took the seat across from her, comfortably leaning back into his chair. Niles
“So are you impressed or what?”
“I am impressed,” Annie said as she took her seat, leaning forward seriously with her hands clasped. “The technology you have put together looks awesome; I can tell you have put your heart and soul into this project.”
A huge smile crossed
’ face, and Annie couldn’t help but notice his overly pale skin, a byproduct of living in dark rooms she supposed. Niles
“As impressive as it is though…I don’t think I can work for you.”