I don’t think I am very good at writing fiction, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try. Here is a rough draft of something I’m working on… I apologize in advance. You probably won’t get more than this, as it’s something I need to keep woodshedding as opposed to publishing on the fly, but it’s something I’m excited to present as a snippet, anyway.
For those who aren’t in the know, Susan Plummer is a nod to the character in The Equalizer, played by Melissa Leo.
Susan Plummer was having her nails done when the message alert dinged on her work phone. It was her day off, which meant taking care of herself. However, even after ten years at the agency with a modicum of seniority, it still meant that personal days were always in quotation marks, tethered by electronic devices designed to render dead zones obsolete. No hour of her day was off the grid, and she heaved a deep sigh. A message when she’d clearly told her underlings only to contact her if the building was on fire, she knew that whatever had been sent was, in the words of Dorothy Parker, a fresh hell.
Well, at least it wasn’t a stale hell. If it was, they could have handled it on their own. She was caught between two ideas. The first was that she hadn’t had a day off in six weeks. The second was piqued curiosity. What in the crippling fuck could be that important?
It was an e-mail forward with only two words… she knows. Under it was an e-mail sent to the DoD webmaster that said a White Hat had found some vulnerabilities and wanted to talk.
No, they didn’t. They wanted to negotiate, she thought. Those fuckers always want something in return. It was time to get a team together and check it out. No face-to-face, just gathering intel. If they found anything, things could escalate quickly.
There was something about the e-mail that struck her as odd. If this person had truly meant malice, why would they give their own name and contact information? They’d, in effect, saved DoD tons of taxpayer dollars and legwork. Well, that was at least something. She would choose her team carefully, because intel ops had gone wrong before. She couldn’t take a chance that this one would, because things would end up going in one of two directions. Either she’d give her a job, or burn her so hard that when she even thought about touching a computer her gag reflex would engage.
Actually, there were two things that had struck her as odd, not just the one. In her entire career with the agency, the number of female hackers she’d investigated was a grand total of one… this one. Who was she, and what could she possibly want out of this? It would have to wait until she got to the office. She’d pissed off her nail technician long enough, who’d started to chat about Susan’s self importance, not knowing that Susan started out as a linguist and Vietnamese was in her wheelhouse.
She apologized for her rudeness, saying that it was an annoying work thing as the blood drained from her nail technician’s face.
When the appointment was over, Susan drove home and called for her agency driver. Mike served two purposes, carrying her around in a vehicle capable of withstanding bullets, and for better or for worse, freeing her up to work in the backseat.
Time to make the donuts, she thought, and smudged her red paint on the door handle.
Susan was sitting at her desk, staring at pictures of a woman with kind eyes, a great smile, and hair that flopped in every direction. Though she’d checked out every page in this woman’s terrifying browser history, she smiled back at the screen in spite of herself. This was the tiny sprite supposedly fucking up her program? Although there was one unsettling aspect in the last image.
She was staring directly at the camera.
Susan thought back to the first e-mail that alerted her to this woman’s presence, and thought about its relevance. It was right.
But the what remained to be seen. She picked up the phone.
Steve, let’s go ahead and bring her in.