It was getting late. Eyes glued on the screen console, he kept typing with his earphones on. He paused for a sip of coffee before he could resume his work. While he was putting down the mug, he checked the time on his wrist watch. 11:45 pm. He had to fix the bug in his code tonight, even if it meant staying back for hours. There was nobody at work except for the floor attendant in his night shift who passed him a weak , sympathetic smile as he passed on every aisle of the floor, arranging the stationeries, taking notes of the count of pens and staplers. He smiled back. This brief exchange of gestures was a daily routine for them these days.
At 11.50pm, his phone beeped. He checked the phone. It was his flatmate. "Throwing a house party today. Help yourself with some beer in the fridge in case you're late." He sighed. He couldn't remember when was the last time he had been to a party on a weeknight. He couldn't remember when was the last he had returned home by 8 on a weeknight.
11.55pm.He stretched a bit, and decided to get another cup of coffee. He left his console and headed for the breakout area. Filled the cup with coffee, gulped a few quick swigs, and returned back to his cubicle. He unlocked the console while wondering if he had locked it when he left. The coffee cup escaped his grip and hit the floor as he looked at his screen in horror. His code had vanished.
'Too many thriller movies.' He slapped himself, and tried checking the system. None of the files would open, and his source code showed nothing. He could feel himself turning white and pale. Three hours of work, all gone.
He kept typing frantically on the keyboard. His head was spinning. The coffee was spilled on the floor with an ominous mark. The code files were nowhere to be seen. As he kept scrolling up and down , his screen went blank.
There was a bright flash. He looked on. A string of letters came across the screen. 'Hacked by CorpPirate' it read, before it went black and shut down.Before he could make any sense of all this, his phone buzzed.
'Hello, late night at work?'
'Who is this?'
'I am not enjoying this.'
'Of course you won't be enjoying. Not interested in knowing what happened to your code?'
'What do you know about my code?'
'Nothing. But maybe I can show you.'
He received an image. He opened it. It was a screenshot of his code.
'What's the meaning of all this?'
'That I have taken your code hostage.mwahahahaha. But you can get it back.'
'Well I will re-write it.'
'Your call buddy. Stay up all night with a half-asleep head, write a code full of bugs, keep decoding till tomorrow morning, all the best for your demo scheduled in the morning.'
The very thought of the demo made him panic. He realized he was not capable of coding from the scratch.
'What do you want?'
'I want you to reach home in 15 minutes, and start up your desktop. You will know of the next steps there.'
'Right. And what if I refuse to do so.'
'You still don't get it , do you? Well, if you don't do that, I will delete lines from your code. I am sure it will be a lot more fun to complete an incomplete code, with ardent bugs, don't you think?'
'Damn you. Alright I will do as you say.'
'That's more like it. You have 15 minutes. Set the timer.'
He decided to call his flatmate. They had spare keys to his room, they can open the desktop in case he gets late. He dialed the number. Nobody picked up. 'C'mon pick up! Pick up!!' He tried multiple times but in vain. 2 minutes had passed already.
He had to reach home. He got up, starting searching for his car keys. He was not able to ponder and think at all. Debug. Code from scratch. Demo in the morning. Debug. Code from scratch. Demo in the morning. Debug. Code from scratch. Demo in the morning. He packed his essentials from the desk, and ran out of his office floor. Clicked on the elevator keys. Nothing moved. 'Fuck it!' he took the fire exit stairs all the way to the parking basement. He found his car, got in, drove fast, out in the calm and pitch black night. The turns were sharp as he drove at a speed of 100. He reached his building in 10 minutes. Leaving the car outside, he entered the apartment, and took the flight of stairs. He realized that his mind was not working as all he could think of was reach his apartment. He reached the front door, reached for his keys. He keyed in, found his hand slipping because of the sweat, as he somehow managed to open the door up. It was dark. He clicked on the lights. Not working.
Before he could make any move, there was sudden outburst of loud noise and a dash of powerful lights.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE!" He looked around. All his friends, his flatmates, everyone had gathered . A piece of cake was in the middle, surrounded by crates of beer. 'Fuckers!' he screamed, as one his friends came forward and hugged him. 'We knew you'd like the surprise!' he said. 'Yeah sure. It almost killed me! ' he said.
'You made it well within 15 minutes eh!' his flatmates came up and elbowed him.
'So it was you guys! But how did you manage to --?'
'Well it was Sam's idea from the beginning.' they said, pointing at a grinning Sam , his late-night office floor attendant.
He now realized why he had found his console locked, when he came back from the breakout area with the cup of coffee, as a smile crept up his face.