by Professor Q
Entry for Writer's Cramp ending 11/22/15
|Mr. Robert Macmillan,
Book Club. Tuesday. Location B. 5:30pm.
Do not be late.
Bobby grinned as he tossed the note into the trash. It was time. Book Club hadn’t met in almost two months. There had been a tech malfunction and G feared a breach in their firewall. Security protocols demanded a new location and a month’s sequestration for their IT wizards. There were a lot of organizations looking to get on the inside and drain their servers dry. The information they knew, the secrets they kept, could set the world on fire.
Everyone wanted in.
G liked to joke that the first rule of Book Club was don’t talk about Book Club. But then he repeated it, and everyone knew it wasn’t a joke. Martha rolled her eyes, pen dancing over pages and pages of information she kept locked up in a small safe Bobby was reasonably sure had been designed by Ocean’s Eleven—or the real-life equivalent, anyway—to keep everyone out. She wasn’t one for computer screens; she liked the feel of ink beneath her fingers. Easier to protect, Martha said; you couldn’t hack a pile of paper unless you could get your hands on it.
Bobby wondered if she slept with the safe at night. She certainly seemed like the kind who would shoot anyone who tried to take her work.
For himself, Bobby lived for portability and passwords that would take a machine thirty years to decrypt. No book would get out on his watch. It was more than his life was worth to let anything get out. He lived for secrets these days; the job had taken its toll on him. When the black hats tried to play the game, he loved to get them salivating; he dangled lies like salacious tidbits of hidden knowledge. G didn’t like it, but Bobby thought G could go blow himself. A job this stressful needed a little levity.
He was a crafter of words; what were a few misdirects to a man like him? It made everyone laugh to see the rodents scurry.
Bobby grabbed his bag and tossed his most conspicuous computer into the main compartment. Something more discreet went into a hidden pouch, and his thumb drive went around his neck under his shirt. He pulled a hat over his ginger curls and waggled his eyebrows at the handsome man in the mirror. “Let’s go get ‘em, cowboy.”
It always amazed Bobby that the vultures would swirl around people like them. There were so many bigger fish to bait out there. But he supposed they were desperate for anything. They must be, if they came after Book Club. Everyone wanted to know what they knew; everyone wanted to see what they did. Bobby had to admit the attention felt kind of good, no matter how annoying it was. It made him feel important, and people like him were so rarely important.
The streets were packed, but Bobby knew the subway would be even worse, so he stayed topside. He liked the walk, and if he put in his earbuds, he could lose himself in the crowds. Bobby had never liked the subway, anyway; it always seemed so strange to go around underground. He’d never known he had claustrophobia before moving here, but he had learned it very quickly.
Someone bumped his shoulders and Bobby instinctively grabbed for his bag. Lots of snatchers in the city. “Just me, Bobby,” came Zach’s voice. “I tried calling out, but whatever you’ve got in your ears is drowning it out. Got your coffee.”
“Thanks, man. How goes the boards?”
“Oh, you know. G and Martha were two of heads of Cerberus in a past life. They hardly let anything get to me and I can hardly get anything up the ladder. So… at least everything the higher-ups get is good.” Zach shrugged. “I suppose that reflects well on us.”
“Yeah. We don’t want to fuck this up.” Bobby grinned. “Lord knows G’s already tight enough these days.”
“Book Club,” Zach declared by way of reply. “What’s the first rule?”
“What’s Book Club?”
Zach laughed as they reached their building. He pressed a button marked “M. Schwartz” and the door buzzed. “Belly of the beast,” the handsome blonde muttered. “I can’t believe she let us come here. I never thought I’d see the day.”
“She probably did it just to let G shut up. One power outage and he’s shitting bricks.”
“Someone might be after the books,” Zach shrieked in a remarkable imitation of Gambheer Chowdhury, their fearless leader. “They might leak!”
“I hope G doesn’t hear you,” came a female voice from the landing above them. “We’ll have to endure one of his lectures and I want you people out of my house on time for The Flash. Come on up. I got us some Chinese.”
Bobby charged up the stairs. “Thanks, Martha. Is he here yet?”
“Of course. He got here an hour ago. Who do you think sent you the texts on your phone? Come on in. He wants to do some major edits on the books today. Seems the studio wants us to add in a romance subplot for the masked vigilante.”
Zach hissed. “God. Of course they do. As if the script isn’t convoluted enough.”
“Eh, eh, eh!” Came a cry from inside the apartment. “Not until you’re inside. Remember the first rule of Book Club!”
“Shut up, G,” Martha snapped. “We’re a month behind because of your shenanigans with the higher-ups and now they’re tossing in new shit we have to fit in between fight scenes and at least fifteen superheroes.”
G frowned at Martha’s head. “You know everyone wants this script. The execs were concerned someone had leaked it!”
Bobby laughed as he plopped down on the couch and pulled out his tablet. “Bloggers, eh? OK, so this meeting of Book Club is officially brought to order! First things first, let’s eat. I’ve been working on edits all day and I’m freaking starving.”