Chapter 23: Let's not dwell

The next morning, breakfast was delivered at 8:30, but Steven and Chrissy were already deep in discussion by the time room service had knocked on the door.  She was not able to sleep much and Steven had taken the opportunity to discuss his ideas about what she told him about the Facility.  Again, she shared more information with him.  It seemed that Steven was not the only hacker in the room.  Chrissy used a key copy device attached to the serial port of her father’s computer long ago to get his login name and password.  Chrissy’s father, Steven had learned, was the secretary of the project tasked to keep detailed minutes of the meetings.  He also kept a record of statuses of several duties which a small number of employees made in the past seven weeks since the project had started to be structured into something more than a two-man show.

The most impressive files, however, were those of Eirik Olsen, which were not only limited to the discovered rooms and new areas, but also contained comprehensive records of everything and read more like diary entries than technical logs.  Chrissy remarked that besides the Dear Journal at the beginning of each page, it looked pretty much the same as what she was writing when she was a kid.

“Look at this one,” she said as she started reading.

“Today, I have been to a place bathing in the glow of a powerful light.  It was as bright as the sun on a cloudless summer day. I have discovered that light, but not its purpose.  As I stood in the room, I was amazed by the fact that it was at the bottom and not even in


the centre.  Maybe I assumed a parallel to our solar system, or that I have always believed that important things should be centre-staged.  I think I will go and eat there from time to time.  It is comforting to know that in my modern cavern, a light is always on.

Observation:  The height of this room extends to three floors and is the only room so far that is higher than the command centre.  See directory lightroom and file lightroom.doc for details.”

Not quite poetic, but still not precisely technical either.  Being alone in the Facility, Steven judged that writing was a good way to keep oneself sane.  They looked at the photos, but couldn’t see much.  The light was indeed very bright and it made the details and colours impossible to see, much like taking photos of the front of a car with its high beam lights on.  Even though these pictures were poor, the rest of the seven thousand photos he took had been a mind opener.  They depicted everything from the inside of the Facility.  They also included shots of hundreds of rooms and corridors taken in every angle possible.  At one point during the viewing, Steven asked if Eirik did not copy the same photo over and over, as all the rooms looked the same, and only the filenames indicating the number of the room in Arabic Number Notation one to eight were different.  Eirik had assigned a number for each symbol.  Chrissy also described to Steven some of the photos, explaining that a lot of them were of the control panels.  Also, a series of photos were showing snapshots of equipment on the ground beside a ruler to show their proportion or what they looked like as they were being used.

The files included lists of all the rooms he visited, their inventories, and what he named the various equipments and their functions.  Beside the list, Eirik made three columns titled E, J and I.  An X had been placed beside a lot of items.

“Did you figure out what the E, J and I meant?” asked Steven, serving Chrissy a little more juice.

“Not at first, but then I did when I saw that the E column was rather full, the J column was maybe a third full, and column I was pretty full too,” answered Chrissy.

At that moment, Steven understood what the columns were and raised his hand to interrupt her. “Let me guess, E for Eirik, J for Jack and I for Invitation.”

“Invite, according to what I have seen later in another folder.  It also contained a note to the current project manager requesting that all employees be tested on those pieces of equipment in order to make a more accurate assessment, so that the reason behind the denial of equipment usage will be understood swiftly.”

“Yeah, he is absolutely right. Since I have learned of it, I have thought of not much else.”

“It is clear to me that you are here for that purpose,” said Chrissy, feeling proud of being with him.

Pausing for a long moment, weighing the pros and cons in his head, Steven remained silent with a piece of buttered bread in his hand, looking at Chrissy absently.

“Something wrong?”

Steven didn’t move at first, still thinking hard about something he had just realized.  Knowing the importance of body contact creating deep emotional attachments, he thought the occasion was as good as any to create bonds.  He grabbed her left hand with his free hand and deposited the bread.  To his surprise, she grabbed it as well and caressed it with her thumb. “What’s wrong?” she asked again, obviously concerned.

“I understand that we haven’t known each other for very long, but I really feel that I have known you for a long time and that whatever I say to you can remain between us.” Steven offered in an equally soft voice.

“Sure,” agreed Chrissy.

“Please understand that all I know about the Facility, as they call it, I have learned from you,” continued Steven, a slight nervousness evident in his voice as Chrissy continued to caress his hand with her thumb. “Without you, I would be totally in the dark about it, and for that, I thank you,” he paused.

“Why do I have the feeling that there is a however coming on?” asked Chrissy, feeling that she should retract her hand, but didn’t want to break the contact for fear of interrupting his open-hearted statement and more importantly, risk harming their new friendship.

“It’s not like that,” continued Steven, smiling to ease the tension and starting to massage her hand with his fingers. “It’s more like this:  Let’s assume that the Facility is capable of detecting something that we are not able to see.  Like how voice stress analyzers and lie detectors can detect people’s stress and nervousness., or dogs can detect a wide range of human conditions and emotions by the changing smells those conditions bring inside us.  Now, let’s assume that I can determine how it is done and even better, I can turn it off completely.  What are the chances that someone with ill intensions can then use equipments previously inaccessible to them in the past and ultimately use them to harm others? ”

Chrissy tightened her grip, but she then removed her hand. “I have never thought about it this way.  Since I have seen that document weeks ago and discussed with my father the reasons why some people can use some equipment and others can’t, I focused only on how to bypass these security features or disable the system all together.  I have never thought of the consequences if I did manage to turn it off,” she said, starting to realize the implication.  She was quickly changing her perception like a kid realizing that Santa Claus couldn’t be in two malls at the same time and therefore didn’t exist.  “Also, I have to admit that I was selfishly concerned for myself and whether or not I would be granted a good access like Eirik or a bad one like Jack”.

“Come on, you are not alone.  I have spent every second since you told me, judging all the actions I have done in my life and thinking that I would likely not even make it to the front door, invited or not,” analyzed Steven.

“But you are judging yourself by the standards of our society and not by the Builders of the Facility’s standards,” speculated Chrissy. “Let’s not waste time thinking about it; we will only drive ourselves crazy.”

“Yeah, let’s not dwell” concluded Steven.