Broken Protocols(2)

By: Dale Mayer


So she’d ignored those little nudges. Until she found him at a company event, the host, in fact – with his wife at his side.

That had been the most disastrous evening of her life. The wife’s mocking look and laughing comment to her in the ladies’ room later about being her husband’s latest side piece hadn’t helped. The pink slip from his legal firm the next day was just another insult and another piece of her education.

Never have an affair with the boss – especially when it turns out he’s married.

She’d been such a fool. She hated that the other staff had known – and no one had said anything to her. That they all believed she was the kind to have affairs with married men. Now she got the snide comments she hadn’t understood. The mocking and disgusted looks she hadn’t connected to the truth.

There was nothing like learning about men – life – consequences – the hard way.

There was a garbage can up ahead. She stopped, carefully ripped up the picture – one that she’d once loved and held dear – into tiny pieces, and fed them to the can.

Then she turned, pulled up her coat collar, and walked faster.

It was time to let go and create a better future. And as of today, it looked damn bright.

*

“What the hell?” Levi studied the massive wall of monitors in front of him. They should be locked behind the security field at this point. He glanced around the large empty office to see if anyone had slipped in behind him, but he was alone in the encroaching darkness. Then again, he should be. It was damn late, and it was his brother’s office. No one was allowed in but the two of them. Not in this age of computer espionage. His world lived on computers, and his brother was a genius when it came to programming. There was nothing he couldn’t build.

Hence the large company that they owned, with a few family backers, and the heavy security measures they used to keep their inventions secure until the official release.

If it weren’t for Milo’s recent odd behavior, that little kid look of having a secret he desperately wanted to share, Levi wouldn’t be here now. Genius Milo – chocolate-munching, green Mohawk-ed, geeky Milo had been acting suspicious for days.

That would give anyone nightmares.

As his partner and older brother, Levi didn’t dare let Milo go off half-cocked again. Genius he might be, but he was lacking a certain level of common sense, as proven by their being slapped by the CCDA Regulatory Commission last year. No one doubted Milo’s intentions – it was just that they weren’t clearly thought out. At the end of the nerve-wracking review, the board had determined that the brothers would be allowed to continue their IT company, but the genius needed to be carefully watched.

A year later, the regulatory overseeing eye had eased – slightly. But the scrutiny had chafed for both Milo and Levi. For Milo more so.

And as Levi stared at the complex coding on the screen mounted in the center of the wall, he realized that Milo was in deeper than before. Levi’s heart sank. This last year had done nothing to smarten Milo up. This program looked to be almost complete, if not ready for testing.

“I wondered how long it would take you to check up on me.” Milo’s quiet voice spoke from behind him.

Levi dropped his head into his hands, wanting to pull his hair out. Instead, he said in low worried voice, “What have you done?”

“It’s nothing bad. In fact,” Milo’s voice picked up enthusiastically, “it’s kind of awesome.”

“Kind of awesome?” Levi spun around to glare at Milo. “This could mean jail time, you know that.” He towered over his younger brother. “This could mean losing the company. Years of our time and effort. Years where the family helped us, backed us, protected us. Did you even think of that?”

“No. No, it doesn’t.” Milo rushed over, wringing his hands. At least the childish delight of the last few days had dimmed. Milo just didn’t get that rules and regulations were there for a reason. Levi did. He lived by them. His brother didn’t even acknowledge them. And Levi had been bailing him out since he was a little boy – he wasn’t going to change now.