Joe went to work the next day. Shortly after arriving, he passed a coworker in a darker hall who had a faint halo of light around him. Joe’s own halo was visible as well.
There were 12 more floors above Joe’s office. “Where were the drones hiding?” he wondered. Can they pass through walls?”
He worked on and delegated accounting tasks. Joe had not seen his boss that morning.
Around 11am, he received an alert from Watch.
“Brace yourself +4; reverse the stat 444 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
Joe pondered the alert. He had never disabled the Reversal Notifications setting. He braced himself for what either Watch or the Stats app had in store for him.
Sure enough, 20 minutes later, he received an alert.
“Sever financial security of a coworker +200; now at 203 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
“Good God,” Joe uttered as he read the alert. Plus two hundred. He refused to think about how the stat had been at 3 already.
“Reverse the stat,” Watch had said. Severing the financial security of such an even number of employees meant lay-offs. And Joe realized he had been granted the corporate power to influence such things with his recent promotion.
Joe brought up his texting app and typed.
“You want me to reverse this?”
“Hurry +4; small window 444 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
Joe did some digging on his company’s server and found the corresponding documents detailing the lay-offs. Two hundred names. Two hundred lives to be ruined with one single signature. Most were employed in various subsidized companies his company owned, but a few of them were in his own accounting group. He wondered if he himself would be on the list had he not been selected for his promotion.
Joe studied the documents. He eventually identified a way to keep the employees hired on while also balancing the budget concerns. He drew up his proposal and submitted it to his boss’s email address.
He exited his office and took a late lunch.
“Sever financial security of a coworker Reversed -200; now at 3 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
Joe placed his hamburger back onto its plate as he read the alert. “This is too good to be true,” he suspected.
He finished his lunch (meals completed +1) and returned to work. His boss spotted him on the way to his office.
“Not even I saw that loophole… that was amazing! I knew we hired you for something, haha!”
Joe noticed his boss’s halo of light. He smiled back to his boss and replied “All in a day’s work.” Inside, he did not allow himself too much elation. He did not like this game. He did not trust the reversal to be so easy next time.
And he had questions. What kind of tests were these? Who was directing them? “And why me?” Joe continued to ponder, “Certainly Watch wouldn’t be behind-“
“All right mister Joe +4; it’s Go Time. 444 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
Joe stared at Watch’s alert.
What was about to happen?
* * *
4:44 read the clock on Joe’s office wall. Watch’s instructions were simple. Wait until the boss is leaving, and obtain access to his office, and then to his computer. After that, Joe was to punch in several passwords that Watch will provide at various prompts, one by one.
After that, Watch went silent. Joe wasn’t sure he felt confident enough to “woo” his boss into giving him his PC password. He almost asked Watch if there were any room for failure. “Stupid question,” he uttered.
“He’s on the move +4; get going 444 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
“Hi, chief!” His boss poked his head into Joe’s office as soon as he had finished reading the alert. “Need you to do me a favor. Can you stay a little late this evening and finish up Project 32? You can even use my personal computer; all the information you need is there in the corresponding folder. Here, I wrote the login down.”
Joe marvelled as his boss willfully gave access to his personal work database in the form of a folded sticky note.
“Thank you, sir,” Joe responded graciously as he took the folded note. “And thank you, Watch,” he thought to himself.
His boss made a little small talk, then left. Before the Stats app began making his life miserable, he would have loathed having to work late. But today was different.
Joe waited until the office floor was near empty, which occured an hour and a half later. Watch seemed patient as well; no alerts from him. But Joe knew he was watching.
Joe begun to move. He knocked on his boss’s door, waited two seconds and opened the door.
His boss’s office. Nothing out of the ordinary. The plant next to the desk had started to wilt.
Joe sat in his boss’s chair and brought his boss’s computer out of its screensaver.
“Please log in.” Joe did.
“Barneysucks@69 +4; first password 444 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
Joe had no idea who Barney was or why he sucked, but that did not matter. Joe clicked where Watch indicated and typed in passwords. Joe caught tidbits of very large scientific words and equations on the screen before finishing each password; he couldn’t begin to try understanding any of it.
After the 8th password, Watch sent a different instruction.
“Plug in your phone +4; USB will work 444 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
Joe did not have his own cable with him. Joe started to check his boss’s desk drawers. No cables in the top drawer. Second drawer… “Bingo!” Joe pulled out the ball of tangled cables and unthreaded a cable that fit his phone.
He plugged the USB end into the computer, and the other end into his phone. He placed the phone on the desk.
Joe saw the usual notification that the phone had established a connection, and then… black screen. Joe instinctly stepped back.
The phone screen reactivated. Joe peered at it, still a couple of feet away. His home screen showed. Nothing looked different.
“Go outside +4; enjoy the show 444 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
“Good job +4; and thank you 444 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
At that moment, his boss’s computer screen went black, and the CPU tower began to spark and smoke. Joe grabbed his phone, yanking the cable out of the computer, and he ran out of the office.
He rode the elevator down and exited the building. He ran out several yards in front of the building and looked up. Nothing. Beautiful dusk sky.
Then came a bright flash from behind and above him, laying Joe’s shadow upon the ground. Joe turned around.
And he saw everything.