Attenuated – Part Six

SuccINCt believed in supplying their creative team with the best equipment possible.

Twin monitors at every workstation, custom keyboards, cutting-edge editing software and trendy ergonomic chairs with mesh-like coverings. Myles wished his desk had a chair like this. Everything could be adjusted from the lumbar support to the inclination of the seat.

He had been in the editing studio for over two weeks now, getting used to the layout and technical requirements of the job. It sure beat making copies in the dead of night. With his new-found responsibilities he had gotten much less sleep. There were multiple commercials in the pipeline, and he had to help get them into shape for airing.

He wished he had never read the SAS files. It was insidious, invasive and horrifying. By inducing the mental “lock”, subjects would be planted with subtle suggestions, what to buy, what to wear, and now – who to vote for. The first part of his plan had worked, navigating the project requirements arranging to be put into the editing studio.

The rest would be a bit more involved.

Mary Harrison was SuccINCt’s newest client, a city council hopeful with eyes on state representation. Her opponent, Conrad Burke had been involved in council positions before, but was now jockeying for the state slot as well. The defensive strategy distilled into a series of “ThinVert” spots run on local cable and streaming sites.

Given Harrison’s resources, she was outgunned by Burke’s larger warchest and commercial business sponsors. That was the external view. The internal view from his perspective she was an easy shoe-in, just a few ThinVerts from a landslide victory.

“How’s the latest segment coming along?”, Alan was wearing a turtleneck sweater today with jeans, an homage to someone he thought was very clever. Myles thought it looked smug and pretentious.

“Progressing, getting some of the final bits spliced in now.”

“Excellent, when the whole series is done we’ll have another project for you to cut your teeth on.”, Alan patted Myles on the shoulder in a way that made him want to punch Alan in his condescending face.

It had been exhausting working on the ads, there were a lot of moving parts that Myles never knew existed. He waited until Alan walked out into the hallway, frosted glass doors quietly closing in unison. This might be his only chance. He had been in a state of constant tension, with managers and their bosses touring the studio to keep tabs on their latest enterprise.

Myles quietly unhooked his portable USB Drive from his keychain.

Slotting the drive, he brought up a file system window and started copying over code and assets he had created at home. This had better work. He felt the same urgency he did in his nightmares, running through faceless crowds trying to reach an objective in time. In some a huge colossus would be glaring down with wide open eyes, intense beams sweeping the crowd.

He always woke up when the dark fingers grabbed him, the smell of burning charcoal filling his nostrils.

“Say, what are you doing there?”, Alan peered over Myles shoulder, squinting at the monitor. Myles heart leapt into his throat, hammering pulse pounding in his ears.

“Oh good question. You see I’m putting these assets on here because the project needed a bit of enhancement. As you know, the asset requirements were for multi-level tactics employed with SuccINCt protocols. In brief, the components that you are looking at have been calculated to elicit the primary response, which in this case would be..”, Myles trailed off, watching Alan’s eyes go into that thousand-foot stare that Gail, his boss had done.

Alan had been reset.

Myles found that anyone who had viewed the ThinVerts without an appropriate counter-response would be susceptible to the lock phenomenon. He had made his own inoculating clip at home, and viewed it daily. It was a mental flu-shot in the middle of a raging epidemic.

He carefully hid the file window, bringing up the video editing suite.

Alan blinked, and straightened up.

“How’s the latest segment coming along?”

“Proceeding on schedule.”, Myles turned, looking at Alan’s eyes.

The same detached expression as Gail, like someone woken up in the middle of the night, not quite grounded in their surroundings.

“Excellent, well carry on.”, Alan walked slowly to the double doors, with a stilted gait.

Myles didn’t like using the brainlock, but it had leapt out of his mouth without him thinking. Alan wouldn’t remember anything he had seen before the reset. It was a horrible thing to do to someone. But the plan had to succeed. He thought about what would happen if it didn’t.

SuccINCt would expand their business from just slinging products to influencing policies and electing politicians. It would lead all the way to the top, with SuccINCt pulling the strings. From what Myles had observed in planning meetings, it was the exact opposite of the world he wanted to live in.

His assets copied, Myles retrieved and pocketed the USB drive.

The final edits were due tomorrow. If his substitution went unnoticed, he just might pull this off.

Myles rubbed his face with his hands, staring at the video timeline. A few edits was all it would take. Deliberately, he began inserting the key phrases and suggestions he had created.

Mouse clicking like the escapement in a clock, ticking towards an unknown fate.

(To be continued.)