A few reluctant beams of sunlight sought their way through thick grey cloud.
It was a Thursday afternoon, truly the worst of days for the working man; so close and yet so far from those days of leisure we call the weekend.
With the five o’clock chimes, Paul ambled slowly down the cracked pavement, free for the evening but exhausted to his bones.
He wore scrappy, ripped trousers, and a faded hoodie bearing a longforgotten skate logo.
His messenger bag was flung over his shoulder, with laptop, keyboard, notepad and water bottle stashed inside.
His hair had not been cut for several months, and tended to remain unwashed and matted.
His shoes were slowly falling apart, the laces frayed and the soles battered. In short, he was a mess, a loser with no prospects and nothing going right for him.
He lived in a dilapidated apartment block, a grey sprawl with absolutely no architectural merit.
It was too ugly to be bauhaus, too small to be brutalist. It was the epitome of awful 1960s town planning.
As he opened the entrance door, he noticed that yet again the long-suffering elevator bore an ‘out of order’ sign, printed in huge, industrial block capitals.
As always, he walked straight past it, and up the vinyl-carpeted stairs that led upwards to his home on the third floor.
His door was unlocked, and he almost fell through it, such was the extent of his fatigue. He threw down his bag and lay down on the sofa.
Although it was only half past five, he soon drifted off into sleep, slumped over the misplaced, moth-eaten cushions.
An hour or so later, the crude, angry vibration of his mobile phone, sitting on the kitchen counter awoke him from his impromptu doze.
Contrary to the habits of most people, Paul didn’t carry one of those silicon chip, aluminium smartphones, featuring biometric scanning, a fast processor and connection to anything, anywhere.
In fact, the job he did practically forbade such things. He worked for one of the huge corporations, as a security ‘drone’, socalled because of the monotonous and subordinate nature of the position.
His job was to trawl through the endless logs of the servers in the immediate vicinity of the office, looking for errors, or signs that someone was attempting to compromise the network.
He would then report back at the end of each day to the regional superintendent, detailing his findings.
Paul liked to think that this was fairly significant stuff, and to a certain extent, he was right.
Utilities such as electricity and water had been sold off by the government to the mega-corps, after the crash of ‘92.
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