Okay. I know it’s been over a month since my last Flash Fiction Friday, but we’ve been dealing with the aftermath of a death in the family. Also, this one took a bit longer to write. Partly because this one isn’t exactly flash fiction. it falls more into short story territory.
Anyway, as you may remember, I was going to write a less literal, more adult story inspired by the same roll of the dice used to write Rory’s Apple Adventure. FFF #18 . To see the actual roll, click here. Anyway, I’ll stop boring you. I give you…
The Golden Apple
“Robby. I need that report on my desk by three.” Mister Simmons said, turning and walking away without waiting for an answer.
“Sir?” Rory said.
“Yes?” Mr. Simmons paused without turning back around, clearly annoyed at having his time wasted.
“Never mind.” Rory said, deciding it would be better to answer to someone else’s name rather than upset the boss.
“Okay then. Remember, two O-clock.”
Rory got to work, cursing himself for losing himself an hour.
At ten, his alarm went off. He briefly considered skipping his break, but thought better of it. Even though he didn’t really need to go, it would be another two hours until his lunch break. By then, he knew, he would probably be dying. Besides, he relished his little breaks. Even when he didn’t really need to go, he loved to lock himself in the stall, pull his feet up and shut his eyes for a few minutes. On the rare occasions it didn’t smell too bad, he would even practice some of the deep breathing exercises his therapist had suggested.
He was doing just that when the door opened and two men walked in, talking to each other. He didn’t recognize the voices, but their shoes were nicer than anyone on his floor usually wore. Rory curled himself into an even tighter ball, feeling somehow guilty for no reason whatsoever.
“God, I hate using the can down here with the commoners. When are they going to get the executive wash room fixed?”
“Not for at least another week.”
“Ugh. They don’t even have decent soap in here.”
“Can’t let these peons get a taste of the good life, can we? Besides, once we turn the golden apple on…”
Rory saw one of the men walk past his stall, bent low, checking for feet. He almost breathed a sigh of relief when the executive moved past, apparently satisfied that the bathroom was empty.
“Anyway, like I was saying, once we turn that golden apple on, our worries will be over.”
“Don’t you feel at least a little bad for all those people? I mean, this is their savings we’re talking about.”
“That’s the thing. It’s savings. They’re not using it. It’s just sitting in a bank account. These people don’t know how to spend their money. It’s just going to rot in their account until they die.”
“Look at it this way. Taking all that money and spending it will be just the kickstart the economy needs.”
“But how? We’ll be spending it in another country.”
“Well, if it’s going to happen, I hope it happens soon. The thought of all those account numbers sitting there on that hard drive in Julian’s office makes me nervous. If we get caught…”
“We won’t. Besides, even if they raid us, like you said, it’s in Julian’s office. Connected to his computer. He’s the one who goes down for trying to rip off all those poor people. We had no idea he was capable of such a thing. Poor bastard doesn’t even know he’s committing the crime of the century.”
The other man laughed.
“So when do we turn it on?”
“We just need a few thousand more accounts. Maybe a week? Put it this way. I’d start packing now. Once we flip the switch, we’re gonna want to scoot. Best to be in some nice non-extradition country before anyone figures out what we’ve done.”
“Good thinking.” He laughed as the bathroom door opened and the men walked out.
Rory couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. Were these men really planning on cleaning out people’s savings accounts? He quickly washed his hands and exited the bathroom.
He made a beeline for Mister Simmons’ office and burst in without knocking.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Simmons shouted.
“I’m sorry, Sir, but this is really important.” Rory said.
“Do you have my report ready?” Simmons asked.
“Well, uh, no sir. But I just heard these two guys in the bathroom. They were talking about something called the golden apple. They’re going to…”
Simmons’ eyes widened at the mention of the golden apple.
“That’s enough. I’ll not have you making up wild stories as an excuse for not finishing your work on time. I’m afraid you’re done here at Oak Tree Investments. Clean out your desk, Ricky.”
Rory turned to go.
“Sir. One more thing.”
“It’s Rory. I want you to remember that.”
As Rory packed his things, he wondered what to do next. Clearly Simmons was in on the scam. Who knew who else? Possibly everyone above his pay level. Except for Julian of course, whoever he was. Rory couldn’t go to the cops without some sort of proof. He’d just look like another disgruntled employee.
Then it hit him. He did know someone who might be able to help.
He looked at his pitiful box of posessions and realized it was all meaningless. He left it on his former desk as he walked out. As he passed through the glass doors of his building, he expected his anxiety to kick in at being suddenly unemployed for the first time since high-school, but instead he felt free in a way he’d never thought possible.
. . .
Rory wished he’d changed before going to see Mark. He stuck out like a sore thumb walking around in his suit in the commune Mark had joined after he’d gotten out of prison. Even worse, everyone he passed eyed him warily. Nobody answered when he asked for Mark. Still, nobody bothered him, either. Just as he was giving up hope, he heard a familiar voice call out to him.
“Well, well. If it ain’t the lion’s roar himself.” Mark said, hanging out of the door of a small trailer. He looked so much different than he had the last time Rory had seen him that he was glad Mark had spotted him. He wasn’t sure he would have recognized this man with long hair and a scraggly beard.
“Hey Mark. How have you been?”
“Mark’s gone. It’s Sunflower now.” His friend said. Rory waited for the punchline, but none came. “I changed it when I decided to cut that noose from my neck.”
“You mean when you were busted for hacking.”
“So what brings you out to the land of the hippies?” Sunflower asked, ignoring Rory’s comment.
“I have a little computer problem I need some help with.”
“No can do, partner. I’m not about that life any more.”
“Uh huh.” Rory said, eyeing the impressive array of antennae emerging from the roof of the small camper.
Mark/Sunflower followed his line of sight and sighed.
“You always were smarter than you let on. I guess you might as well come inside.”
The inside of the trailer was so full of old computers, Rory wondered where Sunflower slept.
Sunflower handed Rory a beer that seemed to appear out of nowhere and sat on the small patch of floor in the center of the trailer. Rory did the same.
“So what is it you need? And it’d better be good.” Sunflower said.
Rory quickly told him everything he’d heard in the bathroom, all the while, Sunflower leaned closer. Rory was worried that if his jaw dropped any more, it might actually scrape the floor.
“Those sons of…” He finally said.
“Right?” Rory agreed.
“We’ve got to stop them.” Sunflower said, jumping up and opening a terminal.
“What are you doing?”
“Seeing what I can find on this golden apple.”
“I doubt you’ll find anything on the internet.”
“Internet? I’ve been deep in their system since long before they had me arrested. A digital fly on the wall if you will.”
Rory sat back and drank his beer as Sunflower typed furiously. Before he’d finished it, Sunflower found what he was looking for.
“You got it? Wipe it clean.”
“I found it, yes. But cracking it is another story. Security to this thing is iron clad. I’m going to need to be in the same room with it to get into it. Besides, I wouldn’t wipe it anyway.”
“Because. If I wipe it, there’s no evidence. If there’s no evidence, these guys don’t go to prison and do it again in a couple of months. Do you still have your security badge?”
Rory looked down and saw it was still clipped to his belt.
Sunflower snatched it from him.
“Because, one of us is going to need to get in there. Now who do you want to be? Be careful. Whoever’s identity you use is going to be in a buttload of trouble.”
“Simmons.” Rory said without hesitation.
“Good choice.” Sunflower laughed.
. . .
Rory tried not to look nervous as he used his reprogrammed badge to open the doors and walked up to the desk where a very muscular black man in a uniform sat watching some action movie on his tablet. Rory almost breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that this was a guard he’d never seen before. The name on his tag said Alphonso.
Alphonso quickly stopped his movie and stowed his tablet when he saw Rory.
“Hello sir, may I help you?” the guard asked with a sheepish grin.
“Just need to finish a little paperwork that didn’t get done.” Rory answered. He could feel his palms getting clammy as the lie left his lips.
“Certainly, sir. I just need to see your badge.”
Rory handed it over, willing his hand not to shake. Alphonso studied the security badge for a long moment. Rory felt a sheen of sweat break out on his forehead.
Finally, Alphonso handed the badge back and smiled.
“You have a good evening, Mister Simmons.”
“You too, Alphonso. And don’t worry. It’ll be our little secret.” Rory said, nodding toward the spot where Alphonso had hidden his tablet.
“Thank you, sir. I appreciate that.”
Rory flashed him another smile that turned to a look of panic as he turned toward the elevators.
As soon as the doors slid shut, Rory almost pressed the button for his old floor out of habit before remembering that this time, he was going all the way to the top.
“Okay. I’m in.” Rory said.
The earpiece Sunflower had given him crackled to life.
“Okay. You’re looking for the office of Julian Walker.”
Rory found it quickly, but when he turned the handle, it didn’t move.
“It’s locked.” Rory said. “What now?”
“Give me a second.” Sunflower said.
A moment later, Rory heard the electronic lock click. Rory tried the handle again and the door opened.
“Got it.” Rory whispered.
“Good, now put the device in the computer and I’ll take care of the rest.”
Rory did as he was asked and waited. He felt himself starting to tremble with the tension.
“Comeoncomeoncomeon.” Rory said under his breath.
“I’m working as fast as I can.” Sunflower said. Then a moment later, “Jesus!”
“What?” Rory asked, panicking.
“They’ve got the banking info of everyone who’s ever done business with ol’ Oak tree Financial. Not to mention the employees.”
“Jesus.” Rory repeated back.
“Aaaaannnnnd, got it.” Sunflower said, finally.
Rory snatched the device out of the computer. As he did, the printer whirred to life.
“Did you do that?” Rory whispered as loudly as he could, startled.
“Yes. We need a hard copy just in case.”
As soon as the printer stopped, Rory grabbed the sheaf of papers and shoved them down the front of his pants.
“What about the apple?” Rory asked, looking at the round device plugged into the back of the computer. “Shouldn’t I take it?”
“Not if you want to take these guys down. They need to be caught with it. Now get out of there.”
As Rory rode the elevator down. He was overcome with an odd sense of peace. It was almost over. He just had to walk past Alphonso, who was probably still engrossed in his movie, and it would be over.
The elevator doors opened and Rory found himself looking down the barrel of Alphonso’s revolver. Rory didn’t know much about guns, but it looked like a big one to him.
“What’s going on, Al?” Rory asked, trying to sound casual.
“I looked up Simmons in the database. You ain’t him. Now come out of there slowly and get down on the ground.”
“Look. I can explain.” Rory said.
“Sure you can.”
“Can I just show you something?”
Alphonso thought for a moment.
“Okay, but you’d better make it quick. Cops are on their way.”
Rory pulled up his shirt very slowly, trying not to get shot, to show Alphonso the papers.
“I’m just going to pull these papers out.”
“Okay, but no funny stuff.”
“Never.” Rory said, dripping with sweat.
As soon as Rory had the papers in his hand, Alphonso relaxed just a bit. Rory began rifling through the papers until he found the page he was looking for.
“Let’s see. Alphonso Simpson is it?”
“How’d you know that?”
Rory then rattled off the series of numbers after his name. Rory hadn’t realized someone with such dark skin could turn so pale.
“That’s my bank account.” Alfonso said, surprised. “How’d you get that?”
“Lower that thing and I’ll tell you.”
Alphonso thought for a brief moment and then pointed his gun at the floor, still ready to bring it back to the ready if he needed to. Rory, as quickly as he could, explained everything about Simmons, overhearing the execs talking, and the golden apple.
“Sonofabitch.” Alphonso said. “You’d better go, before the cops get here.”
Rory took a couple of steps before turning around.
“Here. Give them this when they get here. Tell them everything I told you.” Rory said, handing him the papers.
“And where do I say I got ‘em?”
“Tell them Rory gave them to you.” Rory said, before turning and walking out through the glass door.
As he walked down the street, listening to the approaching sirens, Rory felt as close as he would ever get to walking away coolly from an exploding building. Still something was eating at him.
“Congratulations, buddy. You did it.” Sunflower said through the earpiece.
“Yeah.” Rory said.
“I was just thinking. These guys are already so rich, they’ll probably just hire a bunch of high-priced lawyers and get off anyway.”
“Leave that to me.” Sunflower said, almost laughing.
“What are you going to do?”
“Well, I made a copy of the apple.”
“I’m going to turn it on.”
“Don’t worry. You see, there were actually two lists of accounts. Those to be drained, and another set of accounts listed as untouchables. Guess who those belong to.”
“I still don’t see…”
“Just give me a second.”
Rory could hear him typing through the earpiece.
“Just a bit of magic from my own little fingers as I switch the lists, and boom. The rat bastards are as broke as we are… were.”
Rory did his best not to celebrate right there on the sidewalk as the first cop car rushed past him.
“So what did you do with the money?” Rory asked, finally.
“Most of it’s safe in an untraceable offshore account that only the two of us will be able to access.”
“And the rest?”
I took the liberty of opening a secret trust fund for the children of one Alphonso Simpson to be delivered when they reach college. Now I’ve got to go pack. You should probably do the same.”
And there it is. Proof that you can interpret the dice any way you want. In this case, Rory has transformed from a literal sheep, to a sheepish man. The magical sunflower has turned into a hippie named Sunflower with magic-like hacking abilities. I think you can figure out the rest of the symbolism on your own.
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