5: On the job

>> Monday, June 01, 2009

Sid sighed. It had been a long month. The job had not been as easy as he had thought it would be. The two gentleman had proved to be picky customers, after their initial fear of Big Mac had subsided. But Sid didn't really get their special request. What was so important in the DVD that he was holding in his hand right now?

It had surely not been easy getting it. He was reminded of the Mission Impossible movies. It felt almost like that. Just that, there had been no last moment hitches, no drama and definitely no hot bodied heroine. Yes, he had to plan everything to the minutest of details. But that's the reason why he was Big Mac's favourite for such jobs. Sid never liked the muscle jobs that Big Mac also dealt in. And Big Mac never gave them to Sid. Big Mac knew his men. And he gave Sid the jobs that required his strengths. A sharp analytical mind, an actor's bravado and a cool composure to get the job done under heavy pressure. And his analytical mind had been put to real test for this one.

The place: SecureSoft, a big IT company in the once sleepy town on Pune. The target: A DVD that he was now holding in his hand. Time: Friday evening, when every week a backup DVD like this one of some important data is made and stored in a secure vault at the basement of the main SecureSoft building. Security: Four guards stationed in the basement, with firearms. And ofcourse, there were the security cameras. A little too much for an IT company's data, Sid had thought. But he had encountered weirder and even more panicky people before. The problem: taking on the security guards under security camera surveillance was out of the question. He couldn't get to the source of the data - the server - as the systems used were on an internal network, heavily encrypted and out of reach.

This information was provided to him by the two gentlemen. He had been surprised at their level of homework on this. They meant serious business. Sid also wondered why people who could get this kind of information couldn't also end up snatching the DVD. But he put that thought aside. He could immediately see one place where he could get his hands on the DVD. And that was in the short time when it was being transferred from the server from which it was copied to the vault in the basement. The server was on the third floor of the building and the DVD was made by one of software engineers. Before he made it, he called two security guards. They would come up and escort him out of the room, to the elevator and to the basement. So, the only time he was going to have to make a switch was going to be in the elevator. And he was going to need a strong alibi to be in the building at that time of day. Furthermore, he would have to be somebody of big stature to demand being in the elevator while the DVD was being transferred.

Sid got to work.

First stop - Mr. Mallik. To any outsider, Mr. Mallik looked like any of the typical jewelery shop owners in Zaveri Bazaar.Dressed in a spotless white kurta, matching pyjamas with his round muselin cap adorning his balding head. His neatly trimmed, almost white beard and the rimless glasses on his pointed nose completed his decent, small-time businessman look. His shop, a small one compared to the biggies besides it wore a sleepy look that kept the typical window shoppers out. A half asleep security guard sat outside the shop With his rusty rifle resting on his shoulder. Mr. Mallik had his loyal flock of customers though. But they never came to his store for jewelery.

Sid had met Mr. Mallik earlier, so they knew each other. Sid had straightaway come to the point.

"Mr. Mallik, You had a talk with Big Mac?"

"Yes yes... He told me what you wanted. I already have it ready."

"Great! Let's have a look..."

Mr. Mallik motioned to the old guard sitting outside. He nodded and pulled out a small 'Shop Closed' sign from behind his seat and hung it out from the door handle. Mr. Mallik then pulled on the blinds so that nothing would be visible from outside. He then stepped out from behind the glass panel and came around to Sid's side. He pressed a particular pattern into the glass panel and gave it a slight push. The whole assembly slid inside and revealed a small staircase going downstairs.

Sid smiled. He had witnessed all this before. Big Mac always had his incorrigible one-liners for every situation. "Sid, my fellow! You can't tell a shop by its windows or a girl by her boobs. You need to wait till they both take you in to really know how deep they go!"

They descended into what seemed to be a basement of sorts - Mr. Mallik's work shop. It contained an assortment of imported tools and gadgets which he used for his artwork. Mr. Mallik stepped forward to his workbench and picked up a fresh Israeli passport. "Mr. Neel Siddique", smiling he addressed Sid. "That's your new name. Like it? You are the young new head of the Security Analysis Wing (SAW) of the Israeli government. And as all new turks tend to do, you have been studying various security systems around the world to see what things you can incorporate into your own system. Here." Mr. Mallik handed over a manilla folder to Sid. "This contains documents which will help you establish your identity without doubt."

As they came up to the shop, Sid familiarized himself with the passport. He asked Mr. Mallik a few questions regarding the kind of background he could build for himself as Neel Siddique. Mr. Mallik brought back his glass panel to their original place and it locked into place. He moved the blinds away and Sid walked out into the busy street with a completely new identity.

After this, had been the tough part. Sid had spent the next two weeks in a frenzy of information gathering and planning. He tried to find out information regarding the exact time at which the software engineer made his DVD copy. He got one of Big Mac's Middle Eastern girls to call up the SecureSoft office and make necessary appointments. He had his documents faxed over to them. He got it so arranged that he would be in the SecureSoft building discussing security systems with one of their project leads on Friday afternoon. And ofcourse, Sid sat down and studied whatever little he could about security systems in general so as not to sound completely dumb out there.

As Sid held the DVD in his hand right now, he thought about yesterday. Unlike the MI movies, everything had gone according to plan. His slight makeup and a little slur in speech made him pass off very well as Mr. Neel Siddique. He was accorded the respect expected to be given to such a dignitary. He was shown around the softwares - a little of which he understood. He could figure out that they had something to do with co-ordinated security systems across India. And then he had purposefully asked them, what do you do about backup? And the project lead, a typical indian trying to impress a foreigner, had overzealously taken him to the server room. Sid had timed it all just right. Just when they reached there, the software engineer was done with his DVD copy and was headed to the basement with the two guards.

Sid suddenly feigned a stomach ache. "The spicy food I have eaten here!" He complained. "Oh, yes. That could be it. Foreigners normally have problem eating Indian curry." The project lead added. "I guess we are pretty much finished with the tour. I will just leave now. Can we go downstairs?" And before the security guards could understand what had happened, Sid had gotten into the elevator along with them. "Its ok." The project lead had said. As the elevator went down, Sid caught his stomach and lurched over on the software engineer, falling down as if in pain. The software engineer immediately put down the DVD on the lift floor to help Sid up. As he was getting up, Sid quietly slipped the DVD into a specially made pocket in his waist coat. Out came another DVD. And replaced the one on the floor.

It had been too easy. Nobody checked him on the way out. What with him convulsing and the project lead to clear his way...

Big Mac would be happy, Sid thought. He had to deliver the DVD in the evening. One of the two gentlemen was going to meet him near Bund Garden. Sid looked around in the temporary flat he had gotten for himself. His sight fell on his laptop. He opened it. And then he looked at the DVD. What was in that DVD that had such a security system in place? That had made the two gentlemen come to Big Mac to get it?

He placed the DVD into the DVD tray and pushed it in. He browsed around lazily. What he saw next on his laptop screen sent a chill down his spine. In a matter of seconds, beads of sweat broke out on Sid's forehead. Why did the two buffoons want this kind of data? What exactly were they upto?

He had to leave for Bund Garden in half an hour's time. But what he saw in front of him made him really think. About everything. About what he was doing. About his life. About his country. And in a defining moment of clarity, Sid knew exactly what he had to do...

4 comments:

Yamini 10:48 AM  

Wow...Sid seems mysterious to me now...
you hang up at the point which takes to the zenith of curiosity.

next post please.... and talk about neha...what's with her and her father??

and also tell what is the DVD abt...
gosh this is SOME fiction!!

amsko 11:54 AM  

OMG!!! Now you have to post a new one every single day....

This is killing me...... though i think i have a faint idea about what's in the DVD, but i'm sure it's gonna be a real shocker when it's actually revealed.

And ya ..... Please write about Neha and her father....

Marie 12:52 PM  

Excellent!!

Waiting for the next one. :)

Caught Offside! 10:58 PM  

@Yamini and Amrita: Your enthusiasm about the story is infectious! It has gotten me working on the stories faster! Thanks guys!

@Marie: You remain a potent threat as ever! :D

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