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June 01, 2006

The Microsoft Code: Chapter 3

Continued from Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

VirgilI was scratching his nose. "Doesn’t make any sense to me either."

On the screen, written hastily in the dust, was the following:

5     8
13   21

RobertLa couldn’t figure it out. "That symbol in the middle…it looks like a Templar Cross! You know, the Knights Templar were formed in 1119 to protect pilgrims coming to Jerusalem. They were allowed to set up their headquarters on the Temple Mount. Rumor has it that they were really trying to dig up the Holy Grail, and I heard…" He paused for effect, "That they found it!"

VirgilI was looking at him patiently. "That’s nice. Myself, I was thinking it looked like a plus sign."

RobertLa looked slightly crestfallen. "Hmmff, I suppose so. What about the numbers? Wait, those numbers appear in the middle of the Fibonacci sequence! Do you know that Fibonacci was a name given to him after his death…his real name was Leonardo da Pisa! That’s right, he was from Pisa, where they have the leaning tower. And do you know that Leonardo introduced the Arabic decimal system to Europe? Imagine that, he introduced Arabic numbers to Europe and here are a set of Arabic numbers…what can that mean?" He began pacing around the room, muttering to himself.

"Well," said VirgilI, "I don’t know about that. But I was thinking. There are four numbers, and a plus sign. Maybe we should add the numbers together."

RobertLa stopped pacing. "OK, what do they add up to?"

VirgilI thought for a second. "Let’s see, carry the 1…13 times 2 is 26…the answer is 47."

RobertLa was shocked. "47! Do you know there’s a secret society at Pomona College dedicated to the number 47? And that the artist James Turrell graduated from Pomona College? And that Turrell is building a mysterious observatory in Arizona?"

VirgilI appeared nonplussed. "Is the observatory being set up so it can monitor the Knights Templar if they remove the Holy Grail from the Leaning Tower of Pisa?"

"I hadn’t thought of that," said RobertLa excitedly, "But it’s a definite possibility."

VirgilI shrugged. "Well, whatever. But I don’t know what the number 47 has to do with Microsoft. There’s no Building 47, for one thing."

RobertLa was still thinking about James Turrell and the Knights Templar. "I wonder why the numbers are arranged the way they are. Sort of like an X pattern."

"I was wondering the same thing. An X…hmmm…what does an X mean?"

RobertLa said, "The time you usually see an X around here is in front of a hexadecimal number."

VirgilI looked at RobertLa with something approaching respect. "That’s actually an interesting idea. Let’s see, if it’s really hex 47, then in decimal that would be…" He stopped, stunned. "No way. It can’t be."

* * *

"They've been RIFfed!" Susan stammered into the telephone in her office. She was leaving a message on a voicemail system. "Please pick up! They've all been RIFfed!"

The first three phone numbers on the list had produced terrifying results--someone from a moving company cleaning out an office, a co-worker raiding someone's former office for whiteboard markers, and an ominous message that the phone number was no longer valid. All three contacts had been terminated by Microsoft. And now, as she called the fourth and final number—the number that she was not supposed to call unless the first three could not be reached—she got an answering machine. The outgoing message was brief: "This is the stress lab. Leave a message and we'll get back to you."

"Someone's trying to lift the rock!" she pleaded as she left the message. "The other three are gone!"

Susan did not know the identity of the four men she protected, but the private phone numbers stashed beneath her desk were for use on only one condition.

If someone ever tries to lift up that rock—which is ridiculous, it's a giant rock, who could lift it, but I digress—it means the upper echelon has been breached, the faceless messenger had told her.One of us has been threatened with termination and been forced to tell a desperate lie. Call the numbers. Warn the others. Do not fail us.

It was a silent alarm. Foolproof in its simplicity. The plan had amazed her when she first heard it. If the identify of one was compromised, they would tell a lie that would start in motion a plan to warn the others. Tonight, however, it seemed that more than one had been compromised.

"Please answer," She whispered in fear. "Where are you?"

"Hang up the phone," a voice said from the doorway.

Turning in terror, she saw the man with the greasy hair and the nervous tic. He was holding a discarded motherboard that had been waiting in the hall for PC Recycle to pick up. Shaking, she set the phone back in the cradle.

"They are ex-Microsoft," The man said. "All four of them. And they have played me for a fool. Tell me where the secret is."

"I don't know!" Susan said truthfully. "That secret is guarded by others." Others whose cardkeys are dead!

He advanced, his fists gripping the motherboard.

To be continued...

Posted by AdamBa at June 1, 2006 11:30 PM

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Hey, I'm glad to see that while we in WinDiv are busting butts in hyper-crunch mode trying to ship your new job gives you time to pull this crap. How about you give up your so-called sense of "humor" and make up new processes, Infopaths and quality gates we can learn to love even more?

Posted by: someone at June 2, 2006 06:15 AM

I gave him permission to work on some personal persuits after 11pm on Thursdays, so no worries. Work/Life balance right?

Posted by: BillG at June 10, 2006 03:27 PM