Everything pointed towards it being another slow evening at the museum.
The Visitor’s Book showed an all-time low and the blizzard outside deterred anyone trying to defy that fact.
Once again I came to the conclusion that I had browsed the entire internet and the dull glow from the computer screen made my eyes sore. With the Main
Hall lights disrespecting the gloomy corner where the security booth stood, it was the only source of light in this sub-polar darkness.
I felt that my only reason for still being alive was the fact that time had finally dragged its lazy ass to just a few moments before closing, I was
glad to going home.
I looked up at the clock on the wall. The seconds lasted for minutes. The minute hand reluctantly let go of another bar. It felt like time was coming
to a complete halt and it wasn’t until after a few minutes I realized that the batteries in the clock had run out.
The cell phone rang, shattering the forbidding silence.
I cleared my throat and answered, trying to sound like I was as alert as ever;
“Security, how may I help?”
My vocal chords mocked my attempts and I sounded like I had drunk a glass of sulphuric acid.
“Raud, is that you?”
I immediately recognized the voice of my boss.
“Uhm, yeah, it’s me alright.”
“You got any plans for tonight?”
He made a futile attempt to hide his expectations on my loyalty towards working overtime. I drew a deep sigh.
“No… Not really. Why?”
“Well, something has come up. You have to stay at the museum a little longer.” He sounded relieved; once again he had succeeded in talking me into
going beyond my call of duty.
“How much longer would that be then?” I made no attempts at hiding my disappointment.
“I can’t tell you. I am…not at liberty to tell you anything over the phone really…”
There was a brief pause while confusion wrinkled my brow.
“Are you pulling my leg?” I asked, I toyed with the phone cable and glared at the off-white buttons.
“No, Raud. I am not” The boss didn’t sound amused at all.
He continued: “I’m in the vicinity, so I’ll drop by and tell you the rest”.
He hung up the phone before I had the chance to reply.
As the museum closed and the last remaining visitor left, my boss came in. His gait told me he was in a hurry and this was something serious, the way
he told the front desk staff in a rather unfriendly manner, to leave, also alerted me to the seriousness.
As they busied themselves with putting books and brochures away, switching off computers and hiding hand lotion, the boss leaned towards me and said
in a low voice;
“This, umm, ‘conference’ we are having tonight…”
He may have been about to say more, but the sound of vehicles roaring into the courtyard outside and the many beams of their headlights cut like laser
swords through the window curtailed his revelations.
We both stood staring at the frantic activity. Black vans, SUV’s and expensive European cars growled into view, before parking in neat formations.
Men and women dressed in white shirts and black suits emerged from the cars, some stood guard, others opened the back doors of the more expensive
looking set of wheels. More men and women who seemed very concerned stepped out with briefcases in their hands.
As they started walking towards the entrance most of the others accompanied them in tight ranks while scanning the surroundings.
The big main gate was closed shut and a huge sullen-looking SUV parked to block it.
They entered the main hall and hurried for the conference floor. I had no chance to halt their movement. I saw that most of them wore uniforms of
various types. Some looked like military officers with numerous medals on their chests.
My boss fled the field in a rush but before I got the chance to run after him to ask just what the hell was happening, a voice spoke to me with great
“Excuse me Sir!”
I turned around and was met by a tall man dressed in black suit, white shirt and a black, shiny tie. He removed his Ray-ban sunglasses, folded them
and put them with great precision in his chest pocket.
“You are Raud, right…? Security officer at this museum?”
It was more a rhetorical question. I straightened up my posture in an attempt to match him.
“Yeah… That would be me alright.”
The man looked pleased, but his smile never reached his eyes.
“We are having a meeting here, as you might see. Are you aware that there is a NATO exercise going on in your country?”
I remembered an article in a newspaper that I had read it earlier. In my opinion, NATO was not welcomed on our soil since we were not in alliance with
them. ‘Stupid NATO’, I thought to myself, ‘first they think they can play in my back yard like it was their own, then they come to here, to my
museum, and mess with my duty hours’. I realized I had wandered off in my thoughts and replied quickly:
“Yes sir, so I heard. What brings you to my, I mean, this museum?”
The man gave me a very serious look.
“We are having a meeting, that’s all. You will just stay here and keep the lights on. We’ll tell you when it’s over. Until then, you stay put,
Without really being aware of it, I made a grunt out of sheer defiance. The man took no notice and walked away. I sat back down and decided not to be
bothered about things over which I had no influence and returned to stare into the bottomless abyss of the internet.
An hour went by and I was way down in ‘surf coma’ when another member of the visitors came up to the security desk. He spoke with an unnecessarily
I turned my head and looked at him with tired eyes.
With a snappy gesture, he reached his arm towards me and held out a memory stick.
“Would you please print out a document from this USB stick, Sir?”
He remained in what looked like full attention while I observed his out of place behaviour.
“Yeah, sure…” I said, making no effort to match his overly militaristic behaviour. However, I got a little puzzled over how this impressive
array of ‘important people’ needed help printing a document, but I had already understood that I was not in the position of asking any further
Besides, our conference floor had no printer so I guess if they needed any paperwork, I was the only one to help. I couldn’t help feeling at least a
little important despite this brute invasion.
As I took the memory stick from his hand he looked me in the eyes and said;
“Do not look at the document. Just print it. Sir!”
I became quite uneasy by this statement. I slowly put the USB stick into the computer, matching the steely glare from this strange individual.
The computer accepted the device with the traditional “da-dink” sound. I double clicked the icon and by now I could feel the stare from the man
set to watch me. It felt like two laser beams to the side of my face. I imagined that smoke would start to appear any minute.
As I explored the memory stick, there was but one document, so I opened it just to have the guard shout out in despair;
“Don’t look! Just print!”
I jolted a bit from his outburst and I could see that another member of the security staff looked equally concerned. He started moving towards us and
put his hand on the shoulder of the edgy guard.
“There, Williams. Why don’t we change positions for a while?”
The newcomer was probably some sort of superior, so Williams turned and marched a few paces and stood guard a couple of meters away from me, still
staring like his eyeballs were about to pop out of his skull.
I on the other hand, used this short moment of confusion to quickly make a little “ctrl c”. I was so fast at it, I hardly noticed it myself. It
was just like some sort of instinct had taken over. I now had a copy hanging in the computer, a copy of my own. I could hardly contain myself and
inside, I too patted my shoulder.
The printer made its normal chuckling and choking sounds and produced the 50 or so pages. I removed the USB device and handed it over together with
the papers to the new, much more relaxed, security officer. He thanked me and made a snappy full turn and marched off to the conference. It took all
my strength to keep up my ‘I don’t care’ attitude and I slumped back into my chair with a look of boredom.
After I while, I opened a new browser window and logged into one of my more anonymous mail accounts. Quick as a weasel I “ctrl v” pasted the
document onto the desktop, attached it to a mail and sent it to another of my accounts that didn’t at least carry my full name.
It felt like time stood still. I expected to look up and see one of the ‘suits’ peering down at me. I would read it at my leisure, when I was at
Now all I had to do was to wait until all this was over, I smiled to myself and prepared my wait.
After a few hours of intense coffee drinking, picture browsing, yawning and face rubbing, I felt that something was happening. The mass of black
suited personnel suddenly flooded through the corridors and out into the court yard. The man who had approached me in the beginning of their visit
came to me again.
“Thank you for your cooperation, Sir.” He reached out his hand. I looked at it with suspicion for a brief moment before shaking it.
Suddenly, the handshaking stopped but the man kept my hand in his and his grip tightened. He me straight in the eye and hissed:
“This was just a late conference. You know nothing more if someone should ask. Got that, Raudsy boy?”
Now I was scared. I made a faint attempt at saying something but it turned out to be just puffs of air between my shaking lips.
The man let go of my hand and hurried out the door.
The place was once again empty. Not a sound besides the ones coming from various interactive exhibits.
I gathered my stuff in a rush, switched the alarm on and got the hell out of there.
Throughout my way home, I was afraid to look at anyone. It felt like there were agents all around me.
When I got home, I pulled the curtains, locked all the locks on my door and hid under the blanket on my bed.
[edit on 28-3-2010 by Raud]