I stared at the blinking cursor, trying to figure out what the hell I should do now. It continued to flicker at me, daring me to make a decision that was going to leave me screwed no matter what. If I told the officers down the hall what I'd found, there was nothing that would protect me from the Sons of Anarchy. If I didn't tell the officers and they later discovered what I now knew, they'd no doubt put two and two together and I'd be sent to prison for obstruction or some shit. I was, quite literally, stuck between likely death and jail and all because I knew how to do my damn job. This was such horseshit.
"How's it going?" One of the uniformed officers asked me from the doorway and I startled a little before staring up from the screen of my laptop. It took my frazzled brain a full second to translate the words spoken to me into their English meaning. Once my mind connected the words together, I nodded to my screen.
"It's going," I said noncommittally. I needed time to figure out what to do and spouting off to some random officer was not the way to accomplish giving myself the time I needed. The officer, however, must have some kind of geek kink, because he gave me a once over that I'm sure he thought was flattering before speaking again.
"You do this kind of work a lot?" He asked and it was a Herculean task not to roll my eyes in front of him. He practically just said the equivalent of 'do you come here often'. Did men think that really worked?
I shrugged and looked back at my screen, working to keep my face bland so it didn't show the dismay that was still thrumming through me. "Yeah, it's kind of my job." I muttered as I avoided eye contact. I needed him to disappear so I could panic in peace.
"What is it, exactly, that you're doing?" He asked as he took a step into the small server room and my shoulders tensed. Though it wasn't to the level of a phobia, I wasn't a fan of smaller places - at least, not when other people were in them. His entry into the room made it feel substantially smaller, although that might have more to do with the fact that he represented one of two very shitty outcomes for me at present.
"In layman's terms?" I asked, stalling a little. He nodded and I pointed to the equipment I had my computer hooked up to. "I'm figuring out why there seems to be a glitch in the system. There's been some complaints from the officers on duty that connections to certain databases aren't working right, and the local service provider says it's not on them."
"And you're what, the county's tech nerd?" He asked with a smirk and I cringed internally at the term. There's a damn difference between a nerd and a geek, but it really wasn't worth the explanation to this asshole.
"No, I work for a firm that the county called out to assist. The county's 'tech nerd' was busy." I answered and then looked back at my screen. When the officer took another step closer, I lost my temper. It's a flaw that happens when I'm stressed. I'd say I'm working on it, but it would be a damn lie. Fact of the matter is, I prefer machines because they don't get their damn feelings hurt when you pound on the keyboard, which is the rough equivalent of talking to them poorly.
"Look, do you need something? I'm trying to work here." I snapped and I saw the surprise filter across his face before anger made its appearance.
"I'd check that attitude of yours if you know what's best." He said and I saw him puff up his chest. Fan-fucking-tastic. A cop with an ego. I sighed and closed my laptop. I could use this, if I played actress for a moment.
"Right. Then, I'll just take myself off and you can explain to your superiors why it is that they are continuing to have trouble with their systems." I unhooked the cables to my computer and wrapped them around my hand and stuffed them into the bag at my feet. Once I had my laptop secured in the bag, I twitched the flap over, showing the flames on the front design and stood.
"Excuse me?" He said, moving to stand in my way of the exit. Fucking idiot was doing exactly what I needed him to do. I felt only a flicker of remorse for what was going to come next. It really was his own fault for being an ass.
"Are you blocking my exit for a reason, officer?" I asked calmly, knowing that subtle criticism would be just the ticket to send this guy off the rails. I noted with satisfaction that I was right when he stood closer to me, invading my space.
"You better get your smart ass back to work," he gritted and I smiled. Given my present mood, I'm sure he saw the devil in my smile. I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. He didn't see the numbers I pushed, and so likely thought I was calling my boss or some such shit. Poor bastard wasn't going to know what hit him.
"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"
"Hi, my name is Sarah Jones. I'm a tech for Wildfire, LLC and one of your officers is presently holding me against my will in your server room." I saw the officer's eyes widen for a moment before they narrowed.
"Good fucking joke. Now put the phone away or you'll see being held against your will." He threatened and, to be honest, I had a moment of fear. That was, until I heard the dispatcher on the other end of the line.
"Oh my God. Is that Travis?" She asked and I looked at his uniform for a name but didn't see one.
"I don't know. His badge number is 518 and he's acting very threatening. I need help, fast." I let my voice cower at the end. Travis, continuing to make bad decisions, made to take my cell phone and knocked me down in the process.
"Help!" I cried out, knowing that the dispatcher had done something because I could hear footsteps thundering down the hallway. Travis turned to face the entryway and was met with the eyes of three officers, one of whom appeared older. That one looked to be in charge, and shook his head at Travis, who was holding my phone in his hand.
"Gonna need you to come out with us, Travis." The older one said and I sighed in relief to see that Travis' buddies weren't just going to turn a blind eye on this shit. Travis started to speak and the other raised his hands.
"Why don't you save it for your statement? Mark and Jenna here will take you down to give it while I talk to the lady here, eh?" He said and I witnessed Travis close in on himself. In a matter of a few seconds, because he couldn't keep his ego to himself, he'd landed himself in a steaming pile of shit.
I smiled in relief at the older man, who introduced himself as Unser, and we walked down the hall to his office. On the bright side, Travis had given me the perfect reason to not complete this job. Although that wouldn't solve all the potential issues I was facing, it would give me at least a little breathing room to figure out how not to die, and preferably, not end up in a cell somewhere for the next five years.