“We’ve been completely shut out,” Jeremy blurted into the room as he hung onto the door frame. The four people in the room scattered about the table and the one at the white board stopped chatting and writing and looked up to the door.

“Completely shut out. Hurry, it’s not getting any better.”

A few papers were shoved off the table as Richard turned and jumped from his seat. The others, Jamie, Ben, Luke, and Sarah, all scrambled from their seats and out the door. They fanned out from the conference room, grabbing the work stations nearby and swiveling into their chairs. The large window encasing the conference room displayed a scene of forgotten ideas, papers full of weighty ideas blissfully relaxing on tabletops.

“How in the hell did they get in there?” yelled Richard after a few minutes of typing, trying to talk over the growing whispers that were building around the large common office space.

“I’m not sure yet,” answered Jamie two cubicles over. “It looks like… wait… huh…”

“What is it?” asked Sarah in the cubicle between them.

“Wow, they are good. They are really good.”

Jamie began typing frantically, while various colored windows appeared and reappeared on his screen. Soon, his screen started flashing between two specific windows, and suddenly he stopped. He jabbed his keyboard and a new terminal flashed up, and quickly he began navigating through some of the file systems.

Jeremy appeared behind him at the cubicle behind him and inquired, “What is happening? What did you find?”

Right as the question was out of his mouth, Richard appeared suddenly next to Jeremy. “Jamie, they’re in the security system.”

“Ah! I know they’re in the security system! They’re wreaking havoc on the new protocol systems that we just implemented. I told you we weren’t ready yet. We have to…” Jamie furrowed his brow and frantically increased his typing speed, when suddenly he stopped and looked back at the two. “We have to shut it down.”

Sarah’s head shot up over the wall. “We can’t!”

“We have to. If we don’t shut it down, there’s nothing we can do. They’ve locked us out.”

Jeremy started running away towards his desk. “Ok, I’ll make a few calls.”

“There is no time for calls. If we do this, we do it now. Otherwise, it’s over. It’s…”

Jamie stopped as a distorted voice was getting louder and louder. “the recent attack…” They all looked as one of the employees was continuing to turn the sound up one of the large company flat screens against the front wall. A masked man continued “on APE Co. marks the beginning of an age free from the tyranny of a company that wishes to enslave the minds of those of its users. They take whatever they want and give nothing in return. Those days are over. We have successfully infiltrated their security systems…”

“Shut it down,” Jamie whispered to himself. He turned to several other employees and found his voice. “You three. Shut it down. Now.”

“…however, it is important that everyone knows that we have thousands of users still logged in and they will not be logging out. There is a reason they won’t be logged out…”

“Wait!” yelled Jamie. Someone across the room yelled against the employee’s progress as well. They stopped and turned towards Jamie, who was still staring at the screen.

“We’ve found the flaw that you are working so hard to cover up. Their system is responsible for the mental trauma witnessed by so many in the recent years. If you shut down the system now, you will be destroying the minds of thousands of people and that, I believe, is a fate you will not choose. Or is it?”

“Damn it!” Jamie violently kicked a chair. It slammed into a trash can and they both fell over, spilling bits of paper and food onto the floor.
Richard blinked and looked towards Jeremy, who was already looking at him. They both mouthed a few expletives and looked back at the man on the screen.