By Karen Singer
Chapter 23 – Part 2 of 2
At three thirty that afternoon, Steve was working hard on a new part of the company’s latest project, when his phone rang. Noticing Monica’s number down in the shipping department, he almost didn’t answer it, but he was too afraid not to. “Hello?”
“Stevie!” Monica’s said sternly into the phone. “I want you at Ruth’s desk no later than three forty-five to help her this afternoon. Don’t even think about not being there. And don’t be late!” She immediately hung up the phone. Ruth had volunteered to keep Steve under her watchful eye for a little while.
Steve was immediately afraid again. What now? He glanced at the clock. Fifteen minutes until he had to be there. He looked at the material on his desk that he was working with. He didn’t want to stop what he was doing, but he dared not do exactly whatever Monica wanted. He was still reeling from the power of what she had done to him over the last few days…mostly because he didn’t know what had been done to him. But there was very little doubt that it had been very humiliating.
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Susan checked her clock. It was exactly three o’clock her time. It would be four o’clock Monica’s time. She had her first email all prepared. She hit the send button.
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It was ten minutes after four before Monica could get a few minutes free to check her emails again. When she did, she wasn’t the least bit surprised to find an email from the Sorceress.
Monica, I am here as I said I would be. Send me another email and I will answer it promptly.
Monica quickly typed back a reply.
Sorceress. Since you won’t tell me your name, at least tell me what city you live in.
It was less than two minutes before Monica got a reply. And seeing it, didn’t make her feel any better.
Monica. I won’t tell you where I live either. Only that it’s far from where you live.
Just that simple reply, even with no information, was enough to let Monica know she was dealing with someone other than Steve. Because she knew for a fact that Ruth was keeping Steve busy upstairs. Monica typed back.
Sorceress, what has Steve done to you in the past that is making you do this to him?
Two minutes later, Monica had her reply.
I won’t tell you exactly what was done to me, only that it was many cruel humiliating things, and one truly horrible crime that has left me hating him passionately ever since.
Now please, leave Steve alone and let me have him to myself.
Monica read the reply. She didn’t write back. She had too many things to think about from the Sorceress’s latest email. Many cruel humiliating things? One truly horrible crime that has left her hating him passionately? Did she love him at one point? Does she still love him? Yeah, she had no doubt that Steve must have done something truly awful to her. She thought about what Steve had done to her apartment. No doubt that something awful that he had done to the Sorceress was something criminal as well.
She phoned up to Ruth’s desk to let her know that she could release Steve, but she got no answer. Ruth had said she had something to do and that she’d keep Steve busy for a while. No doubt they were working somewhere other than her desk. She tried Ruth’s cell phone instead.
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Ruth watched as Steve carefully laid out pads and pencils next to each seat at the long conference table. It was the second time she made him do it because the first time wasn’t the way she wanted it. Busy work. Her entire life.
She knew that Steve had no idea how much she hated him. No idea at all. Nobody in the company knew. But then, nobody in the company knew any of the things she knew. Nobody! Nobody knew the resentment and hatred she carried, day after day, for not just Steve, but the entire company. But they soon would know. Very soon…but not yet. There were just a few more missing pieces she wanted. But she would have them very soon.
She watched as Steve put the last pad and pencil in place, carefully lining them up the way she wanted. “Okay,” she told him. “Go to the kitchenette on this floor and bring back a tray full of water glasses. And you better make sure they’re all spotless clean or you’ll be washing and drying them yourself!”
Steve sighed. What the hell was she having him do? This was her job! But having little choice, he headed for the hallway and the kitchen on that floor.
Ruth watched him leave. Oh how she hated him. Oh how she hated this entire company! She had been hired the same day as Steve, with the same engineering credentials Steve had, to work in the same department, at the same job. But since she was a woman and he wasn’t, she was the one they kept coming to, to do the little stupid odd jobs. Jobs that they considered to be silly little female jobs that had nothing at all to do with what she had been hired to do. Ruth, someone’s birthday is coming up, can you arrange the party for us? Ruth, someone is retiring, we need you to order a cake and buy him a retirement gift. Ruth, we need someone to handle the fund-raiser for the department…and you’re so good at that kind of thing.
Steve got raises, and she got to plan parties. She knew for a fact that the few raises she did get were not nearly as much as the raises Steve got, and she had absolute proof as to why. It had nothing at all to do with her job. It was only because she was a woman and he wasn’t.
And then the decree had come down from the Human Relations department. Everyone was so “impressed” with the way she had handled so many of the little things, that she was being moved and reassigned – to handle those kinds of things for the entire company. She had an engineering degree, and she was planning birthday and retirement parties and setting up the board room for conference meetings! Oh how she hated the company.
She should have left, but she didn’t. She didn’t because at first she was pregnant and couldn’t, and now much later, she wanted to get back at them for the way they treated her. And now she was close. Very close. She was aching to release the proof that she had, but she couldn’t yet, because that proof was only one little thing among many other far more volatile things she had collected over the years. And now she was getting ready to throw it all at the company. It was enough that she hoped to bring the entire company to its knees! She was almost ready, but not yet. She was aware of one more little piece still in the making. One more illegal thing that the company was secretly doing. She would have it soon though, and then she planned on throwing it all in the company’s face at one time.
And then along came Monica. Monica and her little game of getting back at Steve. She still remembered Monica’s first phone call to her. Monica had said that Diane had suggested that she might be someone they could trust to keep quiet with a small situation…with Steve. Problems and situations around the company were the kind of things she had specialized in sticking her nose into the most. And since it particularly concerned Steve, how could she possibly resist?
The others were playing their amusing little games with Steve, games that Ruth had to admit, she truly did enjoy, but those games had led to an even bigger score. Monica had asked her to scan into the computer the confession that Steve had signed. And now not only Monica had a copy, but so did she. She had also gotten copies of every humiliating picture taken of Steve, including those that they had found on the internet. And all of it was tucked safely away in a special secret folder in her home computer where she kept all the secret dirt on the company. Steve’s little information would be one more little card she would be able to lay out on the table when the time came. One little card, but one big card leveled against the one man in the company she hated the most – all because he was a man, and she was a woman.
Soon now, very soon, she would release all that information she had collected over the years. And the company would pay heavily for what they had done to her. They would pay, and she would have her revenge on them all!
She saw Steve carefully struggling to carry the tray full of glasses without dropping any. The jerk. She was just betting that most of those glasses needed to be washed again.
Her cell phone rang. She answered it and listened to what Monica had to say. It was looking like the Sorceress was a very real person. How interesting. She wondered how she could possibly do the things to Steve that she had done. She didn’t believe in magic, but it sure seemed like that’s what was going on. “I’ll tell him,” she finally said into the phone before hanging up.
“Steve,” she said to get his attention. “Monica says don’t bother going down to meet us after work today. But you’re not getting out of here until this conference table is properly prepared! So let’s have a look at all those glasses!
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Four women sat around in the small office inside the shipping department after work. Monica read them the emails that had been exchanged with the Sorceress all day. When she was done, it was Ruth who asked the question they had all been wondering the most. “How does she do it? How can she possibly have that much control over him?”
“Don’t ask me,” Monica replied. “I’ve been wondering that all afternoon.”
“You also said that you didn’t believe something she had said though,” Diane pointed out.
“What’s that?” Carla asked.
Monica shook her head. “I don’t know why she kept trying to suggest she’s in a different time zone. If she knows that much about what’s happening with him, then she has to be somewhere close. My bet, it’s somewhere close to where he lives, or here in the company.”
“In the company?” Ruth asked.
Monica shrugged. “That would be my best guess. But it’s just as likely that she could live somewhere close to him.”
“I think somewhere close to where he lives would be most likely,” Carla suggested. “It would make the most sense since most of what we’ve had him do wasn’t here at work.”
The others nodded.
“So are you giving in?” Ruth asked. “Leaving Steve alone and letting her have him? From what we’ve seen, she does seem to have it in for him.”
Monica smiled. “Yeah, she does.” She sighed and shook her head. “It’s just that…it was me that Steve violated. Or…you know, what he did to me when he destroyed my apartment. That was my home. It would be nice to feel the satisfaction of getting back at him for it, you know? I really just want to kill him for it.” She looked up guiltily and worriedly. “Not that I actually would, mind you. I just want to…”
“We know!” Ruth replied. “Believe me, we know.”
“It’s frustrating,” Carla added.
Monica rolled her eyes. “Tell me about it.”
“So what’s the verdict?” Diane asked. “Tell her we’re backing away, but maybe add that you want to be kept in the loop on everything she does to him?”
Monica smiled at that. “I actually like that idea.”
Ruth wasn’t totally happy with the idea that hit her, but in this case, she could see where it might be a helpful suggestion. “Of course,” Ruth said, “you could still keep total control of Steve yourself and do whatever you think you want to do to him.”
“What would be the point?” Monica asked. “Whatever we tell him to do, he seems to love. No matter what!”
“That’s just it,” Ruth explained. “Get the Sorceress to remove all that control she has over him so that he feels just how horrible whatever you do to him will be.”
“Play your trump card?”
“What? What are you talking about?”
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It wasn’t until Susan’s last client of the day had left that she had a chance to check her email again. Monica hadn’t written back earlier, so she was now hoping that the darn woman had finally agreed to go away and leave Steve alone. She was happy to see an email from Monica waiting for her. She wasn’t happy when she read what was in it.
Sorceress. You think you’ve won? I don’t think so. Allowing you to punish Steve doesn’t satisfy my hunger for revenge against him at all. And I’m not giving that up! So I want you to fix whatever you did to him, and then back away – forever!
If you don’t do as I ask, let me tell you what I will do to Steve. I have in my possession a signed confession from Steve stating that he was the one who stole my property and did the damage to my home. And I have three other witnesses besides myself who all saw him sign it. I’ve attached a copy of it to this email so you can see it as well. If you don’t undo what you did to Steve and then back away, I’ll send this confession straight to the police. I have no doubt that they’ll arrest him immediately and put him straight into jail…where I’ll do my best to make sure he stays for a very long time.
If Steve is in jail, then neither of us will be able to play with him. I’m willing to go to that length to have my revenge on him. And I’m not backing down!
I want you to remove whatever you’ve done to Steve so he can’t be punished, and then back away! Completely! He’s not your plaything. When he wrecked my apartment and stole from me, he became mine, not yours. So fix him, then back off!
Kindly let me know when you’ve fixed Steve and complied with my wishes.
Susan felt sick. The damn bitch probably would send that signed confession to the police. And truthfully, that’s what should be done. But Monica was right, in jail, she’d have very little chance to wreck her revenge on him the way she wanted.
She didn’t like it at all, but for now, she would have to comply with Monica’s wishes. To a point.
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Steve wandered the aisles of the sporting goods store, looking at several things he was interested in. But none of them were the reason he had gone into the store. He really had only one goal in mind. He eventually made his way to the very back of the store – where they sold all the guns. He saw row after row of rifles on the wall, and a long glass counter showing the handguns locked inside.
The store clerk was quick to notice Steve looking at his display cases. “May I help you with anything?” he asked hopefully.
“Umm…. How hard is it to buy a gun?” Steve asked.
“Not very,” the man replied. “You just need to get a license to buy one. I’m taking it by your question that you don’t already have one.”
Steve shook his head. “No. Not yet at least, but I’m thinking about it.”
“What kind of gun were you looking for?”
“I guess, a handgun of some sort. But you’ve got so many.”
“What would you be needing it for?”
“Protection! My protection!”
“Oh! I see. It sounds like you’re afraid of someone.”
“That’s putting it mildly.”
“And the police can’t help you?”
Steve let out a little laugh. “The police wouldn’t even believe me! Trust me.”
The store clerk nodded. “In that case, a handgun is a very valuable thing to have…should you need it.”
“Do they come with manuals on how to use it?” Steve asked. “I’ve never even shot one before.”
“May I recommend a good shooting range,” the clerk replied. “I can suggest several that would help you out with anything you need.”
“Yeah! That’s a good idea,” Steve agreed.
“So what kind of gun should I get?” Steve asked.
“May I make a suggestion?” the clerk asked.
“That’s what I need,” Steve replied.
“Why not get some advice from the guys at the gun club. I can even give you the name of someone I think can help. Then come back and let me know what you’re interested in. We can fill out your application then. It should only take a few days to get it back again.”
Steve smiled. “That sounds like the perfect solution!”
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As usual, it was late at night when Karen emailed Susan. She relayed what had gone on with Ruth, which was only something that Steve had been irked about so Karen hadn’t stepped in. But after that, she told in detail about Steve going out and searching for a gun…and actually phoning a guy at a gun club and making arrangements to meet him for advice after work the next day. And Karen made it perfectly clear that Steve had every intention of shooting Monica.
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Susan was up late at night. She had been waiting to hear from Karen. She didn’t want to do what Monica demanded, but for now she saw little choice. She would have Karen phone her as soon as she checked in, and then she would remove from Karen the programming that allowed her to protect Steve from any kind of punishment or humiliation. She would also have to have Karen stay way in the background for a long time, and not make herself known. But she would not remove Karen from Steve’s mind at all. Besides, that was something that she would have to do in person with Steve, and it would most likely take many sessions. She had worked too hard to create Karen. And someday, Karen would again be useful to her. Just not…for the moment.
She finally saw Karen’s email come in. She was only waiting until Karen was there to quickly type a reply telling her to call the special number to Susan’s burner phone, but Karen’s email was longer than Susan expected, and far more troubling. A gun! Steve wanted to murder Monica – literally!
That changed everything!