RIF (Part 2 of N]

He thought instead about his inexplicably odd and disquieting first day back at work, starting just ten hours ago, this morning. At his final Army debriefing, His CO had suggested that he take a break, a week anyway, but he was not a fan of idleness.  He had jumped right back in.

Scofield recalled that he was driving to work yesterday morning, heading in for his first day back at his civilian job at Kronsys Corp, a MIL-SPEC defense equipment manufacturer. He had been deployed in Afghanistan for eighteen months, and he was looking forward to seeing his old buds again, especially his old business partner Bob Thomson.

Due to the security protocols of the contracting work they did, personal, off-the-job electronic communication was forbidden among Kronsys employees. Although of course it went on anyway, here and there. Like office romance and harassment, it was discouraged but never quite squelched entirely. He had tried to contact Bob while he was away but, ever a stickler for ‘the rules, Thompson never wrote him back.  In fact, he hadn’t heard hardly a thing from Skip, or Jon, or Stephen, the other guys on his team  since shipping out. Nothing in the work Inbox other than required official crap from corporate. He was looking forward to rejoining their old lunchtime walking club, and catching up on all the skinny.

Scofield parked his car in a pretty good spot, got out and entered the lobby.  The young lady staffing the reception desk was new. Pretty, too.

“Hi, I’m Jim, I work here. I am restarting.” He held out his badge for her to see.

“Very good. Sign here please, while I print you some identifying information and an access pass.”

“I have that. Here … ”

“Oh. No, you need a new one, and a new photo. Protocol, you see.”

“Yes, OK. Like in the Army, I know.” He smiled as he handed over the old ID.

No return smile was offered.

“Hmm. Not so pretty inside, maybe,” he mused.

Getting new ID only took a few moments. The receptionist handed it to him—He put a hand out to proceed through the second, access door, waiting for her to buzz it open.

She looked up at him. “You will need directions.”

“Oh?

“You’ve been relocated.”

He realized that he should have expected some changes like this. “Where to?”

“Down the length of this corridor, then out; proceed to Building C2, across the quad. You’re still within the compound there, so your badge will work when you get to the Building C entrance.”

“OK. My boss is Bob Thompson, can you call him and tell him that I am on my way?”

She looked at her screen, and then back at Scofield. “Building C, 200 west. Proceed until you locate your cubicle, it will be on your left.  There you should find your new workstation and assignment materials. There will be someone around soon to discuss your re-entry schedule.”

“Not Bob?”

“I couldn’t say, sir. You know, protocol.”

“Yeah.”

She hit a button on her screen, and a sensomotor on the doorframe made an unlocking sound.

Scofield walked through it, and began walking down the long corridor. That he was pleased that to observe, he did remember. “One goddam thing is the same, at least.” And so on, out into the quad, arriving at the front of Building C.  He held up his new badge to the doorway reader and heard an unlocking motor whir again. He entered.

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