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Episode 36

There's nothing like a workplace on Boxing Day! Sure, it's deader than a dead thing on a bank holiday and anyone with a life would be doing something else, but this is where the year is prepared for...

First job is cleaning up the debris in the cafeteria - which is quite a task after several cases of anonymously donated cheap bubbly arrived on the premises on the last day and were immediately consumed by the staff, resulting in a bit of... untidiness.

Once that's done I abuse my heightened level of access to the building to snaffle all the personal and company digital cameras I can find, putting each in it's own carefully labelled brown envelope.

...

"What're they for?" the PFY asks, scaring the crap out of me in the all but abandoned building as I sneak back into a darkened Mission Control.

"What are what for?" I ask, slipping the bag of cameras behind me.

"The bag of cameras behind your back," the PFY says, tapping the CCTV console feed.

Bugger, I'll have to make him an accomplice...

"It's... my annual incriminating evidence gathering mission."

"?"

"Every year there's a Christmas party and every year people do some inadvisable things."

"So?"

"In the past some of these things were lucky enough to be recorded on the CCTV system, but in these days of biometrics and enhanced burden of proof the leverage of a poor quality black and white image isn't what it once was."

"Oh I'm fairly sure the authorities could base a case on what I've recorded this morning..." the PFY hints.

"Be that as it may, I'm after bigger fish. Last year I left disposable cameras in strategic places in the hope that they'd be used to capture 'magic moments', but I was sadly disappointed."

"So you're stealing people's digital cameras to make up for it?"

“No. They'll be returned to their place of origin once I've accessed the flash memory”

"FLASH memory being the operative word” the PFY comments, winking.

... Half an hour later ...

"Well that was a bust!" the PFY says, looking at the collections of images. "Hardly blackmail material, is it?"

“Yes, well, finding incriminating evidence was the original plan but it occurred to me that with a bit of memory retardant the authenticity of reality could be challenged."

“And translated into English this means?"

"I realised that finding images was a crap plan. A far better plan would involve them finding incriminating images..."

“Yes but there aren't any” the PFY explains slowly.

“I think you mean there aren't any yet.” I say, firing up Photoshop...

“But they'll know they're fakes!”

“No, they'll probably just hope they're fakes.”

“What do you mean?”

“In the week prior to Christmas I invested heavily in an end-of-line champagne substitute known by some as Château de legopener, sending several cases to the Company under a pseudonym. I'm sure you witnessed the effects..”

“So you're suggesting that most people won't remember what they did?”

“I'm suggesting there might be a grey area or two which could be filled by an image or two from Doctor Bastard's Lab!!!

“Will it work?”

“Of course. I take all the images from the cameras >clickety<, feed them into the morph package, >click< add a bit of anonymous porn, select our... victim.. and Viola!”

“Nothing happened!” the PFY says.

“Of course not, it takes about two hours an image – but time well spent, I assure you!”

. . . three days later . . .

“I'm a little... disturbed by some images that were printed on our colour printer,” I say to The Boss. “Images, what images?” he asks – in a hunted tone.

“Uh.. I'm not sure how you would describe them.. Candid snaps maybe? Only they look to have come from your workstation late in the afternoon on the 23rd....”

“There's nothing on my camera,” he blurts.

“I didn't suggest there was,” I counter. “Although one of them does feature you. Well, a part of you.”

“Yes, yes, well just throw the print-outs away. Or actually I'll throw them away!”

“Yeah, I could do that but the company has a policy about images of this nature – who to notify, how to gather evidence for the disciplinary process, etc.”

Disciplinary Process! Surely it's none of the company's business,” the Boss blurts. “Can't you just.. pretend you didn't see anything?” “Oh, you mean act as if I hadn't seen you in the photograph – the same way you could act as if you didn't see the bottom line of the expenses claim I'm about to present.”

“So we're talking blackmail?”

“Really? I didn't notice one – although I wasn't looking too carefully. I could check the prints...”

And just like that the Boss is a broken man, signing any form we put in front of him - It's almost too easy. While he's contemplating the possibility that he's been living a lie I make a quick call to ensure that the expenses claims will get processed in the next pay run.

“I'm afraid the close-off date for the next run has passed,” the Accounts woman informs me.

“Can't you make an exception for me?” I ask.

“I don't think so.”

“So it's only your Boss you make exceptions for – giving him his.... Christmas present early... so to speak."

“What do you mean?” She asks, taking on the Boss's hunted tone.

“I think you know."

“I..."

“..think you can make an exception after all?”

“I'll get right onto it”

“Course you will...”

Yeah, it is too easy. ®

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