Thread: Chapter 3 - One In A Million
Board: The Last Portal
Group: Players
[1]  Exit


posted... Chapter 3 - One In A Million 
on Sun 12 Jan 2020 @ 8:36 AM (PBW Time)

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
Milton Berle

Marvell Technology Group Ltd
Marlborough, MA
Monday, December 31, 2019

Jason Stone is standing at the counter in the breakroom, stirring some sugar into his third cup of coffee of the morning when his Iphone vibrates in his back pocket. He is so deep in thought, mulling over code, trying to solve a particularly difficult technical challenge that has been nagging him for weeks, that he doesn’t at first register the call. Today is New Year’s Eve, and technically his office is letting everyone out early at two, but Jason is aware that his team has to give a presentation to senior management on Thursday and he is determined to have this bug fixed before then. The phone vibrates again, insistently, finally breaking Jason from his thought process. Mildly irritated, and presuming the caller is his wife reminding him to pick something up on the way home, Jason takes up the phone. He doesn’t recognize the number on the screen. He is about to disengage, presuming the caller is just a telemarketer, but something stops him and he answers.

“Hi, Jason?” Asks an excited female voice. “This is Molly Hull from Rizzo and Diersen. I’m an attorney out in Milwaukee. I’m calling about the Witch’s Eye contest. You guessed the correct answer! Congratulations! You have no idea how long we’ve been searching for someone who could solve it!”

Jason takes a tentative sip of his coffee.

“The puzzle isn’t just one of those spectogram pictures you’ve seen around. Very, very few people can solve it. Those who can carry a rare genetic trait that makes them extremely valuable to what we’re trying to accomplish here.” She says rather breathlessly. “I can’t go into the details over the phone. If you give me your Venmo account, I’ll send you half the prize money to show we’re legitimate and acting in good faith. I can do Paypal or direct deposit into your bank account, if you prefer. But I’d like to try to convince you to come out here to my office and hear me out as soon as you can -- all expenses paid, of course. I can pay you the balance of the thousand dollars when you get here and another thousand bonus just for making the trip.”

She pauses a moment to catch her breath. She laughs. “I know this all sounds crazy. But this is very legitimate and can really turn out to be a great opportunity for you. This is not some kind of sales scheme or phishing scheme. You can google my law firm if you want.” She recites her firm’s website address. “Now I know its a holiday and I sprung this on you out of the blue. If you want some time to think about things, that’s fine. Just call me on this number when you’re ready to talk. Its my cell. Or email me. But please don’t just disappear. We really, really need to speak with you more, Jason…”

Jason M Stone

posted... Phone call 
on Mon 13 Jan 2020 @ 11:33 AM (PBW Time)

The following morning Jason wakes up stiffly, as he usually does, with a sore back. Walking around the house slowly, he helps herd his two boys through their morning rituals and out the door for school. His youngest goes to a regular middle school and takes the bus, but his oldest goes to a special school that is unfortunately a long drive from home. Which is unfortunate, but his needs just don't fit in a public school anymore. There's just no good fit for him at any of the places they had available and they had him placed in the best alternative they could find. The biggest issue being the long commute.

With the house now quiet except for himself and the cat, he showers, eats and rushes himself out the door for work. The commute is an easy drive for Jason at least. It's a bit longer than he'd like at 40 minutes, but traffic is always light so it's not stressful. Especially today being New Years eve. He hits the cruise control for his usual 75mph, which is fast but not fast enough for him to get pulled over in the unlikely event he passes a trooper. There are always cars that go faster than he does. He is the reed that doesn't poke it's head above the rest, thereby making him a target for culling.

Parking at work, he shuffles through and drops off his coat and backpack in the lockers available there. He prefers keeping his personal effects in the locker room so it's not so easy to determine if he skips out of work early. Or to the gym at lunch. There are busy bodies in upper management that he doesn't like that have in past thrown him under the bus for no good reason. So he does his best to avoid them. Though why he would care today as he's putting in overtime he's not sure. But he's not taking any chances. Especially with the deadline for the presentation looming.

He sits at his desk and reviews that morning's stream of emails and finds nothing pressing, which is good as he has real work to do. But first he goes to get some coffee before really digging in.

Getting his coffee mug setup the way he likes it, his cell phone rings. Normally he doesn't bother to carry it and keeps it at his desk, but he forgot to leave it there. It's a number he doesn't recognize and normally he won't answer if he doesn't know the number, but for some reason this time he does.

He listens absentmindedly at first, but perks up at the mention of the Witch's Eye contest. He recalls sending the email the night before and thinks the call back was awfully fast. As he processes Molly's effervescent enthusiasm he wonders if this all legit.

Jason is puzzled. Genetic trait? The only genetic trait that Jason has that is advantageous is his lack of grey hair. At his age most have a lot of grey, but not Jason. Only a few single white strands struggle against the sea of dark brown hair on his head. Sure there is some male pattern baldness going on, but virtually no grey.

"Is this legit? This isn't some scam where the funds transfer but then after a few days or a week disappear? And in the meantime you've had me forward some or all of it to another account leaving me in the lurch?"

Not waiting for a reply he adds with some hopefulness that this is indeed on the level, "Could I bring my sons and wife along with me to Milwaukee? Might be tough to pitch if they have to stay home."


posted... Family Accommodations 
on Wed 15 Jan 2020 @ 3:37 PM (PBW Time)

“Sons and wife?” The woman hesitates a beat or two. Then: “Sure. Why not? We’ll fly your family out with you if it helps. As a gesture of good faith and to show you we’re serious. Our project budget is limited at this stage, but seeing its success is largely dependent on you and your ability to see the Witch’s Eye images, we’ll do our best to accommodate you. Not a lot of touristy things going on this time of year, but its still a fun city and the Christmas decorations are still up along the lakefront.

"How soon do you suppose you could come? I can have my assistant Ronnie call you and book the flights and hotel, and what not…”

Jason M Stone

posted... Milwaukee 
on Sat 18 Jan 2020 @ 10:42 AM (PBW Time)

"Well I have to speak to my wife tonight and see what she thinks. In the meantime I will send you my paypal info. And then once that's sorted I will have to put in for time off, which I should have no problem getting. But I would think my availability will run into next week at the earliest."

Wrapping up the call he adds, "So I will be in touch with you. I do have to get to work so I have to run." Saying their goodbyes he heads back to work to finally solve the problem that's been vexing him and try to not be distracted by the call he just took. Which won't be easy as it certainly was unusual. Before resuming Jason first takes a few minutes to email Molly and cc his wife. He also texts his wife to check her email and when he gets home to discuss it.

By 3pm Jason has his code fixed, tested and delivered. Not wasting anymore of his time, he fires off an update email to his boss and heads for home. Traffic is pretty light as its a holiday and he makes good time. He opens the door to his house and finds his family all at home, his kids and wife all buried in their own electronic devices. His wife Marianne looks up at him expectantly.

Once he has settled in he pulls his wife aside to apprise her of his day. "I got a strange call about the contest I entered where I had to decipher a 3d image. The one I emailed you about. The woman on the other end said I won the thousand dollar prize and I should be getting half of it in our paypal account by days end." Pausing he lets the news sink in before continuing.

"However they want to meet directly with me and want to fly the entire family out to Milwaukee. They said there would be another thousand on top of the remaining five hundred if I or we all go."

His wife pauses and thinks about the news. Her face gets that expression it gets when she's worried. Jason knows she will be incredulous, much more so than he is. He also knows that she would under no circumstance allow him to go without the family if he presented it such that the rest of the family didn't have the chance to go too. However he is also aware the timing isn't great as the kids have school and likely can't make it.

"The kids have school coming up and I'm not sure they should go." she says as she ponders what to do, exactly what he suspected she would say. "Most importantly Milwaukee is in Wisconsin, which is where John spent time for his OCD. I would be really worried about taking him back there. You know how he gets and I would be worried Wisconsin would set him off."

Jason thinks on this and nods his head in agreement. He had forgotten about that aspect which is surprising as it was such a difficult time in their life. "Yes, that makes sense. It's just not worth the risk." Knowing how worrisome his wife can be he adds, "But are you okay with me going alone?"

She sighs. "Not really. I want to know more about this contest and how long you'll be gone. But I suppose I could manage the kids for a while."

Jason knows she won't be happy about him going without the family. And he wonders if he'll have enough vacation time to cover the week he'll need for the Vegas trip in July and this excursion. He knows he should try to keep this trip as short as possible.

Getting back on email he sends Molly another mail...


It'll just be me going. How long will you want me in Milwaukee? Will a couple of days suffice? I'm thinking I could take next Friday and Monday off, giving me Saturday and Sunday for whatever it is you need me for. But I am flexible on the days, but I do need to let my job know with at least a few days in advance.


[1]  Exit