The Echo Chamber
He called his screens his ‘eyes’. There were hundreds of them. Black and white, CRT, LCD and plasma. Old and new, thick and thin, small, big, flat, fat and curved. They were spread out like pebbles, pushed to the shore of the riverlike main corridor in this large underground cavern. It was such a vast array of monitors left, right and center, that if you were standing in the middle of the facility, the walls at both ends would not be visible.
Some screens were hanging from the roof. Other were standing on the ground. A few of them were unplugged or opened up. Those that were working were clustered in regions, categorized by signs on the floor depicting continents and countries. Subsections with abbreviations like CIA, MSS, ISO or MI6 created a sense of order in the chaos, although likely only truly understood by its organizer. Any intelligence agency on the planet you could think of – and some you couldn’t fathom existed – was there in this cave, captured by the buzz and blueish-green hues of electricity.
A cluster of bigger screens deeper into the grotto depicted stock market information and pushed to the right wall in the back were a few monitors with black screens and green letters, suggesting they were hooked to the mainframe. Yet most monitors showed feeds of people sitting at desks, behind monitors and in conference rooms. And at the very end of the corridor, there were his two main ‘eyes’, currently depicting a football game on the left, and what appeared to be a military war room to the right.
To call it a man cave would be like comparing a kids’ playground with an Olympic Stadium. This place was the epicenter of the largest counterintelligence operation the world had ever seen. Or more precisely: would never see. Here was one man, all on his own, snooping back on every single spy agency in existence. If you’d ever wondered who was watching the watchers, now you’d know.
And right now, leaning backward in his office chair, and with a cheeky little smile dancing on the corners of his mouth, he was staring at a button, ostensibly placed between the two center screens, playing ‘ini mini miny mo’ with a daisy in his hand.
(The Echo Chamber is a short by Rogier van Kralingen)