Underground Tourist – Part 1


“Hey, Mel. Can you take a look at the error in the ATM service layer?” said Robbie from the next cube. “It’s not a priority, just happened to notice it in the system logs.”

“Sure, yeah. No problem. Message me the log.” said Melchior, chewing on the end of a ballpoint pen. He was tall– even sitting down–late twenties, vainly chiseled physique, scruffy face, dark hair, his piercing brown eyes focused on the computer screen in front of him.

“Ok,” said Robbie.


“Got it,” said Melchior.

Melchior opened the log file and made a quick search for the error. “You heard of UTNMessageRouter.java?” he asked.

“Dude, there’s like a million source files in this banking system. I haven’t heard of most of them. You could code PresidentFoxSucksCocks.java and no one would notice,” said Robbie, the Fox regime never far from his thoughts.

Melchior opened the code and examined it. “Come here, Robbie. Check this out.”

“Ok. Did you find the error?”

“Not yet but take a look at this.”

Robbie, a stocky, compact man, 30, with a mustache that might be decent in ten years entered Melchior’s cubicle and looked over his shoulder at the screen.

“Have we ever used an Apache Camel router in this system?”

“Doesn’t sound familiar. What does it do?”

“It watches file folders. You drop the right kind of file in a folder, it picks it up and does something with the data, gets rid of the file.”


“So?  And that doesn’t strike you as weird?  We’ve never used Camel to my knowledge. Not the whole time I’ve worked for BOGA. No one introduces new 3rd party code without approval from the leads, and you’re a lead.”

“Look, just fix the bug, ok?” said Robbie, stepping out of
Melchior’s cube.

“Ok, whatever.”

Taking a sip of his government-issued excuse for coffee, Melchior analyzed the code, chewing his pen. He found the path to the folder the code was watching, logged in to the server, and looked in the folder. It was loaded with files with names ending in “.utn”.
Whatever these files were, he knew they shouldn’t have been there. The router should’ve been picking them up. He followed the code trail leading up to line 376. There you are you, you little bugger.

“Fixed it,” he said.

“Oh yeah?  What was it?” said Robbie.

“Someone forgot to put a null check on a date conversion.”

“Typical shit from the ATM team,” said Robbie. He grimaced as he took a drink from his mug, “Your fix goes live this afternoon.”

Melchior turned back to his computer. “Nothing like testing in production. Ok, I’ll keep an eye on it.” said Melchior closing the file, but leaving the folder full of the strange files open.

For lunch, Robbie and Melchior walked down to a sandwich shop on the corner. November was approaching and a stiff breeze was just starting to burn their ears as they pulled out their travel visas and swiped. The door opened and the college kid with the sandy blond hair and a look like he’d just smelled a sweaty gym socks looked up and greeted him. “Welcome to Chimpy’s”

They ordered up and took a seat by the window. Outside, a man with curly hair and a satchel strapped over his shoulder was trying to swipe his card, but the door kept making a nasty buzz; a buzz that made Melchior’s and Robbie’s hearts race.

Seconds later a black van pulled up, tires screeching to a halt. Two men in black fatigues with submachine guns slung over their shoulders jumped out and dragged him into the van without even a moment for him to scream. The van door slammed shut and the van sped off, to where nobody seemed to know.