“We find the defendant, Michael Rosling, guilty.”
“Guilty! But I am innocent!” I wanted to yell at the jurors sitting at the other end of the courtroom. As I was walking out of the courtroom handcuffed and humiliated, I started thinking. Only three months earlier, I was drinking coffee and working in one of the most successful technology companies in New York City. How could it all have gone so wrong so fast? It was evident I was framed, but despite my best efforts, no one, not even my defense lawyer believed me. Memories of the months prior drifted through my head as I was escorted to prison.
I had moved to New York City three years ago from a little town in northern Ohio. The bright lights, busy streets, tall buildings and the smells from street vendors placed at every corner drew me in. Just the number of people I walked past in one day was more than I had ever seen in my entire life. New York City was a place which combined all the colorful cultures of the world into five beautiful boroughs.
“How could someone hate New York?” I had thought when I first moved in but I would find out the city that never slept was more than what meets the eye.
New York was where I wanted to be, where I wanted to make a name for myself, and I was going to make my family proud. I am an inventor and I knew inventing for a tech company in New York was a big opportunity. When I was first hired by a company called Think Tech, I met the boss, a man named Nicholas Bently. He was a tall, heavy built man who I’m sure could win every arm wrestling contest. I myself being less than 6 feet tall and someone who utterly failed gym class in school felt slightly, uh, out of my element.
“Good morning, my name is Nicholas Bently and I am the founder of Think Tech,” he said as he stretched out his hand. I shook it happily and replied saying,“Good morning sir, I’m Michael Rosling. It’s a pleasure to meet you in person.”
“The pleasure is all mine,” he said and let out a small laugh. “Now I heard you have
some ideas about how to improve our firewalls and processing power. Care to explain?”
“Of course sir, if we could maybe go somewhere so I could show you my plans.” I
pointed to my black leather briefcase which contained 10 years of hard work inside.
“Right this way Mr. Rosling. We can talk privately in my office.”
We walked into the office, and I almost stopped in shock. I had never seen an office so
large. It was definitely much larger than my apartment. I don’t know why, but I had a bad feeling about this room. The room had glass walls that could become foggy to prevent people from seeing inside, with the press of a button.
“Welcome to my fortress.” Mr. Bently said. “I built this office with hard earned money and have ensured it is the safest place in the building. The glass walls are made of extremely bulletproof glass in case any, uh, disagreements occur and if needed, I have a direct line to the police department. This is also where our most important documents are kept secure,” he said as he looked towards the bookcase which I gathered was most likely more than just a bookcase but a false wall.
“Oh, and those men you saw outside the doors are part of my personal security detail, all trained army vets, each armed with guns to silence any and all unwelcome guests.” He
looked at me and smiled, not just any smile, but one that seemed to hint at the possibility he enjoyed the elimination of others.
I was surprised that such measures were taken to secure an office in a tech company, but I responded politely to all his prideful comments. What he failed to mention, but I noticed regardless, was that despite his entire building being heavily monitored with security cameras, there was not one on his office floor. I quickly ignored my instincts and began to explain my insights about technology to Mr. Bently. Little did I know, my assumptions were right and the room that I was standing in would play a significant part in my future.
Work, work and more work. Was all I did for weeks. I was constantly developing and strengthening security, firewalls, processing power and everything possible that Mr. Bently requested. My specialty was in fixing and improving tech in Mr. Bently’s private computers which were all were marked with a unique lotus flower. I would clock in everyday at 7:30 sharp and clock out around 6:00. Yet, sometimes if I arrived early, I would see Mr. Bently greeting three men in all black suits and take them to his office. It wasn’t unusual for Mr. Bently to have visitors, yet I could sense the fear that consumed everyone the men came in contact with. These three seemed to arrive almost weekly and I noticed over time that the two larger ones were bodyguards. They always shielded the smaller man between them when walking and small bulks, most likely guns, were on each of their hips. One morning I had arrived 10 minutes earlier than usual, and as I was walking in the huge lobby of Think Tec’s headquarters, I bumped into one of the three men Mr. Bently had met with earlier that morning. It was the smaller one. He almost dropped his metal briefcase, and I dropped a folder of designs on the floor.
As I knelt down to pick up my designs, I noticed a peculiar symbol on the briefcase, a lotus flower. With absolutely no idea what it meant at the time, I quickly forgot about it, stood and said,
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to bump into you.” He didn’t respond. He didn’t nod. His facial expression was enough. A cold, icy stare followed me into the lobby. I could feel sweat steadily forming on my forehead and dripping down my back. My skin crawled as his eyes seemed to burn right into my back. The elevator doors closed, I took a deep breath, wiped my forehead on my sleeve and began my day.
After the encounter with the mystery man, I started thinking more about the lotus flower. It seemed that the flower followed me everywhere. I thought I had seen it somewhere before when I wasn’t working at Think Tec. I had been working on technology with the lotus flower symbol and then to bump into a mysterious man with a briefcase that had the same symbol. It couldn’t have been a coincidence. Perhaps Mr. Bently wasn’t being entirely straightforward with me, and there was more than what meets the eye. He already made me uneasy when he talked about certain things, such as how great his security was for dealing with imposters. A week after the unfortunate encounter with the mystery man, Mr. Bently asked to meet me in his office.
“Good afternoon Mr. Rosling, take a seat.” Mr. Bently stretched out a large hand motioned to a black leather chair in front of his large wooden desk.
“Thank you sir.” I answered and nervously sat down.
“I called you here today for a very important task. You have been working diligently on those computers I have given you. I want you to install some software from this drive into those computers.” He put on a pair of gloves and opened a drawer in his desk. He lifted a small box with a silver flash drive out of the drawer and handed it to me.
“Sure, Mr. Bently. When do you want this done.”
“Tomorrow at noon.”
“It might take me a bit longer to download this software.”
“Get it done by noon tomorrow or I will have to let you go Mr. Rosling. Oh and take the
computers and the drive to your apartment tonight to finish the job. ”
“Yes, sir.” I abruptly left the room with my heart still pounding and proceeded to
download the software. I had never had my job threatened before and it was not a pleasant feeling.
The next day I got arrested, for theft and treason.
“Michael Rosling, this is the NYPD, come out with your hands above your head!” I opened my apartment door and placed my hands on my head.
“What is the meaning of this? It’s 3am, why are you here?” The police began searching through my apartment.
“We found it!” Two policemen came out of my apartment holding the computers Mr. Bently had asked me to work on, and the flash drive he gave me.
“Michael Rosling you are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.” I panicked. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Then it clicked, Mr. Bently had set me up! But why? He had me take the computers and flash drive home. He had used gloves when touching everything so my prints were the only ones there. Thoughts were racing through my head of why this would happen to me of all people. The information on those drives must have been important. I must have done something wrong. Mr. Bently was planning something. Something terrible. That evil grin on the first day was a sign of what was to come, and I hadn’t warned anyone. As I was led to my cell door after the court hearing, I thought about what would happen. I was framed for a crime I had not committed and no one would ever know the truth.
Lily Young, 15, lives in New York City with her four sisters. Outside of school she enjoys playing soccer for a travel team, walking her dog, playing piano, and competing in a debate/speech league. She’s been a student at Veritas for four years and is so grateful for all the amazing people she has met and the things she has learned.