Loose Lips Sink Ships

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Loose lips sink ships

By: James G. Boswell 

Note: This is a preview from the scary short story collection e-book, “Deprived …and Other Stories.” To find out how the story ends, you can buy the collection on Amazon for $2.99. Click here to buy on Amazon.

“This building is designed to collapse with everyone inside of it,” Leslie thought as she stared at the building plans in disbelief. “There’s something seriously wrong here.” She brought the plans to her manager’s office, knocked on his open door, and said, “Tom, we need to talk.”

Tom looked up at her from behind his desk with a mildly surprised expression and said, “Of course, Leslie. What is it?”

She unrolled the plans on top of his desk as she said, “Take a look at this.”

Tom looked at them for a moment and said, “Ah yes, this is the new skyscraper we’re designing for the city. It’s one of our largest projects ever. Very exciting stuff, isn’t it?”

“Notice anything unusual?” she asked.

Tom looked at her quizzically, then examined the plans in front of him more closely. After several moments, he said, “No, I can’t say I do. What seems to be the problem?”

“The support infrastructure in the building’s base is completely wrong. If the construction company builds it the way we designed it, then it would collapse once it reached nearly full capacity. Thousands of people would die. This must be a mistake.”

Tom stared at her with a bewildered expression for a few moments, then said, “Leslie, what is your roll in the design of this structure?”

Leslie sighed and said, “Selecting construction materials, preparing reports, and…”

Tom cut her off impatiently and said, “You aren’t directly involved in the actual design of the building, are you?”

Leslie pursed her lips in anger and said, “No.”

“And how long have you been a structural engineer?”

“I got my license three years ago.”

“Meanwhile, those building plans were put together by a whole team of engineers, some of whom have 20, 30, and even up to 40 years of experience respectively. How long have you been with this firm?”

“Ever since I got my license.”

Tom’s voice increased in volume and his demeanor took on an edge as he said. “So then, you know that Burns & Veatch is a world-class engineering firm, and that our building plans always exceed the highest industry standards for quality and safety, as they have ever since the firm’s inception nearly 100 years ago?”

“You’re right, Tom,” Leslie said in a defeated tone. “I guess I made a mistake.”

Tom furrowed his brow and slowly said, “Yes, I suppose you did.”

Several hours later, after everyone else had gone home including Tom, Leslie printed an extra set of the building plans out and stuffed them into her bag. As she got into her car, she nervously recalled what her firm’s security director had said during her new employee orientation:

“Taking building plans, designs, or blueprints home with you is strictly forbidden without the direct written approval of your immediate supervisor. Failure to observe this policy, even if it’s an honest mistake, is a fireable offense. Otherwise, we risk our confidential intellectual property falling into the hands of people who shouldn’t have it. After all, ‘Loose lips sink ships,’ as they say.”

Leslie unrolled the building plans on top of the lawyer’s oversize mahogany desk, and he immediately began to pore over them. As he studied the plans, she examined the various framed documents that festooned the dark wood-paneled walls all over his office. One was his law degree from Harvard Law School, another was his master’s degree in structural engineering from Stanford University. The rest of the documents consisted mainly of various newspaper articles. She read one of the headlines which said, “Lawyer Templeton wins multi-million-dollar liability case against national engineering firm.” Another one said, “Templeton successfully sues construction company for millions in damages.”

Finally, her eyes came to rest on a plaque made of black and white marble. It was inscribed with words in big block letters that said, “Bartholomew J. Templeton, Lawyer of the Year – The National Association of Plaintiff’s Lawyers.” Beneath that inscription, there was another line in italics that said, “Sue the bastards.”

After several minutes, Bartholomew said matter-of-factly, “You stole these plans, didn’t you?”

She looked at him for a moment and said, “Yes, but…”

He held his hand up and said, “You did the right thing. Based on my terse examination, there are several severe problems in the building’s infrastructure that would result in a catastrophic failure if it had to support the weight of even a normal amount of people inside of it. Has this design gone to the city inspector’s office yet?”

“Yes, but they already approved it,” she said.

Bartholomew shook his head and said, “That shouldn’t have happened. The inspector should have been able to tell right away that something was off.”

“What does this mean?”

“It means three things: First, the people who created this design are either grossly incompetent or have intentionally designed a building that can barely support its own weight. I don’t know why anyone would do that, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s some kind of insurance fraud. Second, the city inspector is also either incompetent or corrupt as well. Third, we have a lawsuit to put together.”

He continued, “In the meantime, don’t tell anyone, and I mean anyone, that you believe there might be problems with the design of this building. Have you spoken to anyone about this already?”

“I talked to my boss about it.”

“And what did he say?”

“He blew me off.”

“Well, so long as you don’t say anything more to him or anyone else, we shouldn’t have a problem. These building plans show a negligent and perhaps even criminal disregard for people’s safety by both the engineering firm and the city. We should be able to secure a sizable amount of damages once we show the judge this evidence, and we’ll maintain your anonymity during the litigation as well. Your career will be safe, and you’ll have prevented what could’ve been a major catastrophe. In addition, you’ll have quite a bit of money in the bank when this is over. How’s that sound?”

Leslie smiled meekly and said, “That all sounds great, but I’m not doing it for the money.”

Bartholomew smiled and winked as he said, “Of course not. I’ll just need to keep these plans with me for the time being. You say you didn’t print off any other copies?”

Leslie eyed the plans anxiously and said, “No, those are the only ones.”

“Good, then they shall stay here where they’ll be safe. In the meantime, don’t discuss this with anyone. Also, don’t print off any more copies. Just continue about your work as though nothing was wrong at all. I’ll contact you when it’s time for us to proceed with the lawsuit. Remember: don’t say anything about this to anyone. ‘Loose lips sink ships,’ as they say.”

Leslie nodded and said, “I understand.”

Click here to find out how the story ends and to read many more tales of terror by purchasing the e-book, “Deprived …and Other Stories” on Amazon for $3.99.

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