Photo Credit: Nash, Franzundjulius Cafe, Vienna
10. Vienna calling
By Andrew Nash
Read the earlier episodes: 1. Vienna Woods
It was a long walk from Building C – located (hidden?) on the far edge of campus – to Franz’s office. On the way he stopped for a cappuccino (the office machines were fine for espresso, but the café was essential if you wanted proper steamed milk).
Pete’s question had upset Franz. Why, especially now, after talking seriously about living together, had Pam not told him what she did for a living? Sure, he got that she didn’t always want to talk about work – he was tired of that Silicon Valley ritual – but she could have said something. And, he now realized, he’d never met any of her co-workers. Didn’t she want him to know she worked security?
The office was louder than usual. His team was unwinding after a big project. People were mostly lounging in the comfy chairs instead of hunched over keyboards. Franz docked his laptop and had just started catching-up with the admin he’d let slide – admin was always a good way to forget problems for a while – when his phone buzzed.
Walking to one of the quiet rooms he noticed it was a Vienna number he didn’t recognize. It would be late there, who’d be calling now?
“Hello,” forgetting this greeting threw Europeans off.
“Hallo Franz. Thanks for the warning last night! You won’t believe what happened.”
This was a surprise, Andrea thanking him for what he’d by now had decided was an idiotic phone call.
She continued, “After you called, I sent Pat’s emergency meeting message.”
“Huh, is she still crazy?”
“Yeah, did you notice that I have a different phone number? Anyway, she saved our butts. There were two big guys staking out Philipp’s apartment and some others broke into our office. We watched them from our laptops in the bunker.”
“Opps, Pat would be so pissed, we aren’t supposed to mention it. Anyway, they found some suspicious maps she’d planted and that kept them busy for a while. When they came-back they found us at Mercato. Started saying something about VCs and stealing our idea if we didn’t sell it to them. Just then some Falter reporters busted-in – Francesco tipped them off – and threatened front page photos. The bad guys left in a hurry, and we’re all OK, but it’s been a long day.”
Dumbstruck, Franz eventually managed to ask, “But why you? What’d they want?”
“Hey, we were pretty surprised too,” Andrea answered, “I mean we never took Pat’s security obsession seriously, but, suddenly, there were a bunch of big guys demanding the code for our new city planning app. Afterwards we put two and two together and think the app idea could be an antidote to social media obsession and the Metaverse.”
“An antidote to the Metaverse?” replied Franz, just now realizing his friends had moved far beyond the nice but hopeless projects they’d been doing with him, “That sounds seriously ambitious.”
“Yeah, of course that wasn’t our plan. We just wanted to build an easy way of helping people meet in person to improve their lives and neighborhoods. But now we realize that anything encouraging and helping people spend time in the physical world takes them away from the Metaverse. And that’s bad for the business model.”
“Wait a minute, I talked to Philipp a couple weeks ago. Is he really OK?”
“Yeah, thank goodness. He’s a little shook-up, but good given what he’s been through. Tell me though, did he tell you about the app?”
“Well, he explained the general idea and said you planned to give a test version to the Aspern Stadtstrasse activists. In fact, that’s why he called, he remembered I grew up in Aspern and wanted to pick my brain about the neighborhood. I thought it sounded great and mentioned it to Pam and my work buddy Pete that night.”
“Who’s Pam?” interrupted Andrea.
Opps, Franz thought, then wondered to himself, yeah, who was Pam?
The story continues: 11. Who’s that girl?