This is part two of a three part series.
Alice worked as a security researcher for a multi-national information security company. She was the leader of a team of first responders. When a client reported a breach, her team was first on the scene.
Information security is a high stress environment. Playing ‘cat and mouse’ with adversaries big and small was exhausting. She was the leader of the the number one performing team in the company. Competition was fierce, and her drive kept the team focussed on their goals.
Managing the stress level of the team was important. Careful planning and management kept her team performing at the top of their game. Maintaining a positive work / life balance took work. She encouraged team members to cultivate hobbies, and take downtime whenever possible. Spending time with friends and family was also important. Concepts like ‘crunch time’ and ‘optional overtime’ were not part of the culture for her team.
The same rules that applied to her team, also applied to Alice. One of her favourite hobbies was adult colouring books. Since taking up the hobby, she had bought all the colouring books at her favourite book store. Alice was always on the lookout for new patterns and designs to colour. She was an avid collector. Many of her favourite patterns came from the Internet. There are many forums where colouring aficionados shared their work.
One of her favourites was a forum that had built a supportive and welcoming community. She had made many online friends on the forum. Including colouring aficionados like her self, and pattern designers and artists. Many artists shared their designs in the hope of gaining the attention of publishers
Alice browsed the forums one Monday night, a few weeks after All Hallow’s Eve. She came across a new post and profile of an artist she hadn’t seen before. They wrote in their post that the pattern had come to them in a dream. The dream had been unsettling. They wrote that they felt that the best way to exorcise their troubling feelings was to publish the pattern on the forum.
The new post intrigued Alice, and she hastened to click the download link. When the file opened, the pattern was mesmerising. Alice felt a deep connection to it. It was a much deeper and stronger feeling than she had ever felt for any other work. With a growing sense of excitement she printed it on her high quality large format printer, and got to work.
The more she coloured, the more she felt that there was a hidden pattern. Alice was well known in her team for her amazing pattern recognition abilities. It was one of the things that made her so accomplished at her job in the field of computer security. Many times she had surprised her team by finding patterns in what was thought to be random data.
Over the course of the next few evenings, Alice worked on the colouring page. Over time she discovered more of the hidden pattern. Colouring had always been an excellent way for Alice to reduce her stress. But there was something very special about this page. Some undefinable quality that made her feel particularly energised.
By Friday evening the colouring page was near to completion. Her earlier intuition was right and a hidden pattern was clear to her. It included strange writing and symbols. The pattern reminded her of the magic circles depicted in some of her favourite Anime shows.
Reaching for her pencil to add the last finishing touch, Alice saw something out of the corner of her eye. It sent a discordant note through her happy mood. Taking a closer look Alice discerned a very subtle flaw in the hidden pattern. Now that she had seen the flaw, she had to fix it. Otherwise it would annoy her, like a splinter under the skin.
Putting pen to paper, she took care to fix the pattern. Joining the last few lines gave her a deep sense of satisfaction. The discordant note faded away, and her energetic mood returned. With a deep sense of satisfaction, Alice coloured in the last remaining section. All the nerves in her body were fizzing with energy. Alice’s fingertips tingled, and the hair on the back of her neck stood up on end.
She put her coloured pencil down, picked up the finished piece and tacked it to the wall. Standing back to take it all in, Alice felt compelled to whisper the words that she saw. The energy rushing up and down her nerves coalesced in her hands. They felt warm, and Alice noted with shock they had started to glow.
She tried to stop reading the words, but the compulsion was too strong. With a final shout of triumph, the energy leapt from her hands on to the paper hanging on the wall.
The pattern that she had detected earlier started to glow and spin. A distant part of Alice’s mind started to panic. A sense of wonderment clouded the rest. An intense sense of curiosity was growing. She did not know what would happen next, but she was impatient to find out.