Rabid Response

Rapid Response was the only security company licensed by The Authority to operate in the village. It had been started by a doorman, Big Bob, at the Lucerne Valley Hotel, before he had met a Japanese girl, married her and moved to Tokyo. He’d sold the company to Matt, a doorman at the Transparent Temple – nickname for their fancy, glassy community centre – who had expanded the business in and around the village.

Matt manned the base seven days a week. He sat too much; he knew that. He would rather be walking around like an old fashioned cop on his beat, than sitting on his ass. But the structures and processes of the modern security industry required you to sit in an office, close to computers, phones and monitors. He watched a lot of TV, indulged in online gaming, sometimes gambling, and occasionally porn. Should an emergency arise though, he was always ready to go.

Rapid Response’s purpose was to provide a reliable form of protection where a separation was created between assets and threats. This separation was typically breached in the village once a night. Warning lights flashed, overriding his browsing, and he would immediately alert field staff.

Since the development of The Place though, things had gone quiet. What had till recently been the village car park, a badly lit, mostly empty space, with benches for drunks and corners for criminals to lurk, was now a well-maintained, well-lit, popular place with people wandering around. It seemed to have brought a new spirit into town, that of an integrated community.

As crime around the village fell, so did Rapid Response’s business. They barely had enough subscribers to make the enterprise worthwhile. Something needed to be done.

A number of affluent individuals had moved to “the beautiful village with the white mountain above it.” Maybe Rapid Response could focus on those – wealthy, absent, paranoid people like Mr Choo, who came only one weekend a month from the City, and Mr. Bhavan, who was here even less than that. Why did they buy places here when they didn’t have time or inclination to be here? They were taking from, but not giving back, to the local community. It was inevitable that some people would want to correct the balance.

Matt invested in state-of-the-art systems, and sent uniformed staff to walk around the Place, as pure security theatre. He knew that the measures he deployed to increase feelings of subjective security would also cause an increased awareness of crime, and potential for profitable criminal activity, leading to reduced objective security. It was like scanners at airports making innocent folk try to think of ways to beat them; like having two computer security programs working against each other but feeling that you’re getting double protection.

Matt launched an advertising campaign highlighting the low population density of the Lucerne Valley, and its ease of access – in and out; its message was that if you were robbed, “Who would know?”

His scare tactics worked. Both Mr Choo and Mr Bhavan signed up for premium service, along with their wealthy neighbours and friends.

Rapid Response’s new systems were too sensitive though. Many times when staff went to investigate alarms, they found that the “culprits” were house owners’ dogs. And Rapid Response’s staff weren’t sensitive enough. The few times they apprehended real criminals, they were heavy-handed. For these reasons the company became known as Rabid Response.

Matt kept an eye on Shama, a petty criminal who had recently arrived from the City. One day Matt saw him approach and smash a concealed camera. He was about to call field staff to apprehend him, but then recalled that the Authority had denied him permission to install cameras in The Place. They had said it was a “node for self-perpetuating community”, not a location to instil suspicion and fear. In addition there were privacy, child-protection and copyright infringement issues. Matt couldn’t go and get him. He could only sit on his ass.

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