Hack: Part 2
He had a flash of insight: “The blood masked symbol must be important. It looked like a horse shoe. If only the bald friggin idiot let me stay just a little bit longer, maybe I could have discovered something. Arrghh.” His face turned red, sweat beaded on his fore head. He began to shake, then he listened to some distant voice, or maybe no voice at all, it might not have been real. Some times people talk to him, but they aren’t real. They help with things, but sometimes they tell him what he’s done wrong. Sometimes they laugh at him, sometimes they praise him. Maybe they are real.
He stopped listening and continued to sit. A skinny young man with arms like rulers sat in a foldable lawn chair. He barely fit in the storage closet. He was able to bring in a small desk, soldering equipment, various computer parts and, of course, his computer. Each piece of it was black market exclusive. He had four 24 inch monitors mounted on the wall. Along the west facing wall was a large chalk board with equations and diagrams scrawled across it in horrible handwriting. The electronics were kept as far away as possible from the leak in the ceiling. A small crack formed about 3 months ago; every week or so he’s noticed a change in size of it. The ever increasing wound is now leaking a strange brown fluid. Aside from the ceiling, the room was in fairly decent shape. There were no books in this room, however. He learned most things himself and when in meetings, exchanged ideas with other hackers.
He continued to sit, and think. His hands rested on the desk. Within, were stolen tools, wires and his revolver.
“The symbol must have been an Easter egg planted by someone within the host’s circle. Some disgruntled member who wanted the secrets to get out. He must have wanted me to find it. He is like god, and I the messiah. Yes, of course, I’m Jesus!” He yelled, and then quickly lowered his voice. If the police find him, they’ll kill him for sure. According to the police state census, he died 5 years ago, at the age of 15, in a fire. Every 3 months he changes location, constantly running from the police. Although he broke his own rule, he’s been living in the storage closet for 6 months now. It’s too convenient to leave, located in the basement of an abandoned apartment complex. He scans the news daily; there are no plans to demolish the building, he’s fine for now. In addition, the police have been busy combating the recent wave of criminal activity.
There have been numerous busts and ongoing conflict with the Ware Syndicates, the illegal traffickers of stimulant software. Stimulant software is analogous to illegal stimulants used by humans of centuries before. The WS evolved from drug traffickers once internet use and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) became accessible to the mainstream. Many hackers he knows dabble in stim, but he’s never tried it. Some are even stim addicts.
He opened the third, left most desk drawer and removed 5 small USB sticks. He then slowly rose from the chair. Weak, ghostly, white legs lifted his emaciated frame. He removed a zipper up sweatshirt hanging from his seat. He covered his chest and arms with it. He searched for his pants and continued to dress. He found his jean jacket within a pile of food containers and slipped into it, dropping the sticks into an inner pocket. He walked to the door and cracked it open a bit. He stuck his head out and listened, silence, silence as usual. He smiled and stepped out. He closed and locked the closet. He walked up the 4 flights of basement levels. He muttered to himself during his ascent: “I gotta find a faster processor. There’s no way in friggin hell the hosts would be able to catch and boot me if I was running on a Banshee 7.” For the most part, the Banshee 6, his processor, was the best. It was compatible with most computers and didn’t give you a headache, like the Banshee 7 does when using a BCI. He needed something faster, he could build something if he had about a year, but he was short on time and processors were not his expertise. He continued to mutter: “Muto will have what I’m looking for, that freak always has 7s for sale.” He’ll have to trade a lot for one. Within his pocket were 5 USB sticks, each one contained 10-12 stim programs. He developed each of the programs over the course of a year. He never sold them, that was illegal, but he would gladly trade them. The inner workings of the brain were no mystery to him. He could design a program that, when run using a BCI, could perfectly simulate all sorts of pleasure. Some of the most popular were euphoria, happiness, the feeling of accomplishment and pride, super human strength, flight and omniscience. They were all but simulations, but damn good ones. Each program had varying durations of use, most were about 10 minutes.
All of his programs were highly illegal, punishment for possession was death. There would be no trial if caught with a stim program; execution was enacted on the spot. The government banned any form of entertainment and pleasure. They reasoned that pleasure would lead to addiction. Addiction would then lead to sedation and thus, loss of productivity.
He reached the 5th floor, ground level. Gray sunlight beamed in through the filthy windows. He passed through the lobby and stopped at the main entrance. The apartment complex was on a dead end road. The other buildings along the street were abandoned as well. There was no purpose for someone to venture down the road. Occasionally junkies would spend an evening in one of the abandoned homes, carrying their archaic laptops and rusty old BCIs. But a person of importance never explored the vacant street.
He peered down the length of the cracked street. It was cold outside, very cold. He stood shaking in his thin layers, brittle bone under dirty clothes. He pulled up his hood and set off to Muto’s flat. Muto lived in Complex B. This was a section of the city dedicated to watchers (government employees hired to monitor the several thousand surveillance cameras and blood pressure checkpoints around the city). The blood pressure monitors were installed in the entrance of public buildings. Upon entry, citizens were required to use the monitors. Readings were sent to Complex B. High readings were suspicious, which led to investigations.
It would take an hour to reach Muto’s place by foot.