A hacker finds himself in a little over his head. Some cyberpunk for Writer's Cramp.
|I flipped the switch to kill the power on my rig. It had been a long run, but I’d pulled through. Leaning back in my chair, I fished my cigarettes and lighter out of my pocket, fingered one thin stick of death out of the little paper pouch, and put it to my lips. I could taste the paper there, I could feel the anticipation of the nicotine. Weakly, I lifted the lighter to my lips, and I thumbed the zippo open. The meager flame illuminated what passed for a room these days. Peeling baby blue wallpaper decorated the six foot square apartment. The room’s only adornments were a futon mattress and my baby sitting on a small metal box that passed for a desk. I snapped the lighter shut, and leaned back. I knew Gordon and his men were on their way. They had to know what I’d done.
It was the first time I had taken a job from a corporation. Man, I was practically wearing a white collar shirt, but considering the economy, who could blame me? It was supposed to be an open and shut case. Crack another company’s security, unlock some secret, slap a bow on it, and deliver. It was supposed to be easy. I took a long, hard drag on my smoke, and exhaled slowly. Gordon, the suit who hired me, impressed upon me the urgency of the mission, and how well I’d be rewarded when he was done. It was enough money to upgrade to an eight foot unit, easy.
I closed my eyes. “It’s never that easy.” I whispered to myself. It could have been. I was in Cross Corporation’s mainframes. I was staring at the data. If I could have held off my sense of god damn morality for five damn minutes, it could have been that easy. I had been warned not to look at the file, and now, I wish I’d listened. The file I was told to retrieve was evidence of corporate espionage, protection rackets, antitrust schemes, ponzi schemes, even murder. Cross Corp had gotten its hands on two gigabytes worth of blackmail on other companies. I assumed Gordon wanted to destroy the leverage. Sucking in toxin, I figured they probably meant to kill me anyway. Damn shame they underestimated me.
I heard them before they were even on my floor. These cheap ass apartments may not keep the wind out in winter, but the upside is that they don’t keep out sound, either. From the sounds of their boots, I was guessing at least ten thugs. Whether they were with or without Gordon was anyone’s guess. I took a final pull off my cigarette and flicked it in to a corner. Gingerly, I lifted the computer off of my metal case, and withdrew a cheap Taiwanese five millimeter special. On a budget, it was the best weapon a working boy like me could afford. I smoothed my greasy black hair out of my eyes, and watched the door.
Honestly, it could have been fine. I could have seen the file and walked away. A mission failure was just a few days’ lost wages… I would have gotten a little thinner, but I would have survived. Well, I might have survived. But see, that’s not the way we net jockeys work. Hackers? We’ve got style. We’ve got style up to here, understand? So my next move, while admittedly stupid, was what I had to do. It was my job as a hacker.
Hackers, we have standbys. We all have little program shells that, with a simple addition of text, makes wonderful little popups with one of the insults of the day, or, in this case, part of a two gigabyte document. Two gigabytes of blackmail went public, and instantaneously, I became the best known hacker on the net. In case you’re not caught up, that’s a bad thing.
I ejected the magazine on the tiny pistol in my hand, and checked the rounds. I counted six shots, cursed quietly, and slapped the magazine back in. I was dead, but I decided I was going to take at least six of them with me. The solid thuds of boots arrived on my floor, and started moving closer and closer to what passed for my room. I sighed and stood, leaning against a wall, as the boots stopped, still a decent distance away. Quiet, terse words were exchanged, and I was startled by a series of rapid gunshots, muted by a silencer. Holding my pistol level at the door, I held my breath. It opened slowly, spilling a soft white light in to my room, and I took my shot.
My bullet whizzed over the figure’s shoulder, and he ducked slightly. “Easy, stranger. I’m here to help.” He put his empty hands up, and I saw his pistol, complete with silencer, in his belt. “Me and a group of friends like your work. We’re here to bail you out.” I looked him over, and what I saw of a tank top and jeans, with a pistol at his belt, didn’t fill me with confidence. It wasn’t like I had much of a choice, though.
“Let me grab my rig.” He stepped out of the door, and I disconnected my computer, putting it in the box. “You’re going to have to cover us. I’ll need to carry this.” I hefted the box, testing its weight.
“Don’t worry, stranger. My friends are on the first floor, waiting for us.” As we ran, he continued to talk. “Gotta say, we were all really impressed by the job you pulled on Cross Corp. We’re going to help you put that one to shame, though. With a hacker like you, we’re gonna do some real damage.” I could almost hear the grin on his face.
“Great.” I did my best to keep the sarcasm in my voice to a minimum. ‘Looks like this is only the beginning.’ I thought. I picked up the pace.