The Slip Through The Net
I know what your thinking. Of course I know, what else can you think? Look at me! Sitting in a bar in the desert, dressed in these rags, takin way too much of my medicine to be good for me. But then again, Im feeling even more of it today. And whiskey is the only thing that takes the edge off. You think Ive always been like this? Living in a shack, pissing in a hole, and working as a ditch digging nobody? Hell no!
I used to be the best. Ask anyone who knows anything, theyll tell you that Circuits OMalley was the best console cowboy this side of New Capital. They called me that cause they said that my brain worked faster than a megaprocessor. The phreaks cheered, the Suits panicked, and the hotties moaned every time I rolled through town. I could slice though a MegaCorp mainframe like a flaming chainsaw though melted margarine. I could make a defense network crash like an arthritis patient on a unicycle. I could
well you get the picture. Point is, I was the hottest shit freelance hacking had ever seen. I was getting offered jobs every hour on the hour. I could get away with anything. Once, I even looked up my FBI file. The boys in black had enough dirt on me to lock my ass up for the next couple of centuries. Yet never considered for arresting me for a moment. Smart move. If they ever put the heat on my cool, I could erase their lives with a tip calculator. I was on top of the world. But I was about to fall, hard.
I got job one day to nab some next-gen tech blueprints from an R&D branch of Cybernetic Systems Inc. At first I hesitated. After all, CySys. was owned by Max Raze, a CEO whos been hankerin for my blood ever since Circuits OMalley relocated a paltry 1.5 trillion from his illegal account. I wanted to stay away from him for a while. He was a clever as a shark, and twice as ruthless. But I was arrogant, the thrill of sticking it too his fat face and getting to peek at some pre-mainstream market hardware was too much for me to pass up.
I made the dive. Children may as well have designed the firewalls in that sorry mainframe. I was in the zone on that hack! Every probe and counter measure they put in I had a way around it. I scrolled on up to the file and made a copy. It was about then that the shit hit the fan.
All of a sudden, I heard a loud insistent ping in my ears. I recognized it instantly, Virus Alert! The file I was copying was a virus! I knew instantly that I had been set up. This was a trap! My screen started to flicker and flash with color. Which could only mean one thing. The Arc Graphics, a video file with series of neural-paralyzing flickers designed to put the viewer into a fatal seizure. They were very VERY illegal. Gee, I guess Max hated me even more than I thought. Sure enough, I started to shake wildly. The involuntary twitch of my arms growing more painful by the second. I panicked and thrust my convulsing digits into the thin plasma screen. Looking back, that was a bad idea. As the freed voltage coursed through my body, my back arched so hard I heard my spine creak. Then I felt like I was sliding or slipping in some direction I didnt know existed before. And all of a sudden I felt, nothing, and it was as if I no longer had a body to speak of. I felt like I was floating around in some kind of empty void. Then I saw it.
It was horrible, like some kind of giant spiraling octopus. But instead of slimy tentacles it had long cables and tubes. It had twisting gears next to sputtering engines. And there were thick copper wires all bunched up and wrapped around sparking vacuum tubes. It looked like a lunatic had senselessly united every bit of mans achievements, purposelessly throwing them together to assemble some nightmarish living Rube Goldberg contraption. Oh yes, it was alive I could see that. It had not lungs to breathe, a heart to beat, or muscles to move. But I did not doubt its life for a moment. I could feel its eyeless gaze: watching, considering, and eventually disregarding me as unimportant. Then I felt a strange pull on my mind, and I awoke back in my body. But the nightmare wasnt over. I could still see it, the thing, whatever it was. It was everywhere! In every computer, in every light bulb, even in the room I was in I could see it. Every time I looked at some thing that bore the signs of mankinds toils, I could see its faceless visage staring sightlessly back at me. It was too much! I fled the city like a madman. I left every thing behind and have not looked back since.
And thats my story. Thats why I live here in the middle of nowhere far away as I can from civilization, and from, it. I can still feel it, even way out here. But it helps when I drink. So I drink, a lot. To this day I still dont know what I saw, and maybe I never will. But I do know that it doesnt like us one bit. And it has plans to take care of us, and they start soon. Very soon.