Thursday, February 16, 2012

V is for Virtual

With few options and even less time, Jason reluctantly reached for the screwdriver and began to remove the tower's cover . All he really needed to do was to cash the hard drive to cover his ass, the RAM and peripherals wouldn't give anybody enough to put him away, but it didn't matter. Even if he managed to slip out of his predicament, it would be way too risky to try anything again. Effectively, it was game over. As he removed the drive from its harness, he felt the presence of someone behind him and the touch of metal to his skull.

"I'll take that" said the voice of a woman. "And don't make any sudden movements either, I'm a little edgy right now."

"How in the hell did you get in here?" demanded Jason

"What do you care? Shouldn't you be asking who I am, and why I'm here?" she responded coolly.
Her confidence was obvious. She was a pro who had done this at least a few times before if not many. What the hell did she want from him anyway? He was in deep shit for sure, so why didn't she just bust him and get it over with. He couldn't figure it out.

" Are you a federal agent, part of some task force on cyber-crime or something?"
His naiveté produced a slight chuckle from her.

"Did you see that on TV? Come on, you're smarter than that."
He knew she was right,  but he still felt like a dumb shit for getting caught.
"Yeah, well if I'm so smart, how did I let all this happen?"

"Oh, that's easy. Same as always. Just couldn't keep it in your pants could you? Had to let the little head rule the big head, eh?" He sighed with a deepness that unburdened his breath.
" I guess it was kind of lame, thinking that I could go on forever without somebody catching on. "

" That's OK" she replied. "You see, Jason, it seems that we might have a need for someone with your unusual set of skills in our organization." 
" Are you recruiting me?" he wondered aloud.

"I like to think of it as more of a leveraged buyout, considering the circumstances."
 " So... what are you offering?" he asked hesitantly.

"That depends on how things go in the next few days. We'll need to look at your hard drive and see exactly where we are at."

" You mean how much you can blackmail me with?

Again, she couldn't conceal her laughter.
" Oh, my. You really do have an overactive imagination ".

But that's exactly where things were headed with this mysterious Madame x, he just had to play along until he saw a way out. As long as they had his hard drive they had a huge bargaining chip, and he had zip. It was getting late, and he was spent from all the excitement the evening had produced.  Although he was tired, he felt like he needed to do something and at least make one last ditch attempt at an  escape. Should he wait for a moment for her to drop her guard and try to overpower her? Did she have backup waiting outside to fly in and rescue her if things went south?  All unknowns, and it didn't help with his decision making either, which was getting exponentially more critical with each passing second. He lunged for the gun in her hand and it was lights out. He never saw it coming.

He awoke several hours later with a good size bump on his head and the accompanying throb of a recent wallop. These guys were pros to be sure. Her stealth and that of her accomplice proved that he was  dealing with some heavy-hitters, but he still couldn't figure out what the hell they wanted with him.  As far as he was concerned, he was small fry.  Just some guy who wanted to hunker down on his PC and get off.  And what was so wrong with that anyway?  In his eyes, it was still sort of a victim less crime. As long as he was providing pleasure for his virtual partners, where was the harm in that? Of course, he knew that society would frown upon such a thing even though it had created more grotesque perversions  of its own. But that was the type of inherent hypocrisy that got him going in the first place. Pedophiles and pornographers were all over the internet anyway, and he wasn't selling anyone's pictures or videos for profit either. In the grand scheme of things, he just didn't think it was a big deal. But obviously someone else did, or he wouldn't be sitting where he was right now.  In need of an ice bag and lots of answers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jason Reloaded - Source Code Part 4

He kept a keen eye in the rear view mirror but really couldn't tell much about the car or the driver because of those damn new xenon headlights, just that it was a small luxury SUV, maybe a BMW or a Lexus.  He decided to take a detour and head for the seedy part of town, past the railroad tracks and out by the trailer park.

Whoever it was that was trailing him, they took the bait. Now his heart was beating faster, but not from fear. The adrenaline rush of the pursuit had made his mind razor sharp again and he was firing on all eight cylinders.  After a long winding turn where he was able to lose his shadow's lights for just a few seconds,  he quickly pulled off the pitch black road behind some brush  to avoid detection. It worked. The car slowed and lingered for a moment , but then went on.  Now he was the predator instead of the prey, a position he was more accustomed to.

He pulled out after a short minute and eventually caught up with his mystery driver just before the trailer park. He was almost close enough to read the plates when some drunken yahoo from the trailer park pulled out onto the road in his old pickup and nearly caused an accident. Jason had to lock them up to avoid a collision and that was just enough of a diversion for Racer X to get away.

Deciding to call it a night, Jason pulled a UEY  and headed back to town for his apartment. On the way home, he began replaying the night's events in his head , just to make sure he kept things straight. He was pretty sure it was a woman behind the wheel, possibly blond. And there was a good chance it was the same woman he saw at the gas station.  For now, that's all he had.

As soon as he got home he checked  his screen. A tap of the space bar resuscitated the machine back to operating mode. Still no change. Damn! How long would his luck holdout?  And exactly what would happen  if and when his server's location was revealed?  Would an FBI Internet Fraud Team come after him? Would they kick down the door to his place? Would he go to prison?
Though he had managed to turn around tonight's situation and was feeling good for the moment, the anxiety and paranoia continued to gnaw at his underbelly.

He still had this humongous technical problem to deal with and some difficult decisions to make. Normally, he was more proactive in his defenses and would never have allowed something like this to happen. But if he could stay just one step ahead of his trackers, he'd be happy for now. At least that's what he was telling himself.

Turns out the decision was made for him by someone at the other end. As his screen suddenly went black and rebooted on its own, Jason knew exactly what would happen next. The operation timed out and initiated a series of programs that would eventually lead back to his server, and ultimately, his account.  But again, the nagging question. How long? How long would it actually be before the walls really began to close in on him? Minutes, hours, days? There was no way to be sure. Should he try to make a run for it? That would be foolish and only draw attention in a small town where everyone was nosy. And besides, where the hell was he going to run to anyway? The nearest  town was over forty miles away and the nearest airport was over two-hundred miles. He was fucked. He either had to stay put and destroy all his files, all his computer gear and basically shut down the whole operation, or he could take his chances on the lam.  The sound of a train whistle in the distance momentarily gave rise to the thought, but he quickly dismissed the option as a bad choice.

Feeling the squeeze coming on, Jason searched feverishly in his head for a solution to his dilemma . He had tens of thousands of his hard earned dollars and a lot of sweat invested in his cybersex system. And even though it ultimately failed him, it had taken a long time to develop  the software that  allowed him to roam the internet with impunity, and he was emotionally attached to it. It wasn't going to be easy to let go of his baby.

Click here to read part 1 , part 2, and part 3 of Source Code: Jason