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Monthly archives "March"

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The Cutter

Chapter I – “My Wetware”
Chapter II – “C++”
Chapter III – “The Players”
Chapter IV – “The Cutter”
Chapter V – “The Fortress”
Chapter VI – “Ben”
Chapter VII – “A Strange Protocol”
Chapter VIII – “The Halting Problem”
Chapter IX – “Torpor”
Chapter X – “The Compilers”

I’m jacking in. My deck projects a three dimensional interface that I control with my mind. My eyes are open, taking in the information. I haven’t connected to any servers, it’s just the UI I designed with quick access to my programs. An address bar is displayed predominantly. Information architecture. A thought, “tenki”. Shit. The weather pops up. Damnit control yourself. This is normal, I’m traversing cyberspace very clumsily. It’s hot out, my ice bucket isn’t helping much, but the fan…the fan is offering a little respite.

A simple motor with three fins attached, a restraining nut to secure them. Harkening back to a simpler time. I need to stop thinking about how hot I feel, I need to forget this apartment, I need to stop my impulsive tendencies. I couldn’t have done this as a teenager, my hormones were Novahot. I know that’s not an appropriate use of the word, but it sounds cool. I would get erections simply thinking about my lover. Not anymore. Things have become tame, and I don’t seem to have control. Shit, no I don’t at all. It’s impossible to even force an erection these days. Am I broken?

No, I can’t think about making love, I can’t think about how hot it is. Nothing physical, I need to think about what I’m doing. I close my eyes. The “Maleststöm”, that’s where I need to be. On a ship circling a churning, black, foaming sea. I’m there, aboard a cutter, circling the great whirlpool and descending. There is a man attached by a rope to a barrel, he jumps overboard. What the hell? I run to the captain’s cabin and look for something, anything. Anything that could be a steg. A stack of documents sitting on the captain’s desk look promising.

I scan the small stack and look for something that references Seraphs. Damn it, what if there’s nothing here. There is an unfinished letter sitting on the desk that begins with “Dear Gabriel”. It looks like the captain was unable to finish this letter. It warns of the horrors of the sea. The stack of parchment– but I bet there’s nothing there, I bet. Regardless I take the stack with me, my deck creating copies of the files.

“Gabriel”, why does that name sound familiar. Instinctively I take the document and fold it neatly and shove it into my vest, right over my heart. My deck creates a file flagged important. There are paintings hanging on the walls. Portraits of the captain I guess. They must be. He looks familiar, damn it everything seems so familiar. It’s impossible to tell if one of them is a steg. A black market good disguised as a set piece. No, there’s nothing in them that hints at the Devine, hints at Angels or God. The perfect place to hide something. Shit.

Forget it, I have all the parchment from the desk and the seal. If there’s anything to be found it should be here, in these objects. I’m sure. Hackers want their cons to be found by other hackers. The tricky part is eluding the Police.

The cutter is slowly making its way to the center of the roaring, chopping current. I need to get out. This temporal cyberspace program is going to return soon and be freed from memory. If I’m still in it my consciousness might go with it. Pirate circles, they know quite a bit about gravitas.

I open my eyes and the familiar glow of my interface welcomes me. I made it out in time. There was probably a lot of time left to explore, but I think something I copied might be useful. If not, I can always execute the program on the remote server again and try something different. This all may be a dead end.

“Gabriel” why does that seem familiar. I navigate to the files I copied. I perform a search for the term “Gabriel”. Oh, right, it was flagged important. Damnit my memory isn’t the greatest. Did I do something that retarded it? I worry that my choices in life have had adverse effects on my development as a human being. Anyway, there’s one file.

The “Gabriel” file reads:
We are trapped in a funnel whose boundaries do spray,
And in the midway does Moskoe lay,

There is nothing more written upon the document. Moskoe, that must be a key. The address bar pops up again as I think this, and the word “Moskoe” is visible within it. Execute. A single result, a server, somewhere in cyberspace.

Connect to Moskoe, I think and close my eyes. Suddenly I’m in a library, filled with what must be thousands of books. A librarian is scanning returns into their system. A program. The librarian program. It must be running on the server. “Does it respond to input?” I say to myself.

I slowly make my way over to the desk that the Librarian is standing behind. There are stacks of books piled haphazardly, but there is an order to it all. The desk is covered in stacks. What if one of them is a con, she’d never know. “Excuse me”, I say. A beep from the terminal she’s working at, as she scans another book.

“Yes?” she says inquisitively. It accepts input. Will it clone itself now that it has made contact with a user? “I’m looking for Moskoe” I tell it. “It’s been many a year since that name has been spoken” she tells me. “Library card?” she asks. “I don’t have one” I quickly respond. “Most troublesome” she says. Shit, where do I get a library card? There’s no mention of this anywhere. I quickly search the parchment files for numerals, alphanumerics, anything. There’s nothing. “Sorry, but I can only help those with library cards” she informs me.

A dead end. I need to collect my thoughts. “Sorry to have bothered you” I tell her. I jack out and open my eyes. I am back in my apartment staring at the decking UI, an address bar displayed prominently. My mind is clear, I’m stumped. A library card? What the hell.

I get up and remove the deck from my lap and place it carefully near my terminal. Shit, I need to talk to my boss. I send him a HTTP request header with our agreed upon User-Agent string. His Apache server will grep the string and alert him. Our usual meeting place, a café.

“I can’t access the Microsofts you gave me, I had an Apple jack installed.” I tell him. His reflective silver lenses revealing nothing but a coldness and distance. He is silent. He’s going to shed this dead weight, I know it. “I found Moskoe” I blurt out. “Yeah, what’s that?” he inquires. “A library, with a librarian” I tell him. “That’s the only program running on the server” I add, expectant. “You aren’t doing the job I hired you to do” he replies coldly. I explain the Maelstrom and the steg I found, telling him I am close to finding The Seraphs. I tell him about Gabriel. He lets out a mirthless laugh. “If only you hadn’t converted…you would be a Seraph by now”. He gets up from his seat, and gives me what I can only think is a disgusted look and walks away.

Shit. He’s right. Why did I become an Apple user. All its brought me is problems. No, that’s not true, I learned to program in C++. Shit, that’s not going to get me another job. I’m a hacker, I’m supposed to trade information, easily, not be hindered by proprietary wetware. Shit. Shit. He may never respond to my requests ever again. I’ve lost my source of income. I’m going to be homeless in a matter of months. I don’t know anything else, I’m a thief. And what is a thief without a fence.

It’s dark out now, the sun has long since departed and there’s a full moon hanging in the sky. Stars are visible, even in the light pollution. I know the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. That’s it. You can find the other if you see one of them. I have a telescope, but stars just twinkle in it. Jupiter is the most interesting thing to observe, you can see the Galilean moons. What use is this, it won’t get me any credits. I’m going to starve to death on the street of this Great City.

I walk back to my apartment from the café. There’s a woman walking her dog. It defecates near a tree. She pulls a bag from her back pocket and places her hand in it, and picks up the feces. She must love this dog, that’s disgusting. What can you do, leave it there? What if everyone did that? Anarchy, that’s what. I guess its training that prepares you for children. We used to have a dog, when I lived with my parents. I didn’t have to do any of the dirty work, just petting and providing scraps.

I’m almost home. There’s a large black truck parked outside my apartment building. You know, a SWAT truck. I count the floors and look up at my apartment window. The light is on. I’m sure I turned it off. I get a kick in my stomach and my heart beats like a hammer. Why would the Police be after me?

The Players

Chapter I – “My Wetware”
Chapter II – “C++”
Chapter III – “The Players”
Chapter IV – “The Cutter”
Chapter V – “The Fortress”
Chapter VI – “Ben”
Chapter VII – “A Strange Protocol”
Chapter VIII – “The Halting Problem”
Chapter IX – “Torpor”
Chapter X – “The Compilers”

Police are the only ones known to use drones. Officers are augmented with eyes that can access their drones’ eyes. They fly around with god knows what kind of power source. I’ve heard everything from uranium to perpetual motion devices. Only the Police know. They are used to search for criminals and keep order, you know policing.

They have countermeasures built in. So you don’t want to mess with anything when they’re around, and you definitely don’t want to be the object of their desire, if you know what I mean. Tasers and tranquilizers make the drones efficient and effective at neutralizing targets. And their eyes, god their many eyes. Why do they need so many eyes? It’s like they can see into your mind, know what you’re thinking. Their software analyzes all kinds of biometric data. You better not let them see your face, they win at poker every time.

People are deathly afraid of the Police because of what they’ve become. Still, you hear stories of drone hacking and there are definitely criminals on the streets. The thing is a lot of the crime happens in cyberspace, and if you’re a bad hacker and get tracerouted drones become hunters, arriving at your windows and door. Scanning faces and eyes until they find who they’re looking for. If you’re a bad enough hacker to get caught, that is.

Drone A.I. is derived from ICE, but it’s modified so that programs like Silver Angel would be rendered ineffective, at least that’s what the programmers have let slip. It could be a lie propagated by the Police, but it makes sense that they would require custom software for their needs. All of this doesn’t really matter because I haven’t met anyone that has successfully gained access to a drone. It looks like they are stopping people in the streets, looking into their souls with their searching eyes.

I guess if you were to try, you’d have to gain access to the Police network, which operates as an intranet. You need to be at a physical terminal to do anything. Still, Police are somehow able to command in the field so they must be using some kind of proprietary technology. It must be developed in house by their countermeasures department. Yeah, must be. They hire programmers, scientists, doctors– just like any corporation, but they have the most sophisticated weapons guarding their secrets.

I got busted once for theft. I was nonchalantly stealing food from the supermarket I worked at, unaware of the pervert who operates the security cameras. He caught me on many occasions gorging myself on company property. I was young and hungry, what can I say. Eventually they had enough of my ungratefulness and confronted me about it. I quit before they could officially fire me. Then the police show up at my parent’s house, I went with them peacefully. It now says thief on my government file. It’s not a scarlet letter or anything.

I didn’t stop stealing, I just got more sophisticated. With paranoia on my side I learned to be careful. Living like your every action is being monitored makes you honest, or a really great liar. I started stealing data. Information has a price on the streets. I’ve taken jobs I regret, but that’s how you learn, you make mistakes and try not to repeat them. It’s not like there’s a manual on how to be a hacker, but a paranoid personality definitely helps. I don’t think I am doing anything evil, even though it’s illegal.

These days corporations employ freelance thieves, mercenaries, assassins. Of course this is done through some sort of intermediary, like my boss, to keep their hands clean. I don’t know how they can afford to pay us, I mean doesn’t someone keep track of where the credits go?

Anyway, the Corporate Wars are far from being over. You know how things are with the global stock market. It is relentless, never sleeping. And ever since the great crash, when China became a superpower, things are really cut-throat. Nasty business, you know?

I have my favourites, Apple, Google, Bell, AT&T you know, companies that survived the crash. I enjoy doing jobs for them because it helps my stock portfolio. A little corporate espionage isn’t really hurting anyone, it only effects the bottom line, and how padded my pockets get. The wars play themselves out on the streets and alleys of the Great Cities, and we are just soldiers of fortune.

On the street you will hear of The Syndicate from time to time. Whenever something truly evil goes down people are quick to blame them for it. They take credit for a lot of the meat world’s problems. Sometimes they take credit for Anarchy in general. Yeah, anarchists, that’s what they are. They tank, and I mean real aggro from governments and the United Nations. Who really knows why they take credit for the things they do, they would be better suited to operating in the shadows. They must be sadistic. They revel in really rubbing your nose in feces. They create propaganda and manifestos in many of the world’s languages. They must recruit from all over the globe.

When the pendulum swings the other way you find Fedora, a really juvenile and lawfully good group of Trolls. I mean they’re real Trolls. Inside cyberspace they take the form of large humanoids with tusks. They stick out so much they could never get away with doing anything truly criminal. Word is a lot of them work as security guards and police, you know, real paragons. At least that’s what I hear. Moonlighting to gather information on people. Trying to make their jobs easier, that makes sense, but who knows why they do the things they do. They mostly use their words to flame and incite. They are psychological hackers, not really interested in writing programs or anything like that.

Hackers everywhere know the name Black Mesa. They’re one of the best hacking groups on the planet– I mean solar system, technically. They have a space station where some of them live. They are best known for constantly hacking government and military systems. Nobody knows why they do it. Some say they are tired of politics and believe in completely open, transparent systems. The corporate wars don’t really seem to interest them though.

They don’t just hack, they manufacture things on their space station. Rumour has it they build androids, but I don’t believe it. They recruit out of Universities. The precocious, the savants, the graduate students, you know the type. Smart. Idealists who aren’t yet jaded or disillusioned like so many people become.

Internationally, if you travel to Asia, you’ll invariably hear about The Golden Wind Trading Company. There’s mention of them in cyberspace, but they aren’t exactly a hacking group– they deal mostly with the meat world. Based in China, they trade on the old Silk Road routes, mostly in manufactured goods from China that aren’t otherwise available to outsiders. They have been known to smuggle information, people (fugitives), and black market goods, things like experimental chrome, the real cutting edge stuff. A lot of hackers go there for the exotic implants. They make deals outside the purview of the Chinese government, which is a huge machine with many eyes and ears. They unfortunately don’t cross oceans.

International waters are constantly monitored by satellites these days so you couldn’t really get a boat across without being discovered. World governments invested in the project, they called it Atlantis, when human trafficking was at an all time high. Boat loads of people were being smuggled out of the Pacific Rim, the Middle East, Africa, you know, where there is still a disparity between the rich and poor. They were bought and sold for the usual things: prostitution, surrogate mothers, servants, wives. Their lives were binary, sometimes far better, sometimes a lot worse. When bodies started showing up, from suicides and murders, the government couldn’t feign blindness to it all. Ever since Atlantis was found, trafficking has gone down considerably. Don’t get me wrong, there are still prostitutes, men, women, and everything in between. I can see some on the street right now.

One of the world’s largest black markets is operated by a group called Knights of Shadow. They are a neutral group of mercenary hackers, doctors, nurses, and sundry professionals. They get their hands on corporate secrets out of R&D departments and create their own brand of chrome, real illegal stuff. I don’t know where they manufacture, maybe in small labs scattered across the globe. They are most notably known for procuring keys, keys to everything, plugs, private servers– they are like locksmiths.

All the Great Cities are hotbeds for illegal activity. Whatever your vice happens to be, there’s something for you. Los Angeles is largest. The Sprawl, some call it. So many broken dreams. Disillusionment breeds the worst in people. I wish Hollywood was less superficial, all the cosmetic surgery turns women into dolls. There’s a good hacker scene there though I hear. Never been.

Neo Tokyo has Lords of Karma. Everyone has heard of them. A group of young punks. They believe in Karmic justice and they act as agents of that Karma. Most notably when recent relations between Japan and China turned sour they stole Japanese secrets and gave them to China. I mean stuff like troop deployments, locations of military installations, classified intelligence they had collected, cryptography keys and the movements of key political figures. You know, because Japan once invaded China in ancient history. They ripped off Japan’s kimono and left her standing naked.

The Chinese, being predominantly Buddhist and peaceful, albeit paradoxically with the largest armed force in the world, quickly got reparations from Japan. This launched Lords of Karma to the global stage. It is said that the United Nations thanked them, but I heard this through the forums. The media over here is garbage.

Japan is so crowded, its the population density. It’s not as bad as India though. India has Vidmahe another hacktivist group. Vidmahe is an old Sanskrit word meaning “we”, at least I think that’s what it means. Look, I’m not an etymologist okay. Apparently some people really love dead languages. Anyway, mostly made up of ascetic vegetarians they are kind of like an Indian version of The Seraphs and many members are rumoured to belong to both groups.

They are known for attacking large pharmaceuticals, makers of beauty products, you know, makeup and toiletries, mostly because of animal testing. Doing things like changing packaging at manufacturing plants, shutting down HVAC systems, deleting databases, getting executive names and other private data, draining bank accounts, that sort of thing. All that being said, they aren’t much of a threat to the meat world, they like to stick to cybercrime. I mean hacktivism. Yeah, definitely hacktivism.

C++

Chapter I – “My Wetware”
Chapter II – “C++”
Chapter III – “The Players”
Chapter IV – “The Cutter”
Chapter V – “The Fortress”
Chapter VI – “Ben”
Chapter VII – “A Strange Protocol”
Chapter VIII – “The Halting Problem”
Chapter IX – “Torpor”
Chapter X – “The Compilers”

There are drones flying around outside, I can see them on this sticky summer day from my apartment window. I don’t have air conditioning, which makes my deck run hot in the summer. Sometimes I fill a hydrocarbon polymer box with ice and blow a fan over it to cool my deck and myself. It invariably becomes a bucket of water though and I empty it in the bathtub.

It’s not that I’m poor or anything, I mean I grew up middle class. It’s that I’m parsimonious. I want to retire at a young age, maybe live in a crappy affordable housing apartment like this one alone. Or with her, if I am ever successful at melting away the winter in her heart.

I’m having a moment where I’m seeing phantasms again. It’s her, putting a hand up to her mouth and letting out a laugh, then sitting there contemplative. Now she’s reading in bed. Why does this happen to me? All I can think about is how my armpits are sweating and how my skin is sticking to itself, and then it comes out of nowhere, the phantasmagoria I mean.

I’m on antidepressants. And I still have more of those tranquilizers, but my head is starting to feel better, physically anyway. The neighbours are having sex, I always wonder: “is that people having sex?” and investigate, then feel terrible inside when I realize it is. I turned on the radio to drown it out, but their bedposts are banging against the wall. I see them sometimes, and even say hi, and I get this kick in my stomach because I’ve been invited into their bedroom to listen to them. Why can’t they move the bed away from the wall, or be modest.

I listen to the radio a lot even though you can hear broadcasts from all over the world if you really wanted. They play the same songs everyday. They become like words, and the playlist a sentence. The juxtaposition becomes very important in forming a coherent message. You can tell when someone is in love, or when they really want you to take an emotional beating.

I created a playlist recently, but now that I look at it it feels juvenile. My words are too simple. I wish there was better music available, something that really expressed how I feel inside. I used to play the bass guitar everyday when I was in high school. I even learned to play some technically difficult songs through rote. Then I realized I sucked and gradually started playing less and less. I still pick up one of my two basses from the corner of my apartment and play scales occasionally, most of the songs I learned have long since faded from my muscle memory.

I didn’t always want to be a hacker. I kind of fell into it. As is the case with most careers. I spent all of my waking hours in front of a screen growing up. Naturally I was interested in making computers do what I wanted when we were first introduced to programming. But I really fell in love with Art. There’s no guarantee of employment for people with Arts degrees these days. You’re better off stealing everything you need. I started programming on an antique Apple computer I purchased from a junk collector.

You should have seen this thing, the closest thing to touch controls was this square pad that let you move a cursor on a two dimensional plane (obviously no cyberspace connection), air cooled aluminum chassis, single processor, an obsolete network interface, it even had a port for ancient telephones. But you can still program on old machines, and they’re great to learn on because they’re like unwanted children.

Everything is still built on top of C++, which I didn’t learn until recently. Don’t laugh, I started with Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), the language transmitted over Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which still exists on port 80 today. However, it’s a relic. I mean servers still serve HTML pages, but its more to preserve corporate history than anything else. Almost everything has moved to cyberspace. You could say that old port 80 is attached to an abandoned metropolis.

After HTML came scripting languages of the old internet. I ran an Apache server on the Apple machine so that I could actually execute the scripts I wrote. I was okay at it, but it doesn’t compare to what programming languages like C can do– actually tell the computer what to do, once they’re compiled anyway. C was essentially expanded with libraries to become C++, which is object-oriented and what all decking programs are written in. It’s the modern hacker’s language of choice.

So C put in me the spark that brought me to life. I remember writing binary conversion programs and learning about recursion for the first time. I learned about the call stack and the heap. Allocating memory on the heap can cause memory leaks, it’s great to insert programs on systems that purposely cause memory leaks or cause the stack to overflow. These are crude but effective methods of creating data corruption on older machines. It has fallen out of use in modern times because memory in cyberspace is so plentiful. If you’re interested in doing this you will need to look into heavily customizing compilers, they convert C++ or other languages into machine code and make programs machine executable.

I had fun exploring data structures like binary heaps that were sorted by a variety of algorithms that can be asymptotically analyzed (Big O), and I can’t forget to mention associative arrays, etc. You get the picture, the structure of memory. You need to be interested in that sort of thing even if you’re just looking to create problems.

Attacking programs running on a machine can take many forms, but all involve playing with machine memory, which is getting harder and harder to manipulate, with many safeguards to overcome. We hackers rely on groups to find ways to circumvent security measures and gain access to the memory registers where programs live.

Most recently some important programs including ICE have learned to clone themselves to maintain data integrity. If you take one down there are still others that can divide like Mitosis, so that they continue to live. But even Mitosis isn’t immune to copying errors– mutation, so too it is with programs. Programs that have mutated are usually marked for garbage collection in cyberspace. Sometimes mutations are allowed to survive. Mutants often have special code that makes them…unique.

Corrupting memory isn’t the only way to play in cyberspace. You can confuse ICE, they still authenticate by determining the origin of executing programs. Using a little bit of creativity you can bury programs deep inside the stack so that they appear to be spawned by the machine’s local programs (locals). This overwrites data, sometimes removing a local. A program inserted in this manner is known as a Lethe.

Hackers often leave important information in forged files. What I mean is they are disguised as innocuous items. For example, you can hide an entire program in a large document, a book or painting for example. This is formally known as steganography. But everyone calls them stegs, cons or forgeries. They are usually created on the black market or by hacking groups.

That reminds me, The Seraphs. I need to find a lead, I can’t tell my boss that I can’t read his Microsofts, he’ll drop me like dead weight. There are a few hacker haunts in cyberspace and even on the old net. I’ll need to check in with a few pirating circles and some forums. God I need to trim my nails, I hate it when they get long enough to hang off my fingertips. There sure are a lot of drones out, I wonder what’s going on.

My Wetware

Chapter I – “My Wetware”
Chapter II – “C++”
Chapter III – “The Players”
Chapter IV – “The Cutter”
Chapter V – “The Fortress”
Chapter VI – “Ben”
Chapter VII – “A Strange Protocol”
Chapter VIII – “The Halting Problem”
Chapter IX – “Torpor”
Chapter X – “The Compilers”

There was a lot of choice, chrome for every fancy. My newly inlayed wetware is listening intently; aware of my surroundings. The diaphragm is tickled, a transducer activates. Inside the Babel Fish cymatics are analyzed. The fish’s tail segmented laterally. It spirals with frequency. An artificial action potential can be created in each segment stimulating Corti’s organ. That’s what I imagine happens anyway.

I replaced the stock mic, now it’s a cellular Tx/Rx. I can remotely converse– the voices follow me whether I’m jacked in or not. Must look like I talk to myself. The button cell lasts a while, long enough for weeks of use. I have a stack of Microsofts. My boss said they’re supposed to help– a new job. But I hate them. I replaced the jack anyway. I’m now compatible with Apples. Not the fruit, new wetware that just hit the market. Better by Design, or something. It’s all about process, you know? End to end care.

Theres already pirated merch, Ambrosia is what they call it. Really messes with your head. It’s a great trip. There’s also Liberty. Those are homebrewed. Experimental stuff out of New York. Really great stuff, can even flash your firmware. Don’t worry about failure, Apple will replace broken jacks. They’re modular– they love Design. You just tell them it broke. Haha, no problems yet.

I used a Liberty recently. It was an Encryption thing. They called it Kerberos, you know, after the dog. Now I can hack encrypted data. It’s great for those jobs, you know the ones where the client wants something, but it’s protected by a ton of ICE. Then the damn thing is encrypted too. Encrypted Apples and even cyberspace, nothing is off limits now. That’s the power of Liberty. You should get on it.

I found some C++ Apples. Vintage stuff. I wanted to learn socks. This was the most raw data I could find that wasn’t machine code. Who has time for that stuff anyway. I created a little program that opens one on your end and sends a request over cyberspace. Had to get port lists and protocols. But the program didn’t close the sock or even listen for responses, it kept opening and opening and sending and sending.

I didn’t know what I was doing. My deck got really hot. Novahot. Haha that’s not what that means, but it sounds cool to say your deck got Novahot. Anyway, it’s liquid cooled and the radiator fans were screaming. I thought it would start smoking. Working really close to the ground isn’t easy. I tried the program on HP servers. I don’t know what effect it had, but they started running a traceroute. I cover my tracks. I jacked out before they could find me.

Anyway, I’m afraid whenever I hear footsteps in the hallway. I feel like someone saw what I did. I sensed it, you know? When you’re jacked in all kinds of things happen. I heard one time this guy used socks to bring down an entire server farm and steal a ton of keys. I also heard it was a group. You can’t trust anything meat puppets say. The real truth happens when you’re jacked in. It either is or isn’t. There’s no grey.

The job I’m supposed to do sounds fun. There is a group called The Seraphs that I’m supposed to join. A bunch of hackers who were responsible for ethical hacks in cyberspace. Nobody knows who they are, except maybe each other. Maybe not even that. They’re really holier than thou, know what I mean? I don’t mind it, but I’m a real merc, you know? If the pay is good I’m tempted. Not The Seraphs. Maybe this is going to be harder than I thought. Maybe not.

I can’t access the Microsofts my boss gave me. What is he going to say when I tell him. “All the information you’ll need, kiddo” was what he said when he handed me the stuff. I couldn’t see his eyes, he had these silver lenses on. Really bothers me at times, like talking to a fixer who keeps you at a cold distance. I wonder what kind of chrome he’s got. He doesn’t seem to have a predilection for people, except me. It’ll be fine, not like he’d spike the Microsofts to tie up loose ends.

My head still hurts from the surgery. The Apple medic gave me some tranquilizers. Real addictive stuff, but I’m not into that sort of thing. I told her it hurt so bad it felt like my head was on fire. Haha just to see what she’d do. Can you imagine, your head on fire. Reminds me of a portrait I saw hanging somewhere. I don’t like lying, but I wanted the strong stuff because I have insomnia. Ever since…well, why I have insomnia, that’s another story.

The Seraphs are rumoured to be based in Neo Tokyo. Heard the Chiba coffins there are nice. I think they’re based here in North America, you know because Neo Tokyo has Lords of Karma. They are most likely global though now that I think about it. There isn’t a place in the world you can go without finding a jack point. And there are a lot of bored hackers who have lost something and are searching for purpose in life. The chaotic good, that’s what I am. I don’t mind tearing apart ICE walls, stealing data– hell stealing anything as long as there’s a good reason. Extenuating circumstances. Yeah, that’s me.

Maybe I’m a good fit to become a Seraph, maybe that’s why my boss gave me this job. Maybe he’s a Seraph himself. I don’t know. Something about this really bothers me. God my head hurts. Rumours say they created Silver Angel. A program that I use frequently when I need to steal data. It tricks ICE into thinking other ICE programs are hackers. It puts a thought into their minds— because they think and adapt just like us— a thought so hard to ignore that it results in total corruption.

Silver Angel can also make it so that garbage collection happens on ICE. Haha can you imagine. Turning a sanitation worker on society. So bitter and disillusioned, he’d start thinking people were trash. Haha some meat puppets are. Destroying ICE is like killing. Companies spend millions developing the logic behind their decision making. Teams of hundreds. And they are destroyed by one program. That’s power.

Not that I’m looking for power or anything. Psychology. That used to be the real hacking back in the day. Manipulating people and putting holes in dog’s faces to attach tubes to collect saliva. They didn’t know any boundaries. Sending shocks into people’s heads to condition them. Barbarism. Those days are long gone, half the world is vegetarian now. Real empathetic, you know? Maybe it still happens in isolated labs. No respect for the gift of life.

I think there’s something wrong with me, Abnormal Psychology. My mother had some kind of “illness”. I was too young to know what it was, but she was paranoid. I’m paranoid too, but I don’t think it’s an illness. Like mother like son. I get an uncontrollable phantasmagoria at times. You know, like dreaming while you’re awake, but you have no control over what happens. It’s not prophetic or anything– I’m not completely crazy. These “messages” I call them are comforting, always of someone I love. Someone I lost. It’s like my mind is always thinking about her, uncontrollably.

Maybe that’s why I like decking. It gives you such control over everything. Everything that happens in cyberspace is so controlled and us hackers introduce a chaos. We kill ICE, we deny service, we steal data, we go where we’re not supposed to go and do things that users can’t even dream of, we hijack. You need a philosophy to keep you from becoming a megalomaniac. So many hackers lack control. Kiddies. In diapers urinating and defecating all over themselves.

Yeah, control. That’s important. Maybe you can Psychoanalyze me and tell me what you think. When you’re jacked in you turn it on or off. Scripting electricity. Programming behaviour. You know, telling everything what to do and it asks no questions. Your deck becomes a lover, your hands and fingers caress; cyberspace the place where you make love. My head is killing me, is it supposed to be this bad? Am I a megalomaniac?

I want to dye my hair again. It’s been red at times, and purple at others. I hate having to maintain it though, your roots come in and it starts to look horrible. Wish I could tell my hair to stop growing, but nature is perpetually changing. Cells die even though they’re perfectly good cells, with experience doing their job. I guess it’s nature’s way of stoping data corruption. Maybe. Or maybe it makes life important, the fact that it ends, you know? It’s magical.

There’s a fly in here. It landed on my deck while I was working on it. I wanted to make sure the radiator fans didn’t lose their bearings, you know. Anyway, the fly started cleaning itself. Why does it do that? It thinks “I’m dirty, I need to clean myself”. Yeah, right, like flies can have thoughts. They’re just impulses. There was probably a funny feeling on its body and it reacted. Fly, land, try to suck on this. Do it over and over until you’ve found food. Still, the fly is as alive as me, if only for a short time.

What does it mean to be alive? You know? It’s magical. Don’t get me wrong, I know that nature creates cruelty, but it’s not inherent to all life in the meat world. You know? I wonder if there is a God. I wonder if The Seraphs believe in God. Is God just a bunch of physical laws governing nature? When you write a program, are you creating life within a world? Are you a God in that world?

When I think about her I believe in God. I think. I mean someone so beautiful and fiercely intelligent, and kind. Whatever God made her who she is and made her alive…I mean put life into her body…put a Ghost in the Shell…I don’t know. It’s magical. And I got to love her– I still love her. It makes me optimistic, that nature in all its cruelty can create something Devine.

Maybe becoming a Seraph isn’t about gaining exclusive membership, but a philosophy to live by that makes you so. A religion? No, it can’t be. Maybe the whole thing is voluntary. I still don’t know how to contact them to organize movements. I have a lot of questions, if only the answers weren’t on Microsofts…I can only read Apples now, remember?

Maybe I don’t know anything. You know, in general.

An Argument Between Writers

What thoughts they do occupy
And torture me so
I wish I was yours

He wants to be a hero
Saving his maiden fair
From loneliness

Do you not feel longing
The years have grown so long
And changed me so

I don’t need you
You are just another corpse
To me

So cold hearted can you be
And such a coveted love
You are to me

Sadly you have a tragic flaw
One that I cannot accept
Of madness incurable

Ever so fair are you
In matters of the heart
Always have you been so

Your words are kind
But the memories of you
They are anathema

Never has anything been
So desideratum, I fear greatly
The loss of them in senility

You do embellish your feelings
With much cajoling
And undesired attention

In life it is my place
To love whom I choose
And to express whatever is

And so the hero hopes
That he will be too chosen
By a Crane Wife.

Bombyx Mori

It is your lot to bear children
Your diminutive wings won’t let you fly
Unnatural selection within you
Have a brood so that it may forever be
Produce for our master’s masters
The rest of us are boiled alive
While we so sweetly slumber
Left in a perpetual state of change
Never reaching maturity.

The Crash

We are driving in your car
The very tiny monkey
The little surfer on the dash
You tell me you’re afraid
Afraid of the freeway
I don’t fully understand
The crash that happened
Where your car was wreaked
It seems fine now
No shards of glass left over
No contorted metal
No cracked polymers
No Mars Volta over the stereo
I tell you it will be okay
I know you’ll be fine
If an eighteen wheeler is present
You can pass it on the left
The far left
You know their tires come off
Sometimes smash into cars
Or change lanes into you
I can’t comprehend the fear
The aversion you must feel
I know your hands are perspiring
We leave the freeway safely
I told you you could do it
I’m proud that you overcame
The loss of control
Thank god you were okay
Thank god for the good Texan
Who went out of his way
To help my lover
I’ll never be able to thank him
For taking care of my
Most fragile skeleton inside
God’s most miraculously soft
And beautiful, living soul
I don’t even know
If I believe in God
But with your existence comes
A belief in something Divine
To have created something
So beautiful
A network of veins
Innervating muscle
Wrapped in layers of dermis
Ligaments connecting your
Marrow filled bones
Your clavicles
Teeth in a gingival bed
Each with nerve endings
With feeling of hot and cold
Of pressure and pain
Lingual protein and taste buds
Framed by your most
Soft and familiar lips
The tympanic membranes
The malleus, incus, stapes
The cochleas spiralling
Filled with salted fluids
Endolymph and Perilymph
The Eustachian passages
The mucus filled sinuses
Sundry Ostia
I bit the tip of your nose
Two spheroidal protein chambers
Where photons go to die
And that relay everything
That surrounds us to your
Waking, lucid being
The geography of your eyes
A large mass of neurons
Communicating through
Sodium and potassium ions
And chemical transmitters
Somehow holding memories
Somehow alive
All a home for your soul to reside
Living, breathing, loving
You mean a great deal to me
There’s nobody
Even remotely
Close to you
And how I found you
It could only be fate

Dear Lover (A Reprise)

My chest tightens,
I find it difficult to breathe,
Overwhelming loneliness and painful longing,
Breaths short and shallow– I feel helpless,
There is almost no way to contact you,
You must be hurt by my words,
The only things I can give from afar,
Like daggers from the past,
They must now fall on deaf ears,
But I can’t stop pining for you,
The memories to which I cling gambol,
They are dear friends of mine these days,
And the past is a warm fire that burns within,
It guides my actions and keeps me safe,
To hold you as close as possible,
For hours upon hours and to do nothing else,
Is one of my deepest desires,
To kiss your soft and familiar lips once more,
And look upon your beautiful, comforting face,
These are the things for which I yearn,
You are the only human being,
That has ever existed,
For which I have these feelings,
You are the one and only,
You are a shrine within my soul,
That I worship at many times a day,
And to borrow words:
Nothing can ever dissever my soul from yours,
For it was decided in days of yore,
That I shall love you, forevermore,
No, I don’t expect reciprocation,
Because I want everything you have,
And what is left after that too.

Brooding

It hangs over me
A viscous heavy black
There are no stars
The distant past twinkling
No, there is abyss
An all consuming void
Starving for absolutely everything
It takes, and takes
Leaving me with nothing
But this self reflexivity
And a sinister emptiness

Scarlet Linen

Sinners of us did this apple make,
And everything from each other did we take,
The serpent now swims in blood,
Portends from within will come a flood,
Drinking from the Crimson pool,
Of us he did not make a single fool,
For we loved in our secluded garden,
While his scales and everything bound within hardened.