The Acid Pad | Aug 24 | 11:30pm
I took a lot of wrong turns when I changed my route the next day so my last stop would be the house of the girl leaving me notes. Mike was probably tracking me, but I didn’t hear anything from Harry.
Acid didn’t seem to react until she got out of the van. I got out too, to walk her to her door. She pulled me to a spot out of view of the cameras and kissed me.
I came up for air. “I missed this.”
She pulled back, her glasses fogged up. “We don’t have much time. There’s a new chat network, but we can only add people to it by making contact with notes, one at a time. It’s exhausting.”
I’m glad she thought so too. “Aren’t you afraid the system’s gonna find out about your little operation, shut you down?”
“No, the system hangs like a blanket over everything we’ve done. We didn’t get shut down after you showed us it’d infiltrated our old network, so we built this new one right into the system, mostly using code from a program called Ivan.”
I nodded, confused but knowing I helped somehow. “You’re welcome.”
“Thanks, bud.” She kissed me again. “That new Hans guy came in and shut down what you and I built together, but if we hadn’t already started working on this new network, there would be no way to connect.”
“Cool. Can I help?”
“Actually…” A wicked grin lit up her face. “Mike, the program we made for the new Hans, is what blocks Ivan from connecting everyone working in the system. One of us submitted changes to break through that, but we need the Dude to commit that code before it’ll work.”
“Hold on, the Dude is still around?”
“Didn’t I tell you about the nightly builds? That new Hans guy is happy as long as we look busy. I don’t think he can even read our code. What even makes him think he can run this project?”
I shrugged. “He was always like that.”
“Well, new versions of the programs are on our computers each morning, put there after you take us all home. That was always the Dude’s job. He’s still doing it from somewhere, and you should be able to contact him from Hans’s computer.”
“The one behind the throne room?” The one that used to be the Dude’s office.
“See, we didn’t know that. You’re the one with the best chance to access it. If you can get a message to the Dude, tell him Ivan needs the open communications subroutine.”
I gave a slow nod. “Sneak past Hans to get the Dude to… Get Ivan to work around Mike. Got it.” I checked that statement over in my head. I wanted to help, even if I didn’t totally understand what was going on.
She must have seen that. “But what’s the message for the Dude?”
“Ivan needs the open communications subroutine.” I have that written down here now, just in case. “No problem. I’ll take care of it.”
The mansion | 25 min later
When I went back for the next load of nerds, Harry was waiting for me in the driveway. He was watching me through Mike after all. “You can’t hang out with that chick anymore. We have to maintain discipline.”
“Hey, we were just making out in the bushes for a few minutes.”
“Do you think I’m stupid? I took apart a network you two set up.”
“It’s nothing, I swear, just sexual contact at work.”
“Good.” Harry slapped me on the back. “We’re close here. We should have something soon that’s gonna change everything.”
“We’re going to market.” He turned away from me.
I followed him back towards the house. “What does that mean? What’s any of this? Come on, admit you couldn’t be running things without the Dude. Why don’t you just tell me where he is?”
“The Dude is gone.” He disappeared through the front door.
Harry offered me this job because he trusted me, because we were friends once. I decided to take it so I could shut things down, but I can’t do it alone. I have new friends now, and I’m the one with the best chance to put them in touch with each other, and I have to do it before Harry changes everything again, starts watching everyone everywhere all the time. I’m the only one who can stop him.
A few days of the note game back and forth, and Acid scheduled a “riot” to distract Harry.
Aug 29 | 11:17am
I watched the clock, but it wasn’t until I heard the shouting from the hallway that I knew things were happening for sure.
Mike confirmed it.
#Forbin creating disturbance in hallway
“Can you take this one?” Harry didn’t even look at me as he said it.
I looked down at him. “You’re the one in the big chair.”
He gave a sigh, got out of that big chair and disappeared around the wall of a screen.
I went back through the little door behind the throne, to the narrow room where the Dude’s old computer lives, with his black hood still hanging on the hook behind the door.
I sat down at the narrow desk at the end of the room. I shook the mouse to wake the computer up.
Login Username: Password:
Son of a bitch. I didn’t know what to do. I never had to log in on the computer in dispatch.
The cursor blinked at me. The name part was easy. Harry makes everyone call him Hans now, but if I couldn’t figure out the password, I couldn’t connect the network. The nerd underground wouldn’t be able to rise up, and I would have to take down Hans and Mike by myself.
I looked around on Harry’s desk for clues, but that didn’t help. It wasn’t his desk. It was all the Dude’s stuff. I typed in the first thing I thought Harry would think of, “weed.” I hit [enter].
No account with that screen name
Okay, guessing Harry’s password didn’t matter, because it wasn’t Harry’s computer. He must have been using the Dude’s login. I just had to figure out what the Dude would think of.
Login Username: The Dude Password:
I had no idea. “Ghostbusters”
“What are you doing?” Harry was right behind me.
I felt my face flush, but I had a cover story ready. “I want porn. I thought you were dealing with something.” The mansion was quiet again. What happened to the riot?
“It was just this one guy running around the hallways making noise. I threatened to get rid of him like I did to the Dude, and that got him to go back.” Some riot, guys.
I stood up, opening up the chair for Harry. “Can you log in for me?” I just had to know the login. I could come back later.
“No, that computer computer has custom things on it. Only I can use it.” Liar. I knew it wasn’t his.
I shrugged. “No problem. Just bored.” I’m not sure, but I think he bought it, one liar to another.
I walked away. Acid’s new network wouldn’t work. Not yet.
I have a plan. I can still get this revolution started. I know someone else who wants access to that computer. Time to call in a professional.