Shiva's Messenger

Predators and Prey on Digital Reefs

Chapter 12

Predators and Prey on Digital Reefs

 

Bob pulled his fingers from his keyboard and swiveled to his safe. He entered the combination and twisted the handle.
“This is now worthless.” The CEO removed the insurance policy for his boat and tossed it into his out-basket for filing. “In fact, the premiums paid and the total purchase price were all a waste.”
He was about to close the strongbox, but his eyes fell on the slave girl’s passport. The edge of a tarnished silver dollar poked out underneath and Wall picked it up. He flipped it and it came up tails.
“If only it had been tails.” Bob reminisced on when he had gained the coin: it was likely the only time he wished the dollar hadn’t come to him. At a summer camp, Bob and Lindy had found the coin in a grassy glade. After she had lost her pocket money by flipping for cash, luscious Lindy agreed to play for clothing instead, and the fun really began. Finally, Bob was down to his underwear and she had just lost a flip for her panties.
Wall recalled how she had looked, but he had an even fresher vision of a similar sort. He used a remote to pause the video of the stripped lawyers at an especially revealing frame: it was a shot of Lauren Smyth with only a leaf covering her sex. The newscast would’ve censored this scene. Collin had diligently procured an unedited copy.
“Lindy looked just about like that,” with his eyes on the TV, Bob idly spun the coin on his desk, “and I should’ve lost my cherry that afternoon.”
Lindy had stood to strip off her panties, but she grabbed a poplar leaf before turning around. She kept the small cover on her clam and sat down.
‘We can play one more flip,’ she had offered, ‘for who is slave master.’
“All she made me do was to clean up her dorm room.” Bob recalled how he had masturbated for the rest of the summer, over mental imagery of Lindy as his utterly obedient slave. “I would’ve ordered much more.”
“I have the sex slave girl I’ve wanted ever since.” Wall tossed the coin back into the safe and locked it, but his eyes were already on the apartment door. “She should be finished dancing to her rag-time tune.”

shivasmessenger

“Isn’t it about time to pull the plug for the night?” With regular surfing through the Wall Soft CEO’s computer, Tariq had the man’s routines timed almost to the second. The hacker had to snoop while Bob was working, as he invariably powered off when away from his desk.
[I like the guy they call the Asshole in their interoffice notes.]
“My over-a-shoulder view of Asshole’s unfolding investigation had me spellbound today too.” The hacker subconsciously checked back over his. He had set up a wireless network and was working in a small bistro across the street from his apartment.
[Is he more than just an unfriendly-looking sail on the horizon?]
“The Asshole is a looming sphincter of doom that could rectum all our schemes.” The Iranian smiled at the crazy man looks on the staff’s faces, in response to his self-mutterings. “From information the hind-ring was seeking, I’m guessing he’s suggesting dropping my Low-Key Trojan from the bundle. My hope is the Wall Soft CEO is too greedy to exercise due caution, before my Greek champions can safely climb out.”
[I’m flattered you named Loki after me]
“I can’t picture Erik the flatulent and his Norse raiders climbing into a wooden horse’s butt like Homer’s Iliad heroes did.”
[There’s more akin than unlike in all faiths. Zeus and Odin both used the same lightning bolts as the Christian’s one god did.]
“According to Scandinavian lore, you tricked Odin’s blind son Hod into throwing a mistletoe dart that struck and killed Balder the fair. How about you connive Thor into laying a hammering on Collin the butt-pain?”
[If you only wag the tale of legends then you myth the real point.]
Tariq pondered for a pause. Doubtlessly, wag also means to gossip. That made Loki’s implication more poignant than swishing like a puppy’s tail. Fables aren’t factual: they’re parables with a moral—like in the bible.
[Religions have always been the same messages but told in a manner that suited listeners, of the various eras.]
“Until now, I explained you away as a schizophrenic sub-personality. I suspected you were most likely triggered by brain damage suffered in my drowning episode. But you’ve just said something I couldn’t have possibly known on my own knowledge.”
[I didn’t. Death granted you more wisdom than you’re yet aware of.]
“Whoa!” Tariq instantly forgot the verbal/mental debate as the monitor screensaver kicked in: the geek had neglected to power down his box. “Wall’s system is mine.”
[Why the big deal? You’ve been snooping in his data for days.]
“But I could only search his files and stuff open on his desktop. A screensaver running means he’s away or at least he’s not paying attention. Now, I can risk running his applications. The uber-boss at Wall Soft has the permissions to access anything and the authority to make whatever I want happen—in real time.”
[Without being caught in the act?]
“It’s not quite that easy.” This work was now too complex for this venue and the programmer headed home. “If the idyllic fish currently on his monitor suddenly swim away, then a shark is near and I’m its lunch.”
[If you can’t do the time—then don’t do the crime?]
“Are reruns of Colombo being featured on an afterlife TV channel?”

shivasmessenger

“~At what point does a humdrum routine find terminal tedium?” Lyra idly paced her cell. “~I should’ve started carving grooves in a wall to mark the passage of days, months and years.” She arrived in the kitchen and on passing the counter, decided to have a snack.
“Can you make me one of those too?” The slave master caught her in the act of fixing herself a sandwich.
“~You take it.” Lyra hurried to set it out on a plate for the man she seemingly adored. “~Something revolting made me lose my appetite.”
“Thanks.” Bob followed like a utility trailer to the table.
“~Can I get you some nice Hemlock,” the girl pantomimed drinking from a tumbler, “or maybe a sip of Draino?”
“Just some ice water will be good.”
“~I opened this stuff at least a week ago and the smell turned me off. Maybe it’s gone poisonous in the tin.” Lyra returned with some Clamato. “~What is taste appealing about mixing seafood and tomato juice? If you come back here in the morning I’ll put a squid in your coffee.”
“Have you learned more English?” He trailed his hand up her leg.
“~You don’t provide me with any books or fresh magazines.” The girl playfully slapped his fingers away and then wagged hers at him as if he was just being prematurely naughty. This prison doesn’t have a television set or even a radio. How can he expect me to do nothing but wait for the pleasure of his company? “~Why don’t I cut off your dick and mount it on the mantle? Then I can worship it constantly—as you presumably want.”
“I should tape record what you’re saying,” Bob munched and slurped between words, “and then I can read transcripts of the translations.”
“~By tomorrow, that egg salad mixed with clam and tomato cocktail should give you a deadly case of gassy farts.”
“Let’s party tonight.” He stressed the only word she should recognize.
“Party.” Lyra parroted it and acted out squiring a needle in her elbow. “~I thought I’d have to somehow trick you into that.”
“Heroin wasn’t as bad as I expected. In fact, it was quite enjoyable.” The drug made his recent problems less worrisome and now, he had even worse headaches to escape from. “Let’s do it again.”
“~Idiot, why do you suppose the drug is addictive? If liquor tasted like turpentine and sent imbibers strait to hangovers without giving the state of inebriation, would there be as many alcoholics?”
“We can make love first if you want though and party later.”
“Yes party.” Not likely. The girl rushed off to bring the kit. Standing there talking was dumb on my part too. She almost blew an opportunity while giving him a lecture that he didn’t understand.
“Give me less this time.” He pinched his fingers together to indicate a smaller amount. “I want to wake and still recall everything we did.”
“~I’m the expert and you’ll get as much as you got last night.” She nodded to confirm her comprehension of his request. “~Maybe you need some extra in case I perform that penis amputation after all.”
“I do wish I understood Ukrainian.”
“~I would like to start speaking your language in front of you.” But I won’t do that while I’m treated as a slave. She prepared his shot and he took it without any hesitation. “~Truthfully, I simply wish I had anyone to talk with—except you. Thai people say khik mach mach and it means think too much. It’s not good to spent too much time in one’s own head.”
“Now let’s quickly go and have sex while I’m getting high.” He took her by the wrist and pulled his prize wench toward the bedroom. “I did remember the first part of the other night.”
“~I’ve got a better idea.” Before he reached the bedroom door, Lyra suddenly changed direction and dragged him towards the bathroom. “~We have a perfectly good Jacuzzi tub that we haven’t even touched yet.”
“I’m such a lucky man to have you,” Wall spun the taps while the girl fetched some bubble bath soap, “for my intimate amusement.”
“~Will you still bless your good fortune when you’re peeing through a stub?” I shouldn’t even think such things. It brought the Anaconda to mind and made her shudder. That snake still alive somewhere.
I can delay my stripping and climbing in with a neck massage and a back scrubbing. She preplanned as he quickly undressed. If worse comes to worse, he’ll be like Sergey in the hot tub but as a seal with a limp flipper instead of a hairy walrus.
“This hot water is too damned relaxing,” Wall climbed out long before she needed to join him, “and I really have to pee.” He gestured what his need was and signed that she should head for the bedroom.
“~I suppose that you’re high enough now for that to be safe.”
A few minutes later, he was on the bed wearing a towel while Lyra was only beginning to disrobe. Bob soon lost the ability to focus well and the closer she came to being nude, the less he could recall why he wanted her that way. Then colorful darkness overwhelmed his eyes and all was good.
“~If only you weren’t so utterly selfish.” She looked at his peacefully sleeping face. The young woman was human and had desires for intimate relations. I would slash my wrists in despair before my lover was a master.
“~I’d better get to work before I do something I might regret later,” in a dimly lit room, Bob’s expressionless face seemed to transform into that of the Arabic man, “~involving a knife.” Lyra shook herself free of reverie to rummage Wall’s pants for the keys she expected to find there.

shivasmessenger

[Is the digital reef still devoid of cyber predators?]
“My bits have avoided nasty bites.” The hacker’s eyes flicked down to his tool bar to confirm the monitor in the Wall Soft CEO’s office was still displaying the serene aquatic backdrop.
[You’ve been cyber-diving for 3 hours. Are you spearing anything or just sucking your air-tanks dry?]
“Throwing bin Omani into higher prominence is a top priority and this ploy is aimed appropriately. I can also ink the water so Wall doesn’t know which tentacle belongs to whose octopus but I’m concerned that Hersker is snorkeling too closely and he might see through my deceptive murk.”
[His name translates to master in Norwegian.]
“The Master Asshole is tenacious but the nerd is still the boss.” The programmer sipped his coffee. “Hopefully, I can tweak Wall’s ire past the point where he ignores the adept sphincter’s sound advice.”
[That’s a good theory. Where is the lab experiment to prove it?]
“Bob has half-a-ton of porn files saved on his hard drive. Erotica is a interesting subject in many respects.” Tariq had briefly delved into it when he first looked at the Internet. “Serious collectors start thinking about the images, and by extension the subjects, as personal property.” The Iranian opened up the file with Soviet Slut’s recent production. “Wall just went a quantum step further when he actually bought a featured starlet.”
[Freya really is incredible though.]
“I understand the allure the girl presented but it shows that pornography is a weakness for Bob. I can capitalize on that.” Tariq called up a release schedule for Wall Soft’s product line. Boxed copies of the latest upgrade version were already circulated in North America. The ones destined for Asian Markets were in production. “Most tasks have been accomplished but burning the disks is held until last to preinstall up-do-date patches.”
[That’s where the horsefly enters the ointment.]
“Where it burns like Ben-Gay lotion under Bob’s fly.” The hacker had been tempted to include Bob’s own collection as a specific insult but his ultra-savvy asshole made that far too risky. Instead, Tariq had found a nice assortment of porn with an Arabic theme.
[The feature film ‘Vixens in Veils’ stands as my favorite.]
“With some creative intrusion, I’ve can overwrite the CD master with Saudi flavored erotica. That will appear on retailer’s shelves across Asia, as soon as I have them delivered.”
[Via bin Omani Shipping?]
“The Sheik has filed a suit against Wall over his sunken ship. Software Bob should have a viable case against his nemesis as well.”
[How near are we to finished?]
“I’m at the critical phase. I’ve had to worry about the shark entering the water and have been poised to quickly close the applications.” Fortunately, Bob Wall had remained occupied away from his desk. Tariq had renamed the porn files to appear to match a Wall Soft installation disk and configured it. “The next step is the upload: I’ll become exposed.”
“I can’t leave a back-trail for our butt-sniffing bloodhound to follow.” The programmer would upload, transmit to the production facility and then replace the original at the source. “Later, if I manage to gain another unsupervised access, I can overwrite the master after the CD’s are shipped.
[Fire the harpoon!]
“Bob Wall’s wrath at bin Omani could make Ahab’s hatred of Moby Dick seem as just mild dislike.” The saboteur tapped his enter key. “Cross your flippers!” His eyes flicked between the screensaver status icon and a progress bar but he had nothing to do except wait, sweat, and guzzle java.

shivasmessenger

‘I can decide my stance and then spend sufficient funds to sway reality.’ Collin Hersker’s mind paraphrased Bob’s audacious statement. “Is he able to really do that with money, or is it more likely just his imagination with a walloping spoonful of wishful thinking?”
“Why am I doing this to myself?” The executive taxied his chair from his file-strewn office table, back to his desk. He glanced at the sapphire crystal face of his 18k gold Breitling Bentley. “Because, I like the things I can buy with the money.”
Collin flexed his fingers over the keyboard. In the back of his mind, he knew trinkets of wealth weren’t his motivation. He casually spun a ring on his pinky finger so that the diamond cluster faced outwards. Those were distractions he bought to avoid introspective musings—and treat successes.
“Having funds enough to alter reality.” Wall’s sentiment remained in Collin’s thoughts. “I suppose that’s really why he hired me. When dollars alone aren’t enough to buy the desired alteration, a stable of tame political figures could make up the difference with a few law modifications.”
He swiped his mouse across the blotter, but the screen did not respond.

shivasmessenger

Lyra moved silently through the office and shifted an end table to serve as her impromptu ladder. She fumbled slightly as the lock was at her full arm extension but the key slid into the socket. Success!
“~The key fits perfectly.” She twisted but the mechanism didn’t budge.
“~Maybe I need better leverage.” Stepping down, the young woman piled a stack of books on the table. That would give her a higher reach to exert more force. The stymied escapee ascended her wobbly platform.
“~Even with the additional torque the deadbolt isn’t pulling free.” This isn’t the right key. It fit the same style of lock barrel but the tumblers didn’t match the serrations. Frustrated tears blurred her vision whilst she replaced her furniture rearrangements. “~I thought I was so close!”
What does this key open? Her eyes fell on her gilded cell’s door.
“~From this direction the deadbolt is a toggle but from the other side a key is required.” Bob needs a way of getting out if someone accidentally locks him inside. She tried the disappointing key in the deadbolt housing. ‘—Snick—.’ It turned like lubed clockwork.
After her brief foray in the lintel of her apartment entry, Lyra returned to the CEO’s office. A motion from the desk caught her peripheral vision. A bright blue parrotfish glided across the extra-large monitor screen.
“~Bob left his computer on this time.” She scurried to park her butt in the plush chair. “~Can I access the Internet and send a plea for help?”
“~First, I have to see if there is a screensaver password to crush my hopes again.” She took hold of the mouse and stroked it on its pad. A big yellow angelfish had joined the parrot but both suddenly vanished to show an accessible desktop. “YES!”
“NO!” On the other side of the city, Tariq yelled. Wall couldn’t have possibly caught me with my boxer shorts further down around my ankles. Shutting the hack off would loose his work and the incriminating files were prominently displayed on the office screen.
“~Bob left his computer running a long upload function.” Lyra clearly saw the progress bar and the filename. “~No, he couldn’t have done that.” The indicator was moving too fast to have been in progress since Wall left. He must have a macro set to run at a specific time. “~I should interrupt the instruction mid-run and cause some minor annoyance—like the pens did.” She hovered the mouse pointer over application termination button.
[Run away and live to fight another day?]
“It’s her.” The hacker-returned-from-death felt oddly certain about the fingers on the unseen keyboard. “I’ll wait and if I’m wrong, then in about four seconds, with a click on a remote mouse, my schemes will implode.”
“~I have the key to Bob’s office.” Lyra’s fingertip applied a pressure on the pointer button but she didn’t fully press it. Doing a small harm to an upload now, could loose me another opportunity later. After tracking her mouse arrow up to the tool bar, Lyra opened an Internet browser. I could send an email to the FBI and tell them I’m a prisoner? Maybe the INS would act quicker to evict an illegal alien. “~On the other hand, Bob doubtlessly has the clout to block any actions by authorities.”
“~I have no clue of who to request assistance from.” In truth, in the past weeks I’ve had no solid indication the world exists outside of my small habitat. Lyra typed the web address of her favorite Ukrainian web portal. “~I can solve that dilemma at least with some pleasurable surfing.”
“I knew it!” The Iranian-Canadian hacker followed the typing and saw the Cyrillic lettering that now filled the browser box.
“~Having mental stimulus again feels like an orgasm.” Simply reading something new on the screen had her body tingling. A sudden feeling of wellbeing brought her fingers from the keyboard and she sat back.
‘An angel kissed me alive.’ A text box opened and typing appeared.
‘A seraph knows,’ Lyra keyed in her response after a shocked pause, ‘when it’s not a hero’s time to fall.’
‘Without your divine interventions my span would’ve been over.’
‘I needed a champion to retrieve my clipped wings.’
‘Now that’s what I live for.’ Tariq pictured the female and as he typed the words: he knew they were true. I thought I had but one main reason to return to life. He knew it was a good one too but that, like his dream girl’s face, disappeared from mind on his awakening. I have acquired another.
[Life gains new purposes as you live it.]
‘Can you help me?’ Lyra Droski saw the keys as only a blur through the moisture welled up in her eyes.
‘I’ll certainly try my best. Tell me about your situation.’
The Russian slave girl spent the next minutes typing a brief account of her history and current environs.
‘Can you access that computer when you want to?’
‘I currently have a way to get into the office after hours but I have to be lucky for Bob to leave his computer on. He has boot up security enabled.’
‘Hold on a second. I’ll get you the password.’
‘How?’
‘Even most experts think of computers as being complex tools. But a programmer knows they are incredibly stupid robots that only understand the difference between off and on. Your average light bulb is smarter in that it knows off, on and degrees of dimness in between.’
‘I don’t understand your point.’
‘For a password to allow access, the computer needs a file to compare the input against, to get a yes or no answer. I know where the information is stored and how to read it.’
‘That makes sense.’
‘So does the computer geek’s password. It’s boinkbob.’
‘If he has even a two track mind then they both run parallel.’
‘Are you coping all right there?’
‘I’m much better now with your moral support.’
‘You have that and anything else.’ Tariq paused briefly in his typing. ‘It’s strange, I feel so close to you, but I don’t even know what to call you.’
‘It’s Lyra but I’ve never really had a name.’ I never tell anyone that! ‘I snooped in some Wall Soft files and I’m guessing your name is Tariq.’
‘You’re correct to a point but I suppose I’m akin to you in that my real name isn’t mine anymore either.’
‘I’m concerned we’ve said too much.’ She felt secure in trusting him with one of her innermost secret but scrolling up the textbox showed what they talked about. ‘After all, this is Bob’s computer.’
‘After we’re finished, I can utterly eliminate all the evidence.’ Tariq’s empathy for her brought a claustrophobic impression of what her existence must be like. Everything around her belongs to a man who surmises that he owns her body and soul too. ‘How are you hanging in?’
‘I’ve been growing depressed but I still have trump cards,’ the girl felt confidence renewed, ‘you’ve given me hope, to play them with finesse.’
‘If you need or want to contact me just click on the site administrator’s icon.’ Tariq gave her a web domain address. ‘I’ll set an audible alert and will open up a text box within a maximum of five minutes.’
‘Can we just chat for a while?’ Lyra dreaded the conversation’s end. ‘I haven’t had anyone to talk to for a long time.’
‘I’m yours for as long as you like. You’re the expert on how much time you safely have.’
‘I wish I could’ve watched Bob’s yacht sinking.’
‘It didn’t just sink.’ Tariq hesitated while thinking of a picturesque way to describe the event: she deserved to get as much pleasure as possible from it. ‘The boat’s bottom was ripped out, as if two dolphins wielding chainsaws had cut the waterline away. The crew bailed out like Norwegian rats and the whole bay was carpeted with floating debris.’
‘ROFLOL.’
‘I think I heard your giggle all the way from here.’
[ROFLOL?]
She said ‘Rolling On Floor Laughing Out Loud’. That acronym word has been around since the Internet’s bronze age: your afterlife linguistics department is somewhat out of date.
The lighthearted discussions continued until the girl finally decided she had best prepare for her captor’s awakening.
‘Good night Tariq.’
‘Sweet dreams. I’ll put everything back to exactly as Bob left it.’

shivasmessenger

“I’m just overtired.” When his mouse failed to reactivate the screen, Collin Hersker remembered he had turned off the box while he had worked with the paper files. He switched the power on and watched the boot-up. It really does go faster with that Handshake Lite interface. He normally didn’t watch, but rather turned on the power and then fetched a coffee.
[Asshole alert!]
“That was certainly close,” the hacker saw the executive’s access open up, “but the asshole just missed crapping on my capers.”
[What happens now?]
“A 22-hour production run will burn twenty thousand copies of smut.”
“Nothing seems pressing,” Collin took a quick peek at his email and his digital in-basket, “so why do I have a feeling I’ve just missed something?”
“Once the disks are sealed into jackets, they will be collated into boxes with the manuals.” Tariq logged out. “Six days from now a courier will collect the shipment and two weeks later, they’ll be distributed in Asian.”
[Catapulting Wall’s corporate image right up his Pacific Rim hole]

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