Friday Night Story


The elevator fell for a long time. “Where are we going?” I asked. “What does it matter, Denizen, you’re dead,” the man said, straightening his tie. “Does that make you the Devil?” He didn’t even look my way.

“You were executed at midnight for crimes against information. You don’t have a family anymore. Or a life. All you have is what we let you keep- and you only get that for a as long as we let you keep it.”

“Eight months ago you hacked into the Disney servers and gave yourself and your girlfriend, a Ms. Molly Jensen, an all-expenses-paid vacation, valued at a little over ten thousand dollars American; modest, really. Under normal circumstances, this constitutes minor theft and fraud. But you did it over the computer. The Disney servers are the third most hardened network in the world, at least a dozen times more secure than federal databases, because they can afford to pay for the best. And that scares the hell out of people.”

“And that’s the one thing Americans won’t tolerate, not since their War on Terror. Americans won’t be scared- they just won’t tolerate it. That’s why America has more cameras per square mile than England now, and more than three times the law enforcement personnel as when the last terrorist strike occurred. Cybercrime and rape are the only white crimes left in America, although other crimes are still rampant in minority neighborhoods. Some things never change.” He ran his left hand through his white hair.

“You seem old for Cybercrimes. I thought anyone older than thirty got bumped to the sex crimes unit.” “The Domestic Abuse Department,” he said wearily. “But I’ve been with computer crimes longer than most of my superiors; I’ve probably been investigating cybercrime since before you touched your first computer.”

The elevator came to a stop and the doors opened onto a huge concrete room. Large concrete desks had monitors looking into the cells that dotted the wall on both sides. At the far end of the room there were three doors: one into the kitchen, one into the showers, and one into the guard’s chambers. “What is this place?”

“It’s like prison, only without any of the freedoms. Each cell is equipped with a stand-alone computer, each with security puzzles you will solve, which will in turn increase computer security for the rest of the free world. The only distraction from your solitude is the work. You’ll be under constant surveillance, and there really isn’t enough in your cell to kill yourself with. You’re here until you die or we kill you; either way, you’re already dead.”

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