Chapter 1: Hacker’s Sunset

Your life is a burning match. Ignite a bonfire.

The abrupt transitions of a sunset once again interrupt my daily rituals.

Vibrant colors explode across darkening sky like a flaring moth venturing too close to flame. Then, sensuality lingering, ashes of this sunset’s nova moment scatter and dim. I’m relaxed.

An encrypted message from Friends Of Hacker Jon sits on my desk. I ignored it to enjoy my sunset sabbatical. Repenting, I spend the time for decoding: delay equals death Relaxed?

I don’t remember dying. A serious error had been made by Prince Pahl’s assassins guild. The rest of the coded message will offer first steps to escape, now almost certainly a trap. I’m wedged and must get off target. Those ill fortune darts could be flying my way any second, or to make sure I join the departed sunset, a blast may level this resort.

Prince Pahl can always blame his enemies for destruction, the greater the force applied against me; the greater the supportive backlash for his government. His Brotherland Security Forces surely believe I am worth a city block. From their world view they are right. My human rights hacking will further avenge the death of Hacker Jon, now is not a time to get sloppy.

Complacency. My counter surveillance has relaxed. I’ve been too confident.

Facing unknown threats is like waking up on a clear morning, it is never too late to savor life. Life is art, every special feature of my home now stands out in enhanced clarity. I hope I haven’t subconsciously dallied in complacency, seeking stimulus. My vulnerability is real, exploiting it for thrills will shorten my life, may have already shortened it. If such subliminal desires exist, I must eradicate them.

I key escape sequence three, grab a bug-out-bag that looks like my usual brown portable office case, exit. If I am to obliquely drift through the opacity of dusk, I must first clear the flash zone. Speed. Distance. Then merging with a moonless expanse of abused citizens.

The infrastructure hacks are done, there is no need to stay close. I’ll consider how I was found after my escape attempt.

A quick dictation to ‘tronics for immediate dispatch to Friends Of Hacker Jon via HackNet: FHJ compromised by Elldee – knightwatchman

Prince Pahl’s chancellors are lethally worried by my activities. I can’t bug-out permanently now. I’ll retreat, then return. The loss of my confidential contact is cause enough to continue, a declaration of personal war. Their bureaucratic fortresses have made them overconfident. If I’m lost, an autowelfare script will soon cause an encrypted announcement to ring fourth: Notify the hacker legions; Pahl is vulnerable

My legacy may best survive as prolonged assaults on despotism. My embers may be all that remain to illuminate and inspire.

New tricks are always appearing from an aspiring magician’s hat. Dark magic is best countered by deep magic. The difficulty comes in retaining and using the glow of victory. For now, survival is enough, but if freedom is won — I must prepare for dawn’s renewed battles.

I need to plan.

Hacker School basics: Eliminating evil governments, without having viable social replacements ready, is not anarchy; it is ignorance. Vast governance vacuums quickly fill with ravenous little minds of bureaucrats, the worst of criminals. They murder both time and productivity, improving nothing. Removing dull bureaucratic zombies from governance, as the prime motivators of oppression are removed, requires adaptable strategy. I’ll need help.

Before I arrive at Thought Castle my current persona as William T. Johnson will finish distorting and disappearing from the world’s networked data bases. Already my digital signature has started to morph. Recorded biometrics twist in photos, voice and finger prints, within my DNA sequence. All are changing in interconnected digital systems toward images of a person dead for years. Before data reaches congruence with that life, they will be deleted. Any ghost of memory mined will present corrupted information leading to dark, dead end alleys where vengeful cyberpunks lurk.

Soon the last mention of Bill Johnson will be a lease on my rooms, that vanishing after my effects are picked up by charity.

While leaving the building a doorman tips his hat and relays an uncharacteristic formal goodbye to Mr. Johnson; as if he realizes it’s the last time. The big indicator is demeanor, the doorman briefly stares as if fascinated, then glances off to his right. He does not make an offer to hail a taxi. I nod to him even as I palm my keyring stunner at his unintended warning.

Creating a new life is easier and faster than transmogrifying relics of an old identity. Already, interconnected databases are filing ostensibly original data – from birth certificates to required public copies of home videos. In a short time, Billy Goodman will have always been known as Jonathon Christforth. A new life manufactured – sunrise will arrive.

Let’s see if I can keep this new Jon feller alive.