#ThursThreads Week 310 : It Can’t Be Too Late

Case Street Fords had been a good car dealership. Small, but with a good set of cars on the lot, mostly SUVs and trucks. The service center was behind the sales building. One automated garage door, and room inside for six vehicles at a time.

The service center was on fire. The fire department hadn’t responded. A F-350 was pulling a dead body back and forth on the street next to the dealership. Men with guns cheered, “We got him! We finally got rid of him!”

The body had been Simon. The best mechanic in town. Everyone knew that. Simon had been shot in the leg, so he couldn’t escape. Then, beaten. Then, tied to the truck that was dragging him around.

Simon’s mate, Doug, was running down the street, heading toward the chaos, when I stopped him. “They’ll kill you.”

He screamed, he struggled, “Let me go! I’ve got to save Simon. It can’t be too late.” Doug collapsed to his knees on the asphalt. “It can’t be too late.”

“Stay here, Doug. Stay safe.”

The truck driver was the first person I shot. I kept shooting until none of the men with guns were left standing. Doug ran to Simon’s remains.

“I’m sorry, Doug. I was too late.”

There was an apartment complex I needed to visit. I hoped I wasn’t too late. If I was, well. “I am the violence. And the violence will respond. Will it ever.”

241 Words
@mysoulstears


The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 310 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.

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#ThursThreads Week 288 : That’s What Everyone Says

It was Saturday, and Harry didn’t work. Instead, he went to his work shed, “Saturday. Time to go huntin’.” You can imagine his surprise when he opened the door to his shed, stepped inside, turned on the light, and his phone range.

Harry answered his phone, because it wouldn’t stop ringing. It wouldn’t stop ringing, because it was me. “Good morning, Harry! Do you feel like running today?”

“Who is this?”

“‘Cause if I was you, I’d run like hell.”

“Who is this!” Harry was getting angry, which I thought was fine, and seriously funny.

“Look at the ammo stockpile, Harry. Then, run like hell.”

Harry looked, and saw the IED sitting on top of two hundred boxes of AR-15 shells. The IED had a large LED clock on it, that read 10, and started counting down.

“Time to run, Harry.”

“I’ll get you for this!”

“Harry, that’s what everyone says. Now shut up, and run.”

Harry ran from his work shed just as the IED went off. Followed by several thousand rounds of ammo that effectively blew his shed to hell, AR-15s and all.

I spoke on his phone once more, “Told you to run, Harry. You should listen to me.”

Harry hugged the dirt, and screamed into his phone, “Whoever you are! I’ll get you! You’ll see!”

“Oh, Harry. Do you remember Michelle?”

He didn’t answer.

“I be expecting you, Harry.”

I hung up.

235 words
@mysoulstears


I finally got around to writing part 16 of the Armor 17 story I started way back in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. I really should write more. It’s Week 288 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

 

#ThursThreads Week 271 : You’re Not Needed In This

Being invisible, silent, and having no heat signature makes it simple to watch chaos break out, as it did when Freddy, the IT guy arrived at work. It started as a normal day. Freddy dropped everything on his desk, made his run to the men’s room, and fetched his cup of coffee.

And that’s when normal ended. He sat down at his desk, and turned on his computer, and nothing happened. It didn’t turn on. “What?” He checked the power connections, but they were good. He checked and the fans were blowing air through the unit, so it was getting power.

He turned it off, counted to 10, and turned it back on. It booted up, but it loaded a bright red screen, with big yellow letters, “This machine has been encrypted, using a 4096 bit key. The key has been destroyed. Bye-Bye…”

Freddy’s phone started ringing endlessly. Every computer in the office had that same message on it. Freddy tried booting a different system from a flash drive, but the computer encrypted the drive’s contents. He tried restoring a backup from an external drive, but the computer encrypted that too.

I laughed, “It’s the BIOS, Freddy. On every motherboard.”

By the time Freddy realized what had happened, he’d been fired. “You’re not needed in this. Clearly, you couldn’t stop it. We need someone else.”

Freddy got drunk then tried to drive home. The wreck made the news the next morning, and I sighed, “Some people shouldn’t drink.”

246 Words
@mysoulstears


This is part 12 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 271 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#ThursThreads Week 258 : But It Is Too Late

If Ginger had a bad feeling, so did I. “Let’s see what you’re afraid of, little girl.” I paused, to think, and decided to gather information, and to do that, I needed connections. One empty office network jack later, and I could record every bit of every byte that Ginger’s office computer sent, or received. One dropped pencil on the carpet of the room, and I knew every word spoken. One quick link to the cell network and I knew everything that passed through the System On a Chip that made the phone work.

From there, of course, it was easy to drop background processes into memory, and have them forward every picture, every text message, every e-mail to me.

“So, you wanted someone to do something about the thing you worked with, did you?” She’d even gone off the network, into the world of isolated meshes. The world with no rules. No regulations.

I looked at the picture she’d posted on several of those meshes. Michelle. Pretty smile and all. And underneath the picture, “Can someone please rid the world of this thing?” There’d been no public responses, of course. Private responses were another matter, and her cell phone history showed that. She’d erased everything on the phone, of course. But it was all still there, safe in the computers of her service provider.

Phone calls from sources I knew. Sources I watched.

“Nice try, little girl. But it is too late.” And for Ginger, it clearly was.

249 words
@mysoulstears


This is part 7 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 258 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#ThursThreads Week 253 : We Have To Move Fast

Finding Michelle’s desk was easy. It was the one people stopped by regularly, for opposing reasons. Bill stopped by when he got to work, and put a rose on what had been her desk. A pretty rose with canary yellow petals that had lipstick red edges.

Mary and Marvin stopped as they walked past. Mary shook her head. Marvin threw the rose in the waste can.

And so it went. Some people paused, quietly shook their heads. Others nodded. Thomas even whispered, “you got what you deserved.”

The people who worked in the desks around Michelle’s were just as two sided. Lilly, took two naproxen pills, washed them down with root beer, closed her eyes, and whispered, “I miss you. And I hate the way people are behaving.”

Becky took a photocopy of Michelle’s picture and stabbed holes in the eyes, until the eyes were gone. Then, she put the picture in a folder with other copies of the same picture, all of which were mutilated, and started to work.

Joey has a picture on his cube wall that said it all. A bar, with a woman at it, and a man. And the word bubble above the man read, “We should shoot all the transgender people. Problem solved.”

So it went. From desk to desk. Person to person. Except in the Human Resources office, where Ginger worked. She was on the phone. “We have to move fast. I have a bad feeling about this.”

(to be continued).

248 Words
I’m not on Twitter.


This is part 6 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 253 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#ThursThreads Week 249 : Can’t Take You Anywhere

Michelle worked for Northrop Dynamics, a major defense contractor. She’d worked on-site, at the local US Naval facility. She’d worked there for a decade. I parked my car outside the facility, in the local shopping center parking lot. “Arm.” Its security systems kicked in. No one but me, alive and breathing, could open the car. Attempted forced entry guaranteed the car exploded. Didn’t matter if it was the police, the Navy, or a petty thief.

I muttered, “Active” as I walked from the lot. The armor kicked in, and I vanished. No heat signature. No radar signature. No air currents. Nothing. I walked to the secured gate, and watched the armed Marines check the stickers and badges of each vehicle that entered.

I walked in. Followed the same path Michelle had always followed to work, examined the parking space she would have parked in.

The doors to the facility were actively guarded, and required two factor authentication to get past. I watched people cross through the two door arrangement, and decided who to tag along with. When he opened the first door, I stepped in behind him. When he opened the second, I tagged along.

No one knew. No camera saw. No weight sensors registered my presence in that room. I was not there.

I chuckled, looked at the guy I’d slipped in with, “Can’t take you anywhere, can I?” Then, I watched him wander off to his job.

It was time to find out more about Michelle’s life.

249 Words
Mark Ethridge (I’m not on twitter, you know)


This is part 5 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 249 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#ThursThreads Week 245 : That Makes Two Of Us

I was starting a war, putting other transgender people, and those who supported them, at risk. So I took the time to learn who the transgender people in the area were, and who supported them.

A soccer mom, with two adopted daughters. She’d opened a diner, and was doing well. Especially at lunch time. People had to eat. She worked hard to give her daughters everything they wanted, and to teach them how to live, how to care for the people around them.

A retired couple, spending their last years together in the happiness they always wanted. The apartment complex owner who rented a flat to them, and always checked to see if they needed anything.

A mechanic at the best car dealership in the area. The dealership’s owner who defended him from the guys who didn’t want to work with him, “He’s the best mechanic I’ve ever seen.”

Samantha, a 13 year old who wondered if anyone could ever love her for who she was. Her parents who wondered when she would come home from school in tears again. Julie, the neighbor’s daughter, who walked Samantha to and from the bus every day, and sat with her at lunch.

Julie knew how Michelle had been murdered, and put on display, and what had happened to Michelle’s neighbor. Julie who said, “I’ve got a bad feelings about all this,” one night, before bed.

I nodded, and thought, “That makes two of us, kid. That makes two of us.”

247 Words
Mark Ethridge (I’m not on twitter, you know)


This is part 4 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 245 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.