#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.

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#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.

#ThursThreads Week 241: What Did You Do?

I parked in the hotel parking lot, and went to my room. Inside, I stripped off my street clothes, which left me in the form fitting unitard I wore inside my armor. I touched the 3 dimensional sensor on my case. It would only respond to my fingers, only if they were still attached to me, and I remained fully functional, and was alone. If anyone was within range of its sensors, even I couldn’t open it.

I pressed a second sensor inside the case, and my armor assembled itself around my body. As it did, I vanished. Inside my armor, I spoke to my car, “What’s the first name on my list?”

“Michelle’s next door neighbor. Same structure.”

“Two home structure?”

“Yes.”

I walked to my car. “Take me there.” It complied. On the way I studied the information my car had found on the neighbor. “What did you do to Michelle, little man? What did you do?”

Once there, I walked to the front door, scanned for a lock, inserted the dynamic key and paused for a second as it took the form of the required key, and unlocked the door. I stepped inside, and closed the door behind me.

Then, I waited, and watched. I had time. “How did you feel about your transgender neighbor, little man?” I waited for him to come home from work. Then, I’d learn what I needed to know. And he’d never know I’d been there.

243 Words
I’m not on Twitter you know.


The Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 continues this week. It’s Week 241 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 239: Nothing Has Been Done Yet

I looked at the picture of the victim. She’d been a pretty girl. She’d been tied to a telephone pole, gagged so she could make no sound, then slowly murdered. Painfully murdered. All her pretty had been taken away. “Has anything been done on this case?” I asked, though I knew the answer.

“A transgender victim?” Officer S. Morgan sat at her desk and brought up the case record on her screen. “No.” She looked up at me. “Nothing has been done yet.” I watched her turn pale. I knew why. After all, I am the violence.

I didn’t ask where the crime scene was. I didn’t have to. The computers in my armor, and in my car, already had informed me. “Nothing?” I looked at her, and watched her grow more pale. “How long had she been dead before she was found?”

“It…” Officer Morgan grew more pale as she looked at me. “Seventeen hours.”

“So, she was left on display as a warning?”

Officer Morgan couldn’t speak.

I walked out of the precinct office, and returned to my car. Once there, I pressed a button on the dash, “17. Going fishing.” I turned on the car, and headed to the hotel I had elected to stay in while in town. As I drove, I had the car search publicly available information about the victim. I’d start with the people who lived near her, in the same building. I’d end with the police force.

Something would be done. Very soon.

250 words.
Mark Ethridge (I’m not on twitter)


I’ve decided to experiment with an Armor 17 story starting with Week 239 of #ThursThreads. As always, #ThursThreads is hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.