Cover

Chapter One

The year was 2035 and I was in a studio apartment smaller than some closets, on the eighth floor of an apartment building in the northern Manhattan neighborhood, Inwood. I was part of the crime syndicate Xanadu, hacking bank account 56708, which contained two million dollars. While I transferred the money, someone with the alias, the Judge, sent me a private instant message on Internet Relay Chat.

“I know what you are doing,” typed the Judge.

“What do you mean?” I said.

“You are draining account number 56708.”

The other person had to be law enforcement or in house security to know the number of the account I was hacking. I was in danger.

“Stay calm,” typed the Judge.

“What are you doing?” I typed.

“I am protecting you.”

“Protecting me from what?”

“A security firm is trying to track you. I am deflecting them.”

“Prove it.”

The Judge sent me a file and I could see how negligence on my part compromised my identity. I could also see how the Judge covered for me.

“Thanks for protecting me. Who are you?” I typed to the Judge but he signed off.

The next day I messaged Kubla, the boss of the hacking syndicate.

“I want out,” I said.

“Why do you want out?” he said.

“I want to get my life together. I can’t live like this anymore. The authorities almost caught me yesterday. The knowledge that I am stealing takes its toll too.”

“Once you are in you can’t get out. Since you have knowledge of our criminal activity, we can’t trust you to return to the straight world.”

“This isn’t fair. You don’t want me to quit because you can make money from me.”

“You should have never joined if you can’t stomach it. Now man up. I have a new assignment for you. If you leave, I will have you killed.”

I deactivated my Xanadu account, chuckling at Kubla’s weak threats. I thought that no one in the world knew who I was in real life. Not even Kubla could trace my online alias back to the real me.

A few hours later, the Judge sent me a private message on an Internet Relay Chat channel. “Listen to me carefully. You need to turn off your smart phone, pack your valuables, and leave the apartment. Take the subway to a hotel at least as far away as Midtown and remain discreet. Do what I say. There is no time for questions.”

If the Judge had not saved me the night before there is no way I would have listened to him. Since the Judge had earned my trust, I obeyed. I found a hotel online, then shut down my smart phone, and left.

I was at the entrance to the subway station a few blocks away from the apartment building I had just exited. There was a loud noise and the ground shook. The front window of a coffee shop shattered. I turned around and put my trembling hand on the railing to the stairwell leading down to the subway to prevent myself from falling over.

Part of my apartment building had exploded. From a distance I watched the blown up remains burn, black smoke billowing in the air. I thought, “What if Xanadu is trying to kill me?”

I held the pole in the subway breathing hard. If someone was after me, he or she was probably close behind. The subway arrived at my stop and I walked out into Midtown to a hotel.

I turned on my computer at the hotel and the Judge messaged me.

"I know who you are."

"Who am I?"

"Your name is Justin March."

This was true. I thought no one knew my real identity.

"Are you still there?" he said.

I waited for a few minutes, and then typed, "Yeah, I’m still here. How do you know who I am?"

"I know everything about you."

"What do you know about me?"

"I know what is bothering you."

"What?"

"You feel alienated. You are not close or have ever been close to anyone. You are cut off: alone."

"What do you want from me?"

"Find me. Figure out who I am and I will set you free."

"Who are you?"

"I am the Judge"

“That tells me nothing.”

“We don’t have time for pleasantries now. You are in danger,” he said.

“I know,” I said. “What now? What am I supposed to do next? I am a hacker, not a commando. I am not cut out for combating thugs.”

“You are on your own.”

“You can’t just leave me. You have to help me. You said you would set me free.”

“I do not care about you.”

“How could you be so nice one minute and so heartless the next?”

The Judge signed off.

The only way to save myself was to destroy Xanadu by exposing them to the police. This was going to be challenging. They used the most advanced techniques to distort their activities and cover their tracks. I had to act quickly.

As tired as I was I stayed up hacking. As I was hacking into Xanadu’s files I found a chat log that said they had were paying hit men to kill me at the hotel at 11:00 pm. It was 10:49 pm. They knew where I was.

I packed my valuables and stepped out in the hallway. I was walking toward the elevator when I had an epiphany. The hit men were probably coming up the elevator. I turned and ran with my suitcase down the hall, in the opposite direction, towards the fire escape. As I walked down the fire escape, outside the building, I passed by the window of my hotel room. I crossed my fingers, hoping they were not already in my room, looking out the window. I stepped down past my window and looked in. The hit men had torn the room to pieces. They had ripped apart the bed and opened all the dresser doors.

The fire escape door squeaked open. Someone was above me headed down. I ran down the stairs. After reaching the ground and running towards the street, I tripped and fell. My suitcase went flying, hit the ground, and my things fell across the pavement. A thin layer of dry, dusty snow cushioned the impact of the suitcase on the ground.

I rose up off the ground and hailed a taxicab. As the taxi pulled up, I looked back at the fire escape, illuminated against the night by the lights from the hotel windows. Two men in ski masks with guns ran from the last steps of the fire escape and in my direction. “Stop. Wait.” they said. “We have something for you.”

I slid into the back seat of the taxi and told the driver to, “Get the hell out of here.”

There was the sound of a gunshot and the glass in the window next to my head shattered. I hunched down in the seat to protect my head. They kept shooting, probably at the tires, but did not hit them.

The taxi driver said, “I don’t care where you say you want to go, we are going to the police station.”

I wanted to beg, “Anywhere but there,” but I knew this would arouse suspicion. I planned to unmask Xanadu anonymously so I could hide my involvement with them. If I talked to the police, they would know I was an insider, exposing my crimes. I wondered what I should tell the police. They could protect my life but if I told the truth, I would also be imprisoned.

The taxi sped through the streets, as the driver zigzagged around other cars. We stopped at a red light. There was another gunshot and the glass in the rear window shattered. The hit men were following us. The light turned green and the taxi’s tires squealed from the driver’s rapid acceleration. The taxi driver turned into the police station and the hit men drove on, probably too scared to kill me in front of the police.

The taxi driver opened his door. Acting fast, I opened my door and made a dash for an alley. The taxi driver yelled and ran after me. He began to curse and I looked behind. The taxi driver had slipped on a patch of ice and fallen. I ran through the alley and looked out at the end of it. The neon glow from a gas station illuminated a car in the parking lot. Sitting in that car were the hit men.

The better option was obvious. I had to go back to the taxi driver and police station, where my chances of survival were higher. Even so, I had an irrational impulse to go to the hit men and confront them.

I walked back toward the police station, preparing for my doom. When I arrived, I was relieved to see the taxi driver had left. I walked in the bottom of a canyon constituted of tall buildings, constantly looking behind me for the hit men. When I reached the hotel, I saw my suitcase and possessions were still scattered along the ground. The hit men were in such a hurry they had not bothered to grab my things.

My Techclon computer, which, like all contemporary computers, was a tablet with only a screen and processor, lay on the ground. The fall had busted its case, exposing the interior to the machine. I looked at the transistors, chips, and wires, these inanimate objects that worked together to create a constructed reality that was more real to me than the real world.

I panicked realizing the hit men could be back at any time. After packing my snow-covered clothes back in my suitcase I went to another hotel.

In the lobby of the other hotel were public computers. I hacked into Xanadu’s account and began to collect information, careful to cover my tracks so my location was untraceable. Then I went to bed and slept. The next day I decided to walk to the library to switch locations. I watched out for the hit men on the way to the library.

After many hours on the library computer, I found what I was looking for. I hacked into the file where the real identity of Kubla was stored. Having also hacked into the Xanadu roster I erased my name and sent all the evidence to the FBI.

That night, at the hotel, I read a report that the FBI arrested Xanadu members including Kubla. Without anyone to cut them a paycheck, the hit men were going to leave me alone.

Even though I had no way to prove it, I knew Kubla had figured out who I was and where I was because the Judge had told him.

Chapter Two

After the hit men almost killed me, I made the resolution to stop stealing for money. I would like to say I made this resolution for moral reasons but I made it out of fear. Coming close to ruin, I realized the risk associated with crime was higher than the rewards that came from crime. I needed to find a real job.

With less than two thousand dollars, I went to a housing project in search for low rent. My funds had vanished with Xanadu. I found a cheap apartment and bought a new tablet computer. The worn carpet and dim lighting did not bother me. All I needed was my computer and an Internet connection.

The Internet was not piped into my apartment but was everywhere. Techclon put nodes in power line transformers, cars, and any electronic device. These nodes connected a vast wireless network providing cell phone and internet service.

There was an opening for a line cook in a Mexican restaurant located next to my apartment. I prepared tacos to pay the bills and programmed in my free time.

My desire to create revolutionary software consumed me. I had to think of something spectacular. If I could get Techclon’s, the world’s largest corporation, attention, I would be set.

Using a variety of underground open source programs, I began to construct my own virtual Eden, E-Fillaer. My idea was a massive online anonymous social network where you interacted with other players through 3-D avatars. You controlled the avatars through motion sensors and spoke through a microphone. It was not an original concept but never before had this concept been executed so flawlessly.

I filled out an application for start up capital from Techclon. I did not have the money or knowledge to build the sophisticated hardware for my idea. A week later, I received a phone call from Techclon, asking me for my code. I was worried about Techclon stealing my idea, and code, but I had to take the risk. If my work was good Techclon would want to hire me, and I had faith in my work. I also did not have the money for legal protection.

Several months later, I received a phone call from James McPherson, CEO of Techclon. He wanted me to come to Techclon headquarters to meet with him in person. Expecting to talk to legal teams, financial intermediaries, and lower level software engineers about my idea, I was stunned to hear from the top of the company right away.

The next day, I walked through the revolving glass door into the lobby of the world's largest corporation, went up the elevator, and sat down to wait for the receptionist to call me into McPherson’s office. The receptionist said McPherson was ready for me. I walked into his office and sat down across from him.

Just by looking at McPherson you would never guess he was one of the wealthiest, most powerful persons in the world. He was of average height, in his late 40s, and had red hair with a tint of gray. His most defining characteristic was his thick glasses.

McPherson had plenty of options, since money was no object, to correct his vision in more aesthetically pleasing ways. It was a mystery why he wore glasses. McPherson sat like a pillar behind his large cherry executive's desk between two Boston Ferns.

I stared through the big glass window of McPherson’s office at the east side of mid Manhattan. The city was distinctly American. Clogged streets crisscrossed around buildings constructed of steel, concrete, aluminum, and glass.

Farther down, across the river, in Brooklyn, was a shabby brick apartment complex with weeds growing up out of the cracked concrete slabs in front of it. Sitting at a computer in one of those apartments was my destination, my western horizon, my new world.

McPherson turned to me and said, “We want to buy.”

“How much do you want for it?” I said.

“No, I meant we want to buy you.”

“I am not sure what you mean.”

“We want you to work for Techclon.”

“But what about E-Fillaer?”

“We can’t build that. I am going to be honest. I have created an empire on a concept, and that concept is that anonymity does not exist. My fortune springs from the fact that I can go to anyone on the street and say without exaggeration, ‘I know everything about you.’”

“I know that, but consider this. E-Fillaer can be a facade to trick people into thinking you aren’t trying to kill privacy. By providing people with a meaningless outlet to stay anonymous, you will divert them from all of the important information you gather from their online activities. E-Fillear can be a public relations stunt for Techclon.”

“I have never looked at it that way before. Maybe you are right. I will buy it.”

McPherson told me the price for E-Fillaer and a starting salary. Smart enough to realize that his offer was generous, I did not bargain. I was going to be wealthy.

“There are a few problems,” said McPherson.

“What is that?” I said.

“For one, your past.”

“What about my past?”

“You do not have one.”

“So?”

“There is something shady about you. Brilliant developers don’t appear out of thin air. They are created, trained, and molded. I am sure if I looked deeply enough I would be able to find the skeletons in your closet. If I really wanted to, I would be able to find the resume you can’t display. But...”

“But what?”

I noticed McPherson looked tired. “But in tech the past doesn’t matter. Only one-thing does: how good can you do what we need you to do? Fortunately, for you, you designed E-Fillaer well. I don’t care if you have a degree or work history. All I care about is do you have a brilliant mind? You have talent and we need talent.”

“Thanks.”

“I want you to remember something. I am the one who gave you a second chance. I am the one who freed you from the past.”

“I will be working for Techclon's gaming subsidiary E-World then? Developing E-Fillaer?”

“No, you are too skilled for an inane game. E-Fillaer will be out of your hands. Lesser talented people at E-World Studios will take over from here, so if you have any personal attachment I suggest you say your goodbyes now.”

“I have one last request. When E-World designs the game I want them to give each person an option to scramble their voice to make it sound androgynous for their avatar.”

“That request can be granted. I can see how obscuring gender is important for anonymity.”

“What are you going to have me work on?”

“I need you to work on something important, something real. I want you to work in sector seven.”

“What is sector seven working on?”

“I have to warn you, once you are in there is no turning back. You will learn some secrets that few people in the world know about. If you decide to reveal these secrets, bad things will happen. If you can keep your mouth shut, this time, we would love to have you working in sector seven. Are you in?”

“I will think about it. How much time do I have?”

“We would like to know if you can join sector seven by next week.”

After the meeting with McPherson adjourned, I walked back to my apartment. The pay offered exceeded my expectations but there was something amiss. For starters, everything seemed too easy. I set out to work for Techclon and a half a year later the chief executive officer offers me a high position with the company. Everything fell in place.

The other thing that bothered me was I had to keep secrets. If Techclon was doing things they did not want the public to know about then they were no better than Xanadu. I found myself trapped in an organization I wanted nothing to do with before and getting out had almost cost me my life. Next time I might not be so lucky.

I also wondered if McPherson knew about Xanadu based on his reference to keeping my mouth shut this time. There was no way to know how much McPherson knew about me.

Two days later, I walked into Techclon and told McPherson I would not be taking the job. McPherson seemed stung by my rejection of the position. He offered me more money. He reminded me that Techclon was the only tech company left to work for and if I rejected them, I would have a hard time finding work. I still said no.

The next day I received a phone call from McPherson.

“What is it going to take? If money doesn’t drive you, what is it you want? I can get you what you want if you join sector seven.”

“Sorry, I am not interested,” I said.

“Everyone wants something. All I have to do is figure out what you want and you will do anything I ask you. Give me time. Soon you will be begging me to work in sector seven.”

I was at home on my computer, consisting of a large flat monitor with a processor and just enough memory to run a web browser built in. An external hard drive was hooked up to this monitor. There was a loud knock at the door. I opened the door and the police invaded my apartment. They showed me the search warrant and confiscated my monitor and external hard drive.

The police arrested me and drove me to the police station. I sat in an interrogation room. McPherson entered. I twisted my hands and the cold metal of the handcuffs dug into my skin.

“You seemed surprised to see me,” said McPherson.

“I was expecting a detective,” I said.

“This is just between the two of us. No lawyers, no detectives, no messes.”

“I know what you want. I know what this is about.”

McPherson opened a black brief case and pulled out my external hard drive.

“I am sure you are aware that personal hard drives are illegal,” said McPherson.

“How did you know I had a hard drive in my apartment?”

“I didn’t know. I just guessed. I knew you liked to work with computers so I figured you would want your own hard drive.”

“How did you get a warrant if you had no evidence that I had a hard drive?”

“Money.”

“You have too much power. Everyone knows the only reason hard drives are illegal is because you want people to store everything over the Internet on Techclon servers at your computing centers. You used your power to pass laws to increase your power even more.”

“Hard drives are banned because they are only used by pirates, hackers, and criminal developers writing malicious programs. The sole reason to store information locally is that you have something to hide. You need a warrant to go into somebody’s home and confiscate his or her hard drive. Since Techclon owns the computing centers where data on the cloud is stored we can look at that data without a warrant to catch criminals.”

“You can make up all the excuses you want. The fact remains that outlawing hard drives was good business for you, since it forced people to use your data centers instead of their own hard drives. Hard drives should be legal.”

“Whether they should or shouldn’t be is not the issue. The issue is that we caught you in possession of illegal hardware. What is more troubling than the fact you had a hard drive is what we found on the hard drive. Using a data recovery program we discovered you were affiliated with Xanadu, the hacking crime syndicate.”

“I know exactly what is going on. You are trying to scare me into working for you.”

“You are right. I don’t understand why you won’t work for us. I hate to go to such extremes, but you are far too talented to pass up.”

“Techclon is a monopoly. You own the network of wireless nodes on which we rely on for phone and Internet. You own all our information. You manufacture our computers. You dominate the tech industry squashing any competition and pay off Congress to pass laws to grow your business. That is why I can’t work for you.”

“If you work for us, I can delete your past. I can wipe your hard drive clean. You can have a chance to start over. If you don’t work for us, your past will haunt you, as you decay in prison.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Yes.”

“You bastard.”

“I am giving you an opportunity. Don’t destroy everything you have.”

“OK, I guess since I have no real choice I will take the job. What will I be working on?”

“You will be working on C74.”

I said, “what is C74?”

McPherson said, “when hard drives disappeared and everything moved to the cloud Techclon created a way to manage big data, collecting and organizing each person’s private information. We are on the 74th version of this database. You will be working on complex event processing, making it easier for the people we sell access to, to find relevant information. You will design bots that will mine emails, documents, chat logs, phone conversations, and search queries for relevant data, whether it is a government agency protecting our country or a company trying to sell cereal.”

“That is terrible. How could you do that to people? You can’t rob people of privacy for monetary gain. Techclon is an evil corporation.”

"Techclon has done a lot for the American public. Our technological innovation gave America a competitive advantage over the rest of the world, which was catching up to us. Techclon revived America as the dominant superpower on the globe. As Europe and Asia stagnated in recent years, Techclon has revitalized the American economy through its innovations.

“Techclon has also done a lot for the world. For years, competition fragmented the tech industry. Techclon's strategy is to unify the industry and create standard technology. This standardization allows various pieces of technology to be compatible. Because of this compatibility, technology evolved at a faster pace, allowing Techclon to cater to the consumer in simpler and enhanced ways. Techclon has benefited the world by creating a seamless technological environment, by creating a world where anyone can afford a computer, where everyone has access to the internet. The ascension of Techclon is not just the growth of a business; it is the unfolding of a revolution."

"Techclon bought out smaller companies until they had control of everything: hardware, software, web browsers (which have become operating systems), search engines, and cell phones. You paid off politicians to repeal laws that would break up your monopoly of the tech industry. You only want the consumer to have access to ample bandwidth so you could ensure one could run even the most complex programs over the Techclon controlled Internet. You have dominated the American economy in a way that runs counter to the American spirit. You have centralized economic power in a way that is starkly un-American."

“Paradoxically, one must sacrifice a little freedom to maintain a free and open society."

"You can’t create a database to collect data on American citizens. You have access to everyone’s personal information. You are eroding the notion of privacy in the United States of America."

"C74 will build a better, safer America. A little bit of freedom is a small price to pay for self-preservation. We have to protect America from subversion. Those in control have a duty to preserve the American dream for American citizens.

“You are just mad that I forced you into working for me. A few weeks ago when you were pitching E-Fillaer you had no qualms about privacy.”

I shut up. McPherson was right.

Chapter Three

It was my first day of work. “I need you to solve a problem,” McPherson said. “Something is wrong with C74. A certain sector is malfunctioning. I need you to debug it.”

I stood up and walked out of the office, back to my cubical. I sifted through lines of code. A pattern developed. This was not random human error. This was intentional. Someone systematically molested C74.

Someone had arranged the code so it spelled, "Believe." This was the work of a hacker. I walked back through the maze of cubicles to the boss's office and told McPherson the news.

"I do not know how this happened since a sophisticated firewall protects our company, but a hacker infiltrated this program. It was not programming error after all," I said.

"How do you know this is the work of a hacker?" McPherson said.

"Because someone arranged the code to spell out a message, not to act like a program. Random error could not have spelled out a message."

"What is the message?"

"Believe."

"That’s cryptic. Believe. What does that even mean? Who should believe and what should they believe?"

"I have no idea sir."

"I guess we have to deal with the situation as best we can."

"You do not seem surprised," I said.

"We have an enemy. We will find who did this and they will pay. They will suffer," McPherson said.

“How can you be so sure that this person will pay? What if this person gets away with it?” I said. “You act as if there is a scorekeeper who will distribute justice, but this world is random. Sometimes evil people win.”

“You are framing it wrong,” said McPherson. “It is not a matter of right and wrong: of good versus evil. We will win because we are builders. We turn deserts, swamps, and forests into cities. We chart the oceans and plant flags on the moon. We turn elements into information.

“The history of the world is a story of progress and we are the authors. We are the architects of the future designing the climax of human existence. History is the story of builders triumphing over destroyers. Destroyers may win a few battles but builders will win the war. Humanity demands construction. It is written in our DNA.”

My boss swiveled his chair back around to his computer. "Get to work," he said with his back to me.

After finding a pleasant apartment in Soho I moved out of the dump I had lived in. I also visited black market websites to purchase a new external hard drive imported from Asia.

I walked a few blocks from work back to my new apartment complex. I approached the elevator the same time as April. April was a stranger. I knew nothing about her other than that she lived in my apartment complex and that her name was April, since she had to wear a name tag for work. She probably knew nothing about me.

We both entered the elevator. I glanced quickly at April, admiring her brown wavy hair. Maybe it was my imagination but I could swear she smiled at me. I began to sweat, not saying anything. I wondered if I would ever talk to her or if I would ever get to know her. The elevator doors opened. We both walked out but in opposite directions. I walked to my room and unlocked the door.

I dished out a spoonful of potato salad from a plastic container onto a paper plate and turned on my computer. The glow from the computer was the brightest light in the apartment. The furniture cast eerie shadows against the computer light.

I still obsessed over my collection. From my early childhood, I collected matchbox emergency vehicles, toy ambulances where you could slide the stretchers out, and little police cars with lights on top. As a child, I would play salvation for hours on the floor, pretending to save victims. Today, my collection of emergency vehicles sits on shelves in my apartment.

The next morning I stepped outside my apartment complex. I walked down the street towards the skyscraper that was Techclon headquarters. While I walked through Midtown, I could feel the city pulsating with energy. The city was alive with money, with danger, and with ambition. These were people with a vision of a glorious future. This was the United States and these people in business attire walking to work were Americans.

I marveled at what a miracle America was. America encompassed a dense network of roads, bridges, and power lines that started in large cities and radiated out to the most remote areas. Buildings, gas wells, and towers sprouted like flowers in a garden. Signs of prosperity were everywhere. On my way to work, I witnessed more wealth, more productivity, then some entire countries experienced.

I reached Techclon headquarters and looked at the Techclon logo, which was a picture of the planet earth with inverted colors. I rubbed my dry, bloodshot eyes. It was going to be a long day of work at sector seven.

I sat hunched over at my desk. I was good at writing software, but I hated it. I felt a gap, as if I should be doing something else. I knew this was not who I really was, that somewhere something had gone wrong. This was not my destiny. McPherson walked up.

"Glad to see you working hard. C74 is an important project. I chose you because you are good at what you do. There will be rewards for you when it is completed."

E-World Studios released E-Fillaer and it became an instant success. Even I began to play it. Every day after work, I could not wait to get home and delve into the meta-verse, E-Fillaer. I had become addicted to my own creation.

When I arrived home, I logged on E-Fillaer. My avatar woke up next to my beautiful virtual wife, Charlene. I did not know if she was a man or a woman in real life and I did not care. Having designed E-Fillaer, I was a skilled E-Fillaer gamer and had acquired billions of E-Fillaer dollars. I owned a large virtual mansion.

There was a party invitation in my virtual mail. Although the post office did not exist in real life anymore, I had programmed mailboxes into E-Fillaer. The invitation was to a virtual party downtown.

I walked my avatar outside and moved it into a Porsche. I drove my avatar through the countryside into the city.

I walked my avatar onto a side street and stopped it in front of a nondescript, virtual bar. I typed to the bouncer avatar the password that was in the invitation. He let my avatar in. My avatar danced with attractive female avatars, the pixilated breasts covered in euro trash attire. The electronica dance music boomed out of my computer speakers. I mingled my avatar with other avatars and noticed most people at the gathering were skilled E-Fillaer players. A large bald avatar stood in the corner. He walked towards me and introduced himself as the Judge.

"Welcome," said the Judge. He was using the androgynous voice scrambler. It was odd to hear an androgynous voice come out of the mouth of such a masculine avatar.

"Is this a gathering of the E-Fillaer elite?" I said.

"Yes."

"What is the purpose of this gathering?"

"It is a weekly get together and I only invite the top E-Fillaer players. I formed it to discuss hacks. I chose you to join our club."

The bass throbbed and the lights flashed.

"I have a surprise for you. Follow me," said the Judge.

I walked my avatar downstairs, to a large room with a huge flat screen television.

"Ever heard of virtual C74?" said the Judge.

It could not be a coincidence he called this virtual program C74.

"Do you work for Techclon?" I said.

The Judge had to be on the same work team as me to know about the confidential C74. I could not imagine him being Stan, John, or Steven. Unless he was, of course, McPherson but I could not imagine the Judge being my boss.

"No, I work for no one," the Judge replied.

I believed that the Judge did not work or have anything to do with Techclon. McPherson did not have time for this and my coworkers were too meek to do something like this.

"I have eyes everywhere. I can see everything anyone is doing on E-Fillaer. Open the source and type in this code," said the Judge.

I typed in the code.

I turned my avatar over to the large television screen. On the screen, Charlene was cheating on me, in my mansion, in my bedroom. I watched as another avatar ran his fingers through her hair.

"What do you think Charlene has been doing while you are out at parties?" the Judge said.

"How do I know this is real?”

“What do you mean? E-Fillaer itself isn’t real. Nothing is real.”

“I mean that you are not making this up, that you didn't make a virtual film using 3-D models that look like certain avatars?"

"Verify the code. You have complete access to Charlene’s E-Fillaer account."

I sorted through her files for a few hours, mesmerized by all the personal information. It looked authentic. I logged back into E-Fillaer to talk to the Judge.

"You are right, it is real. Charlene is a liar and a cheat. It is a good thing this is only virtual reality, or I might actually be upset," I said but I was still upset. It was as if the Judge could read my mind.

“Do not take it so hard. You asked me to prove it," said the Judge.

I stood up to leave the

Imprint

Publisher: BookRix GmbH & Co. KG

Publication Date: 05-01-2013
ISBN: 978-3-7309-4290-1

All Rights Reserved

Next Page
Page 1 /