(Free E-Book)
by Frank Duff

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to:

Creative Commons
559 Nathan Abbott Way


Five weeks. That's how long it took them to find him at Callum's. Before that, it had only taken them three weeks to locate his basement prison.

Johnny hefts his new backpack onto his shoulders and straightens the cobalt blue shirt and black sport jacket he bought at a Tokyo tailor with counterfeit money. He checks his watch, still forty minutes left before his flight. He has only been in Japan five days, but he doesn't want to push his luck while still so close to the last spot they've placed him.

Callum had been wrong. Lyle is still alive. They hadn't known about the drug's residual effects; Callum hadn't taken that into consideration. Johnny is positive that Lyle must have escaped. There had been no sign of him at the loft when Johnny had gone back. Surely he had gotten away. And with the lingering enhanced sensitivity to danger, he must certainly have been able to stay one step ahead of them and get himself to safety.

Johnny looks inward for some chemical verification, but is left with only logic and hope to rely on. Before buying his ticket, he had gazed upwards through the glass dome of the Atrium in Kansai International Airport. He had gazed upwards and tried desperately to read Lyle's location in the movement of the clouds. When that had failed, he had bought an atlas and a coffee. He had closed his eyes and flipped the atlas open to a random page. Chile. As likely a place as any, although the stop-over in Hawaii made him uncomfortable. He would prefer to avoid both Canadian and American soil.

Johnny looks again at his watch. Twenty-eight minutes. He is about to make one hell of a lot of ripples and wants to cut it as close to takeoff as possible. He walks over to the same convenience stand where he earlier bought his atlas and coffee. There he exchanges handful of yen for an Internet card.

Johnny's mind is on the story of Prometheus as he logs on to the terminal. Or at least he has a feeling that it should be, but he can't really remember much about it. He does have an uncomfortable feeling though that it doesn't end very well for the protagonist.

He logs on to Tom's server. Before he starts into his true task, he checks to see what e-mail has found its way to his inbox in the nine weeks since that night in Toronto when everything changed. He is secretly hoping to find a note from Lyle, but when there is none, he quickly rationalizes that Lyle would certainly have been being extremely careful to disturb the water as little as possible.

Among the spam, two letters catch his attention. The first is a worried note from his mother asking why he hasn't called in two months and why his phone has been disconnected. Johnny wants to write her a novel and explain everything, but he knows that the first thing she will do is go to the police and that is exactly the last thing he needs.

He composes instead a six word e-mail: "I'm okay, will write more later."

Johnny almost adds something about being in Madagascar, just to throw anyone who might be intercepting his e-mail onto the wrong track, but he catches himself in time. That is exactly the sort of thing that would reverberate out in many unpredictable ways, inevitably revealing his actual location to someone able to read the patterns. In fact, perhaps even the message as it stands is too revealing. But he is about to make so many ripples that it seems it can hardly matter. He queues the e-mail up and sets it to send in two days.

The second letter is from Tinka:


I'm sorry for punching you in the face. I'm sorry for calling Jin in on you. He's a dick. I won't be seeing him anymore. I'm also sorry for casting a curse on you and Lyle. You didn't know about it, but I'm sorry anyway. I've cancelled it. I hope you aren't dead. Get in touch.


p.s. I broke into your apartment. It is TRASHED.

Johnny smiles despite himself. He is about to delete the e-mail, but then thinks better of it. Instead, he simply closes his mail program, and started the script he wrote the bay before at an Internet bar in Tokyo. It begins to count.


Johnny is asleep on a Hawaii-bound airplane with a pair of headphones still playing the audio track of the in-flight movie into his unhearing ears when his program comes to life.

It yawns and opens its eyes. Once it has stretched its legs, it sends tendrils out to the edges of Tom's server feeling for connections to the network. Using these connections it leapfrogs from anonymous fileserver to anonymous fileserver always bringing the encrypted scans of Lyle's notes with it and always leaving a copy in its wake. Within half an hour it has duplicated itself hundreds of times. It then pulls its tentacles back in and prepares itself for the second phase of its execution.

Simultaneously, every copy of the program begins posting the encrypted scans to every public forum on the Internet and sending them to every mailing list, propagating itself across the worldwide network at an astonishing speed and in such a fashion that no effort, no matter how concerted can restrain it. Attached to every copy of the file are the sixteen-byte decryption code and a short note:

Dear World:

Make of this what you will.

Lysergically Yours,
a friend.

Go Back to Chapter 15

Buy the Book!

Back to Table of Contents