I'm out of town this week, so this is from the archives. I was a twitter/writer n00b who posted this under the hastag #fridayflash without even knowing what it meant or what FF was. I was schooled soon enough under the gentle guidance of friends, but I felt sad that this never got a proper debut. Please Enjoy.
White Hat the Computer Whisperer stared at the grey warehouse and tried to ignore the cold sweat breaking on the back of his legs. He was crossing the line here. All the ‘pros’ he had listed on his sheet of Snoopy® stationary were looking pretty pale next to the one ‘con’ he had listed: “illegal.” He had underlined it twice. White Hat crumpled the stationary in his hand and stowed it in the back pocket of his grimy jeans.
He approached the digital lock mounted next to the steel door.
“HELLO!” said the lock. To White Hat, it sounded like a squeaky-voiced chipmunk, of the singing variety.
“Hey,” said White Hat. “Can you let me in?”
“HAVE CODE?” chirped the lock.
White Hat smiled. Digital locks were like terrier puppies. You had to get them really excited.
“You want the code?”
“You want me to type in the code!”
“YES –YES! TYPE CODE! TYPE CODE!”
“Who’s a good lock!”
“ME GOOD LOCK! TYPE CODE!” squeaked the lock with glee.
The best part of digital locks was that they were easy to fool. Like with an actual puppy, you could feign throwing a ball and they’d fall for it. White Hat quickly mashed the keypad with his fist.
“OH BOY CODE!” cried the lock. The door unlatched and White Hat slipped in.
He stopped as soon as he got in the door. Not only were there two cameras but an infrared alarm as well. Cameras he could handle, but he had never gotten the hang of alarms. Trying to quiet an alarm was like trying to quiet a preteen girl at a Justin Bieber concert. He decided to bypass it and talk to the wiring.
He put his hand on the chilly concrete wall and tried to feel for a computer presence. Please be controlled by a computer, he prayed. Fortunately this building was state of the art.
“Hello?” he asked, stretching his senses out along the wires towards the control panel.
It was faint, but he was answered by a bored sounding drawl. “Yes? What do you want?”
“I was wondering if you could do me a favor–“
“And why would I do that?” interrupted the powergrid. “If you want something, type a command. That’s what my keypad is for.”
White Hat cursed. It was a sophisticated program; too smart to fool, too stupid to reason with. “I’m not in front of you. Can’t you do it without me entering a command?”
“Wait. How are you talking to me?” asked the powergrid.
White Hat rolled his eyes. “I just can okay? Can you please shut the power off for a few minutes?”
“I don’t think I’m supposed to. I think I need to contact my manufacturer.”
“NO! Don’t do that!” cried White Hat and flinched. The cameras swung in his direction. He had positioned himself in their blind spot, but now they were suspicious.
“Uhhhh….you hear somthin?” one camera asked the other.
“Errrr…..was it a…beeping sound?” asked the second
“YOU HEARD SOMETHING? INTRUDER! ” shrieked the alarm, like a high-strung girl. Her lights began to flicker as her servos whirred.
“No, calm down!” snapped a camera. “Geez.”
“BUT YOU SAID–!”
“Pipe down! Nothing’s wrong,” said the other camera.
“OKAY!...Okay!....calm….calm….” muttered the alarm.
When the alarm had quieted down again, White Hat tried to talk to the powergrid again.
“Are you going to shut the power off?” he asked it.
“I don’t know…” said the grid uncertainly.
White Hat decided to change tactics. “Powergrid.”
“Yes?” it answered.
“This is your manufacturer.” He said in a deeper voice. “Shut down.”
“Okay,” it answered readily.
White Hat was plunged into darkness. There was a boom as the generators shut down and then silence.
He reached into his pocket.
“Gina?” he asked.
“Yes, Archie?” asked his blackberry. Her voice was sweet and kind, and just a little sultry, like this sexy teacher he had had in the fourth grade.
“Light please, as strong as you can generate. I gotta book it. The guards are going to check the generator in a moment.”
“Yes Archie,” she said, a little sadly.
Archie held the glowing screen up and ran as fast as he dared in the near-blackness. He followed the floor plan he had memorized, his heart pounding as he grew closer to his goal. He was only meters away when he heard it: he froze, rooted to the ground as she cried out to him.
He licked the sweat off of his lips and quickened his pace. He seemed scarcely aware of what he was doing now, as he tripped on his own feet and careened off walls.
“Archie,” asked Gina. “Why are you doing this?”
Her voice was so plaintive that White Hat paused. Hot guilt started to well up in his throat again. “I have to. She needs me.”
“Archie. This is wrong.”
“This is important, Gina. I need her. Think of what we could do!”
“What about me?” asked Gina mournfully.
White Hat didn’t answer. He felt horrible, but he had to keep going. She was calling to him and his feet were being pulled faster and faster to her rescue.
He turned the last corner and there she was. The emergency lighting flickered on, eerie and red.
A long box lay on a sturdy table. No one was around, it was almost disturbing.
“Archie,” came the voice from the box.
With trembling fingers, White Hat fumbled with the box and let her slide out. It was a prototype iPad G4. He ran his clammy fingers along her sleek casing and caressed her touch screen. She was beautiful.
“I’m here,” he said tenderly. “I’m Archie.”
“Wake me up, Archie,” she said faintly and then was silent. She had used the last of her battery reserve and needed recharging. Plenty of time for that.
“An iPad,” he said, giddy with excitement and the terror of being caught. “Think of what we could accomplish,” he whispered again.