sabato 17 agosto 2013

Clouded Emotions - Series 1 - IV

Two hackers

Mario and Isabella move in silence. Outside, the men from the DataCom emergency response team talk amongst themselves.
Mario checks through a window to make sure nobody is out back.
It's clear,” he whispers to Isabella, opening the door and waving her towards the bicycles resting against the fence.
They climb onto the seats and escape through the side streets of the residential neighborhood.
Pedaling, Isabella asks: “Where are we going?”
Mario hesitates. He's not too keen about revealing the existence of a slightly secret side of his life. He hates to admit that he keeps secrets from his own wife. “I've got some friends. They're good at moving around the network to find... particular kinds of information. Usually I only communicate with them online, but every once in a while I meet them in their lab. I think they can help us out.”
Mario, we should go straight to the police. I'm scared.”
The police are a DataCom client, like most public officials. It would be too risky.”
They reach a row of warehouses in the industrial zone, and go further inwards towards the old abandoned factories.
Mario, this place -”
Don't worry, dear. We're almost there.”
They enter an abandoned building full of broken glass and rusty iron. Mario stops near a hatch door. He knocks three times, waits, and knocks again.
The little door opens. The head of an Asian boy, Lin, rises up from the floor. “Hey, Mario! What are you doing here? Hello, Mrs. Orsini.”
Lin walks with them into the lab, where he's working with his friend Eugenio. Isabella is intimidated by the sheer number of cables, monitors and LEDs. Mario tells them what happened.
So the man who committed suicide had the same first and last name that you found in the analysis of user data... hmm,” Lin reflects, undecided. “It's unlikely that this is just some coincidence. Let's try looking through the Ministry's server for names of other recent suicides.” His fingers beat frenetically against the keyboard.
Holy cow! Mario, when did you release that new code?”
About two weeks ago. Why?”
Look. In the last two weeks, the daily suicide rate in Italy has increased tenfold. It's scary! Eugenio, let's look at some other countries.”
Mario's head starts to spin. He feels like he's sinking into a nightmare.
A little vibration in Isabella's bag distracts her: “Excuse me, where's the bathroom?”
Isabella closes the bathroom door behind her. She takes a device, no bigger than a fingernail, out of her purse and brings it to her ear. “Robi, not now -”
Isabella, I'm worried about you. The people from DataCom are here and so are the police. They're asking everyone what they know about your husband. They even asked me about us,” says Roberto, Mario's boss.
Robi, I need to go.” Isabella goes back to join the others.
Oh my god!” Lin is saying. “France, Germany, the United States. Suicides have multiplied by at least ten everywhere! Look at the profiles! They're all linked to -”
Eugenio interrupts: “Lin, we have a problem. A call came through the police network: they're coming here. They intercepted a call in our building about a minute ago.”
Eugenio, Mario and Lin turn towards Isabella.
I didn't call anyone,” she defends herself. Her husband's stern gaze makes the tears come to her eyes. “It was...Roberto.”
How did he call you? I smashed your smartphone against a wall!” Mario asks, stunned.
Roberto gave me... this.” She shows him the miniscule device. “It's registered under his name.”
Isabella, can you explain to me why you're walking around with my boss' microphone?”
Not now, Mario.” Lin intervenes. “We need to cut the cord.”

Mario gives his wife a haunted glance.


Full version available in Galactic Energies on Amazon.com.