Keystrokes

“Shit, shit, shit!”

“What now Steph?”

“They are trying to close down the power to grid 4 section 15, our section!”

“Crap, what can you…”

“-Already on it. I’m re-routing all the subroutines to the dummy server, they’ll think they’ve – fuck they found it!”

“Shit, do you have time to send a message to France?”

“That’s really far away, I’ll try my best, but there’s no way to know if our contact would receive the message in time.”

“Lets hope he comes through.”

The lights went out and the entire room, which was filled with displays and computers, went quiet. A solitary blue light on a battery remained, and a blinking asterisk on an old CRT monitor that was plugged into a generator. They had approximately 1 hour.

***

Michael sat in his little cave (Dorm Room) at the University of Paris looking through his twitter feed.

The most interesting thing today was his friend in Japan trying a brand new kind of burger made from synthesized dinosaur meat.

“Gross.” he said out loud but then thought about it, “Maybe I’d try that.”

Michael had a habit of talking out loud. Suddenly something very interesting happened. On his computer screen a little message window popped up over all his other apps.

“Red-59* dfc – nhn”

“Crap, they’re under attack!”

Michael immediately began to work; he went into a box in the closet and found the old Atari 830 modem he’d been saving for this occasion.

“Phone line, phone line, phone line…” he found it behind his bed and began connecting all the parts together.

Suddenly he realized there was no phone!

“Fuck.”

Michael bolted out of the dorm room; he knew he only had about 50 minutes or so before it was too late to help. “Why does she do this to me!” he exclaimed.

His French was piss poor, but he thought he’d try anyway, there was a cute RA at the end of the hall that he was hoping to find an excuse to speak to anyhow.

Pierre was reading a book, Oscar Wilde, good sign…

“Excusez-moi, s’il vous plaît, pouvez-vous me montrer où se trouve la poignée de gros vieux téléphone qui ressemble à une vieille salope?”

The boy looked startled, “qu’est-ce que vous dites!”

Michael bit his lower lip and looked slightly panicked.

Pierre spoke, “I speak English.” He looked somewhat annoyed.

Michael nervously smiled, “Thank you so much, I’m doing an experiment for one of my classes, and I need an old fashioned phone, like a land phone, do you know where I can get one?”

Pierre started to think; it felt like a whole minute went before he spoke, “Do you have a hurry?”

Michael tried to be polite, “Yes, a little, I mean yes, a lot, I’m kind of behind.”

“Okay, I thinks that there is a possible one in the basement, but I will have to take you. Lets go.”

They were off, “I prefer to take stairs, okay?”

Michael nodded, looked at his watch, 40 minutes left, he had no idea if he could do this or not, the fate of so many rested on the speed of this very cute French boy.

“So I notice you a lot in the library.”

Michael laughed, slightly nervously, as he was prone to do. He was kind of pleased and surprised to know Pierre noticed him at all. “Yeah, always studying, you know.”

“But you are out running also, I think you are sportif yes?”

“Sport-if, oh yes, I like to run, gets my mind off things.”

“What are your minds getting off on?”

Michael’s eyes widened, “Oh no, no, no not getting off, it helps me to shut my mind down.”

“Okay, I see, well here it is.”

Pierre held an old, Northern Electric, white ‘dawn’ phone made sometime in the 80’s in Canada. Why Michael knew this fact was beyond him, his brain never functioned in a way that made sense to him but he let that go years ago. Michael could scarcely hide his wonder. The phone resembled one he was given to take apart when he was a child.

“Parfait!” he said confidently.

Pierre smiled as he handed it to him with a somewhat suspicious and slightly flirty expression and then said, “You are so, how do you say this, cute.”

Michael didn’t have to look at his watch at all, he knew he was probably past any confortable timeframe, there would already be no room for error; what to do, what to do? Something inside him said, ‘this could be a moment, a kiss perhaps, and perhaps even more…’ but so much more was at stake.

Michael took the phone with a pained look at his face, trying really hard not to make eye contact with Pierre.

“Thank you… I’d better be off then.”

“De Rien…”

Michael and Pierre parted ways at the elevator and for the entire 20 some odd seconds that it took to get to his floor Michael willed his mind to begin thinking of everything he had to do.

As soon as the doors opened it was fifth gear, he darted out before the doors could settle and ran down the hall; time?

30 minutes. ‘Merde’ and then, ‘Why am I thinking in French? – Don’t get distracted.’

Everything was connected, he opened the envelope that had “In case of the event” written on it, there was a phone number, he punched it in, it was the strangest handshake he’d ever heard, he analyzed the whole thing, there were at least 27 bounces, 15 different nodes and 14 sub connections before the connection was complete.

Michael typed code furiously, and then waited.

Right at that moment there was a text message from a friend back home, he glanced at his phone trying to resist. ‘This is just like when you are at the library’

Still nothing on the computer screen, he couldn’t help himself, he unlocked the phone.

Frederick: hi.

Michael: hey, what’s up?

Frederick: nothing, I’m bored. You?

Michael: Studying. Maybe.

Frederick: ok. Lol maybe?

Finally a beep and then a response.

…transmission in progress…

Michael knew the code would scroll very quickly across the screen so he prepared himself to read and process everything. He took a breath. Time seemed to slow down. He thought of Pierre’s reveal. He began to smile and suddenly the screen burst alive as over a thousand lines of information scrolled by at a ridiculous rate.

22 minutes.

He didn’t understand. Michael scrolled through it one more time. He understood everything that was being requested by the server, but there was no location to send the commands to, there was nothing.

Michael paced around his room, he sat down again, he rubbed his eyes, and then he ran his fingers through his hair.

The phone buzzed again.

“Not now Freddy!”

He was screwed, unless he knew the address to send all the commands to there was nothing he could do, he read the code again, slower.

Still nothing and 18 minutes to go.

I need to think, I need to think, I need to be distracted, Freddy.

Michael: Hi again.

Frederick: hullo.

Michael: I just got hit on I think, by the RA in my building, but I think I botched it.

Frederick: What! What happened?

Michael: I don’t know, its too confusing.

He suddenly had an idea. He knew this was programmed in N3wC0de2.o

_ Request$#: request d-dress

_œ Location unavailable

_ Query#: source s/pserve

Frederick: Mikes, don’t be ridiculous! Go find him and make out with him. Text me later let me know what happens.

Michael: Maybe hahah.

Michael smiled. It was an eternity before the computer responded.

_∆Location origin set to All.

“Set to all? 10 minutes. Shit!”

It was worth a shot. He punched in the command and then furiously typed in all the code he had to send. After quickly verifying it, if he made a mistake he would have to type the whole thing over again, he finally clicked enter and it was off.

Michael collapsed to the ground. He’d never been more drained and relieved all at once.

Suddenly the power went off completely. Michael stood and gazed outside the window, the entire city was black.

He looked back at his computer which was now running on battery power, He knew what he was doing was important to save a large group of computer hackers virtually headquartered at MIT from being caught, but He couldn’t help wonder if… “Nah.” he thought and allowed himself to fall unto his bed.

***

The power cut off at the elegant command center. Within milliseconds red light flooded the whole room.

“What happened? Status Report.”

“I don’t now sir, but initial telemetry shows a world-wide power failure.”

“What? That’s impossible.”

Commander Rattler walked over to one of the computer displays that were running on emergency power.

Sure enough there were no energy readings from anywhere. The only things working on the planet right now were battery operated.

“This is crazy, any explanations?”

Lieutenant Argridge seemed completely stumped.

“What were we doing before this happened? It can’t be a coincidence.”

“Nothing sir, just a routine shutdown of a few rogue networks, mainly sector 15.”

“Fucking sector 15!!! They are responsible, I’m sure of it. Get the power back on, get me a trace on the kill command.”

The lieutenant had no idea what to do but he was saved, the power suddenly came back on.

The gigantic screen that took up a whole wall of the room came back on and the Commander suddenly looked at his Lieutenant for news.

“Sir, according to this, all the computer networks, everywhere have been liberated. A complete re-write of the security systems, we no longer have control of information.”

“What?”

“Yes sir, and well the confusing part is, the code that caused this is encrypted on a quantum level, which normally wouldn’t be too difficult to crack, but sir, the stranger thing is, it doesn’t originate from our planet.”

“Impossible! Explain!”

“Sir the transmission that interrupted power on the planet was received from a system that’s 5,000 plus light-years away.”

The room became a buzz of military personal scrambling to take control. Nothing could be monitored anymore, communications, transmissions. It took 100 years to establish the controls they had before. Everything would change now. The world was new.

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