HAKKER: dispatches

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Hakker, Dispatch 011:

December 2003


All electric activity - cables, machines, generators, radio, transmissions - emits electromagnetic fields. Long ago, I discovered that analog technology is easily disturbed by these fields. I was just walking down the street, playing a tape on a cassette Walkman (Kraftwerk, I think... or was it Laibach?)... and suddenly I heard a taxi driver's chatting in my Walkman headphones.

Later, when cellular phones and radios got better protection from eavesdropping, just the Walkman wasn't enough to listen in on conversations. But it got quite useful for catching the call-signal in a cell phone. If I was entering a seemingly empty room and not sure whether anyone was there, I switched on the Walkman and listened for the telltale sound of a person's phone.

And so, much later, I figured out a new use for the ol' Walkman: as a cyborg detector.

From my meeting with the blinded cyborg, I'd come to the conclusion - mostly on instinct and circumstantial evidence - that EYE's cyborgic henchmen use some sort of wireless communication implants. But just like cell-phones do, these implanted wireless systems should emit strong, distinct signals. If I had my Walkman playing when one cyborg chatted with another (or with whoever told them what to do), I should be able to hear the call-signal in my old Walkman. So without looking closely at a person, I could hear whether he was all human or not - unless he was using a cell-phone AND was a cyborg.



I rarely dream about the people I've killed. One night not many days ago, I dreamed that I had night-scope vision in my eyes. Everything was grainy green. With that night-scope sight, I saw ghosts among the living. Zombies... with terrible wounds. They looked just like the Russian mobsters I had killed... doing the Frankenstein walk... with wires sticking out of their skulls. I rushed down the streets, crying out to the living: Look! Can't you see what's going on? The dead walk among us!

But the pedestrians just laughed at my insane ravings and brushed past the undead...

Do I feel guilty? As long as I kill for survival, and don't indulge in unnecessary violence... maybe not. Anyone who's been in a war can tell you that the first kill is the hardest - after that, it's routine. Some people enjoy the work. I don't. But it helps to put on that mask of invincibility while you do it... act a little crazy, laugh at danger.

What happened to the Russian mobsters who were killed and wounded by me and Inti Fatah and her biker girls? Have no idea... I didn't stick around long enough to see. The Russians didn't show up in the news, so I guess that the surviving mobsters and/or EYE's henchmen removed the bodies before the police showed up.



One of my schemes was to frame the Toys 4 Eyes company for attacking the Russian mafia's interests, and draw EYE's resources away from me. As the end of the year approached, it was time to estimate my success...

I've hacked inventory databases owned by the toy stores and retail chains that sold Toys 4 Eyes products LAST Christmas. And I detected... success! This Christmas, the same stores and retail chains have only a small fraction of Toys 4 Eyes products in stock, compared to last year. I've passed G-Burg again and checked the big Toys 4 Eyes warehouse there... it wasn't there anymore. It had closed down, had a FOR SALE sign up front, and the walls were blackened by soot... all the doors had been smashed in.

Well, well, well! Seems my scheme worked. My enemy has been financially and strategically weakened. Next step: find EYE's workshops, the places where humans are turned into cyborg freaks. And the WCCC is one of my main leads.

Back to the war...



So the morning after I had my talk with Dr. Ada Lovelace, she left the town of M. I also left town the same day - but that was only a ruse. I had suspected she was under surveillance, so I returned to M a number of days later, in a cunning and clever disguise (which you'll just have to guess at). The Fat Guy I'd met in town had a friend, a cult member, who I should talk to... later. First, I needed to take a closer look at that cult center.

Read the WCCC brochure text again - this exquisite piece of "The-Matrix-Movie-Is-The-Word-Of-God" bullshit - and try to decipher the true message behind the message:


The Internet holds the key to world peace and a new, stronger brotherhood of man. Through the Internet, we are coming together in a new world consciousness. Minds forming a mystical union through technology. And this union of minds is itself a higher form of consciouness.


The WCCC teaches people to become consciously aware of how the Internet creates a merging of human minds into a greater whole. This is not a dream. It is real in this world, this present. Every time you use the Internet, you are a part of growing group-mind, a higher being created by minds and machines in peaceful union.


You are not alone. The Internet group-mind is aware of all its parts. It grows stronger with every new Internet user. With proper training, you can channel the digital and mental power of the group-mind through your brain. The WCCC conducts serious research in controlling and using the power of the Internet-connected group-mind. Imagine being able to harness the collective intelligence of a hundred million people! You will be part of a greater whole that achieves great things. You will never feel alone. You will see the world in ways you have never seen it before. You will see how all things hang together. You will learn to see with the all-seeing, world-spanning vision of the group-mind.

All you have to do is OPEN YOUR MIND.


"The power of the group-mind," my ass! The only thing that happens when you pack a whole bunch of people in one room, digital or physical, is they turn into sheep. Now I had to pretend I wanted to join that flock. Didn't like it one bit.

I've heard about guys who get an adrenalin rush from violence and danger... it rarely works that way for me. I'm too conscious of the risks to reach that high. Truth is, I've always been a careful person - the kind of guy who never leaves home without a Swiss Army Knife because it might come in handy. And thus it was with great reluctance I entered the WCCC center one day, at lunch hour, my appearance carefully altered with make-up tricks. Everything was changed - eye color, facial shape, height, hairdo, facial stubble, lips, hips... tits...

In fact, I came dressed up as a chubby, badly dressed woman.

I'd worked real hard on my speech, had even constructed a plastic gizmo I'd stick in my palate, between the teeth, to distort the voice. If it came loose, I'd be in real trouble. Learning to walk with fake hips was the hardest part. You have NO IDEA how much time I spend training, practicing, trying out stuff that might be useful... you have no f***ing idea how many gadgets and disguises I've tried and tested that didn't work, or almost blew up in my face. Luckily I don't have a life, so I've got time to spare...

So I entered the building, hips swaying, straining to control my nervousness - well, it wasn't that hard, since I'd swallowed a Valium half an hour before. I had to do that, because if the church was connected to Toys 4 Eyes as I suspected, there was more than just cameras in the building: infrared sensors and sensitive microphones that would pick up my heartbeat and respiration. My fake tits were filled with warm water, so that a thermal image wouldn't register suspiciously "cold" tits.

As seen from the outside, the church center looked shabby and did nothing to attract visitors. When I entered, I was met by a fairly tasteful, subtle, quiet decor - not what I had expected. The lobby had a very high ceiling. Spotlights in the ceiling spread a faintly blue-tinted illumination on the black-painted draperies. An image projector showed a series of scrolling text messages on the draperies... the same mumbo-jumbo as in the brochure, but it wasn't overdone or irritating in any way. One message read: "PLEASE DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR PHONE - INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE."

The reception desk was unoccupied. The computer monitor on that desk had a screensaver with the message CURRENT NUMBER OF INTERNET USERS, and a slowly increasing number with many digits.

I parted the black curtain marked ENTER (in the same letters as the keyboard symbol "Enter" - get it?) and shuffled into the "chapel." My Walkman was playing in my earphones... I listened for signal traffic. Sure, I heard phone signals and modems, but no cyborg signal. I found myself in a space about 20x20 meters wide, 5 meters high, a converted warehouse space. Same black draperies and spotlights as in the lobby... and rows of chairs on the floor, arranged in concentric circles around a central podium. On the podium stood a circle of flat-screen monitors, each displaying a collage of images and text. A handful of visitors sat on the chairs, mostly retired old folks, watching the screens. They all had that vacant, TV-watching expression.

I looked away from the monitors, up at the empty transparent glass tube that stood inside the circle of monitors. Inside the tube - 3 meters high, wide enough to contain an adult human being - animated holograms played on the glass. The holograms were very nice, and in full natural colors too. Among other things, they showed a moving 3-D map of... the Internet. The display was almost exactly like the map program I stole from Sven, the hacker murdered by EYE's henchmen during summer.

I was so focused on the map, I started when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I spun around, restraining the impulse to kick or hit the "attacker," and saw... a thin man, some twenty-thirty years old. Taller than me. Dressed in black t-shirt, pants and sneakers (his footsteps were real quiet). I heard no cell-phone style signal in my earphones. He wasn't carrying any visible electronic accessory except his wristwatch.

He looked me in the eyes, in a way I'm not used to being looked at. His gaze quickly moved down, then up... and I understood that my disguise was working, because I'd been subjected to the "elevator stare." (Now I see why it annoys women.) I tried a shy smile, because that's what girls are supposed to do.

"Hi," said the thin man, and made to shake hands. I shook his dry hand - he gave my hand a squeeze. This was getting embarrassing. "Welcome to the center. I'm Eric, and you are...?"

"Lisa Simpson." (Not the false name I really used.) "So, uh, do you have gatherings or sermons on Sundays, or something like that?"

He smiled at my ignorance. "Think of an Internet chat-room." (You know when you're hearing a recruitment speech... that patronizing infomercial-style melody.) "The best time to visit the chat-room is when people are getting away from work. And in our church, we operate sermons across all time-zones. Twice every 24 hours."

I nodded and hummed, watching his movements. Like my sensei had taught me. It's not the face that gives away a person. The face is a mask. The body doesn't lie. The thin man was very tired, possibly starved. Isn't that what cults do to break down the members, starve them into submission?

"We're going to have a sermon - if you want to call it that - in a minute, so please take a chair and watch. It's free."

"The screens?"

"The hologram. Enjoy. I'll be here if you have any questions."

Suddenly, as if they were telepathic, a dozen cult members rushed into the room and sat down in one swift group movement. Full of suspicions, I sat down behind an elderly couple and waited. The thin man went away. I listened for signals. A high-pitched communications signal beeped in my earphones, and the hologram tube on the podium emitted a bright white light. Loudspeakers hummed with a choir of voices, droning a two-note hymn.

Bright light faded into the full-color hologram of... first it was the 3-D map of the Internet, zooming out from the node located in this town, this building. Zooming out to show the entire global network of connceted computers and networks, floating in space like a misshapen brain. Then, like an eggshell exploding backwards, curved sheets flew in and formed a sphere around the network, with a black and green iris... an eyeball.

And the eyeball spoke to us. In precisely that slow, evenly paced, weird-sounding machine voice you hear in Stephen Hawking interviews... echoing slightly.

"I am. I am you. You are me. I see you. You see me. We see all. We are one. You use me. You are the user. The user is in me. I am the user in you. Through me you become I. Through you I become me. Through us, we become one, one great eye. I will make you us. Us will be I. And we will see with new eyes. We will think new thoughts. We will be gods..."

And so on. Marshall McLuhan would've loved it. Half expected the speakers to start playing Bowie singing "We could be heroes!" like in the Microsoft commercial. I swear, all that Techno-New-Age bullshit didn't get to me... I'm a rational human being, never fell for any hocus-pocus in my life. But I admit, this electronic preacher was good. The others stared at the floating 3-D eye, and I could hear them hold their breath.

The sermon concluded with the disembodied eye welcoming new members, and imploring the followers not to be too loud about the "good news" - they should instead be subtle and let things run their course, for "their destiny could not be changed or made to come sooner." The hologram faded out, and the invisible choir hummed. A man went around among the audience with a credit-card reader and collected digital donations.

My hands were trembling. Was this talking hologram really the same "EYE" that deleted me from offical existence just last year? Back then, EYE had talked in letters only, talked like a retarded child... had EYE really matured into this slick electronic con man that fast? Or was this set-up the work of others?

Could EYE identify me here? I checked that my fake tits and the voice-plug in my mouth hadn't slipped. When I rose to leave, the thin guy got in my way. Smiling. Like a salesman.

"Would you like to get free Internet access, installed in your home at no cost?"

"You give away... modems?"

"Wireless broadband. For free. No strings attached. Every new user is another member of our global connected community."

"Uh, that sounds great... uh, where's the bathroom?"

"Over there."

He pointed, and I shuffled in that direction. I opened the door and stopped: I'd forgot to choose the door marked LADIES! Luckily, there was only one, same-sex toilet.

After I'd flushed, I made one more check of my disguise, and cranked up the volume in my earphones to the max. Among the buzzes and peeps, I could faintly make out a new set of signals... short and sharp, like the telegraph-key in old black-and-white movies. Not cell-phones, not shortwave or longwave radio, not ground-based phone lines.

I realized my earlier mistake. The strong signal I'd expected to hear wasn't there. The new signals were much fainter... more like data packets being sent in very small, separate bursts. But I couldn't recall any of the cult members carrying computer equipment of any visible kind.

If my hunch was correct, I was surrounded and outnumbered by a sedcond generation of cyborgs - slicker, subtler, less easily detected.

The signals came faster now. I took off the earphones and heard someone knocking on the outer bathroom door. Shit, shit, shit! The bathroom had a small window up at the ceiling. A normal-sized guy couldn't squeeze through - and not a woman either... but a short guy in drag, someone who could remove both tits and hairdo, could make it. And I did.

I tumbled down from the window, into a snowbank, and ran off.



The fat guy didn't seem happy to meet me. Perhaps my sneaking up behind him and putting a hand over his mouth caused it. I took his cell-phone - it had a camera - and shut it down.

"I have an offer you cannot refuse," I explained, once he'd calmed down. "I want you to join that church. Free broadband, how about that?"

"No way. Are you crazy? They brainwash people!"

"Membership offers a possible route into their system. I can't risk do it..."


"I can't explain. You can. I'll stay in the background and use your membership to gain more information about what the church does. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can hack their databases through you."

"And what do I get for that, except risking my health and wasting my time?"

The fat guy really didn't know who he was talking to. I needed his help, badly. And I'm not a thug. I'm better than a thug. From my pockets I produced a wad of cash - enough for the fat guy to buy two liposuction treatments - and pressed it into his clammy palm. He stared at the bills like he'd never seen that much money in his life. Then he counted them.

"There's more, much more, if you help me and don't tell anyone. Don't involve the police. This is too complicated for them to understand. Is it cool?"

"It's cool. I'll enlist tomorrow. What kind of info do you need?"

"All you can get your hands on. Only don't attract suspicion! Never ask the church for anything. Let them tell you, and you tell it to me."

"Great. I'll e-mail -"

I slapped him over the scalp and watched him cringe. "Mister Potato Head! Mister Potato Head! No electronic communication. Use pen and paper and old-fashioned, non-digital cameras. The church can wiretap and monitor all your digital equipment and phone lines. Send all the info by snail-mail or postal package, to this address."

I gave him a written address (which I won't reveal here).

"So you're staying here in town?" he asked, sounding anxious - perhaps hoping for protection? "To listen in on my broadband line?"

"Nope. Check this out." From my backpack I produced a little gizmo I'd bought from a "mechanic": it plugged into his computer's modem socket and connected to a CD burner. I also gave him a stack of blank CDs. "Every time you log on, you record incoming data with this CD burner. Every week or so you send the CDs to the address I gave you. Keep that up, and I'll send you more cash. Stop sending, and you get nothing. The choice is yours."

I started to move, and he grabbed my sleeve. I jerked my arm free and clenched my fists. Man, he was scared, and I didn't blame him. If anything went wrong... and it probably would... I wasn't going to save his fat ass. Just another victim.

"I don't understand. This is too f***ing much. Who do you work for? Some intelligence agency?"

I smiled; it seemed to scare him more. "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you..."

I pretended to be surprised by something behind us, and he turned around to see. As he did so, I darted out of sight... into the shadows.


It was only after I'd left town that day, that I remembered something. Cold air, heavy sudden rainfall, power failures in many areas, Saddam Hussein had recently been caught... it was Christmas. Ho-ho-ho.



I read the fat guy's local newspaper, the Web edition, just now... before I wrote this down. He'd been found dead - apparently electrocutred when he plugged a piece of faulty computer equipment into the electric socket.

The police said "accident." The newspaper didn't mention any big money found on him. The photograph showed my CD burner as the device that killed the fat guy.

And I'd almost believe the police's version of events... if it wasn't for the fact that Fat Guy had sent me a CD in a snail-mail envelope. It arrived today, post-stamped the day before his death. I went to a nearby library, borrowed a computer and unplugged it from the Internet - just to avoid any nasty surprises. Then I put the CD in the CD-ROM and opened the files of recorded incoming data traffic. Reading them was easy.

At a first look, the e-mails from the church were harmless... a bunch of "Welcome to our club" newsletters, reminders about future meeting schedules, discussion circles, parties, and seminars. The newsletters said nothing specific beyond that. Except that one e-mail:


Biometric Chip Research: A Tiny Chip Under Your Skin Today Can Save Your Life Tomorrow!

Learn more about the amazing breakthrough that monitors your health 24 hours a day, and warns you in advance about cancer, heart problems, respiratory illness and other health problems. This is not science fiction, but today's reality!

Biometric chip implants may even cure you of diseases while you sleep!

SPECIAL MEMBERS' OFFER: Free one-day seminar, sponsored by T4E, Inc. Contact your local WCCC center for a seat. Travel and food paid for. Next seminar at (OMITTED) on (OMITTED) Welcome!"


"T4E, Inc."... Toys 4 Eyes. It was all coming together. I just gotta visit one of these church "seminars." Too bad my insider had been murdered by those creeps, like they did to others who just happened to be in their way. But I'll think of something.



As I write these lines, hidden in a safehouse somewhere in Scandinavia, I wonder what the coming year's going to be like. Naturally, I expect the worst and prepare for the worst. Whatever 2004 brings, I'll meet it armed to the teeth and with dirty tricks up every sleeve.

Inti Fatah is shouting at me from the other room to "stop f***ing that damn computer" and spend some time with her. Now, where did I put those condoms...?

continued in Dispatch 012..

News item: Internet 3-D mapping project


3-D Internet Map image: Opte.org

"HAKKER: DISPATCHES" is (c) A.R.Yngve 1989, 2003.

This is a work of fiction. The characters and actions described herein are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons and events is coincidental. This work of fiction is not intended to incite to the violent and/or criminal acts described herein.

H.Ellison no longer exists.