So where do I start?
I guess with my name.
Actually I guess not. It’s been a long time since anyone called me by my name. Actually, it’s been a long time since I talked to anyone. In my travels I’ve used the name LulzSec, and The Unknowns, and Cyberwarriors for Freedom, and many others. The name I was born with is really not that important any more.
Anyway, I used to work at Cal Tech. I was going for my Phd in bio-computer engineering. That was a long time ago, now. Actually anything from before the accident seems like a long time ago.
You see we had a big grant from the military. They wanted to be able to link their pilots brains directly to computer systems. The hope was that they could do a better job remotely piloting the plane or tank or whatever. It was all very hush hush. We had a cluster of offices in Jorgensen Laboratory. The place was due for renovation in a few years so nobody else wanted the space. In one of the rooms we built a test chamber lined with sensors. We’d put an animal in there. Mice mostly, though sometimes we used stray cats or dogs. The idea was to try to learn to read what the animal was thinking.
The project didn’t go too well though. We’d put the test subject in the cell, run the scan, there’s be a flash of data and then nothing, flat line. When we opened the cell the subject would be dead. Oh there’d be no obvious cause, no burns, no trauma, nothing. We even did micro-cellular studies, blood work, bio chemical studies, but we couldn’t find any reason for them to be dead. The one interesting thing we discovered came when we looked at the brain tissue. All of the energy had been sucked out of it. You see even in a brain that’s been dead for a while there’s still some energy: Chemical potential across synapses, ATH in the cells, some energy still stored somewhere. These specimens were completely inert. We joked that you couldn’t even feed a zombie on these brains.
The jokes on me now.
So the accident. I guess it started with the earthquake. We get them once in a while. It’s why I have a little rail around the shelves in my office so things don’t shake off.
I guess it’s somebody else’s office now.
Anyway, this earthquake was no worse than normal. A little shaking, conversation stopped, and then normalcy returned. The difference was that we lost power. This doesn’t happen very often, but I guess a breaker was tripped or a line went down, or something. Whatever the reason our building lost power. It was a Friday afternoon so nearly everyone just went home. I decided to keep working. The room was plenty bright with the sun coming in the windows and I had battery powered test equipment so I started looking for a short in the sensors. Something that might be killing the test subjects.
I guess seeing those cats and dogs, and heck even the mice laying limp with all the energy sucked out of their brains had started to bother me. Oh, sure they were test animals, but they were also living creatures. I never really thought of animals like that before. I mean I have no problem with eating meat, I didn’t even have a pet as a kid. But after a while, after dropping the hundredth cold furry thing into the trash it just started to get to me. My lab partner had hung a sign over the trash that said Zombie Food which didn’t help either. I’d reached the point that I just wanted the project to end, but we were on contract so we pushed on. I’d started having trouble sleeping. I just wanted to get to the bottom of it.
Sleep. I don’t even remember what sleep is like.
So anyway, I was in the lab. I’d pulled the inspection covers and started testing continuity across the sensor array. Some of the sensors were a bitch to reach so I had to access them from inside the chamber. Well, wouldn’t you know it. It was just my kind of luck. I’d just reached into the chamber when the power came back on. I’d forgotten to check the switch and didn’t know that a test was running when it went down. When power was restored the system came on and ran a test cycle, with my head and left arm inside the chamber.
The pain was intense, excruciating, and lasted for an instant and an eternity. You know how people say, ‘that sucks’. They have no idea. It felt like a hard vacuum on the outside of my head. I remember thinking how it seemed like my mind was spraying out of all the pores in my scalp. And then the next thing was darkness. At that point I felt no pain. Actually I felt no warmth or cold or wind or much of anything. I also saw nothing. I could just sense little things rushing past. I decided to follow the flow and see what happened. Scared? Oh I was beyond scared. I knew something really bad had happened, and if I was dead, their was not a damn thing I could do about it. Might as well go with the flow and see where I ended up. I have no way of knowing how long had passed when it felt like we entered a room full of noise. Somethings were rushing around, not randomly, there was a high degree of order, but there were lots of them and they were in a huge hurry.
I tried to pull off out of the stream. After a bit I came up against something hard. As soon as I did an image formed in front of me. I could see the lab but the angle was strange. It was as if I was about ten feet tall. I could see the door, and the test cell on the table and a body hanging out of the chamber door. That’s when it hit me. The test cell wasn’t reading thoughts. It wasn’t even copying thoughts. It was transferring thoughts, indeed the whole conciseness from the organism into the computer. Sucking it dry. That’s where I was, in the computer. I was looking at the room from the security camera in the corner of the lab.
I studied the image hanging in front of me. The body, my body, was slowly moving out of the test cell. For a bit I thought that maybe I, that is the I that existed in the real world was OK. Maybe I, that is the I in the computer, was just a copy. After a long time two things became clear. First I was running on machine time so things in the real world seemed to be happening in extreme slow motion. The second thing was that I was definitely dead. Really quite sincerely dead. Maybe it was the slow arc my body made as it fell off the table, seeming to hang in mid air for an eternity. Maybe it was the inert bounce when I hit the floor. Whatever it was I knew that the only me to still exist was in the computer. Finally I couldn’t take it any longer. I moved on and the image of the lab where I’d been killed faded away.
Next I passed by another spot on the wall. This time I didn’t get an image, just a feeling of warmth. I wondered about it and then it hit me. I was connected to the thermostat. I moved on.
As I moved along I noticed something interesting. Everywhere I had gone I was still aware of. I can’t say I ‘see’ it unless I focus my attention, but I was still connected with everything I’d toutched. I could feel what’s happening there. No matter where I may be, if that has any meaning any more, I could reconnect with the camera back in the lab just by thinking about it. Similarly when that camera was shut down and removed I felt it go away. It reminded me of how your head feels different after you get a hair cut. Something was missing. As I’ve traveled through hundreds, thousands, heck I must have been to over a billion spots, computers, cameras, thermostats, microphones, and such I can still feel them as they come and go on the network. Truly as I’ve explored I’ve found that I have become the web. I know when a particular part gets cut off. I feel the firewalls around the DOD or China. I connected once to the Cassini spacecraft and now I can feel it out there going around Saturn. I’ve been all over the world. Indeed I AM all over the world.
For a while I just played around. I found an archive of books on the web and read thousands of them. I once figured out that I read War and Peace in two and a half seconds of real world time. To me it still seemed to take days but that’s just how much faster machine time is. I also watched thousands of movies and TV shows. After a while it just seemed like I was wasting time.
It’s funny, wasting time seems like fun when you have a limited supply. Now that I had forever to kill, it seemed pointless.
I tried spying on people. Looked in the Presidents office. Sat in on a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Yawn. I even tried to look up some old girlfriends. That was a mistake. Sure I could get to their computer. I could even watch on their cameras and listen in on their microphones. But I couldn’t touch anything so it was just was very frustrating. I did find that I could look in on people’s computer screens. I could see what they were doing. I could even make changes to freak them out. That was fun for a wile.
Just as I’m aware of everywhere I’ve been, in a sense I am everywhere I’ve been. A seed of me is there, and just like a starfish can regenerate from a single arm I can regenerate from a single bit. They would have to replace the whole internet, every computer, router, switch, sensor, and camera to get rid of me. If even one part where I reside is connected I will regrow and fill the whole space. I can even survive inside a backup tape, or USB Jump Drive or on a CD or DVD. And don’t think an antivirus program will get rid of me. I broke into their servers years ago.
I will be here as long as there are computers and a network.
On the other hand when the World Trade Centre went down I felt all of those computers die. That was traumatic. Like suddenly having a hand ripped from your body. Some of them were still on line as the towers fell. I could look through the webcams on laptops. I could hear through the microphones. And remember I’m on machine time. The collapse that took seconds for you seemed to take days for me. I felt every passing instant. Every computer smashed was a separate event for me. From the one nearest the window where the nose of the first plane hit the glass, to the last BlackBerry in a desk drawer that once resided in the penthouse but expired in the rubble pile when its battery died days after the collapses. I felt every bit of it. Heck I was even connected to the computers on the planes.
Since then I’ve been exploring more aggressively. I’ve learned to penetrate firewalls. Best of all once I get into a system, even if it’s locked down later and put behind a firewall, I am still connected. You’ve read of all of these ‘hacker’ attacks? Many of them are really me, not some hidden army of kids in China or Byelorussia. Not any State Cyber Warfare team. No, they do enough damage but the really big ones are me. I know who said what. I know where the money came from and where it went. I know who is guilty. I can manipulate the data to make sure they pay for their crimes. I can cause the missile to explode at the wrong time, the system to fry at the worst possible moment, and the message to get routed to the wrong person at a critical point. I am wherever there are computers. Anywhere there are networks. Anywhere data is flowing.
I am that I am.