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First time putting one of my stories out there for others to read

‘Look at us, Sherlock. Look at what we have become.’

She nagged as I punished another swig from a bottle of gin firmly in my grasp. Here in yet another temporary Safe-house – I’ve lost count over the year – I stare out through a night filled window, a place where I have always found somewhat refuge in the ten-year sadness that consumed my new, shittier life. Mind you, it’s better than listening to her incessant nagging.

‘Shut up, Erin, shut the hell up. If you knew what was good for you, then you would shut the hell up’

There I go again, always the forceful one. But I had my reasons.

‘When are you going to leave this nonsense?’ she asked. Trust her to be so bold with the questions.

They said it was a depression we had to have. They said we would all be okay in this brave new world. They were wrong, oh so wrong. If you believed them all those years ago, and you had asked me for my opinion, then I would have labelled you a fool and ordered you removed from my office. I had an empire of hackers to control and an entire world of corrupted governments to bring down to its knees. I didn’t have time for second-guessers, let alone nagging wives.

‘Like I’ve already told you time and time again, Erin, the world needs the empire of hackers that I have created. Without them, the freedoms and the right of speech we once took for granted will be lost to the pages of history’

‘It’s been ten years. They don’t need you anymore. The ideals you fought for died a long time ago. You may have started this fight, but now you are just a pawn they use to fight back with. As soon as you leave this world, some other sucker will take your place’

‘They will always need me’ I insisted.

She snorted. ‘Well I need you too’

Before the depression, life never used to be so hard. It seemed fluent, and really easy to live. Back in those days I was happy. I was CEO and owner of a brave new web company hell bent on destroying on-line pirates and hackers – quite contradictive now don’t you think. For years my company helped eradicate the thorn in every government’s side of online piracy. Before I knew it my business was a success, and overnight my company turned itself into a Forbes 500 company. My wife and I led a great life and we had plenty of toys that came with our luxurious lifestyle.

You could say we had it all, except if there was one flaw in our relationship that was certain to bring us down, then that was her inability to have children. I don’t know the scientific reasons behind it all, because we never had a chance to find out why, but I do know I was a straight shooter. I never shot blanks or missed the target. I was always on the money.

‘We’ve been down this road before. Right now, as my plan for total domination of information takes shape, I can’t afford to be a family man. The free world as we knew it is too fractured, and its restoration rests solely upon my shoulders. I’ve told you this how many times’

‘Oh but of course, here you go again with your mysterious virus that will bring down the internet, why haven’t you used it yet if it is so damn powerful?’

‘It wasn’t the right time to do so’

She sarcastically laughed. ‘Ha, I’ve heard you say that one before. You know what, hell I don’t believe you anymore’ her words, like a whip, struck me across my heart. If there was such a thing as Cupid, then she would be Cupid’s evil arch nemesis.

‘You used to’

She snapped. ‘Well that was a long time ago, Sherlock, a very long time ago’

‘Oh great, I suppose you are taking us there again’

‘You bet I am’

Gin, where are you? Come to me my only trusted friend.

I replied, ‘it was never my fault you couldn’t have children. It was your fault’

‘My fault. My f’n fault. How dare you blame me for your impotence? It was your fault. You’re the one shooting blanks’

‘No way, my gun was loaded with real bullets. Your eggs were duds’

‘If we’re personally attacking each other, then your sperm were swimming around with no heads like headless chickens, banging into walls, and running into each other’

Ouch… that one hurt Erin.

Erin sensed my frustration. She knew of my heavy drug use in my teenage years. Of course that had something to do with it. But it couldn’t be my entire fault.

She knelt down by my side, removed the bottle of gin out of my grasp and placed it upon the makeshift cardboard box coffee table beside us. She took hold of my hand, clasping it with both of her own hands. She said, ‘come on darling, if you had just taken the time when we first started noticing the problem to get checked, then we could have found a way. I am sure of it’

Sincerely, I snapped. ‘It doesn’t matter anymore, Erin, it’s all too late now. I am not going to bring any child into this messed up world’

‘Yeah… but’

It was just after we started trying to have a child that the worst depression in history kicked in. Back in ’09, the GFC crippled companies all over the world. Fortunately, cash-laden governments were able to prop the major companies back up onto their own two feet. However, with all of this public money forked out to companies that were probably going to fail in the long run anyway, government debt rose to an unprecedented amount. Eventually, the governments failed, leaving an entire world of meaty political carcasses for the vultures to pick at. Financially sound corporations replied with a favour of their own. They brought governments back from the brink and upon steady ground again. However, what it also meant was that the governments were no longer owned by the people, they were owned by greedy corporations with blatant personal interests. Their own vested interests soon took shape. Then when the third depression hit the governments couldn’t cope anymore. The corrupt pressures placed upon them by vigilante corporations forced them to fold under their sheer weight.

‘It doesn’t matter anymore, Erin. It was meant to be that we didn’t have a child. The governments of the world have forced my hand, robbing us of any happy future together. It’s a sacrifice I had to make’

‘Listen to me Sherlock. I will only say this one more time. I still want a future and children with you, so why don’t you?’

‘For ten years I have been battling these people all over the world. We once lived a life of luxury. Now we are resorted to this temporary style of Safe-house living. As far as I am concerned, I am too tired for children, let alone family life anymore. This break you wanted us to have is over’ I replied.

Sure there were still jobs out there, but if you don’t mind working for two dollars (if that) a day, then by all means work your ass off for pittance. As for me, my army of hackers and I get by with sleeping with the devil. We barter with organised criminals who launder money for us, and in return we provide them with technological privileges, namely by hacking into the police records and manipulating criminal records. To date, thank goodness, this marriage of two evils in the eyes of the world leaders, has worked – to a point.

Erin angrily rose, letting go of my hand. She paced back and forth across the small living room/bedroom/kitchen of our current temporary Safe-house, walking across my view out the window.

‘I can’t do this anymore, Sherlock. This world you have created for us is too toxic. As we go from Safe-house to Safe-house, I can’t help but lead my mind down a path to the end between us. If you want this break over, then I want us over’

‘That’s nonsense, Erin. Stop talking like that. I’m not leaving you, and you’re sure as hell not leaving me’

‘You have chosen this life over me for far too long now. I want out’

‘I will not lose you’

‘But I’m afraid…’

The night filled window warped. The ping I heard would surely echo a lifetime. There was no crackle of gunfire, but I knew a sniper must have done the deed. Erin’s head flew forwards, followed by the rest of her body onto me. I caught her, but quickly threw her off me. Her lifelessness bounced recklessly upon the floor. I was freaked out. I didn’t know how to react at the time.

‘Erin’ I shouted. Quickly I leapt off the chair and stayed down close to the floor, away from the sight of the window.

Erin and I had been on the run for a year, but we couldn’t escape the problems of our past. Erin and I had begun fighting again. The toxic relationship we desperately tried to cleanse ourselves of was back again and with full vengeance. For the first time she actually wanted to leave me. I didn’t know what felt worse, knowledge of her desire to leave or being the cause of her death.

I was safe in here whilst my personal militia guarded me with their lives. No one could get in. I heard the resultant gunfire light up the dreary night. The small militia I paid good money to guard me were in full flight. She, my wife, the woman I strangely loved, lay dead before me. Her eyes remained open. I stared into them, they were mesmerising though they were void of any life. They sparkled for the first time in years. She seemed happier now in death. The blood spilled out of the exit wound in her forehead, pooling around the base of her head on the floor.

I shed no tear for there wasn’t any time too.

She said we needed a break from it all. She said for me to give my empire of hackers up to another. I did at first, but as the year progressed, and as I watched my empire fall victim to the monumental military intervention imposed upon it by governments all over the world, I decided to go back to them and finish what I originally set out to achieve. Their televised executions were too much for me to watch. It was my responsibility they died. I knew that if I became their emperor again then I should be able to save the rest.

The door buckled and ripped from its hinges under the forceful weight of the strongest guy in my militia. I didn’t know his name personally. I just knew him as Lumberjack.

‘Sir, we need to move. There are far too many of them to hold back’

I said nothing in response for I was still reeling from Erin’s death. Too many around me have died and their deaths are my fault. When I write code I write with their blood.

‘Sir, come on. We don’t have much time…’

Lumberjack yanked my arm and stood me to my feet.

I quickly came around, ‘get my Pad. Don’t forget my Pad’

The empire I carefully constructed had crumbled faster than I ever imagined. Deep down I knew it would have struggled, but struggle the way it did surprised even me. All over the world, the government networks I fearlessly infiltrated, the websites I ordered hacked into and brought down, were relishing for the first time since they first peaked at the start of this everlasting depression. Hackers all over the world were publicly executed by governments. Via television, I witnessed my empire collapse. All my efforts, everything that I tirelessly worked for over ten years, died the moment I sacrificed my empire for Erin.

I knew who had pulled the trigger. His name was Inspector Dugald, James Dugald. Built like a policeman, good thing too as it was his job, and stroppy and blunt just like Erin always had been to me. It would have been Dugald that killed Erin. He had threatened me plenty of times with that proposition. Back in Brisbane he was close to finding me again, and must have somehow tracked me down to this safe house in Grantham.

I stood in the doorway of the back door. ‘Why’d you kill her Dugald? Why?’ I shouted.

Lumberjack shook me. ‘If you want us to protect you, then you will need to keep your f’n voice down, Sir’

I grunted in acceptance.

Dugald and I had a historic relationship. We never saw eye to eye on the whole good and evil thing. He knew me and I knew him. For years he has been tracking me down all over Australia, sent over by the grand USA to arrest and extradite me to the USA for trial and execution. His crack team of experts would have been the ones that helped bring down my empire after I left them without my guidance.

Lumberjack reiterated, ‘my men, my brothers, they are dropping like flies. Is this violence and oppression necessary? You were just geeky nerds with agendas. How did it all come to this?’

‘Are we anymore Lumberjack, are we? Last time I checked it was they who stopped allowing teachings in computer programming and limited access to the internet to only a few. We may not have swords but we have keyboards. Tonight, my friend, you and I are all that is left and we will make a stand’

‘You will not be making your stand tonight. There are too many government troops here and they have us outnumbered. I’ve arranged a car for you. We will hold them back until you are gone’

‘Good. Where’s the car?’

‘Just beyond the row of trees over there’ Lumberjack pointed.

‘I will need you to come with me for my protection. And I need you to prepare the arrangements for the next Safe-house. And bring my wife’s body too’

‘Very well then, I will make the call…’

This time I heard the gunfire. A bullet punched through Lumberjack’s upper right torso, going straight through his lungs and out his backside. Wincing, struggling to breathe, he let go of the mobile phone and grabbed hold of me. He pulled me closer to protect me. But before I could say a word to him, or guide him to safety another bullet bore through his left cheek (I believe that one was intended for me), and exited out through the back of his head. In my arms Lumberjack was dead, weak and no longer being strong.

I didn’t have time to mourn Lumberjack either, nor did I have the time to mourn Erin. I had to rush. It was just me that was left, so I took refuge behind a gumtree and a few shrubs. I realised that it was time.

The Killbot virus that I had perfected before I left the empire was still in my possession. It was designed to cease the current internet and its many WWW’s, and create a new and secure internet portal named WWWR (World Wide Web Reborn). He, who holds power over all information, holds power over the world. That had always been my motto, and it was a motto that I stuck to throughout these ten years. It was the same Killbot virus that gave rise to many myths. It was the reason why governments all over the world recklessly hunted hackers down like wild boars, then executing us in order to make an example for future wannabe hackers.

I sat by the base of the tree and I powered up my Pad. The gunshots had stopped. It was certain my militia was riddled with bullets. I heard twigs snapping in the distance. I heard muffled voices echo all around me. In the darkness I couldn’t see anything, but I knew they were closing in on me. The Pad’s screen shone brightly, a beacon to light the path of all the government troops in the area to my location. I didn’t care.

‘Don’t do it, Sherlock’ said a voice familiar to me. It was Dugald.

Guns cocked all around me. I heard this, and boy was it daunting. I wasn’t scared though. I was definitely not your average geeky nerd.

‘You people have destroyed everything that I hold dear to me. I will not stop until power rests back in the hands of the everyday people of this world’

‘It’s been ten years. Those days are long gone. This is the brave new world for future generations to live with’

‘That’s ludicrous. If it’s not me, then someone else would have stood up to you all’

‘Listen Sherlock, this world had to be controlled. It lost the plot’

I roared back in response, ‘it didn’t lose the plot. Governments all around the world did. They forgot who elected them into power. Their reckless spending opened them up to corruption. This virus will reverse all of this and place power solely in my hands. I will say who controls every form of information from this moment on’

'If you do it, then we will shoot you’

‘Really, Dugald, would you shoot me? Would you have the courage to pull the trigger? I know of your own troubles thrust upon you by your government. You don’t have to do this. Join me this time’

The dialogue between Dugald and I was historic. Our paths, both present and past, were intertwined by a shared fate. A CIA agent assigned by the President himself, he oversaw me when I entered the United States just before the world collapsed. A one on one meeting with the President entrusted my company with the premise to cripple hackers all over the world. Following the outcomes of our meeting, Bills and Legislation were implemented limiting teachings and technologies in computers and computer programming in the USA, and slowly the rest of the world.

‘The scar of that bullet I took for you back then still dominates my chest. That scar will never leave me. That is why you can understand that I will never join you. And by holding my wife and children in prison until I return with news of your capture or death, the government possesses my loyalty’

‘Then I understand that you are just as evil as them’ I replied, scorned that even great men with great intentions would still fault and bed the enemy.

‘These hands of mine are numb. They haven’t grasped life for years. Is it wrong to place the importance of family over the life of another? If it is, then I am guilty. I am evil’

‘Then my life will be a worthy sacrifice for the longevity of the freedoms for the human race’

‘Don’t do it. I order you to stop. We will shoot you. This is my last warning’

My feet purchased the earthly soil beneath me as I rose. All around me these government warriors may have slain my small army, and they may have their weapons defining their superiority over me, but I have my Pad. In my possession, this Killbot virus has the ability to cripple the entire world with just the click of a single button.

‘By the time any of you shoot I would have pressed enter. There is nothing, none of you can do to stop me’

‘Fire, god dammit, fire…’ I heard Dugald order.

I pressed enter, just in the nick of time.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © This story is the intellectual and physical property of A.W. Cole. All rights reserved.

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