Better than my life. Chapter 7


When we went out the siren told us it was time for the first lesson. English. And that test. But now I wasn’t afraid of the test. I knew everything would be all right. Peter had all the passwords to our success.
The test was difficult, but I didn’t try hard. I gave funny answers, I was happy. I knew I would pass.
I don’t remember much about the other lessons on that day. I was happy and relaxed. I was going to play computer games after school. I could tell my mother I did well in my test.
When I came home I turned my computer on. First I went into GloMeNow chat program and saw Peter’s happy face. It was red and delighted. We didn’t talk because it was dangerous. He just showed me the sigh made of his two fingers. The sign looked like O and meant OK. And then I saw something strange. It was just a picture of a temperature control system in somebody’s apartment. There was a small screen there. The screen was red. Usually there are figures on it. For example, two orange figures, 2 and 5, mean that you have 25 degrees Celcius in your flat. But it was red and there were no figures. I didn’t know what it was, but I got worried. Something was wrong. Peter used the passwords he had not only to make us pass the test. He did something else.
Then two things happened. I saw fire. The apartment was on fire! I didn’t hear the siren of the fire alarm system, I didn’t see automatic StopFire system work. All I saw was fire, it was growing fast. Then I heard a scream. Somebody was there! Somebody was in danger! Then there was no picture on the screen. It went black.
I saw Peter’s face. Now he didn’t look happy, he looked frightened.
The worst thing was that I knew whose apartment it was. I knew, but I didn’t want to know. When you know something that you don’t like, you can just shut your mind to it. It’s like shutting a door inside your head. Shut it, and know nothing, see nothing, feel nothing. That’s what I did. And suddenly something buzzed in my pocket. It was strange.
I put my hand into my pocket and found a small box. I took it out and looked at it. It was a strange PDA. I have seen a lot of pocket computers but nothing like that. But the strangest thing was on the screen. There was a message. It read: ’Where are you?’
I typed in reply: ‘Who the hell are you!?’
And then I remembered everything, I remembered it before the answer came to me.
‘Alex, are you in trouble? Have you learnt anything about Bill Shepherd? I am Andrew, but don’t play this game or I’ll think you are in trouble.’
I typed, ‘Yes, Andrew, I’m in trouble. Now I am. I’ll explain later. I have no time”.
The first thing to do was to stop Peter. If I could stop him.
I still have the connection with Peter open. I said to him, ‘Give me the passwords now!’ Actually, I shouted at him. That made things worse. I could see his face on the screen. A frightened teenager. And a stupid one. How could he do this? No, it was useless. He wouldn’t give me any passwords. I had to find another way.
We had access to school computers, but that was limited to classroom Glonet activities and things like that. But when I was a child security programs were much easier than now. I mean, than later. I knew their firewall system, it was primitive. My PDA helped me, and in a minute I had the address: Pridey, Evelyne, Mrs. 175-613-273-11 Green Street, West End, London.
Actually only the numbers were important. They were the address. The words Green Street or West End meant nothing. There was no difference between Green Street or Baker Street. None at all.
I went out and took a taxi. The robot-driver looked at me and asked in a monotonous voice, ‘We don’t drive people under 20. Have you got an E-identification?’
Sure I had this. Now I was a digital detective again. I looked like a scared teenager but I had a great number of E-identifications with me. I pressed a button on my PDA and the driver stopped talking and turned on the engine. I told him the address. Actually, I sent those numbers to him from my PDA, like I did with my E-identification.
It took me fifteen minutes to get there. When I arrived I understood I was late. The building was a standard skyscraper of glass and metal. The entrance was full of police, and there was an ambulance. I didn’t ask anything, I knew I was late. There was nothing for me to do but to come home. And to think.