Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 20 (Kite’s New Gig)
Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 20 of the my online book “Excited Delirium”. Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index.
More than two months had passed for Kite and he was getting bored. Worse, he was getting worried.
He frequently checked his anonymous email accounts and some blogs where the proper codes and comments would trigger a reply, but nothing had shown up. The thought had even crossed his mind that he should seek out a different career. Of course, that would never happen, because he had come to be exceptionally good at fucking up organizations. Of course, thoughts of retiring also came to mind. The challenge was that he had champagne tastes and was still working with a beer budget, so he still had to generate some cash flow.
Just when he was feeling most desperate, he saw the right words in a political web log that he monitored on a regular basis.
No strings please, just the cheese.
He never explained to his friends what the expression meant, but he always loved seeing it because it meant a nice cash job was right around the corner. It meant that someone had found him through a trusted source and that they were reaching out to him with an opportunity. All he had to do was respond.
Kite copied the email address from the comment and replied with the following message:
Subject: Stringless, waiting to fly.
Body: Send details, including your PGP key, payment and timing. Friendly house awaits your loving hug.
These messages were always very cryptic, but in the post-9/11 world, everything that has a one or a zero in it – that is, something that’s binary or digital – and is monitored by the Department of Homeland Security or other organizations in the US. This surveillance is mainly under the guise of protecting Americans from another terrorist attack, but increasingly, it’s out of the need to watch any and all potential uprisings against the government in control.
With that in mind, all digital communications had to be in code. That said, it was still easy to get your message across.
If you use words like “terrorist”, you’ll be tracked. If you say “friend”, you’ll be ignored, with the NSA and other organizations assuming you’re posting MySpace reviews for a bunch of high school pals.
In fact, there are about 25,000 words that are actively monitored by US authorities. If you use any of them, you’ll draw attention and the game will be over. If you’re not careful, it’ll be Gitmo and some lovely shock treatment under the Cuban sun!
So, a statement like “Friendly house awaits your loving hug” needs to be used and can be easily translated as “Secure network connections and contact details will be provided assuming the price is right.”
“PGP” is short for “Pretty Good Privacy”. It’s a mode of encrypting email and other communications that was developed in the early 1990s by a guy named Phil Zimmerman, who was accused by the US government of using the technology to sell munitions without a license and under the radar of profiteers like Northrup-Grumman and McDonnell-Douglas.
After getting the run-around for several years, he was released and the US actually relaxed the regulations concerning PGP transmissions, hoping either to allow for better tracking of potential criminal activity. Or … maybe they wanted to simplify the trade in munitions, because we all know that that’s what fuels the US economy.
Kite used a new generation of PGP that he obtained from a technician in Ottawa who used to work for Northern Telecom, or NorTel. Before John Roth dumped $100 million in stock options and before the company went tits up, his friend was an extremely successful telecom programmer. Now he was an out-of-work engineer with two kids and a wife, so getting a bag of cash for some part-time work was all right with all parties involved.
Now that he was using an advanced PGP key, he had no problems communicating over the web or even using cel phones in public because he could do so privately without anyone else listening.
It was two days before he got the note that he was looking for, encrypted using the proper technology.
The details were as follows:
Details – A Test of Your Skills.
Payment – $500,000.
Timing – Now. Let’s meet at the mall.
He responded with a quick and simple confirmation:
Details: RE: A Test of Your Skills.
(Note: “Excited Delirium” is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca.