9) Darkness

Fall 1985

There was only one person I cared to share my epiphany with. I’d have waited, but I couldn’t sit still. I had to babble on with someone who’d understand. He was the only one.

I folded the two revealing pages and stuck them haphazardly into my pocket as I headed for the car. I ran the hill between the car and the CS building. The halls seemed curiously quiet as I tried the handle. It was locked. I knocked but there was no answer. I circled the terminal lab but no one interesting was there. It’s frustrating to have a story that wants to be told but no one to tell it to!

Downstairs to the machine room and printers. I peered through the glass of the raised floor machine room. No one interesting in the fish tank. The printer room was usually bustling but it was close to finals and there were just a few slackers left collecting their late printouts.

I headed upstairs to the faculty offices looking for anyone who’d chat. Finally woot! “Steve!” I called. He was a CS senior who acted as a TA. He had just dropped off a graded stack of assignments.

“Have you seen Loyd?”

“What? I thought you knew? He’s gone.”

“What do you mean gone?”

“Arrested. I heard the FBI came, raided his house and cleaned out his office. I think it was something to do with his board. Whatever you do, don’t call it,” he cautioned.

“Fuck!” I remember saying. Then I don’t remember anything after that. It was as if a sniper from the war had picked off a family member in my own house.

My heart screamed for vengeance but I stood paralyzed. Calling even to offer condolences risked associating my troubles with his. Who knew what conspiracies they could dream up. The darkness of impotence extinguished my fleeting feelings of enlightenment. Curse this fucking war!

Loyd had just disappeared. I never saw him again. I never got to hear his story. Never told mine.

By the time I learned of his note, I doubt he’d any memory of me at all. But tears made it clear that we were indeed both alike.

The following was written shortly after my arrest...

                       \/\The Conscience of a Hacker/\/


                               +++The Mentor+++

                          Written on January 8, 1986

        Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers.  "Teenager
Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"...
        Damn kids.  They're all alike.

        But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain,
ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker?  Did you ever wonder what
made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?
        I am a hacker, enter my world...
        Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of
the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...
        Damn underachiever.  They're all alike.

        I'm in junior high or high school.  I've listened to teachers explain
for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction.  I understand it.  "No, Ms.
Smith, I didn't show my work.  I did it in my head..."
        Damn kid.  Probably copied it.  They're all alike.

        I made a discovery today.  I found a computer.  Wait a second, this is
cool.  It does what I want it to.  If it makes a mistake, it's because I
screwed it up.  Not because it doesn't like me...
                Or feels threatened by me...
                Or thinks I'm a smart ass...
                Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...
        Damn kid.  All he does is play games.  They're all alike.

        And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through
the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is
sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is
        "This is it... this is where I belong..."
        I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to
them, may never hear from them again... I know you all...
        Damn kid.  Tying up the phone line again.  They're all alike...

        You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at
school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip
through were pre-chewed and tasteless.  We've been dominated by sadists, or
ignored by the apathetic.  The few that had something to teach found us will-
ing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.

        This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the
beauty of the baud.  We make use of a service already existing without paying
for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and
you call us criminals.  We explore... and you call us criminals.  We seek
after knowledge... and you call us criminals.  We exist without skin color,
without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals.
You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us
and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

        Yes, I am a criminal.  My crime is that of curiosity.  My crime is
that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like.
My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me

        I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto.  You may stop this individual,
but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.

                               +++The Mentor+++

Copyright 1986 by Loyd Blankenship

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