The Bugs

Some men in suits and sunglasses showed up on my doorstep one day. They took me to a secluded compound out in the wilderness, where they had me working long days in a lab, providing only occasional breaks for walks around the property trailed by armed escorts that kept their distance. There was this one big, old tree that I liked, out at the far corner of the fence line. I always passed by it on my walks. It was a great place to stop and rest and think. Somehow staring at the tree and its gnarled roots helped me focus my mind and sort out the problems I was working on.

In the few months that I had been working in the lab, I had helped create a system that would allow all the governments of the world to monitor everyone on Earth, wherever they were, whatever they were doing, twenty four hours a day. I had developed the system by reverse engineering software from an exterminating company that combined motion tracking with surveillance technology. The system gathered a database by marking, coding, and cataloging everything that moved. It had been designed to track cockroaches; now it would track humans. As far as implementation was concerned, there was little difference.

I had misgivings about my role on all of this, of course. I didn’t want to see everyone constantly monitored any more than anyone else did. But I felt better somehow, being involved. Someone was going to do this, and at least I could be there to make sure it was done right. Plus, being on the inside of the project had given me the chance to design a glitch into the software that would be accessible through a back door in the program. That way I could crash the whole thing if it started getting out of control. I just had to keep this glitch a secret, and pass it on to my successor, and they could pass it along to someone, and they would have to safeguard it though the generations, until it came time to bring the system down. I turned from the tree and nodded to the guards.  I was ready to get back to work.

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5 thoughts on “The Bugs

  1. Ah, the old “this was only a dream” gambit, eh? You don't fool us Feds. We've heard it all before. Fact is, you know too much. You signed a contract to keep all this quiet. Now we are going to test the very software you helped write, test it on you, especially the part where we track the movement of cockroaches and electrocute them by remote control via laser beams from three different sources at right angles to one another. A stronger beam for you, naturally.

    It'll take time to track you down from among the details of every citizen and illegal from newborn to freshly deceased, just as it'll take time for you to program in that glitch, which you'll never be able to test, only detonate live. It's a race between us. Or you could surrender now, come out of your nest with your front legs up.

    And then this will all be turned into a screenplay. Philip Seymour Hoffman would have played the role of B.M.W. But we had to liquidate him. That's another story which we hope won't leak out.

    In fact we started this whole project to liquidate “whistle-blowers”.

    So this is just a friendly warning, OK?

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  2. It won't take us long to reach this point, and when we do, I fear that there won't be a valiant hero ready to flip the switch and destroy the system if it gets too bad. Worst of all, I think people will be all too happy to embrace it (who cares that your cellphone tracks your every moment and conversation – IT'S SO COOL! IT DOES THE THING! DOES YOURS DO THE THING?).

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  3. Yes, mine does the thing! You can even drop it and bend it and it still does the thing, just like in the ad where they show it doing the thing when the pretty lady goes out to eat at the nice restaurant. I want to go out to eat at nice restaurants with pretty ladies; I need a phone that does even MORE of the thing. I need the phone where part of the screen goes off the edge, and it does a miniature version of the thing on the side of the phone!

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