You know that we expelled Graciella Uriarte last week for using one of your devices." Uriarte had gotten a bad rap. She'd bought a radio-jammer from a head-shop near the 16th Street BART station and it had set off the countermeasures in the school hallway.
Not my doing, but I felt for her.
"And you think I'm involved in that?"
"We have reliable intelligence indicating that you are w1n5t0n" — again, he spelled it out, and I began to wonder if he hadn't figured out that the 1 was an I and the 5 was an S. "We know that this w1n5t0n character is responsible for the theft of last year's standardized tests." That actually hadn't been me, but it was a sweet hack, and it was kind of flattering to hear it attributed to me.
"And therefore liable for several years in prison unless you cooperate with me."
"You have 'reliable intelligence'? I'd like to see it."
He glowered at me.
"Your attitude isn't going to help you."
"If there's evidence, sir, I think you should call the police and turn it over to them. It sounds like this is a very serious matter, and I wouldn't want to stand in the way of a proper investigation by the duly constituted authorities."
"You want me to call the police."
"And my parents, I think.
That would be for the best."
We stared at each other across the desk. He'd clearly expected me to fold the second he dropped the bomb on me.
I don't fold. I have a trick for staring down people like Benson.
I look slightly to the left of their heads, and think about the lyrics to old Irish folk songs, the kinds with three hundred verses. It makes me look perfectly composed and unworried.
PNg5wf <a href="http://pgikcjimooeb.com/">pgikcjimooeb</a>
And the wing was on the bird and the bird was on the egg and the egg was in the nest and the nest was on the leaf and the leaf was on the twig and the twig was on the branch and the branch was on the limb and the limb was in the tree and the tree was in the bog — the bog down in the valley-oh! High-ho the rattlin' bog, the bog down in the valley-oh —
"You can return to class now," he said.
"I'll call on you once the police are ready to speak to you."
"Are you going to call them now?"
"The procedure for calling in the police is complicated.
I'd hoped that we could settle this fairly and quickly, but since you insist —"
"I can wait while you call them is all," I said. "I don't mind."
He tapped his ring again and I braced for the blast.
"Go!" he yelled. "Get the hell out of my office, you miserable little —"
I got out, keeping my expression neutral.
He wasn't going to call the cops. If he'd had enough evidence to go to the police with, he would have called them in the first place.
He hated my guts. I figured he'd heard some unverified gossip and hoped to spook me into confirming it.
I moved down the corridor lightly and sprightly, keeping my gait even and measured for the gait-recognition cameras. These had been installed only a year before, and I loved them for their sheer idiocy.
Beforehand, we'd had face-recognition cameras covering nearly every public space in school, but a court ruled that was unconstitutional. So Benson and a lot of other paranoid school administrators had spent our textbook dollars on these idiot cameras that were supposed to be able to tell one person's walk from another.
I got back to class and sat down again, Ms Galvez warmly welcoming me back.
I unpacked the school's standard-issue machine and got back into classroom mode. The SchoolBooks were the snitchiest technology of them all, logging every keystroke, watching all the network traffic for suspicious keywords, counting every click, keeping track of every fleeting thought you put out over the net.
We'd gotten them in my junior year, and it only took a couple months for the shininess to wear off. Once people figured out that these "free" laptops worked for the man — and showed a never-ending parade of obnoxious ads to boot — they suddenly started to feel very heavy and burdensome.
Cracking my SchoolBook had been easy. The crack was online within a month of the machine showing up, and there was nothing to it — just download a DVD image, burn it, stick it in the SchoolBook, and boot it while holding down a bunch of different keys at the same time.
The DVD did the rest, installing a whole bunch of hidden programs on the machine, programs that would stay hidden even when the Board of Ed did its daily remote integrity checks of the machines.
Every now and again I had to get an update for the software to get around the Board's latest tests, but it was a small price to pay to get a little control over the box.
I fired up IMParanoid, the secret instant messenger that I used when I wanted to have an off-the-record discussion right in the middle of class. Darryl was already logged in.
> The game's afoot! Something big is going down with Harajuku Fun Madness, dude. You in?
> No. Freaking.
Way. If I get caught ditching a third time, I'm expelled.
Man, you know that. We'll go after school.
> You've got lunch and then study-hall, right? That's two hours. Plenty of time to run down this clue and get back before anyone misses us.
I'll get the whole team out.
Harajuku Fun Madness is the best game ever made.
I know I already said that, but it bears repeating. It's an ARG, an Alternate Reality Game, and the story goes that a gang of Japanese fashion-teens discovered a miraculous healing gem at the temple in Harajuku, which is basically where cool Japanese teenagers invented every major subculture for the past ten years.
They're being hunted by evil monks, the Yakuza (AKA the Japanese mafia), aliens, tax-inspectors, parents, and a rogue artificial intelligence. They slip the players coded messages that we have to decode and use to track down clues that lead to more coded messages and more clues.
Imagine the best afternoon you've ever spent prowling the streets of a city, checking out all the weird people, funny hand-bills, street-maniacs, and funky shops.