Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

Free copy left
You can read our best books
Alexander King would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

It Looks Like You're Writing a Letter

By Alexander King All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Scifi


As another high-voltage electro dart shot past his head, Tanner Griffen reflected on the fact that he wasn't a very nice man.

The Wichita data centre sat concrete and anonymous; a malignant growth on the landscape. Getting in was easy. His employer had kindly furnished him with a temporary scrambler, which handily transformed him into a fuzzy grey blob on a hundred computer screens throughout the ground-floor security offices.

These computer screens were constantly scrutinised by a team of highly trained, well-armed security staff, paid just above minimum wage to stop exactly the type of crime he was currently committing.

A plastic holster sat snugly around his waist, packed with thirty slim metal cards. Still warm from being rudely wrenched from their housing only minutes before, these unassuming black slivers were the most valuable commodity known to man. He'd stolen them, and as far as the security team was concerned, his life was a small price to pay to get them back.

Ducking behind a huge steel rack that was stuffed to capacity with thick wiring and countless flashing lights, Griffen paused to run a hand through his greasy mohawk. He grinned crookedly as he pulled back his sleeve to check the progress of his pursuers. His wrist-mounted TalkRight3000 wasn't exactly cutting edge, but who would bring their best Xenius on a job where they were likely to be killed? Its sleek lightweight aluminium housing was robust enough and the holographic screen was hi-res enough to spot that two of the security detail were attempting a crude flanking manoeuvre.

With a deft finger gesture just above the curved screen of the device, he expanded the profiles of his foes. Cyril Defresne - 42, two kids, jazz aficionado. Griffen absent-mindedly flicked through Defresne's holiday snaps, looking for bikini shots of his wife Jill (35). The other guard had only started his internship the previous month. Griffen noted that Andy Baker, (19, epileptic, keen mountain biker) was on the organ donor register, which would become relevant in approximately thirty seconds.

Tanner Griffen was a pretty bad person. Bad enough to wait until just the right moment to arm and throw a Coruscantt-40 fragmentation device around the corner, where it bounced twice before erupting with a scream of tearing steel - eviscerating both Cyril and Andy.

A good person would perhaps consider the instantaneous widowing of Jill (35) and the unfathering of little Ben and Jessica. Griffen, however, wiped his nose on his sleeve, chuckled and stepped over the bodies.

Glancing once again at the TalkRight, Griffen noted that Cyril and Andy's avatars remained still. It would be some minutes before their own arm pieces synced with the company mainframe and triggered further alarms. Both men smiled casually in their civilian clothes as if they didn't even know they were dead yet. Which they didn't. Technically.

Griffen zoomed out of the screen and called up an overlay. A map dropped in front of his eyes as he sidled his way around the building, keeping close to the walls of the data centre cubicles. It was standard practice to smoke and strobe places like this when they were under attack, and the assault on his senses began with boring predictability. An automatic anti-strobe built into his sleek, wasp-like sunglasses rendered the visual weapon useless, and the map overlay gave a better view than his own eyes anyway.

Rounding a corner, he realised that reinforcements were on their way. It amused him to think that huge and rapid advancements in data encryption had forced hackers like him back to the old school method - smash and grab. The only way to steal information was to seize the physical storage in order to brute-force the encryption at leisure later. It was almost quaint.

Data had long been the biggest prize in the game. Whoever owned the data owned the world. Even with just a few hundred million rows of personal information, the power granted to advertisers, governments, corporations and the military was almost too vast to contemplate.

The stakes were high. Many of Griffen's contemporaries (and rivals) had been shot to pieces by security forces simply on the word of a respected blogger or on the strength of a careless social network update. The person who pulled the trigger was more often than not publicly lauded, given awards, and invited to appear on talk shows to soak up the gratitude of the masses. The story was always the same: this every day Joe saved us all from having our profiles compromised. Applaud him and thank him for shooting first and not even bothering to ask questions later.

Many years ago, back when he was a still a full time digital hacker, Griffen had made a vow. He wouldn't give any minimum-wage sucker the pleasure of taking him out. His first big payday financed an internal explosive implant. It was now permanently rigged to detonate in spectacular fashion the second he was cornered, critically injured or just having a really bad day.

Today was not that day, however. Today he was going to leave this building with six million credits worth of data zipped to his chest, and there wasn't a damn thing OraCorp could do about it.

Darting up a staircase, keeping a close eye on the glowing green trail superimposed on the ground by his overlay, Griffen checked his wrist again. The map layers separated to show him the floors of the building - the disembodied heads of the rest of the security avatars milled around like drunken bees. He was amazed that OraCorp, the largest company on the planet, could run such poor security. True, the Wichita facility wasn't exactly their biggest data centre but still, if their sheep-like subscribers knew that a 22-year-old punk like him could gain access to their private information simply by walking through an electronic pass door, they might not be so keen to pay their annual subscription fee.

A counter at the top left of his modded TalkRight told him that he had one hour and thirty minutes of scrambled activity left before his identity would swim hazily into his pursuers view. Until then, multiple echoes of an empty profile would continue to baffle them, flickering in and out of existence like an old radio broadcast. Bumping into an employee was still a possibility, but it didn't represent too much of a threat - Griffen's skills with a knife had been honed in a thousand filthy back alley brawls. Their electro darts, should they hit, would instantly kill him but he would subsequently explode and decimate the shooter, the facility, and most of the surrounding industrial complex. They didn't know this, and there were no scans they could run to reveal it, but the knowledge alone kept the lop-sided smirk safely plastered on Griffen's face.

Moving up level by level towards the roof, Griffen was alerted to a new communication. The TalkRight flashed orange and he jabbed it to receive. An electronic voice chirped in his ears.

"Mr Griffen, are you in possession?"

"Yup." Griffen grunted, peering around a blind corner to check for swivelling automatic cameras.

"Damage report?" The voice was cold, disinterested.

"Damage to me? Nah, I'm peachy thanks babe," snarled Griffen in an affected Cockney rasp. A silence prompted a sigh from Griffen. "Yeah, two guards destroyed, probably killed a few servers and a firewall nest. The goods are fine, no damage."

"Excellent. Upon reaching the roof, extraction has been arranged. Payment will be forthcoming when the goods are verified."

"Thanks mom!" quipped Griffen. The orange light faded.

No cameras. Griffen ran around the corner and kicked open a fire door. Another voice joined the chorus of screaming sirens, a deafening sonic attack, as if the facility itself was in agonising pain.

Griffen found himself on the roof of the data centre. He narrowed his eyes against the wind and scanned the black horizon. It was a clear night but he was still taken by surprise when the sleek white drone whispered over the lip of the building and padded down next to him. It was pearlescent and flawless, like a healthy tooth.

The door of the drone hissed open and without looking, Griffen dived inside. Footsteps hammered up the stairs behind him. He might be invisible but his actions were not and his path of destruction left a clear trail for the security team.

It didn't matter if Griffen was seen - as long as his profile remained scrambled, even a visual would be useless to the OraCorp Security forces. Only a digital check-in was admissible in a court of law, so if he could stay alive and get out of the vicinity, he was home free.

Griffen whooped to himself as the drone shot vertically into the inky darkness, electro darts ricocheting impotently off the polished bodywork.

His grey smudge vacillated on the security monitors, dispersed and vanished.

Tanner Griffen was gone.

Sitting back and putting his real leather boots on the dashboard, Griffen stretched and yawned. The drone's display winked into life. A realistic simulation of a woman's face appeared, speaking with the same clipped electronic tones as his TalkRight just minutes before.

"Do you have the product Mr Griffen?"

"Yes ma'am. Piece of cake."

The female face remained impassive. Talking to computers irritated the hell out of Griffen. He liked picking them to pieces, exploiting them and using them to earn money by any means necessary, but it irked him when they pretended to be people. It irked him when people pretended to be people, come to that.

"Place the goods on the tray before you."

Griffen unzipped his jacket and pulled out the card clip. He placed it on the conductive rubber pad of the tray, where it was silently scanned.

"This all appears to be in order Mr Griffen. As per our agreement, you have been paid one credit per database row to a total of 50,000 credits."

Griffen shot up from his seat. "Wait one fucking minute doll face, 50,000 creds? Are you shitting me? That was 20 cards - I counted 'em! 50,000 credits ain't worth my time nearly getting my ass fried. What bullshit are you trying to pull?"

The face on the screen showed no emotion. "Mr Griffen, kindly review the card contents."

The face disappeared and was replaced with a checksum and a window in which the obfuscated records were scrolling in a constant stream.

"Fuck - what? Shit! That was all they had, what gives?"

"I'm sorry Mr Griffen. However this amount of data is in line with the expectations of your employer. Your work is satisfactory. Your account has been credited and the cards have now been wiped. Have a nice day."

The screen went blank. The cards were now just pieces of plastic and metal. Somewhere, another database row had been updated - Griffen's bank balance.

Griffen kicked the tray shut and spat on the carpet. Folding his arms like a truculent teenager, he settled down and watched the city stream below him as the drone cruised silently towards the drop off location.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

Nymeria: Really can't get enough of this story. It flows well, it captivates the reader from page 1, and throws you into such a well-written, well conceptualized world that you'll believe it's real. Everything in the book is meshed together really well. From character backgrounds to plot twists, you can t...

John Reed: Seadrias masterfully captures the impressiveness and complex scope that a science fiction novel should provide while carefully crafting an entire universe that will leave a reader in awe from start to finish. The only flaw I could find is that I wish I could have read more. This book is certainly...

ga1984: I really enjoyed it! Characters were deep and plot was pretty complex. A bit on the violent side but it doesnt detract from the story. Very dark but situations make sense. Ends kinda abruptly and later chapters will need some editing work. I'm assuming there's more in the works?

Leah Brown: This was an amazing read! I was hooked from the very first chapter, holding my breadth to see what would happen next. The characters are rich and vibrant, and the world Danielle has created is fascinating. If you love YA, you MUST read this book. Such a smart, brilliant debut novel. I loved it!

263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...

Nate_L: I started to read this, excited about the story line. The writing style only made me more excited, I was stunned by Mikes ability to put this kind of story into words. It's Dashner-style, simple but sophisticated... (Makes sense to me, lol!)The beginning was a tad confusing, as I thought she was ...

CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...

Ben Gauger: Kudos to Bryan Laesch, author of Remnants of Chaos:Chaotic Omens for his use of the Gothic style of writing and in addition the footnotes and endnotes at the end of each chapter, a welcome accompaniment to be sure, though his use of grammar could use a little improving, but his use of punctuation...

Jasmine Chow: As I read this story, I was reminded some what of Terry Pratchett, especially some descriptions of politics and economics. The sci-fic setting is quite intriguing. Writing style is quite lovely and grew on me slowly. I was also slightly reminded of Mark Twain, especially his book A Connecticut Ya...

More Recommendations

gunter1987: I just want to say here that this is my first review, but I really wanted to review this story. I apologize if I don't write English to well, I am French.Reading through the many science fiction stories posted here and other places in the world, I started to see a few linking themes: heavy-hande...

tyleroakleyfan: thank you for writing this story I loved it. it was great I enjoyed every minute of it I couldn't stop reading you did a fantastic job. Thanks for killing ron he was starting to piss me off. he was being a dick. I love that you made it a gay love story its about time someone did. love it great job.

Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...

Chris Rolfe: BOY!!! I sure love what Aer-Ki Jyr did with this series. IMHO he captured the essence of what stargate is all about. Thru out the Stargate stories Aer-Ki wrote Stevens and John Shepard some of the main characters in his stories are pursued by a corrupt I.O.A.. All the while Stevens is changing in...

Warchief: The biggest problem with the Harry Potter series is that it's all from his point of view. So we never really get to see or understand events from other peoples perspective. I think that they would be more than a few people that want to know what happened at Hogwarts during that last year.As far a...

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."