Piracy Bytes

I submitted this short story to Writer’s Digest for their monthly short story contest. The idea was that you had to write a 750 word story around this idea: “A man received an unmarked package. Inside is a pirate style eye patch and a note.”

Unfortunately my entry did not get picked, but now I can share it with you guys. 🙂

Piracy Bytes
by Ron Sparks


Sergio reluctantly pulled the pirate patch over his left eye. He had no choice in the matter; if he didn’t do exactly as the note specified he would go to jail for a long, long time. Wear this patch henceforth, the note had said, and proclaim to the world your true nature. Wear it not and suffer the consequences of your decision.

He inspected the package that had contained the note and eye patch. The simple package with no return address had been on his desk when he had arrived to work five minutes ago. Anyone could have sent it to him. With his unobstructed eye, Sergio squinted across the sea of cubicles near his own. Some were empty but most were occupied with programmers and network engineers. It could be any one of them. They were all technically competent enough to have found him out. His safeguards were genius, but one of them may have discovered his secret.

A dull ache was beginning for form behind his brow as he sat down and fired up his laptop. He had to destroy the evidence. Masking his IP address, he quickly launched the impersonation program on the network access server and then logged into the first of the corporate file servers where he stored his illegal data. The server, located in Paris, housed close to thirty terabytes of copyright-protected songs.

Sergio pressed a button and watched as the files were inexorably deleted from the server. To completely erase his tracks he would have to go back later and randomize the blank sectors on the file server, but that would have to wait. The delete process would take hours.

A server in China was his parking lot for fifty terabytes of illegal video and movies. In Seattle he destroyed tens of thousands of stolen applications. Servers in Arlington were purged of millions of pornographic images.

A quickly as he could, Sergio caught the network alarms as monitoring programs flagged the sudden spike across the entire network. Deleting trillions of bytes of data from servers around the world was a process-intensive task that had not been anticipated when the architects had designed the network.

The call center in India was the first to go down. Relying on the Paris network operations center, critical applications started timing out as tech support tried to field customer calls. Sergio quickly paused his delete process in Paris. Tech support applications started working again.

Finance and Marketing in Washington, D.C. started complaining of lost data shortly thereafter. Horrified, Sergio saw that his delete algorithm was deleting not only his porn, but also the critical corporate files for Finance and Marketing. Sick to his stomach, he stopped his process and began a restore of lost data from last night’s backup. His porn was never backed up – he knew better than that – but he had only succeeded in purging nine percent of his files before he had been forced to stop. Worse, corporate security hounds were now curious as to what was going on.

Dismayed, Sergio stopped all his processes. There was no way he could erase his tracks in a single day. He had acquired entirely too much contraband and had stored it too close to highly sensitive corporate data. He was caught. Whoever had found him out had all the cards.

Distracted and unable to work, Sergio left the office and his suspicious supervisor at three o’clock, still wearing the eye patch. He dared not take it off. With his headache growing more severe by the moment Sergio drove home as best as he could without the benefit of binocular vision.

Getting out of his car, Sergio heard the voice of his twelve-year-old son Bernardas as he came out to greet him.

“You got it!”

“Got what?” Sergio spoke softly through the throbbing pain of his headache.

“The eye patch for my school play.” Bernardas snatched the eye patch off of Sergio’s head. “Why were you wearing it?”

Blinking in the light, Sergio couldn’t find the appropriate response. “This is your eye patch?”

“Yeah. Remember, I told you Mrs. Myers from school was going to send it and my line for the school play to your office because no one is home when delivery guys come here during the day?”

Sergio closed the car door and walked towards the house, covering his eyes from the sun. “I forgot.”


–end–


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