This will, most likely, be my last FridayFlash post until December…what with the insanity of NaNoWriMo and all.
He wasn’t paranoid. He was smart. Careful. When you made a living doing the things Lukas Eriksen did, you had to be smart. That’s why almost no one knew Lukas’ real name.
Most people—clients and law enforcement agencies alike—knew him only as Ragnarok. They would never know his name or what he looked like. To his clients, he was an email address and PayPal account. To his victims, he was a vengeful digital god, laying waste to their finances and secrets. As far as either side was concerned, he ruled cyberspace.
The Internet was an amazing thing. The entire world laid out before you, everything from shopping to music to porn. Anything a person could possibly want was there for the taking. Even information—especially personal information like birthdates, Social Security Numbers, and bank account information. There was a reason Internet crime was a growing business, why the spammers, scammers, and phishers continued to return to the well again and again.
And these hackers and identity thieves were good. Damned good. But, Lukas was better. Much better. He could see the data. Actually see it. And not as a bunch of squiggly green crap like in The Matrix. No. The data spoke to him, told him things, and would bend to his will. Passwords and encryption meant nothing when you could simply ask the information to reveal itself.
Sometimes the information would tell him things without being asked: what stocks would tank or the name of the underage girl spending time at the home of a U.S. Senator when his wife and kids were out-of-town.
Or when to run.
Someone, somewhere knew about him. Knew what he was and what he could do. That’s what the data told him. It wasn’t more specific, which was odd. Whoever it was had a way of securing information that was beyond even Lukas’ abilities. Normally, he would have tried to dig deeper, to coax the information out of the digital ether. However, the data was urging him to go. Practically shouting.
He left everything behind. One of the benefits of being a technopathic hacker is that hardware is optional. In fact, whoever was after him would probably wast precious hours trying to find useful information on the laptop and flash drives he had left behind in the rundown hotel room.
Lukas bypassed the smoky, poorly lit lobby by “asking” the emergency exit to open without triggering the alarm, allowing him to sneak out through the alley that ran between the hotel and the businesses on the next block over.
Pausing at the mouth of the alley, Lukas reached into the pocket of his denim jacket. His fingers curled around the phone he carried there as he considered checking the data again. Maybe there would be more information now. But, if there wasn’t, he’d be wasting time. Time he might not have.
Lukas stepped out of the protection afforded by the deep shadows between the buildings. This was far from the “nice part of town”, and several of the streetlights were out, adding to the darkness. If there had been more light, it was possible Lukas would have seen the massive wolf before it attacked. Lukas turned just in time to see a reddish-brown form descending upon him. There was a momentary flash of yellow eyes and white teeth before all went dark.
“That’s right. Got him.” Brendan Frost spoke softly, confident that the hands-free transceiver in his watch was transmitting his words loud and clear. “Nope, no one saw. And, even if they did, this isn’t exactly a Good Samaritan kind of neighborhood.”
Brendan had pulled the unconscious form of Lukas Eriksen back into the alley before checking in. He knew no one would even think about calling the police—not in this part of town—but, there was no reason to tempt fate. Eriksen would probably be out long enough for the Doc’s associates to come and pick him up. And, if he happened to wake up early, Brendan would be there to make sure he took another nap.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “This guy isn’t really a fighter. Right. I’ll be here when they arrive.”
Brendan signed off. He stretched his arms over his head and stifled a yawn. It was late and he was tired. But, more importantly, he really wanted a drink to wash the taste of denim out of his mouth.