Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Microstory 873: Frenemies

I have this list; this list of people that I’ve grown to hate over the years, for varying reasons. Some were bullies in grade school, others were annoying coworkers, and a few were racist neighbors. I have a whole section for celebrities who’ve pissed me off, so I can keep track of which movies I’m allowed to like, and which ones need to be quietly boycotted. I don’t know why I started this list, or what I planned on doing with it. I know that I never had any intention to hurt these people, or confront them in any way. I think I just needed to remind myself that I’ve struggled, and that there are people out there who done me wrong. Of course, the list is completely private; I wouldn’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about it. I do own a gun, but only for protection, and I keep it well locked up. Not once have I considered using it to harm others, which is something I feel the need to be crystal clear about. The list has always been saved on my computer, but then this startup offers new customers thirty gigabytes of free cloud storage. I’ve never trusted the cloud, just like I don’t really trust banks with my money. Still, I have a bank account where I keep the majority of my money, so I figured security would be just as good for this. I signed up, and began transferring all of my files, except for the extremely sensitive documents, like my special list. Once it’s finished, the cloud system says that it’s scanning for other folders, even though I specifically told it which ones I wanted it to have, and which ones I didn’t. Before I can stop it, it’s taken everything off my computer, and I start getting suspicious. There are some...uh, videos there that I wanted to keep separated. They take up too much space, and I don’t need to risk some Silicon Valley nerd seeing it. I didn’t read through the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, obviously, since I’m not a crazy person.

Nothings happens right away, but I’m already scared, so I reverse course, and delete all my files from the service. I still can’t help but think that the damage has been done. When you delete something from a harddrive, it doesn’t actually go away. It just puts a little sticky note there that says it’s cool to override it with something else later. How do remote servers work? Are they the same, or are they worse? Is that shit saved forever? I close my computer, and try to forget about it. About a week later, I see this social media notification that says one of my “friends” is interested in going to an event near me. He’s the only person I’m connected with online who’s also on my list, and that’s because I didn’t realize how much I disliked him until he had already requested friendship. I see him every day at work, so I can’t remove him until one of us leaves the job. The event is called Noctilucent Mixer, which is just a weird name for anything. I run a quick search in my brain’s memory archives from seventh grade, and I recognize the word to be a species of cloud. Now that is suspicious. I try to click on the event, but I’m completely locked out of it. That’s even stranger, because if you’re throwing a mixer, then you don’t want to limit yourself to the few people you remember to invite. I ask my irritating coworker if he’ll invite me to it, but the system doesn’t let him do that. Still, he gives me the address of the party, so I make plans to go.

I get an unsettling vibe as I’m pulling up to the airport hotel, so I park in the lot for the restaurant next door, and sneak around back. I peer into the window of the ballroom, and the first thing I see is this woman who lived in my neighborhood before I moved a few years ago. We were both walking our dogs one time, and happened to be going the same direction, which caused her dog to bark, and her to flip out at me about “following them around”. It’s like, train your dog better, lady. Mine’s totally chill. Anyway, I look around at the other partygoers, casually standing around with drinks, and realize that I know every single one of them. They are all on my list. I might have written it off as a freak coincidence, but even the celebrities are here. We’re in Idaho, so there’s no way that they didn’t have to fly out for this. This right here proves that cloud storage is unsecure. It read my list, and did this with it, whatever the hell exactly this is. I’m frozen. I don’t know whether I should run away, or crash the party. Before I can decide, a man walks up wearing a shirt from the company that was supposed to store my files without looking at them. He’s pointing my own gun at me. “We were worried that you wouldn’t show up,” he says as he’s forcing me away from the building. “You really shouldn’t write the code to your safe anywhere. You should just keep it in your head.” Then he takes something out of his pocket, and pushes a button. The ballroom explodes, sending me crashing into the taillight of a car. He tosses the detonator to the ground next to me, along with my gun. “You should probably run.”

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