It was dark when we came into the outskirts. Everything seemed quiet and there wasn’t many people walking about. It seemed like any other ‘sleeper
town’ where people only live and work elsewhere. We managed to get a cab and drove down deserted streets until we stopped outside a four-storey
weather-beaten brick building. A partly lit neon sign was supposed to say ‘Cosy Relax Sleepy Motel’ but the letters that worked, weakly buzzed on
and off. The damaged neon sign now read ‘C Re epy Motel’ I smiled at the joke as I hurried to get in from a light rain that had followed us out of
When we entered the lobby we saw a man that was talking to the receptionist at the front desk, so we remained in the background to avoid unwanted
attention. He seemed obviously intoxicated and spoke with a French accent;
“Is it possibull to have a Heinikun?”
The receptionist looked very tired.
“I’m sorry sir, but I told you already; if your mini-bar is empty we won’t refill it until morning”.
The guest looked down at the desk, swaying. He smelled of alcohol and cheap perfume all the way to where I and Karl were standing.
“So it’s not possibull?”
“No” the receptionist answered with a sigh. “It is not possible.”
“It’s impossibull?” the Frenchman repeated.
“Right, it’s impossible.”
The guest tapped his fingers on the counter and said once again;
“But in zu bar, I cun get a Heinekun?”
“I said no!” The receptionist was getting frustrated. “It is closed! And for the millionth time, you can’t bring drinks from the bar to your
room! Don’t you get it?”
The Frenchman got equally frustrated and slammed his hands on the desk shouting;
“But zu customur is always right!”
The receptionist yelled even louder straight into the guest’s face;
“What about this; the customer is always a pain the ass!”
The Frenchman stumbled a few steps back, looked around with a confused face and staggered back to his room.
Karl and I stepped up to the front desk when the scene was over. The receptionist muttered and went into the back office before he had seen us.
Carefully we rang the little bell on the desk. From the back came a roar;
“What? What? What!” The receptionist came rushing out and as he saw us, he changed his approach abruptly and brushed off his worn out suit jacket.
“Oh, I’m sorry” he said “I thought it was that freaking Frenchman again. Really sorry about that...” He waved an arm in the vague direction
of the Frenchman’s room.
“No problem” Karl said. “I called earlier, my name is Wallace Dingle. I think I have a preliminary reservation here…” I tried not to burst
out in a giggle when I heard Karl’s choice of fake identity.
I studied the poorly-painted scene on the reception wall… it was of the countryside.
“Yeah, yeah…” the guy tapped on his keyboard. “The guy with the strange enquiry that must be you…”
I gave Karl a look but he waved it away.
“Here you go, room 913” the receptionist said and handed Karl the key. “No phone calls, no trace, no nothing, right?” he asked.
“Yep” Karl smiled tightly “Nothing.”
“It’s like you are not even staying here, or never had” the guy at the desk asked and looked up at us.
“That’s right. Like, we don’t exist.”
The receptionist gave an ‘okay’ gesture by pointing at us at blinking with one eye, making a clicking sound. He went back to checking the dog
track results in the paper.
We walked through the murky corridors until we got to the door to room 913. The air inside was stale and the walls were soiled with the wallpaper
hanging down a few inches from the ceiling. The bed looked like it had been slept upon by the legions of the damned and the bathroom made me wish for
the forest again. I sat down on a chair that immediately gave away and I found myself sitting on the floor.
“Oops” I said. “I hope we won’t be charged for that”.
“Don’t worry. You just have to stay here until tomorrow evening. Try watching some TV or something.” He threw me the remote. I flipped the
channels. The set was small and the picture was blurry. I turned it off.
“So what is the plan then?” I asked and went to sit on the bed.
“Well” said Karl and took a deep breath. “I need the documents.”
I instantaneously became suspicious.
“And…?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Don’t worry Raud, I’ll make sure nothing bad happens to it.”
I felt very uneasy with the idea to let go of the little USB stick. It had become a part of me…
“Tell me what you are going to do.” I said, sounding very serious.
A few seconds passed before Karl laid out his idea.
“This is the deal… I have access to this hidden server. It has software that I programmed myself. It’s probably illegal, but it works real
well.” He made a pause.
“Continue…” I said, fumbling the little bundle in my leg pocket, the bed creaked.
“The server is totally invisible, so to say. When it is operating, it is traceable for only a fraction of a thousand of a second and everything that
leaves it has a security level that just goes off the AES charts. I once thought I would sell this idea, but I think it is better to keep it my
personal secret. I was hoping I would get the chance to use it in a ‘hot’ situation like this one day…and here is my chance.”
There was a moment of awkward silence. I was still reluctant to give the device away.
“You didn’t answer what you were going to do with it” I asked.
“Oh” Karl sat down on a small table and continued explaining “You see, I put the information into the server and program it to send at a certain
time. As it goes, it will send billions of ‘ghost’ copies, making literally impossible for anyone who listens to know which one is the original.
Thus, it can reach its destination safely.”
I still had a hard time understanding what he meant, even though I wasn’t a complete stranger to computer technology.
“And the receiver can then read it straight off?” I asked.
“Sort of… I’ll include software for translating the encryption, but it will come afterwards and not until I will get a reply from the other end
that will confirm that the correct destination has been reached. This will be approved by yet another program I’ve made, fail safe” Karl made a
poised expression and chuckled. “The software will of course, self destruct afterwards, keeping the source and the code hidden. I tired this many
times myself so I can promise you, its state of the freaking art stuff we’re talking about.”
I tried picturing the process in my head.
“And where is this being sent?” I asked.
“Well...” Karl held up the palms his hands “…CBS, NBC, BBC, the Tribune, Reuters, all of them. Even Al-Jazeera and your native SVT! Every
major network except Fox, just for the hell of it.”
My eyes became wide open. ‘The crap is really going to hit the fan’ I thought. ‘This is it!’
Then I pondered:
“Uhm, do you even know exactly what is on the disk?”
Karl shook his head and his hands flew from his sides;
“Nah, not hundred percent. I am just doing what I have been asked by some very reliable people. I’m not sure I even want to know. But don’t
worry; if I was one of them bad guys, you wouldn’t be here right now.”
I sighed and lay back on the bed, closing my eyes.
“No” I said tiredly “You sure don’t want to know that. But I guess you will pretty soon.”
I picked out the bundle from my pocket and handed it over to him. He opened it and jerked back his head, his nose wrinkled with disgust.
“Geez!” he shouted. “What the hell have you done with this?” The stench hadn’t come off even the slightest.
“It has been pretty much everywhere by now” I laughed. “Just get on with it. It’s your burden now.”
Karl folded it carefully back into the bundle and got to his feet.
“Well then...” he said before he left “I… have to get to the location where I can perform my little miracle, it’s in that town over the
hills. I’ll be back later”. He did a salute and went out from the room.
“God speed” I sighed just as he left the room.
I stayed in bed, staring at the ceiling. This was finally coming to a close. I was rid of that cursed memory stick. I tried comprehending how far I
had travelled to get here, to this final moment of relief.
I really felt like celebrating so I snuck out of my room and down to the front desk. No one was there but from the back office I could here someone
laughing. I hesitated for a few moments before I rang the bell.
“Ugh!” A disappointed grunt came from the back and the receptionist shambled out.
“Oh, sorry” he said a bit embarrassed when he saw me “it’s just you. What can I do for you?”
“Well” I said “the room is pretty bleak to be honest”.
“No need to tell me about it” he answered with a dejected expression. “This place sucks!”
We both laughed at it.
“My name is Wukky, by the way” the receptionist muttered and put out his wrinkled hand. I shook it.
“I’m Raud, nice to meet you”. Wukky nodded. “You don’t happen to have cigarettes here, do you?”
“No problem, they are on the house!” Wukky replied with a smile and put a pack on the counter.
“Thanks a million mate” I said and tore it open. “Can I smoke in here?” I asked just as I was going to light it.
“Go right ahead. It’s not like there is any atmosphere to ruin really” he answered with a s'n-word'.
I looked around and saw a lounge area with a TV.
“I’ll sit over there for a while if that’s okay with you.” I asked.
“Please” Wukky said “Can I get you anything else? A beer? Whiskey? Food? My personal produce of freshly squeezed Wuk Nog?”
“Oh” I said feeling like I was making too much fuzz “A beer would be nice, and maybe I’ll try some of that last thing you mentioned…”
“Nah” Wukky said with an slightly appalled grimace. “You don’t want that. I’ll get you a beer and a whiskey instead.” He shambled away,
giggling over that alluring ‘nog’ he’d offered me.
[edit on 28-3-2010 by Raud]