Distinctive and the Collective are trying to find Exclusivor, missing for more than a year. The chase hits IRL and Distinctive needs to hit Chicago in 48 hours to get a device planted by Exclusivor herself, and to stop Sindictive from getting it. Also, Stoney and QueueCueQ's hacking and Lita's research have gotten us very close to doxing Sindictive.
So much has happened lately. Let me take you back a couple of days and explain it all. I was driving down a barren, desolate highway in New Mexico. The song “Hotel California” comes to mind.
(@Sound: “Feels like a Hotel in California”)
I was headed for Juarez. We had a tip about Sindictive, and also, I was mentally planning a little mini-vacation south of the border. To say I was looking forward to it could be underlined by the fact that I was driving over a hundred.
My friend Lita called.
Distinctive “Hey, Lita. FYI: I’m recording. Alright? So, what’s up?” Lita ”Tink, hey, we got something better about Exclusivor.” Distinctive “Better?” Lita “Yeah, better than Juarez. If you can get to Chicago by Friday, we might have our best lead yet.” @Music: music up
I’d spent a couple of nights preparing to head into Juarez but… I turned around. Chicago was a 24 hour drive back the other direction. I had two days and I was already tired.
@Sound: “ Exclusivor is a Mockumentary.com production "
Since I’ve started putting out these recordings, hackers everywhere have been offering support. Tips, leads, donations. Seriously, thank you everyone. Totally awesome. Bitslapt, Preature, Prairiephire, Johnny_Free, really the whole gang, they’re fielding tips in their spare time. Everyone is taking a handful from that 500 Bitcoin donation for helping out and it’s been amazing.
So, Lita called, told me Juarez was a moot point, and I needed to head to Chicago. I drove into the grassy median, dodged a cactus, came out the other side of the highway (@Sound: squealing tires), swung a u-turn and immediately headed back the way I came. Away from Mexico. Toward Chicago.
Lita’s source - who she trusts implicitly but hasn’t revealed to even me, said Sindictive had learned of a device just like the one Exclusivor planted at the NSA. Raspberry Pi, Debian, same ports, curating traffic in the same way. It appeared to be still be active as well, and tightly encrypted. We found it on one of their VLANs and unlike the NSA hack, where her device was streaming hacked data to her servers, this time we think Exclusivor planned to go back and get it, but for some reason, didn’t. Or couldn’t.
Lita “Tink, you HAVE to get that device.” Distinctive “Who else knows about it?” Lita “Besides us and Sindictive? I guess no one.” Distinctive “Feds?” Lita “You gotta figure the Feds would have just gone in and grabbed it, right?”
Lita was right. If the Feds knew, they’d have it already. And, FYI, Sindictive is the guy we think Exclusivor is after, because, we think, Sindictive killed her brother Sergei. Sindictive knows Exclusivor is looking for him. He’s undoubtedly trying to hide his tracks. Best way to do that? Get the device before us. We couldn’t let that happen.
And that means I had to go in. I’m horrible at this stuff as you will soon learn. But, I was in the best position to get to Chicago undetected. Flying covertly takes a minimum of 72 hours planning. We had less than 48 before we our anonymous tip said Sindictive’s man would be there.
Also, I hadn’t planned to be away as long as I had been, and things were going south back home. I’ll get into that more in a minute, too.
As for infiltrating the law firm where the device is planted? I had butterflies in my stomach already.
Lita “Man up. It’s gotta be you, or we may lose this.”
It’s a long drive from almost-the-Mexican-border to Chicago. I love to drive, but it puts me to sleep. To stay awake I thought about this case so far. How Exclusivor did a physical hack on the NSA, then BASE-jumped from the top of a sky-scraper in Dallas, botched it, frightened a woman on the roof of a building, and probably hurt herself. Then, I almost fell asleep.
Mile-markers, rumble strips, ahhhh! (@Sound: rumble strips, screeching)
I woke up nearly off the road, and swerved back on. Adrenaline beats caffeine any time.
Now I was wide awake, and to pass the time, I thought what I knew about Chicago. Since I was IN a hurry and IN a car, naturally, this came to mind.
@Sound Blues Brothers: “106 miles to Chicago”
Belushi and Akroyd, in a Blues Brother classic moment and I got to thinking about Claire, who probably loved that movie. Claire’s the woman Exclusivor startled at the end of her BASE jump. Claire went to the police, they recorded an interrogation video, and several months later we hacked the servers, found the video and fell in love with Claire and her bizarre story about being attacked by The Batman.
Then, I was growing sleepy over the monotonous road, seeing weird things, when suddenly: lights and sirens made me jump. Luckily, they were after someone else.
That woke me up for a few hours as I considered Exclusivor, this dark web legend who we couldn’t believe was involved in this bizarre tale. But, there she was, in these FBI memos we found in the hack.
(Sleepily)Then I couldn’t take it anymore, I was so tired (@Sound: Yawn). I pulled off into the dusty ditch on a long, flat chunk of Texas or Oklahoma and crawled into the roomy back-seat and crashed out, dreaming of the things I could do with the rest of the $500,000 donation someone just made to the Collective.
Sleep was blissful, until there was a rapping on the window and light was shining in my face. I was disoriented And didn’t know where I was And I couldn’t tell who was shining the light Or see anything through my fogged-up windows And I unlocked the door And opened it
I admit this was an insanely stupid thing to do.
But, I was sleepy and not thinking straight.
(Whispering!) An authoritative, gravelly voice asked me if I was okay. I thought “Dang! A cop. The last thing I need!” Then he told me, “See that hill there?” He shined his light toward a barely-visible hill just off the highway. We were maybe a football field away from it. He says, “see that hill? On the other side of it is the state prison. You don’t want to sleep here.”
Turns out the cop was the second-to-last thing I needed…
Turns out, I was no longer sleepy.
At least for another couple of hours.
When I couldn’t take it any more, I hunted for a well-lit truck stop and again crawled into the back seat.
That’s when Lita called back.
Lita “Hey. Sorry to wake you.” Distinctive “Yeah. It’s been tough to get some sleep. What’s up?” Lita “Are you recording?” Distinctive “Yeah. I’m getting low on burner phones but I have things set up to record all phone calls and voice calls automatically.” Lita “Okay, good. I thought you’d want to use this recording in your radio thingy. Listen.” Sindictive (on conference call recording) "I don't give a F___ what you thought it was ... I don't give a ____ ____ ____ ____ ..." Distinctive “What this?” Lita “Sindictive.” Distinctive “Seriously? That’s amazing.” Lita “We finally got something.” Distinctive “He sounds pissed.” Lita “Yeah, he is. That recording is hours old. He’s pissed because he found our source. The one that leaked the tip about the device in Chicago.” Distinctive “How did we get this recording, of him yelling?” Lita “Yet another source. They heard your recordings and sent it to us. This source is in the Sindicate, too. They’re unraveling.”
As Lita explained to me, this was our second insider. The Sindicate, Sindictive’s version of the Collective, is being rocked. Suddenly there were leaks everywhere. And: people were listening to my recordings, and trying to help.
Lita “Stinky, you have to get to Chicago.”
I hit the road again, but I only drove for another hour before I had to pull over again. I was just too exhausted. While I slept, I had a dream.
Most of my dreams are weird. I know, big news, right? Everyone’s dreams are weird. But, I mean, in my dreams, I always win. I always succeed. It’s like, I can’t fail. I always get the girl, I have a big … bank account. I catch the bad guy.
It’s kind of like the sequence in every sad movie where, at first, they are all happy and content, and then as soon as you see them driving on a mountain road or near a river, you know something bad will happen and it’s going to get sad soon. Except, in my dreams, it never gets sad.
In the dream I had on this night, I save Exclusivor. She needs finding, she needs saving, and I find her, I save her, and she falls all over herself telling me how great I am. She goes online and gushes. And because she’s already a legend, everyone on the dark web is like, “Distinctive is the Man!”
Later, when I awoke, I wondered, wow, am I sexist? This dream says a lot about me.
In the dream, Exclusivor hates AC/DC and loves Ed Sheeran. She quotes entire movie scenes verbatim, almost acts them out. Like, the church scene in the Untouchables, or in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader slices off his own son’s hand at the wrist. She acts them out! (INTIMATE) Dreams like that just seem legit, you know? Where do dreams come up with these details?
What’s she like in real life? What is her favorite food? Does she smoke? Is she a Trekkie? I don’t know. Maybe I never will. But, I want to find out. When I think of the stuff I’m doing. I wonder if it’s worth it. Then I think, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it’s worth it.
An alarm woke me from my dream. I had my energy back!
I… grabbed a shower in the truck stop grabbed a pack of powder-sugar cake donuts filled my thermos with coffee my car with gas And hit the road
So, we got a tip about some device planted at a law firm in Chicago. We were hoping to get there by Friday. We weren’t sure what it was exactly, or what it would tell us, but the tipster said Sindictive wanted it badly and would be trying to get it Friday. It was our best lead. It was Thursday. I was behind schedule. So, I did some recon from the car.
I'm about to vish. It’s to a voice phone call what phishing is to email. Gratefully my new car is quite nice, and the road noise is minimal.
@Emma (on phone, from Chicago) "Barnaby, Sax and Peabody.” Distinctive (on phone) “Yes, is Benjamin Jones available? Can I talk to him?“ @Emma "... There’s no Benjamin Jones here."
When you social engineer, you are conning people. You are getting them to do something that isn’t in their best interest. But instead of selling them a time-share, or a bridge, you usually are trying to get information you can use for a hack. Sounding stupid is a good way to get what you want.
@Emma “You have the right place, sir, but no one called Benjamin Jones works here." Distinctive "Can I at least leave him a message?" @Emma "No, sir, there is no one named Benjamin Jones working here." Distinctive "Oh. Weird. Okay, thanks for your help - Uh, what’s your name?" @Emma "Emma." Distinctive "Okay, thanks for the help, Emma."
I knew Ben didn't work there. As far as I know, Ben doesn't exist. I did all of that because I needed the receptionists name, Emma, and I needed to sound natural doing it. And, yeah, this is shady.
While I was driving, I pulled out my laptop, connected through that phone and searched “Emma staff Barnaby Sax Peabody”. At the top of the results, I found her last name, and her Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, which I skimmed as I drove endless flat miles. I wanted to be prepared to chit chat about one of her favorite topics, if I had to stall for time. Maybe, I could just happen to bring up camping in Oregon, her home state. Or about how many lawyers she has to work with from Stanford, her alma mater’s bitter rival. On the sly, of course.
Then, I took the battery out of that burner phone, dropped it in my double faraday bag and kept driving. I hoped I was ready.
About that time I got out my next-to-last burner, and Lita sent a message on Signal, It said, “Ruf mich jetzt an!”
So I called her back.
Lita "Hey Tinkerbell." Distinctive "Hey. What's up? You sent a message in German??" Lita "Yeah, Stoney is pranking me. He hacked my phone, now everything I type gets translated to German before it sends.” Distinctive “That’s classic.” Lita “Yeah. I’m thrilled. Hey, look, I want to play something for you.” Distinctive “Alright. Go ahead.” @Sound: Sindictive in an infomercial about software security: “… How do YOU want to be treated by your antivirus software? The Security Generation’s industry-leading antivirus and anti-spyware security software is the best in the industry; Protect your Windows or Macintosh computers. It’s easy to use and simple to set up. Simple is strong.” Lita “That is Sindictive. It’s an old infomercial we found on Youtube. I think he was a salesman.”
Here’s what happened. Remember before, we heard audio when a member of the Sindicate covertly made the recording of Sindictive going on a rampage during a web conference. This one:
Sindictive (on conference call recording) “What in the name of actual F___ what you thought it was ... I don't give a ____ ____ ____ ____ ..."
You get the idea.
Several years ago our elite hacker QueueCueQ discovered an internal Youtube database of signatures of audio from all of their videos. He made friends with some Youtube developers, helped them with their algorithm and we get access to that database whenever we need it. Youtube uses it to track usage of copyrighted music in the videos. You feed it audio and it will search for a match throughout their massive database of videos. It’s incredible. Lita said Stoney sent the Sindictive tirade audio to our guy at Google, and he ran the audio signature against their database, and found Sindictive’s voice match in one other video, the one Lita just played for me. Because I’m driving and she’s playing it over the phone, I asked her to describe the video.
Lita “It’s this normal-looking guy in a suit, he’s selling some security software. Antivirus software. He looks normal.” Distinctive “Normal. What’s normal look like?” Lita (Pauses) “Just normal. Dark hair, suit, nice smile. I hate to say it, but he’s pretty good-looking.” Distinctive “What’s Stoney think about it?” Lita “I dunno. We’re not talking right now.” Distinctive “Because of the German thing?” Lita “No, last night he set fire to the couch and pushed it off the balcony.” Distinctive “What?” Lita “Yeah. Anyway. This guy in the video —” Distinctive “I know he’s not talking to you, but do you think Stoney will talk to me about it?” Lita "Does Stoney ever talk to you on the record?” Distinctive "I know he's big on the digital privacy - but can you — just ask him.” Lita (off phone) “Hey, douche-bag, will you talk to Tinkerbell?" (in phone) "He's flipping you off.” Distinctive “Oh, classy. Great, so. I gotta go, thanks —” Lita “Hey wait, one more thing, about his accent — “
Lita had one more request. She asked me to send the audio and the video from Sindictive to our FBI insider, Sam Fishburne. He’s not actually with the FBI, but he knows a guy who knows a guy. We’re looking to figure out where Sindictive’s accent is likely from. Somewhere around London we think, but that’s millions of people. If we can nail down where he grew up, our thinking is: we can research old newspaper clippings, geo-tagged social media posts, school yearbooks, etc, and using the image from the youtube video, match him and find his real name. Get his real name, and my Collective will have his life story in 24 hours.
Right after I hung up with Lita, I got another call.
Distinctive “Hey Johnny_Free, what’s up?” Johnny Free “Hey. Got a moment?” Distinctive “Definitely. I’m just staring at the road, trying to stay awake.” Johnny Free “Your mom called this morning.” Distinctive “Yeah?” Johnny Free “Yeah. Your dad is putting up more razor wire.” Distinctive “Seriously? More razor wire?” Johnny Free “That’s what she said. “Hey, are you recording this?” Distinctive “Yup. I decided that as long as I’m in a one-party state, I record everything.” Johnny Free “Good. A lot of people are talking about this. A hacker mentioned on the the Flow board that he’d heard me. Gave me a couple of ideas I’m working on.” Distinctive “Hey, you got some fans!” Johnny Free “I don’t want to be famous like you, but I think these are helping generate some leads. Bitslapt and Prairiephire say the tips are rolling in.” Distinctive “Very cool.” Johnny Free “Yeah. Anyway, your parents should be okay, I just wanted to let you know.” Distinctive “Thanks, man. Hey, before you go, can you find me a some burner phones in Chicago? I’ll probably need about a dozen.” Johnny Free “Yeah, no problem. There are tons of places.” Distinctive “Thanks for the heads up on Dad. I’ll call my folks.” Johnny Free “Okay, later.”
I hung up with Johnny_Free just after St. Louis.
At this point, I’m a bit under four hours to Chicago.
(@Sound: Chicago, Chicago, Chicago!)
Chicago… I’m nervous and I go through it all in my mind. I know the law firm where I need to go. Before I go there, I need new burner phones, probably a place to buy a delivery-guy uniform, and a new bluetooth earpiece that could pick up both my voice, and the other people around me. It’s a handy way to record a conversation legally.
I stopped near Springfield for gas and candy bars and to use the restroom. I surreptitiously connected to their wifi, routed through a couple of our VPNs and sent a secure message to Fishburne. I uploaded the video and audio Lita had sent me and asked him to locate the accent, gently reminding him of our deal. Before I hit the road, I used the restroom again. When I get nervous, I have to pee constantly.
Then, I started planning my pretext for getting past Emma and getting that device. Not only did I have to get past Emma, I had to find where, in a huge law firm, that device is hidden. I didn’t know how I was going to do that. And I have a confession… my hacking skills: eh.
While I filled up with gas, a guy in a clean t-shirt, brand new boots and a trucker’s hat perched awkwardly on his head approached me and asked about the car. Did I like it? What kind of mileage did it get? Was it quiet at highway speeds?
It might have all been just innocent guy chit-chat, but I was wary of him. Since I was followed in Dallas, and woken by a cop in New Mexico or Texas, I’ve been a little on edge about whether I was truly off the grid with my car.
Having said that, I thought it was ridiculous that I could be tracked.
You see, I bought the car and a handful of burner phones in Dallas and drove directly to a small town in New Mexico, where I spent two days with a one of the most renowned mechanics on the dark web. That’s where he advertises his discreet auto-anonymizing service. He strips cars of all tracking devices, like wifi, bluetooth, GPS, SiriusXM satellite radio. He kills the black box, gets you new plates and a clean VIN, and on the title, the car is owned by an anonymous New Mexico corporation that has already gone out of business. Like hundreds before me, I rolled in to that small town on the grid. I rolled out of that small town off the grid. I hope.
Maybe he missed something.
Maybe they followed me all the way there.
Sigh. This kind of thing fries my nerves.
In social engineering, human hacking, you need a pretext under which you are approaching your mark. You’re an actor. The pretext is: what role are you playing? Something like “lost client looking for his appointment,” or “repairman coming to fix something.” I chose “delivery man delivering flowers.” Flowers in the office are always a distraction. Just what a social engineer like me needed.
And, I have a confession to make. I’m horrible at hacking of any kind. I’m a squib. Remember Filch in the Harry Potter books?
@Sound: Filch: “There was a time when detention meant hanging by your thumbs in the dungeons. God, I miss the screaming.”
Filch was a squib. He was a wizard who couldn’t do magic. I am a hacker who, well, I can’t hack. It’s embarrassing. Bitslapt is always taunting me. It’s also nerve wracking. I thought of this as I left yet another public restroom. Because, you know, I have to pee like every ten minutes. Ugh.
Luckily, QueueCueQ can hack. Since we knew the law firm where the device was planted, QueueCueQ found their external IP, broke in and scanned the network for devices. The network was segmented, but poorly done, and the device was in a VLAN with just one other computer: the receptionist’s desktop. So, most likely it was at or near the receptionist station.
I asked QueueCueQ how he knew it was the right device.
QueueCueQ “The device signature matches a Raspberry Pi almost identical to the one the FBI found at the Bank of America. “And, I’m never wrong.” Distinctive “How does it feel to never be wrong about this stuff?” QueueCueQ “Powerful. (Pause). I feel powerful.”
We figure the device is plugged in somewhere around the receptionists desk. That narrows it down for me, but also: Based on some pictures of the office we found online, the receptionist is in the most visible part of the office. Right out in the open, with a small cube farm nearby.
I’ll need an invisibility cloak to go get it.
About this time, Lita sent me another text in German. I recognized a few words, including “Rasiererkabel.” German for “razor wire”. I translated the whole phrase, which said, roughly, “Your mom called. Your dad is installing razor wire again.”
It was time to check in with Mom.
Mom “Hi Dear.” Distinctive “Hi Mom. What’s this I hear about Dad putting up more razor wire?” Mom “He’s upgrading it. Some of it was getting rusty.”
I knew something was wrong. I mean, rust would make razor wire more effective, right? Tetanus and all…? Anyway, this told me something bigger was bothering them.
Mom “Well (pause), I think I got hacked.” Distinctive “Oh no. What happened?” Mom “I couldn’t get into our gmail, so I called Gmail Tech Support.”
Mom was pretty upset. Her and Dad just got new phones, and it was always a chore to set them up. It stresses her out. They like to do it manually. Mom was struggling for a couple of days to get gmail working, and finally decided to call Gmail tech support for help.
The problem is, gmail does not have tech support. Here’s the guys she called by accident.
@Sound “Tech support” from real call
So, they hung up. Places like that spam the web with their phone number, buy ads and look legit when people are in a panic and stressed out. Then, they con them into taking over their computer, saying they can help, and then do all kinds of nasty stuff undetected. Am I the pot calling the kettle black? Yes. But, this is my Mom. You don’t mess with my mom. Also, that particular place has been crypto-lockered.
I asked her why she let them take over her computer.
Mom “They said they needed to.” Distinctive “Okay mom. You shouldn’t let strangers take over your computer. Ever. But I sense that you’re pretty stressed out about the phones still, the setup of the phones?” Mom “Yes.” Distinctive “Is that why Dad is putting up razor wire? “Mom?” Mom “It makes us feel better.”
I think technology is exciting for a lot of people, but there are wide swaths of people that aren’t excited by the breakneck pace of change online. It stresses them out. Makes them feel vulnerable. Since I’m pushing the pace, I often forget about these people.
I told mom it happens to all of us. I asked her to turn off their computer, unplug it, and take it to their friend Cindy in a couple of days. Cindy will clean it out. They’ll be fine.
Distinctive “Mom, Can you tell Dad just to take a break for awhile? I think your ranch is already pretty much a fortress.” Mom “Okay deary. I will.”
Then Mom pulled the ole switcharoo and changed the subject.
Mom “Lita says you’re on your way to Chicago?” Distinctive “Yeah, I am.” Mom “Lita is really funny. But can you believe what Stoney did to their couch?” Distinctive “Yeah he set it on fire.” Mom “Lita is such a dear. Why don’t you have someone like her in your life ?” Distinctive “Alright Mom, I gotta go. Talk to you when I’m back in-state, okay? Show you my new car?” Mom “Okay, bye deary.”
Mom and I hung up as I rolled into Chicago. We didn’t have a lot of time, so I got right to work. Remember Law Firm Emma from earlier?
@Emma "Barnaby, Sax and Peabody.”
So, I wanted her name because I wanted to send her flowers. Nice of me, right?
Not really. I wanted to bring her flowers because that's the easiest way to distract her. And I needed to distract her to get that device.
I hit record on my Ubuntu phone, my only non-burner phone, and called QueueCueQ. I am recording the call, too, and you can hear people first in the uniform-supply store, where I bought a generic delivery-guy uniform, and then changed into it.
@Sound: (entering a uniform supply store, "Are you here to pick something up?")
Still recording, I stopped by a florist to buy flowers and balloons.
I also used their restroom.
@Sound: (entering a florist, "Can I help you?")
I kept recording, and walked to the law offices of "Barnaby, Sax and Peabody".
For a good twenty minutes, I stood outside, just to the right of the law firm with the smokers. I got funny looks, because QueueCueQ was giving me a pep talk as I struggled to find the nerves to walk in. Also, I had to pee badly. Finally, with QueueCueQ, the pro, talking to me, the squib, I took a deep breath and QueueCueQ said …
QueueCueQ “Just relax. This is easy. Offices love these distractions from the mundane.” Distinctive “Okay, here goes.” (@Sound: steps) "Delivery for Emma.”
Flowers at the office — always means there is a) a secret admirer, or b) a spouse that did something bad. And office jockeys are like you and me. We like the drama, the stories.
@Emma "Oh, wow!" @OfficeWorker "Ooooo! Someone has an admirer!" @Emma "Oh, it's gotta from be Ross."
While Emma and her coworkers gossiped and created a couple of rumors, In my ear, QueueCueQ prompted me.
QueueCueQ “Go behind the desk, see if you can see the device!”
I moved around behind the reception desk. It was big, and it curved, and it was totally improbable that I should be behind it. There was literally no plausible excuse that QueueCueQ and I could think up for me being there. I felt like I was on a stage, and I was thinking so much about what I’ll say if I’m caught, I forgot to look for the device.
QueueCueQ “Yo, D, you there?” Distinctive (Whispering) “Yeah, sorry. Uh, I don’t see it. Tons of sticky notes with passwords and stuff, though.” QueueCueQ “You gotta get that. Get out your phone and snap some pictures. Do this: tell them the admirer wants pictures.” Distinctive (To office workers) ”Hey everyone, uh, the ‘secret admirer’ wants pictures. He said he wanted to see the reaction. Move in closer, a little more.”
If you practice, you can take pictures casually with your right hand, while you gesture at a large group with your left hand. This I did, and I got pictures of passwords, car keys, documents, the unlocked computer monitor…
Then the group walked off to the break room to find a vase and water and I crouched down, felt around the back of Emma’s PC tower and found the device. And then…
@OfficeWorker (Sternly) “What are you doing?”
Crap. Busted. I snagged the device and shoved it in my pocket.
Panic. Adrenaline. At this point, the whole office is looking at me like I’m a criminal, which, I guess, I am.
So, I ran.
I got out of there, around the corner, then stopped to catch my breath and thank QueueCueQ for his angel-on-the-shoulder guidance. I took out my bluetooth mic and hung up the call. I took off my uniform top and hat and stuffed them into a storm-sewer. I looked like a normal guy in a t-shirt. Not at all like the guy the police might soon be looking for. I felt good!
All it cost me to recover Exclusivor’s device was a $40 fake uniform, $40 in flowers, a thousand new gray hairs and probably a year of therapy.
As I strode away, I was proud. I felt I had overcome a fear. I embraced a challenge. I succeeded. I glanced behind me, looking for police, as I wound down alleys and side-streets heading back to where I hid my car.
I’ve heard people say that courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the overcoming of it. Bitslapt is always saying that. I felt courageous for getting the device. Then… I felt my stomach lurch.
Because at that moment, I turned into an alleyway and walked right into a pair of guys, each holding a gun.
They looked like minions from a Cold War spy movie. First minion said, in a thick accent, “I loff how you rrretrrrieved that. I vatched. Very bold. Give to me.”
He held out one hand and leveled his gun in the other.
I asked him if he wanted my wallet
And he said, yes, thank you
And, the device
Give device to me
How did they know?
I told him the wallet was full of cash I told him he could have it He said, thanks He said, he’ll take the wallet And the device Give device to me He used my name He said, “Deesteeenctive, Give to me, the device.”
He called me Distinctive. He knew who I was. I handed him the device and he said:
“Thank LOL-Lita forrr me.”
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