Author: Samuel Stapleton

My brain was working faster than my eyes as I took in the flood of information through my augment hud at my desk. I quickly began realizing that whoever this person was, they were completely serious. I spent maybe twenty minutes having meltdown after complete meltdown, and then I shut everything off. In a blur, I grabbed my huddy (hoodie w/ a hud), my mobile, plus a burner backup, and auto-piloted my way to the nearest public transit site.

I like to think of myself as a reporter, but reporters are long gone. AI’s write the stories and make the feeds now – hell even most of the editors and anchors are AI’s. It’s still a human world mind you, we’re just pulling way less of our own weight now-a-days. My job title is ‘On-Site Media Filter and Information Technician’. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Not like it matters now though, this mystery enigma just went and blew my life to smithereens.

Rick and I haven’t had contact in a while, maybe I need to head to South Africa? Or could I possibly stay with Jordy for a few weeks if she’s still in Bangladesh? Shit. I powered my hud back on, cloaked my vpni5, and started comparing ticket prices.

Then I started piecing it all together. Or at least I tried.
A crazy whack-job sat at home for 12 years…12 years…and together with AI and an immense knowledge of economics, programming, and computing power. They spent all that time and all those resources writing and testing numerous algorithms that studied how to see dark money through public data.
And then one day it fucking worked.

It wasn’t quite the ‘key’ to the internet but there’s no way anybody could have designed cybersecurity for a machine that just got really practiced at guessing about what happened privately based on what happened publicly.

I was starting to understand why they had been talking with me. I worked for the second-largest media company on the planet, one that is arguably ‘least corrupt’ of the four majors. Also, I was a total nobody. All the way down at the bottom. I’d been slogging for almost six years now as a tech with no movement in sight. But maybe they knew I just couldn’t sit on this story and do nothing. It was literally going to change everything, forever.

If they were smart, they would dump this all on me – and then hide. And they’d better hide damn well, damn long.

Sixty of the world’s wealthiest families, over four thousand prominent politicians, dozens of celebrities, millionaires…their wealth and money – all their money – laid naked at my feet. At anyone’s feet really. And the program just kept updating. Thousands of times a second. It didn’t give you access to the money – but it showed you every penny, and what it was doing.

Wire transfers. Account transfers. Payments. Compounding Interest. Stocks. Bonds. Credits. Debts. Donations. Hell, even PayPal and Zelle. Amazon. Prime. Netflix. Darkweb. Dark money. Porn. Weapons. People. Bribes. Cargo. Manifests.

It all just kept lumping up into a huge pile of truth.

I have to get this out. I have to. But how? How?

My phone buzzed. I glanced at the message. My bank?

Transfer received. $5,000,000 USD @ 5:04pm.
Note: This should be enough to buy you an hour of uninterruptible stream time. Tell them.

I threw up into a sewer drain and disappeared into the subway.