(For those who have not read it, here’s part 1)
The response took five minutes. The incoming message symbol fluctuating several times in the span of only seconds. This irked Bernard, but he was willing to observe patience if this was indeed something as interesting as he hoped.
Yeah. It is.
Under one second it took Bernard to type a response.
When and where did you get these pictures?
From a forum. Week old.
Rather than ask, Bernard found the forum. Not a hard search. The random virus-like structure of it made it a prime candidate for someone asking for help. A few people even had suggestions for how to remove it. If Bernard’s hunch was right though, they didn’t even scratch the thing. Just made the symptoms go away.
A ping of incoming malicious programs went off in the corner of the screen, so Bernard closed out with another quick read of a person’s eyewitness account. Along with that image showing up on people’s computers without prompting, usually taking control of the background, the virus or malware, or something new even, had a habit of making the speakers of devices display a soft whining, lilting noise.
A video of it happening took under forty seconds to watch, but Bernard was not dumb enough to play it and expose himself to whatever it was. He’d dealt with enough of this sort of thing to know better.
I have some ideas. $200 a day.
Bernard waited, unsure if the customer would be willing to pay that much for the service. He could explain to this random dweller of the internet the sheer amount of over their head the average person would be trying to solve this, but that never went well for Bernard.
Bernard waited long enough he got up from his table to get some tea. Besides his computer, the only thing electric going on in the entire house was a small metal coffee pot. He kept it filled with hot water. Breakfast tea was going to get him through the night’s insanity.
Okay. Invoice me for each day. It will make it easier to get it past treasury.
Bernard chuckled. This guy should not tell him things like that, might screw him over later. If Bernard weren’t legit, he’d be in trouble for something like this. Squandering precious business funds for something like a freelance specialist—how ridiculous of him.
Fine. I’ll tell you how it goes. Don’t use that computer. Put it somewhere away from people, yourself included.
Instant response this time.
Is it dangerous?
Did it make a soft sound? Like a little song or something?
Bernard pictured the panicked person on the other side of the screen. He rolled his eyes. People sometimes. He typed out a message.
It’s not something to worry about. Did it or not?
It did. A few people said it did for them too. Is it dangerous?
Bernard sighed and sipped his tea. No point in telling this guy. Make as many checks clear as possible.
No. Do what I said. I’m going to work on it now. Bye.
He closed the chat program and tugged at his eyes again. When Bernard started this career, he knew he’d have some late nights. But the previous few assignments were taxing in ways he could not expect. This was the second computer terrorism attack in the last month alone. And this one looked much more sophisticated than December’s stock price alteration.
The fact his bed was right behind him, beckoning to his sleepy body, fried his concentration a tad, but he still entered the sixteen-digit password with relative ease.