Valker opens his eyes and squints at the harsh morning light. He has to make himself look decent if he is going to go out in public. He shaves, and brushes his teeth. He changes into a red plaid robe and slippers to retrieve the mail. He walks down his driveway looking like a chimp, he still has a puberty beard and his thick eyebrows need to be trimmed. The weeds in between the slabs of concrete are now longer than his stringy brown hair. With the news in hand, he walks turns around to go back inside, until he hears the familiar creaky sound of a door opening. He quickly retreats to his house, and practically trips on one of the loose threads of his robe. He definitely does not want to run into his neighbor, Mr. Trenton. Mr. Trenton is a huge man, and he scares the living daylights out of Valker, albeit he is a nice man. Unlike the man in the bar, Mr. Trenton has a vibe that is extremely off putting to Valker. He also has a bell on the top of his door. To Valker, that bell is as annoying as a crying baby on a plane.
Valker begins to read the newspaper as he walks through the hall to his kitchen. By the time Valker sits at his round table he is already knee-deep in an interesting story. It is the same article he read last night, about Proton and its privacy issues. Valker again furrows his brow, and hunches over to read more. Valker continues to ponder about the article as he carries on with his morning routine.
As Valker is shaving, he suddenly stops and stares at his reflection in the mirror. Half of his face is still covered by shaving cream. He thought back, to the time he decided to beat up his middle school bully. It was sixth grade, at the playground. Valker remembers the array of colors, the crisp autumn leaves fluttering from the trees. Andrew’s blood was the same color as those trees, a brilliant crimson. Valker remembers the rush he felt that day, as his heart thumps in his chest. He remembers how great it felt to pound on this person, who had wronged him for years. He smiles wickedly.
Then he tenses up. He remembers what it feels like to go from the oppressed to the oppressor, in the blink of an eye: terrifying, yet exhilerating. Valker does not make those decisions often. He knows, on that morning, however, he would make another one of those decisions. The rush he feels, while reminiscing, gets the best of him. It always does.
Valker remembers the spare laptop he has in his storage room. In that second, starring in the mirror, he remembers why he went suffered through school all those years, what he has been working for his whole life. He just wanted to do something great.
Labtop in hand, Jermey Valker sits on his couch, where he broke his circuit board the other night. That memory sticks in Valker’s brain like glue that will never come off. All those scuff marks—so many memories. He could never forget them.
He starts by typing away in a blank, black file. It looked empty in the beginning, and void. After hours of sitting on his ugly green sofa, he creates a big fat page full of complicated codework. His fingers begin to throb with the beat of his typing. At that time, however, he does not feel his fingers throbbing, or his bodily functions, or the burning in his eyes from staring at the bright screen for hours. Bold moments like these are connected to his outbursts. It involves a random decision that Valker decides quickly, too quickly. Sometimes his gut knows best, and sometimes his gut gets him into trouble.
“Okay, move this up here, put the tags around it, and ta-da!” Valker is done at last. He slowly rises, his knees aching. He moves his arms across his chest to get his blood flowing. He feels warm as the blood rushes through his body.
After taking a brief intermission, Valker decides to get back to work. He downloads his code work onto his computer. As it loads, he watches a little blue line move in circles at the center of the screen. He keeps staring and his eyes begin to burn. He puffs a breath of air into his bang, which flop around on his head until he stops blowing air in that direction. After what seems like twenty minutes, the software is downloaded and Valker is faced with a new challenge—the final step of his code work: trying to hack into his own system. If he cannot access his codework, it will be a very good thing. If he gets back into the black file, however, his system is a failure and he wasted hours over nothing.
Once again, Valker starts typing away. He knows what he is doing as a regular hacker. He gets nervous when he gets past the first barrier of his code work. Beads of sweat form on his brow. His heart starts to thump in his chest when he gets past the second barrier. Valker begins to feel as if adrenaline—not blood— is coursing through his veins. If Valker passes the third and final barrier, he will be a failure.
After just minutes, he has the link to his code work in front of him, and he is about to open it. He feels extremely discouraged. He starts to think he passed the third barrier. He double clicks on the link and a screen pops up in front of him that reads: Unable to Access File.
He feels of surge of pride and relief. He closes the screen to his labtop and smiles to himself. His system worked.
Look out for next week’s chapter–Fear the City