Black and White

[This was originally published in Underground Experts United Issue #440 and mirrored on attrition.org. The exact publish date is not known.]

The world is grey. I see everything as it is, people for who they are. Nothing escapes my eyes. I can’t begin to comprehend the idea of color. Color seems like the perfect way to ruin beauty. They say contrast of colors make them more appealing. How can that compare with the two hundred fifty six thousand shades of grey I can distinguish? Why do people think contrast is based on color only? My people have names for each shade of grey. Nothing like these vague names people use for colors. In many cases people will call the same shade different names from what I can tell.

The world is so vibrant through my eyes. My sight reaches out and goes beyond what they call “3-D”. When I look at something, I can see it in true three dimensional visualization. Perhaps it is me seeing things for what they are, or being able to “look behind people.” Beyond that I can see their feelings, their pheromones, their fears and more. With all of that showing, it is hard to hide what they are thinking. They see me as another of their kind, unable to see that my eyes are different. The fact that my eyes are a piercing gray with dark grey pupils would stand out in someone’s mind.. or so I would think.

Simple encounters in the street are so much more to me. Try to imagine it for a minute. To read their emotions, to see their uncertainty or perhaps their unfounded loathing based off simple appearance. Maybe read their curiosity in your mannerism, or their pure desire to get to know you better. Empathy for someone else they see, or disgust of someone near them, or pity on the street urchin at their feet.

There are a lot of people that think they are in control of their outward visibility. They think that a straight face and calculated reaction will make them “unreadable” to others. What they fail to realize is that so many aspects of the human body betray them. Their pheromones give away their overall mood, feeling and desire. Even if they wrote their life story in a book for me, it would be more difficult to understand.

I don’t know why I am here. I don’t know why I am different from you. I only know I am because of past awkward conversations about a piece of art, some new shirt, the color of a car or something as equally trivial. During those times I have to explain that I am “color blind” as they call it, and eventually agree that I am missing out on some supposed wondrous sight. The other person is always oblivious to the concept someone else can see or do something better than they. Their loss.

Why am I here… perhaps my ability coupled with my desire to write, study and observe tells me something? Am I to be taking better notes on society? Write a thesis or book on my differences, or maybe describe a world so full of “color” from the eyes of someone who doesn’t see them. Maybe to teach others that there is so much more to be seen than a simple “color?” That when focused, anyone could see everything else a person is saying whether they know it or not? Do I really know what the word “color” means? Can I? My search for the answers to who I am continue on. I am one of a kind thrown in a mix of such similar people, forced to question everything around me. Blessed and cursed at the same time, due to my superior sight. A life of research trying to answer these questions which plague me. I can only remember waking up from sleep, that day so long ago. It is just like waking up any other day, except I cannot remember anything before that. My research puts my origin as alien to your world. No previous records of beings like me, no mention of conditions or ailments that would explain my differences.

With amusement I read of others plight to find someone so much like them. Could they fathom what kind of task that is for someone such as me?

George

[This was originally published in Underground Experts United Issue #435 and mirrored on attrition.org. The exact publish date is not known.]

Your morning paper Mr. President.

Thank you Stuart.

The President of the United States took the offered reading from his aide and continued to stir his coffee. Just like the past two years, the morning ritual of coffee and paper played out. One thing he had learned in his career was that taking the time to see what society deemed important gave him a great advantage when it came time to deal with the press. He leaned back in his chair going over the first section, mentally taking notes about each article’s focus. As the minutes pass and his coffee dwindled, he moved on to sports and entertainment. He had always liked Monday mornings as they gave him a chance to read about the weekend’s activities and get a fresh start on the week.

Can you line up ‘Mercury Rising’ for the next Movie Night? I think Jill will like that one.

Of course Mr. President.

Stuart shuffled off to put in the request after refilling the coffee pot. It seemed to be his boss’ life blood at times. Minutes later he returned to find the President almost done with the paper.

Stuart.. it says that Donald Gray passed away last night. That name sounds familiar; was he on one of the councils?

Yes, the Distributed Security Council I believe.

Hmm.. and what do they do again?

I’m not sure really Mr. President. I can look into it if you’d like.

No matter, I was just curious.

The week had been shitty to say the least. Nice relaxing Monday, and the next thing he knew it, the government was crumbling around him. The President sat at the end of the table looking out across the table at his staff. How could the whole world fall so quickly, leaving him in the dark more than ever?

Day two folks, and I still don’t have an answer.

The most powerful man in the world looked out over the table at the blank faces staring back. They were more in shock than he was it seemed. “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? None of you have an answer for me?! You have three days to figure something out. Three days.

It was only Tuesday and four of his top advisors had resigned in the last twenty four hours. The president looked down on the table and reread the headlines that had started this mess. “Roswell Only the Fourth Coverup.” Each time he glanced down he expected to see some cheezy tabloid name at the top of the page. But the top of the stack that held that headline read ‘New York Times’.

He pushed the top paper aside to reveal ‘The Miami Herald’. For the first time in history the paper had ditched every single ‘A Section’ article in favor of the twelfth page spread that ran this morning. Half the front page was dedicated to bold headlines reading ‘CIA: Cocaine Import Agency’. The next eleven pages gave a detailed list of operatives that were smuggling the drugs into the country. Names of planes and boats followed, along with photocopies of the books detailing kilos and dollars. Those twelve pages summed up the last sixteen years of drug running the CIA had been involved in. As he read through the summary, he could only curse more after seeing them downplay the importation of weapons as if it was no big deal. Three hours of sleep, and it could barely be considered that. He had struggled to get some sleep, but kept thinking about the living hell he could call this week. No chance of getting to sleep, he sat up and called for his aide. With a quiet groan, Stuart appeared in the doorway.

I’ll call the advisors sir.

With that, Stuart stumbled back out the door.

No one said a word. They sat there with folders and laptops sprawled in front of them, grim looks on each face. Newspapers sat stacked at each corner of the large table. The President cleared his throat and began.

Well, what lovely news do we have this morning? Wednesday, May 7th, 1998. Wall Street Journal reports that the NSA has been doing domestic spying on major political figures, industry leaders, CEOs, and others. Detailed listing of who in the phone companies were NSA operatives, lists of domestic surveillance teams, and more.

He looked up and surveyed the people sitting near him. Each and every person hung their head in shame, as if to personally take blame for the material he read them.

Well well, it must be ‘NSA Day’. Looks like we have some kind of network map listing every router the NSA has been sniffing on that internet crap. Hell if I know what a router is, but I can only assume it is a bad thing if Newsweek is doing a twenty-page spread on it. And here… ‘key escrow’ and ‘backdoored encryption’ gets its own section. The biggest baddest spook house gets hung out to dry. Do we have the first clue who is behind any of this?

With that question the room burst into small conversations. Groups of three and four people talked in hush voices trying to trade enough information to figure out who could have leaked such details. Not only the specifics, but the overwhelming proof that followed each and allowed the papers and magazines to run these types of stories without fear of retribution.

Thursday went further downhill if that was possible. Seventeen people had resigned that week, each fearing some kind of retribution for the information leaks. The president knew most of them had no clue what was going on, but he did know they had a right to be scared.

Do any of you people have any idea what this is doing to the administration? Can we all understand the world of shit we are in? Are all of you that far out of the loop? So much that you can’t find who the hell is behind this?

With disgust, the president picked up the latest newspaper and held it up for all to see.

Can anyone tell me what the ISA is and why they would kill JFK? Or better yet, how the director of the BATF has been using and dealing cocaine for the past seven years? Or maybe why the Media Control Board has systematically come up with a new scandal ever three months to keep people interested in the government? Am I the only one who finds all of this disturbing?

Friday’s meeting was the first that anyone had cracked a smile the entire week. Before the president could start in on his yelling and screaming, George Hanna of the distributed security council stood up. “Sir. I have a full report explaining the events that have unfolded this week. Some of the details are sketchy, but we have a pretty good idea of what happened we think.

By all means George, continue. Tell us how this clusterfuck could have happened.

Well sir, it started last week with the death of Donald Gray. As you may know, he was another member of the council and one of the longest standing members. It seems we lapsed in our background checks, and that lapse finally caught up.

A dozen thoughts flew through the president’s head that second. How could he have let this happen? Who was supposed to tell him about this kind of thing? What did this council do that a single person could be so powerful? What more could he expect? He looked to George and nodded for him to continue.

Under article 1, section 1, paragraph 2 of the Distributed Security Council bylaw, everyone must leave the room except for you Mr. President. The rest of you are sworn to secrecy. The DSC has kept people in check until now, don’t let this single lapse fool you into believing you are safe if you violate this law.

The tone of voice and way he recited the article suggested the laws and procedures were being followed verbatim. That scared him more than anything else. When George pulled out his handgun and placed it on the table, he didn’t know how to react. The line to the door shrunk much quicker with the informal motivation.

George walked over to close and lock the door behind the last person. Walking back toward the table, he reached into another pocket and pulled out a small metal pyramid and placed it on the table where his gun sat. He reached for a chair to pull up so he could face the president for the talk. “Well Mr. President, this is what we know so far. Understand, that this information does not leave us. If for any reason you or anyone on your staff try to use us for blame..

The President interrupted: “I think I have an idea George.

Good. Donald Gray was not supposed to happen. Without going into a history of the council and our procedures, let me try to explain. Donald has been a solid but sideline member of the panel for the past thirty eight years. During that time he has performed a wide variety of functions including what we call ‘support’ writing.

That entails access to just about every sensitive document in our country. From the initial reports, it looks as if he has been making liberal use of the copiers. Thirty eight years of research would explain a single person having copies of everything that has been spilled to the reporters. You’re probably thinking that we should have some safeguards against this sort of thing, and of course you are right.

During the past decade Donald has lost every living relative which is our first line of defense. Normally we catch that sort of thing and develop alternative methods of loyalty encouragement. Because of his dealings with the council and long standing membership, he has had access to several slush funds that we control to do the work required. As you now see, it is quite ironic that our own government tax dollars have paid these papers to run the stories and ensure everything ended up in the articles. No family, no personal belongings, no friends.. absolutely nothing to tie him to anything. Donald had set things up so that once he passed away, the information would be anonymously mailed to the various media sources. And it went down exactly as he planned. Which brings us to finding a solution to this whole problem. The people want to know why the government has been hiding this. They already know about all of the secret/top secret bullshit, the conspiracy theories, rogue agencies and more. Since we are that rogue agency they fear so much, and the entire council doesn’t care to lose their jobs, we feel it would be generous for you to take the blame.” Without hesitation, the President burst out laughing at the man sitting in front of him.

That has to be the most absurd thing I have heard in my life. Of course I won’t do that.

George smiled once while nodding. He picked up the gun and handed it to the president who was hesitant to take it.

Go ahead. I don’t want you to get the idea we are going to kill you or anything. Besides, I am sure we can come up with something agreeable to all parties.

With that, George picked up the small metal pyramid on the table and pocketed it. With a half bow, he walked away and left the room. Monday rolled around and the President resumed his morning ritual of paper and coffee. He went over his notes in preparation for his speech this morning. Everything seemed to be laid out perfectly and would hopefully explain the past seven days to the American people. Without warning his eyes glazed over. The notes he held found themselves on fire and being dropped into a nearby trash can before continuing on with his preparations. As he walked to the other end of the white house, he silently went over his speech and tried to guess what questions the reporters would ask. Anything that his current training wouldn’t cover? He certainly hoped not. Like a royal procession, some of his staff followed him toward the press room as usual. Looking around, something seemed a bit out of place, like someone missing. No matter.

The President of the United States stepped up to the podium and faced the crowded room. He recognized many of the journalists in front of him as well as a few members of media relations for the white house mixed in to ask strategic questions. As he surveyed the room, one face caught his attention and instilled fear into him. George sat toward the back of the room, hands in lap as if nothing ever happened.

Good morning. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for showing up. The past week has seen some interesting headlines and a lot of fear and speculation has grown due to it.

While he spoke, he couldn’t help but notice George reach into his pocket and withdraw something. From this distance it was hard to be sure, but it appeared to be the same metallic pyramid as before. Originally he had assumed it was a device to prevent electronic eavesdropping, but now he wasn’t sure. He continued on with his speech giving very little detail and wider speculation as to the source of all the information. His media analysts had indicated that until they could come up with a solid story, no details or they may hinder the investigation later.

With that, I would like to open it up to the floor for questions.” That is all it took for the journalists to go into a frenzy, causing each person to almost climb on each other trying to be recognized. The president started to call Sally from ABC but something occurred to him. His eyes lost focus and he spoke into the microphone, calling George’s name. “Thank you Mr. President. I’d like to ask a very direct question. Who is behind the information leaks, and what is going to be done about it?” The president slowly looked down to the microphone before continuing. Instead of a neutral but varying voice, his eyes lost focus once again as he turned to a more monotone inflection.

To answer that, I would like to speak plainly and honestly. I am tired of mincing words and lying to the public. The truth is, like my predecessors before me, I have repeatedly given the order to hide certain material from the American people. It has come time to make them aware of certain activities their government has been involved in. So, I say to you, that I am responsible. I have leaked this information to various contacts in the media. I have used taxpayer dollars to ensure that this information was printed as lead stories. I have worked directly against certain agencies designed to protect this information.

To answer the question about what is being done, I can only offer this solution..

With that, the president removed a familiar handgun from his suit jacket. Before anyone could react, he held it to his mouth and squeezed the trigger. National TV got a good idea what was on the President’s mind. As the crowd gasped and lunged forward to get a better story, George pocketed the metal object and walked out of the room. Beneath the roar from others around him, he quietly said “I think that was agreeable to both parties” as he walked away.

Scenes of the Assassin

[This was originally published in Underground Experts United Issue #387 and mirrored on attrition.org. The exact publish date is not known.]

The thump of the bass shook the walls throughout the club giving the perception it was in a foreign land. Fluid movement across the dance floor spilled out by the hundred or so bodies gyrating in near unison. No one had entered the club for nearly an hour and just a handful had left. Every week for the past year Tric had come here to dance away the week’s frustration that built up within.

Tonight was a good night, one of his best. As he moved around slipping into his musical trance, his hand continually strayed down to his left pocket guaranteeing the lump was still there. It was unlikely he would lose it in the club, but it wasn’t every day you walked around with five thousand in cash. He thought back to the seventy hours he had worked to get the money this week, and the delight of his employer. Well, the delight part was just a guess, it was always hard to tell the real mood of someone through email. Hacking for foreign governments was a very profitable venture.

Drums assaulted the crowd as the singer’s voice cut out and a heavy base line kicked in. Strobe lights began their own dance over the mass of teenagers in the club. As a wide variety of sounds struck out loud, the strobes quickened in pace. Tric snapped his head up and opened his eyes looking straight ahead into the wall. His quick moves of dance morphed into a new form as he shook violently.

A lone figure wrapped in shadows walked out of the club. Tric looked down to his empty pocket as he reached around to feel his back drenched in sweat. The figure in black put on his sunglasses and continued walking down the street. Bringing his hand back around, Tric noticed it wasn’t sweat, but his own blood on the freshly removed knife. One hundred yards down the road the man in black flipped through the wad of cash and checked to make sure his second knife was still secure. Tric fell to the dance floor, dead.

Four blocks away the assassin sat down at a coffee shop and ordered a glass of water. Even though he had done this hundreds of times in the past, his heart beat furiously as he surveyed his surroundings. Ten minutes passed before the first police car sped by followed shortly by an ambulance. He grinned as he watched the ambulance pass since he knew it wouldn’t be too helpful. Even if the mark survived the knife, he had to deal with poison that laced the blade.


Detestable was the only word to describe Draper. He had all of the fine qualities of a wart hog, and the personality to match. Even in the freezing weather surrounding the resort, Draper somehow managed to sweat. Coupled with the old sweat suit three sizes too small, and his lack of bathing for two weeks, he was outright disgusting.

About the only thing he had going for him was his ability to launder money. Somehow his past had taught him subtle tricks in covering his tracks in the financial system, and turned it into a lucrative career. His contacts refused to meet with him because of his hygiene, not secrecy, and that was the way he liked it. Draper had only dealt with a few members of an unnamed government agency in his past, and planned on keeping it that way.

His three night stay in Vail was almost at end. His work had only taken a few hours the first night, but he always demanded time off to “recover” as he liked to say. He packed his bags with a fervor that didn’t match his demeanor. Once done he grabbed his bags after throwing the room key on the table. In the distance he heard the steady beat of the helicopter that would take him back to his home in New York.

Downstairs he stopped at a candy machine hoping for a bag of chips and a Sprite for the helicopter ride. He fumbled for the change needed to get the chips almost dropping one of his bags in the process. The first quarter dropped in the machine with a few clicks. The second followed but had bigger results. A split second before Draper went deaf from the explosion, thousands of shards of glass from the machine sliced through his face and chest.

Draper was dead before he hit the floor. Seconds later, a black Miata sped out of the parking lot, a slight grin on his face. He picked up the mobile fun and speed dialed. As the remote line rang, he turned up the music to drown out everything else. He couldn’t hear the other end pick up the phone, but he knew they would, and the music delivered the message. He would collect the other half of his payment later that day.


Down time was always fun for him. A person can only take so much killing before they have to take a break and smell the roses along the path of life. Movies was his answer. He loved nothing more than a good movie to escape into, often imagining he was the hero or occasionally the villain. Either way, it was his fun time.

The Majestic Theatre was his favorite place to check out the newest movies. He felt as if he owned the place because of the amount of time he spent there, and had considered buying the theatre when he went legite. Until then, more new movies. Today’s movie of choice had the appearance of a typical action flick with lots of guns and mindless violence. Not his favorite, but typically amusing enough to life his spirits.

Today he was accompanied by Juli who worked over at the 82nd Street Deli. Not his first date with her, but he couldn’t dedicate any feeling to her because of his job and lifestyle. She knew it though, and enjoyed his company. Good for him, she was very tolerant and didn’t ask questions about his work, or some past incidents. As the lights dimmed they both kicked their feet up and positioned themselves to enjoy the film.

The previews rolled by displaying upcoming nights where he would be in the same place, at about the same time, maybe even with the same company. Juli nudged him away from his thoughts after she noticed him zoning out, he smiled in return. Seconds after the last preview something happened that he wasn’t quite expecting, his pager went off. For most people this was a typical occurrence, for him, it was much worse.

In less than a second he jumped up as if his seat had caught on fire. Half leaning over, he whispered to Juli while handing her his pager and some money. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before running down the aisle and out the side door. A small sigh is all Juli could do as she clipped the pager on her belt, pocketed the money, and sat back counting the minutes pass.

Exactly ten minutes later, the theatre burst into living hell as twenty armed federal agents stormed the aisles. Juli acted quite surprised at the intrusion and cooperated with the big armed men. Even answering all the questions about the strange man trying to pick up on her, it still took two hours before they were satisfied with all of her answers.

She walked home with a small grin on her face, impressed that he always managed to get away like that. It was only a matter of days before he called her again, asking to make it up to her, which always turned out to be a nicer night than any of the movies. Until then, work as usual.. and puzzlement over who always paged him like that, why he was wanted, and how he always managed to get away.


Since the first time he received that page, he couldn’t help but wonder who his guardian angel was. Like other parts of his life, the near busts were almost like clockwork, coming once every three months, almost to the day. Someone high up saw it in his or her best interest to keep him alive.. he just wanted to know who and why. Was it his employers looking out for a good employee? Or perhaps someone else higher up that sanctioned his actions.

Each time the page came it only said “escape”. The first time it had happened he almost didn’t make it out in time because he was unsure of what it meant exactly. His latest was unexpected only because he had forgotten it was a leap year. He was expecting it tomorrow even though he had no idea where he would have been.

Two days later he walked into the deli where Juli worked and asked for a BLT and diet coke. Juli smiled warmly at him before telling him it would be another hour before she was off. As usual the place was fairly busy serving the lunch crowd of surrounding businesses. Since Juli opened every weekday morning, she was always off by early afternoon leaving the rest of the day for whatever.

Two o’clock rolled around as she finished up the midday duties. A few minutes after she came out from behind the counter and sat next to him. She seemed quite happy to see him which always brought a smile to his face. He cleaned up his lunch mess before they headed out to spend the day together. Making it up to her was always enjoyable since he usually spent the entire day out on the town with her. From past conversations, he had gathered that she didn’t get out much which would explain her good mood each time they spent the day together. Either way, there was something else about her today that seemed different.


Their first stop was a small café a few blocks away on 91st Street. The café was nothing more than a hole in the wall, but the coffee was outstanding and the place was littered with old computers hooked in to the internet. Since he never bought a computer of his own, but maintained several email addresses to stay in touch with various contacts, trips to the café were frequent. He liked the anonymous access this place gave him. Julie liked to hang out on IRC and chat with a few friends from Texas where she used to live.

Juli enjoyed a Latte while she chatted on “#texas” while he went to each of his accounts checking mail. There were only a handful of people this early in the day, each scattered about drinking and chatting about daily affairs. It ended up taking the better part of two hours to finish everything up. He threw down a twenty to cover their tab and left the rest as a tip for the computer time. From there, they headed toward the zoo.


Despite the beautiful surroundings and the exotic wildlife, the two walked hand in hand throughout the zoo very slowly. Conversation seemed to turn back to a variety of daily chat rather than their normal deeper conversations. Every time he looked at her she seemed to glance away as if she had been studying him. He had a feeling this would come some day or another, not that he was ready for it by any means.

His mouth opened several times but shut a split second later each time. Everything he thought to say to start the conversation on his terms just didn’t sound right after his mouth opened. She saw his nervousness and grinned. Realizing he just couldn’t get things started, she began.

I’ll start, not that I know where to begin really. I guess you are probably expecting this to come some day or another. Hope you understand where I am coming from with this.”

He nodded and smiled to himself, impressed with her strength, as she continued on.

Ever since we met I could tell you valued your privacy, and I know you offer what information or feelings that you can, but I want to know you better. I mean, I know you can’t talk about your job much for whatever reasons, but I know you can tell me more about you.”

It took him several minutes to digest what she said and plan his typical carefully worded reply. They continued walking while he figured out what to say to her. Even after thinking of how to start, it took a poke in the ribs to actually begin.

Well, you’re right about the job. I can’t talk about it for a lot of reasons, some personal, some professional. What you don’t understand is that the personal reasons keep me distant, not the professional reasons. I don’t know how to explain this really. I guess its a really big catch 22 of sorts.”

He took a pause from his confusion and led her down a path toward the aquariums. While he walked he couldn’t help but to look down at his feet, unable to make eye contact with her. Squeezing her hand tightly in his, he continued on.

As for my past, its the typical college drop out story or something. Been on my own since I was sixteen. Finished high school before working as a computer technician for a while. Started contracting for some interesting groups who did some different things. Ended up doing a little college while I worked for them, but dropped out because the money was better. While I worked there they kept training me in different areas, and here I am.”

She half squinted one eye and looked at him as he told his story. She could tell he was leaving the most interesting parts out, but that was fine. It was more than obvious he couldn’t talk about a lot of it. She figured it had to do with one of the secret government agencies or another, and because of his use of computers she guessed it had to do with hacking or spying or something. She didn’t really care to know since he made sure it never affected her.

Even though they had only known each other for ten or eleven months, she felt a deep liking for him. Every time she thought about the whole thing, she could never really tell if it was love until she was with him. Then, she couldn’t deny it.

Well, that’s a start I guess, but certainly not the finish.”

She smiled really big letting him know she was happy with his explanation for now. Not wanting to let him off the hook so easily, she kept going.

First off, can I assume that you haven’t seen anyone else since we started hanging out? And if not, why not?”

He looked over at her surprised at how straight forward she was and laughed quietly. At least this was an easy question to answer.

The reason I am never with anyone is because I need complete and unconditional acceptance from them. But I can’t make them promise that without knowing all about me.. which I can’t tell them without that unconditional acceptance. So I am always in a bind of sorts. This goes back to the Catch 22 and why I don’t talk about certain things. If I could somehow manage to find someone willing to accept me at face value, and to unconditionally accept who I am, then I guess I could be a little more open. Just a matter of finding that person who can truthfully do that. And let me tell you, it would be a little more than ‘disturbing’ what I would tell that person. Do you see what I mean?

He wasn’t sure if she could ever fully comprehend what he just said, and even less sure she would respond positively to it.

Basically, I would tell that person a lot of really frightening things, and have to rely on them to accept them, and then accept me afterwards. Since I know what I would tell them, it gives me a good basis for never telling anyone.”

He glanced at her trying to measure her response, silently hoping this would be it. He had desperately wanted to find a companion in life, someone who could share his dark past and his dark present. Someone that could look past that and see the whole story. He had given up on finding anyone long ago because of the weird nature of his work. The smile slipped away from her as she considered what he said. They both knew it was an offer of sorts, but she wasn’t sure what was to come if she said ‘yes’.

Well, it’s kind of hard for me too. I can’t promise that I will accept it since I don’t know what it is. There are some things that I don’t like and I refuse to deal with. On the other hand there are a few things most people consider ‘twisted’ that I have always looked past.”

Her ability to reason and look at all points of a problem had always been appealing. She knew exactly what was up and just had to decide whether or not if she wanted to take that chance. He gave a sincere smile to her to try to comfort her. She hesitated with her response but finally managed to continue.

Let me think about it tonight. I can see it in your face that this isn’t some trivial bullshit, and that it is something I really have to consider. Do you mind?”

Of course not! Take all the time you need….shit..I’m getting paged.”

He checked his pager to see a message indicating his services were needed once again. Of course he would get paged right now.

I have to go. I probably won’t be able to see you for two or three days but when I get back I will find you.”

I understand. I guess this works out for both of us. It will give me time to think about it, and time for you to worry about my answer.”

She gave him a big mischievous smile after her response. Better keep him on his toes she figured. They said their goodbye’s and took off in opposite directions, more because it felt like a parting of ways, not because they were really going different directions. Both walked with the weight on their shoulders.


It was three days before he returned to town, happy with his performance during the job. The time to wind down was definitely upon him because of minor complications over the past three days. He took some time to clean his place up a little, grab a few days worth of snacks in case he spent time at his place, and to ready himself for Juli’s answer. He actually hadn’t thought about it much because of everything else happening, but now it was the only thing on his mind.

He picked up and set down the phone at least five times before he could muster the nerve to call her. The conversation went a little roughly because of the nervousness on both sides, but he managed to pick a time and place to meet her. Now, he had to find a way to pass the hours before they met. Those hours seemed longer than anything he had ever encountered.

He walked into the restaurant with a fear he had never faced before. The feeling unnerved him to the point he almost couldn’t go through with it. To top it off, his mind raced trying to figure out why he was losing control of himself like this. It was just one woman! He looked around nervously trying to find her, unsure if she had already shown up. He wandered around the various sections to see if she had already grabbed a table.

After walking through the entire place he headed back up to the front to wait for her. As he walked into the lobby he saw her walking through the front door. His heart stopped beating while they took a few more steps to stand face to face. Sweat dripped down from his armpits and his hands were very moist. He wasn’t sure why this was such a big deal, but nothing he did could make his body quit reacting like it was.

They both said ‘hi’ and turned to head toward a table. He glanced over at her and couldn’t help but wonder about the look on her face. She had a very intent look in her eyes which betrayed the half smile she showed. His mind read it as an extreme; either very good or very bad. Something about the way she was smiling today made him wonder about her intentions. This was quite different for him as he was accustomed to reading her like a book.

After the standard procedure of ordering drinks, appetizers, and the main course, it came down to it. He had made idle chat with her waiting for them to be alone for a little bit. Unable to contain himself, he started off.

I take it you have had time to think about our talk the other day…

Before he could finish she was nodding ‘yes’.

So.. after thinking about things.. I mean.. damn you! You’re enjoying this aren’t you?”

A big smile crept over her face as he said that since that was exactly her plan.

So throw caution to the wind..

He scooted up and leaned on the table anxious as he had ever for anything. His hands kept clinching back and forth, sweating like mad. His left foot was tapping quickly to some other beat or thought he had been having. His mind played out every scenario for every possible answer she could give. His heart screamed as he waited for her to say something. It was then that he realized what had made him lose control over all of this. One simple little thing. True and unconditional love for her. Now he only had to wait half a second more before he knew if the feeling was mutual…


Another day on the job. He never knew what order it would be in, just that he would kill, escape, and get paid. It had been like that for years now which was mutually beneficial to both he and his employers. Not that he really knew who they were, nor did he care. Some gut feeling told him that if he did know, someone like him would be hired to pass him along. Oh well, another day… but now, it would be another day with someone who accepted him for who he was. And that meant everything in the world.

Usenet is NOT a Democracy

[This was originally written for se7en, for his magazine titled “Shades of Black” and mirrored on attrition.org.]

For those of you who read Usenet, you will no doubt be able to relate to the following text. For those of you who don’t know what Usenet is, read on. On the internet, Usenet exists to exchange messages about different topics and share information/opinions/whatever. With Usenet, it doesn’t matter what time the different people are on, you can read people’s messages, and leave your own for them to read at their convenience.

There is currently over 15,000 different Usenet groups covering just about any topic you could want. You will find groups dedicated to sports, literature, computers, fan clubs, sex, and just about anything else. Some of the groups receive thousands of new messages a day while others receive one or two a week. There are two fundamental types of newsgroups: moderated and unmoderated. Just like it sounds, some of the groups have one or two moderators who ensure the posts stay on topic and keep flame wars and spams out of the messages.

A moderated newsgroup is easy to spot, just look for one that ends in “moderated”. i.e.: alt.2600.moderated or rec.cats.moderated as well as many others. If the group does not have that ending, odds are it isn’t moderated. Usually….

There are a lot of groups that have self appointed moderators who feel they are doing a service to the other readers. Often times they are doing a good thing and helping other people as well as protecting the from time wasting spams or trolls. Sometimes however, these self appointed moderators go too far.

It is generally accepted that you only post a web/ftp address in a newsgroup where you think people would want to see it. If you have a page dedicated to cats, then posting your address to rec.cats would usually be considered acceptable. Many web and ftp sites are fairly big and cover many topics. With these, if one of the topics is in line with the newsgroup, then once again it is acceptable to post it.

Recently a little war has erupted between a self appointed moderator and a Usenet reader (again). This time however, I think it needs to be pointed out that sometimes moderation is not welcome. Elf Sternberg has proclaimed himself the moderator of alt.sex.bondage for some reason. He was not voted to take this position, he did not start the group, and has no basis whatsoever to moderate it. Yet, if you post something he doesn’t like, he mails you and your system administrator to complain.

In this recent case, a user posted his web address for people to check out since the pages cover a very wide range of topics. The pages are usually found to be interesting to all because of the humorous topics, funny stories, good information, and well designed graphics.

The response to this one line post is below:

Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 07:40:20 -0800 (PST)
From: Elf Sternberg
To: postmaster@sonic.net, se7en@sonic.net
Subject: Do not use the internet to advertise. (was Shades of Black WWW Page)

Please do not use the Internet for advertising. Your post to
this newsgroup violates the community standards of Usenet
against advertising, and has cost thousands of people around
the world thousands of dollars–dollars you have not paid
others to carry your advertising. Please don’t do it again.

Elf Sternberg
Moderator, the alt.sex FAQ.

Your offending article is returned to you.

Lets look at this for a second. The big complaint about advertising on the internet usually refers to large commercial institutions that flood newsgroups with product advertisements or services. Many times these companies use programs to disguise their real address because they know they will receive many letters of complaint as well as potential retribution. Advertising a personal web page is NOT commercial advertising.

Community standards. There are none. On the internet, everyone is on their own. There are no real rules and the guidelines people have written in the past vary too much to be universal. It can be argued that the group of people on one newsgroup set the standards for that area, but how are you supposed to know what they consider right? You don’t.

Mr. Sternberg goes on to say it has cost people thousands upon thousands of dollars in damage. Wrong again. If you were to break it down and calculate a worst case scenario for a single Usenet message crossing through the most expensive gateway in the most foreign of countries, it would still cost less than a single penny. Had the message been a huge binary file or something else, it may have cost around fifty cents.

Sternberg then signs it as ‘Moderator’ even though he isn’t. The “alt.sex FAQ” suggests he has written a FAQ or part of one about sex. Sex in general from the sound of it, not a FAQ for the newsgroup he is trying to moderate. The letter he has written to complain about that post is more offensive, and has wasted five times the bandwidth the original message did.

Usenet is not a democracy. So, you may argue that he has a right to do that. Yes, he does. He also has the right to accept the abuse that comes with it. Moderating like that often causes arguments among users, and a series of attacks against each other. Had se7en wanted, he could have taken one of many steps to get back at Elf. Removing the newsgroup entirely, flooding it with thousands of blank messages a day, and mail bombing Elf are just a few things that can be done.

So, a one line post that Elf didn’t like could lead to a huge waste of time and bandwidth in retaliation measures. All because Elf decided HE was the moderator and decided HE didn’t like it. Get a clue.

The last thing to consider is what group he has decided to moderate. A group dedicated to bondage of all things. Wake up and do something good for the net instead of moderating a newsgroup that shouldn’t be moderated.. stay off the net.

You can reach Elf at: elf@eskimo.com or elf@halcyon.com

DisordeR