The Sisters

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Lauren is a college student by day and hacker by night who discovers a secret underground social media network. Planning to expose them, she discovers that they are dangerously closer to her than she thinks...

It was at half past two at night that Lauren heard the buzz from her computer, indicating that her tracker had found something. She had been drifting off to sleep at her cluttered desk in her cluttered college dorm room and was immediately yanked back to awakedness. Her Siamese cat meowed. She looked at the flashing computer screen in front of her and saw the result of two days worth of hacking. The screen was black with the exception of a white square with a blank space in the middle. As she looked more closely at the screen, however, she saw that the black colour was made up of a very dense pattern of small symbols that she could not quite decipher.

She lit a cigarette and leaned back in her worn out office chair, inhaled deeply and let out a protracted cloud of smoke. She had reached the portal to whatever was behind that page. It fit the descriptions she had heard rumours about in the hacking community. They had competed with one another to find it, grappling through distant corners of the darkweb on their quest. A page behind a firewall that seemed impenetrable attracted hackers like her. Now all that she needed was the password. She grabbed the phone to call her friend, Simon. 

-I found it. She smiled and puffed once more on her cigarette. 
-What? He sounded simultaneously shocked and excited.
-I told you I was the best. Jealous?
-I have been working on that fucking thing for two weeks. How did you find it?
-I will tell you if you give me something in return.
-You need help to find the password, right? 
-I need an algorithm to figure it out, yes. 
-Only if I get to share credit with you for finding this, deal? 
-Deal. Let's get to work. 

Lauren woke up in the morning with a horrible hangover. She fed her cat and went into the kitchen to make some fresh coffee from her coffeemaker, yesterday's coffee was glued to it like black tar. She stood by the sink and had some fruit loops with chocolate milk while waiting for her coffee to be ready. 
She and Simon had been up until early in the morning while drinking a healthy amount of beer. They had rendered a password that worked, but it led to another encrypted portal that required yet another password. They needed to find out what was behind that firewall. Now it was time for her to go to class.

It was late spring on the Harvard campus and the cherry trees had just started to blossom and students had started to congregate in the park spaces around campus. They would have picnics and have animated conservations as well as drinks they would conceal from campus guards in plastic bottles. Lauren walked out into the open square from her dorm building and squinted at the light. She did not like the sun that much, which was evident from her pale complection. Lauren was in her mid 20s and was attending her last semester before graduating in software programming. 

Lauren arrived late to class and sat at the back of the crowded auditorium. The professor was holding the last class before the final exam of the semester, after which everyone would go on summer break. While taping her professor's lecture, she was simultaneously chatting with Simon who also had a hangover but did not have a lecture to go to that day.

-Have you got a charger? A blond girl sitting beside her whispered. 

-I forgot mine at home. Sure, Lauren answered and handed her her charger. The girl smiled. Simon messaged a selfie of himself drinking beer with one hand and holding joint with the other next to a huge container of noodles. The pre-party's started! See ya at 11 O'clock sharp, his text read. The professor ended the lecture and the students started streaming out of the auditorium. 

-Excuse me, the girl that had sat beside Lauren asked as she came up to her while she made her way into the corridor. Sorry for bothering you again.  You're Lauren, right?

-Yes...

-The girl who hacked the whole Harvard network and shut it down last year, right? 

-That's correct. Why, did it crash your Facebook or something?

-No, I thought it was cool. Why did you do it? 

Lauren smiled. 

-Actually, to prove it was in need of being fortified to withstand external cyber threats.

-Cool, the blonde replied.  I like precocious people. Hey, if you want, you can drop by my sorority this weekend. We're throwing a spring break party at Alpha Omega Venus Pi. 

-Aha, I haven't heard of you before.

-Really? We were in the Crimson last month.

-I don't read the Crimson.

-OK. We were elected most popular sorority in the country.

-So, we're both famous, Lauren replied, stone-faced. The blonde smiled.

-Saturday at 8 O'clock. You can bring a plus one.

-I don't know, I have a lot to do this weekend. 

-Well, the girl responded enthusiastically, the invitation is open. 

-Ok.

-Great! I'm Alice. Hope to see you there. 

Just as suddenly as she had appeared, Alice vanished into the crowd in the corridor. Lauren felt a bit perplexed. She rushed to the cafeteria to buy a bagel and a latte and then hurried home. She had important things to do. 

 

 

As Lauren hurried back to her dorm room, the sun was gently setting and the trees and old brick buildings started casting long shadows on the lawns and concrete pathways of the campus. She climbed the steep stairs leading up to her dorm building and slipped through the entrance as other students were on their way out. 

She opened her mail box and took out the usual invitations to student dinners, workshops and recruitment agencies looking to find fresh recruits once students had graduated. She had also got a letter and immediately saw that it was from her mother, judging by the handwriting. Her mother wrote that she missed her and wanted Lauren to visit her back in her home town in Kentucky after graduation. Lauren had not visited her family during the Christmas holidays and had cut her last summer break short to attend a hackathon back at university. Her mother sounded a bit cloying to Lauren, 
it was important to her to be free to be able to do what she wanted whenever she wanted. The more she expanded on her knowledge of her trade, the better it would be for her future career. 

She sat down in her office chair, turned on the television, put her feet up on the table in front of it and ate her bagle and drank her latte, a daily ritual for her during weekdays after getting back home after a lecture. Her cat jumped upon her lap and started purring, almost knocking over her coffee. She put the cup down and held the cat who rolled into a furry ball up against Lauren's chest. There was only crap on TV, reality shows and cooking shows. The only documentary that was on, one of the few types of programmes that she liked, was about the mating habits of fruit bats in Tasmania. Slowly but surely, she dozed off. 

She was woken up by the Skype signal from her computer. It was Simon and it was eleven o'clock. Sharp.

She opened the Skype chat room, Simon was smoking in sweatpants and still eating takeaway noodles. She yawned.

-Rise and shine!

-Just a sec, I need more coffee. 

She went into the kitchen to see what was left of this morning's coffee and discovered, to her delight, that there was enough left for at least a few cups, maybe even enough to keep her up all night. She went back to the desk, put her legs up on the desk and sipped the coffee. It was so strong she almost cringed. 

-Busy day? She asked.

-Very. I worked on cracking the site and watched all the Avengers movies back-to-back.

-And smoked lots of grass.

-Yes.

-Well, I guess smoking grass is the only way to sit through an Avengers movie.

-I know, you're too cool for Sci-fi. 

-No, I'm too cool for Avengers. 

-Whatever.

-Besides, Avengers isn't Sci-fi. 

-It is.

-It isn't. It's a superhero movie. Sci-fi is dystopian and cathartic.

-I disagree. Star wars is Sci-fi and it isn't dystopian.

-Star Wars isn't Sci-fi, it's a space opera. 

-Says who? Wikipedia?

-Says all serious movie critics AND Wikipedia. It's basically a soap opera set in space with bad dialogue and corny acting. Save for Nathalie Portman, of course. She's the only good thing about those movies.

-You mean the only good thing about prequels. They stink. The others are great.

-I haven't watched the others. I really don't like Carrie Fisher. 

-You have no taste.

-Dito.

-So, what about your day?

-Completely uneventful. Well, there was one thing. I was invited to a party by this girl called Alice who lives at Capa Capa Venus whatever sorority. 

-Fancy! I read about them in the Crimson, they were awarded most attractive sorority in...

-...The country. I know. What they really mean by attractive isn't academic credentials. What they mean is tits and ass.

-And cheerleader scholarships. 

-Yes, and cheerleader scholarships. 

-So why the invitation?

-She was impressed by that little incident last year, you know.

-It wasn't that little, Lauren. You almost got kicked out.

-Almost.

-So, what did you say?

-I said I might. Jealous?

-Sure, sure. Like anyone of them would look at me even if I were interested.

-OK, then I'll find someone else to be my plus one... 

-If you go. But you probably won't.

-Probably not. So, Lauren said, have you figured out anything new about our pet project?

-You tell me... 

She logged onto where they had left off in the morning and hit refresh.

-Holy.... shit.

The previously black screen with a small rectangle demanding a coded password was now replaced with neon pink exclaiming, in green print, "WELCOME TO THE SISTERS". 

 

There was a square at the top right on the page that read "create an account;- get started and meet sisters from all over the world". 

-The name of the site and those lurid colours, it sounds like a religious site with the look of a... porn site, don't you think? he exclaimed.

-Whatever. She clicked the "create an account" button a new page with rquired details appeared. Now we need to come up with a username. 

-I'm so bad at stuff like that, Simon exclaimed. You do it. I can only think of nerdy names, you know like elves and shit. 

-Ok, well, since you mentioned porn, we might use that as inspiration.

-What do you mean?

-I mean, a pornstar name. You see, they usually use the name of your first pet as the first name and combine it with the name of the street of your first home as the surname. 

-Really? 

-Really. So, you go first.

-What?

-What was the name of your first pet and the name of the street of your first home? 

-Why on earth did you come up with this idea?

-Trust me, I now what works on social media, you don't. You can never use your real name, you want to keep it cheap and cheerful.

  Simon leaned back in his chair and giggled.

-Tell me.

-Lassie Broadway. 

They both laughed, Lauren had another sip of her coffee and he opened another bottle of beer. 

-What about yours?

-Co Co Summerlain. 

-That's the one we should go with. 

-I agree. 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: June 10, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Magnus Taylor. All rights reserved.

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