Digital Bedlam 2: Hacking The Hackers

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Sequel to 2017 story Digital Bedlam https://www.booksie.com/531072-digital-bedlam

Digital Bedlam 2: Hacking the Hackers

 

Lily stared at the ice-cold silver bars as she sat on the bed in her solitary cell. The walls were brown grey brick. The ceiling looked purple in the darkly lit room. Aside from some amenities, there was only the bed. Uncomfortable, hard as steel, unlike her fluffy, feminine bed at home. Well it was not home now. Her father, mother, sister and even their nanny had boarded first class on an Airbus A380 on route to the Caribbean. No bedlam in their lives. Lily smiled though.

 

It has only been a week since her father’s betrayal. The police, and whatever special criminal forces tactical units they brought with them, had been physically rough with her by breaking into her bedroom. They caught her red-handed in the act of hacking a bank account. The evidence was plan as on the flickering computer screen. The news services got hold of the story. A young girl, not an adult yet, was a hacker! But her hacker networks, outraged, spread the news around the world almost in the blink of an eye about her capture. She had no way at this point to contact them to reassure them that she was ok.

 

Although she told her visiting prison psychologist she was not feeling traumatised, she was still holding in the rage at being betrayed and abandoned. Her psychologist, an older man, was actually nice and professional. He provided over three days of long sessions of talking where, for a 17-year-old, she was beginning to understand the severity of her situation. She was also terribly concerned about her cat Phreak. Her family abandoned not only her, but the beautiful, black very friendly, but great judge of human character pure bred cat that cost her father four thousand dollars.

 

What annoyed her were the looks of the family taking off to the Caribbean without a care in the world during the incident. Yet it didn’t add up that her neighbour, Mrs Jones was involved. From the instant of the police car leaving, Lily saw Mrs Jones look scared as Lily’s sister looked at the neighbour. It was odd too that although her capture happened so quickly, the family’s limousine left as soon as Lily was in the back of the police car. Lily was treated like an adult criminal with little mercy or manners shown to her by the law.

 

But why the betrayal, again she pondered? Why would her father teach her how to cause digital bedlam to people and businesses that destroyed lives and careers? They could get money anytime without draining people of their life savings. It was more fun to hack a financial institution than peoples’ own bank accounts.

 

Her father was a master black hat hacker. But now she could see he was lacking the loyalty not to report unethical hacking, unlike her hacker friends, who never would steal from money out of individuals’ bank accounts. It was a code, even among hackers, to target institutions and companies as they were the evil in the world to her hacker groups that didn’t need the money.

 

Lily was turning 18 in a week. She was told though she would be tried as a minor under her state’s legal system. Under the laws of where she lived, getting a long detention sentence was unlikely despite hacking being a serious offense. Deciding to sleep on all this, she put aside what happened to her and what her future would be. What she did not know as she fell asleep was everything was about to dramatically change. For the better.

 

“You have a visitor.” the guard shouted through the small open sliding panel into her cell. It was surprising she had been allowed to sleep until 1 pm. All the staff seemed to be friendly, or certainly did not abuse her. That was part of jail life, the abuse, but it was not happening to her. One guard mentioned to Lily there were a few jealous inmates, but most were in awe of her hacking skills.

 

Her visitor, a female, said she did not mind if Lily wanted to have lunch first. Lily was not a mess but she was still wearing the clothes she had on during the raid despite having a shower when she arrived at the prison. When she saw who the visitor was, all that was forgotten.

 

The older lady walked in with a cage. “Thirty minutes only” barked the big tattooed male guard, who for some odd reason winked at both.

 

“Mrs Jones!” yelled Lily

 

“Hello dear. Prison life treating you well? Here I have a second visitor for you.”

 

Phreak walked out of the cage not worried about where he was. He jumped quickly over to Lily, instantly recognising her. Lily had always been over affectionate towards him, but was careful at that moment in case he was still traumatised over the arrest. Phreak just sat beside her and purred.

 

 “He hasn’t betrayed me this cat” said Lily, very downhearted. Mrs Jones’ expression went serious. “Nor have I. Time you were offered some explanations.”

 

“My father, he....”

 

Phreak hissed loudly before Lily got the words out.

 

“I didn’t know what they had done to you. Your sister did threaten me, telling me not to ask questions. I would be compensated within a day. My bank account does not have extra zeros in it so they obviously betrayed me too. Your sister is 14 but is a more accomplished blackmailer than anyone.” Mrs Jones almost spat that last sentence out in disgust. “I honestly didn’t know what had happened to you, I thought they were going to compensate me for looking after your house while they were on holidays.”

 

Lily then became puzzled. Mrs Jones was obviously not in on Lily’s capture and arrest. She now realised her father had linked Lily’s computer with the police departments so her location could be given. Not even the decency to ring the police to get me arrested, she thought bitterly.

 

Lily’s eyes lit up at what was said next by Mrs Jones.

 

“Three days later a man and a woman turned up at my door. They burst in. But I was not scared because Phreak ran over to them and they started petting him. Phreak does not take kindly to strangers who mean danger. But he sure trusted those two instantly, despite their intimidating black uniforms.”

 

Lily nodded.

 

Mrs Jones continued. “They told me everything. I might be on the other side of 40 but I do know what computers hackers are. Sure, I’m god fearing, and crime is a sin. But you are 17! To be betrayed by your family and thrown in prison without their support, for an extremely dangerous crime of taking others’ money through the internet. They sold your house remotely and placed all your stuff in a storage business. The whole experience of that night was pure bedlam.”  Mrs Jones became upset, her wrinkles suddenly appearing. Phreak stopped purring.

 

“It was totally digital bedlam Mrs Jones” Lily agreed.

 

“Well now is the time for digital bedlam part 2. Your family deserves revenge. They are in a place where the laws of the USA and UK do not apply to them. A part of the Caribbean not subject to extradition, yet the local police are more than happy to co-operate if a sting goes ahead.  There are computers where they are and phone reception, meaning they can still be reached electronically” Mrs Jones smirked as if she was going to enjoy this, observed Lily.

 

“You can come and live with me if you wish Lily for as long as you want after the dust settles. You will be 18 soon. But first there is a step we must take. Dealing with your family. Those that want to speak to you about this will be here soon.” Mrs Jones offered Lily a hug, something Lily needed after the stress of the past week. She was also getting a feeling, a deep intuitive one, that things were about to turn around for her. The confirmation of this came walked into her confining cell. 

 

Two women and a man entered. Once again she picked up the cue from Phreak about trusting them, even a small amount. He was not hissing at them. He actually purred louder.

 

The women were professionally dressed. Despite their cold blank faces and dispassionate look, they seemed to Lily to be like aliens who stepped off their spaceship to help humankind, not destroy it. The man identified himself as Berger from Scotland Yard London, a visiting top anti-hacker expert, who was helping his American counterparts with this case. “I’m with the cybercrime division in England, good afternoon to you. You are the person we have been looking for Lily” Berger said in very polite manner. Lily instantly thought now this is what a father should be, but put that out of her head.

 

He handed Lily a sheet of paper. It was a document indemnifying her and the other two women in the room from prosecution, in return for helping him. But it was the two names on the paper. Jill 43 and Martha 89! Lily squealed excitingly. “You two are my hacker friends on Hacker.com. We hacked so much. Oh I shouldn’t say that.” Jill smiled. Martha pretended to be angry but also could not stifle a laugh. She said “oh they know all about everything. I’ll let my new friend Berger explain.”

 

Berger smiled and continued. “Your father is far more dangerous than you and most other hackers. Beyond a black hat.  He has a sadistic side. He bankrupted his former employer. But far more than that, he enjoyed, as his hacker friends’, now ex friends, said to us, cleaning out working peoples’ bank accounts. He was caught in a hacker chat room saying that ten billion was his goal to get, spread out in accounts all over the world to avoid detection. No one would get in the way. Not even family, he had said.”

 

Lily’s anger was rising but she restrained. Berger confirmed “basically, pinning this on you was his way of retirement. You get the blame as the hacker that did that and get world notoriety as well as a jail sentence.  People would have been after you as they thought you stole their life savings. I hate to say this but turning 18 would not have made a difference because, as some of his ex friends told us, something else might have been arranged.” He regretted being so blunt to a young girl, but it was the only way to get her to grasp how dangerous this had become. Her father would perhaps have even silenced her permanently to avoid giving evidence against him should he of been caught in the future.

 

“Putting all this onto a young girl, one of his daughters, is obscene, shameful” Mrs Jones raising her voice. “A child!”

 

Jill put her hand on Mrs Jones shoulder to comfort her while Berger continued. “This is not a spy thriller Lily. I don’t want to scare you, but you are in danger. But you did not, as we found out from Jill and Martha, actually steal from people. We know you put the money back into the accounts from those you stole without your hacker circle friends knowing” Berger explained.

 

Lily’s look of shock was calmed by Martha who said “don’t worry Lily, we are not all black hackers. I did the same.” Jill nodded.

 

Lily paused, took a deep breath and confessed, “I am only 17. I admit my computer hacking. But it’s obvious, though I am young, that Detective Berger you want to use me to get at him in return for future anonymity and no jail sentence. To reclaim my life. To save it. I do not want my family, well ex now, to be physically harmed. But if you want a form of digital bedlam on them to incriminate them, how will that be done?” Lily looked up and observed Mrs Jones looking proudly at Lily grasping so much for a young woman. Not a child now.

 

“Well Lily obviously we need your trust and we need to prove you can trust us. When you turn 18 next week we will say to the media you pleaded guilty and were locked up for a long time. That will go through the hacker networks as news, even your father’s black hat groups, so he may find out, if he cares. We will also deal with putting the money back into the accounts of those your father swindled, but you know his computer system entry points, we don’t.”

 

Berger was telling the truth. Lily was not naive now. He went on.

 

“We will relocate for now Mrs Jones and your cat. We have locked your personal things in storage so when this is over you will be free to live with Mrs Jones or whatever you like and get your stuff back. There is no monetary compensation, but you are owed at least 10 million from your father by this state’s law. He was to pay up even if he ends up in jail. I have to admit Lily; I do struggle with his actions he did towards you. What a tosser. ”

 

Lily could not help laughing when Phreak meowed at Berger’s statement about her father. She did not tell anyone there she knew the meaning of that word to describe her father. The word evil though was pretty accurate.

 

“Mrs Jones and Phreak will visit you in here for the final time in two days to make it look like someone cares. It’s going to be a rough ride, but we have to get you out of here after midnight so people, especially the inmates who know you are still locked up, don’t find out. We will take you to a hotel that’s near our cyber control centre. You will have bodyguards but as you will be 18, you can choose to go where you want but in disguise.”

 

Jill finally spoke up. “Martha and I will be there all the way to support you. We have both reformed and both of us now work for companies as anti-hackers. We were found out as former hackers from your online chats you saved showing where our computer addresses were. After the raid on you, we were offered a deal to help out Scotland Yard in return for prosecution indemnity. The hackers you know in your groups love you, but they have your photo now. They also know where you used to live. I’ll go online and get them to guarantee they never harm you.”

 

Berger chimed in. “The main thing Lily is it is your choice to help or not. I know another 5 days in here will be painful, but you will have many coming by to tell you what’s going to happen in this sting. You have been betrayed so we understand your reluctance. Also, as to your future, Mrs Jones offer to house you is generous, but again you will be 18 soon, so you can make up your mind.”

 

“Mrs Jones” Lily said somewhat tearfully, “I’ll accept your invite. I sort of know what I would like to do with my future life, but for now it’s going after my so-called family.”

 

Mrs Jones hugged her. Phreak was patted and went into the cage. “See you in a few days” Mrs Jones happily said. Phreak meowed goodbye.

 

“Ok the countdown is on. The legal papers that free you from going to jail if you help us are ready. I’ll be in touch.”

 

All but Jill left. “Lily, you are young and you trusted. You had your first taste of hurt when those you thought cared about you betrayed. I understand if you are not trusting of anyone involved in this quest to get your father.”

 

A guard came in and told Lily time to exercise outside and that Jill could go with her.

 

The warm spring day energised Lily. Her hour was nearly up and she had not spoken to Jill as both were lost in thought about the risks that lay ahead. She said in a voice far beyond her 17 years what her decision was.

 

“Jill, I am old enough to know this is a risk. You could all turn on me. You might say, why would you trust a cat? But it was obvious Phreak could sniff out if any of you were lying. None of you were. Yes I’ve grown up in the past week. Yes I also am no longer an innocent child. But my family have to pay for their crimes. I have been betrayed, but I am not hurt, just angry. I’ll do it, but yes I am suspicious of Berger. The choice is Mrs Jones’ house or a prison, or if my father wants, me six feet under.”

 

Another sign from Lily before she continued. “If I do this for Berger and for my father’s victims, I have a better future. Just where can I put the darn cat as Mrs Jones frowns on having cats sleeping in any human bed? Oh well, part of the deal I’ll strike with her is Preak will have the run of her house.”

 

They both laughed. Jill left and Lily returned to a different cell, much more comfortable than the stark, bleak box she was thrown into.

 

Over the following days she read and signed the papers to make sure she was never jailed for her past hacking. Clearly, the law wanted her family. It was a vendetta. If the media knew about her special treatment, they would scream corruption. But then she thought about the consequences of what they did to innocent people. She knew her father’s abilities to fight off cyber attacks.

 

The final visit by Mrs Jones and Preak was where they planned their future. Lily confirmed she was to move in for an unspecified time with Mrs Jones and pay some rent. But Preak had to sleep in Lily’s bed. Mrs Jones’ expression changed to one of disgust, but he relented. Besides, Preak and Mrs Jones got on much better than the cat did with Lily’s evil family.

 

The transfer from jail to the hotel near the cybercrime department went without incident. Lily refused to stifle being suspicious that the police even Mrs Jones, hell even the cat, could turn on her. Her mistrust was understandable, but she thought to herself it had to be put aside. She tested that when she wanted to know where Mrs Jones and Preak were located. Berger showed them video evidence of where they were, hiding in a large and secure house.

 

But bedlam was now needed. It was time to deliver, even at personal cost to her emotions, punishment to her family. A birthday cake arrived with a birthday card message from Mrs Jones and Preak. She smiled. Then she remembered her father giving her a computer as a birthday gift when she was nine. Her smile soured.

 

TIME FOR BEDLAM

 

The plan was to hack into her father’s bank account. It was easier said than done. The layers of encryption and password figuring out would take days. She was more than happy to do so. Berger and his team protected her meticulously, making sure the media did not know about this. Berger’s superiors doubled signed the documents to make sure Lily, while understanding her lack of trust, would have assurance she would never be placed in jail for her past cybercrimes.

 

It was a stressful time for all involved. But Lily remained as clam and determined with an attitude that impressed all working with her. After a stressful 7 days, she cleared the security levels to access the bank account without being noticed by her father. Jill and Martha were allowed to drop by and sit with Lily. That helped greatly, though she missed her cat.

 

Yet it wasn’t mistrust of those around her that bothered her now she felt they were not going to send her off to jail, or worse. It was her mistrust of her father. He was the best cybercriminal in history. She knew he would lay surprises in the system to prevent access to the almost trillion-dollar figures obtained from millions of people who now were without cash for the rest of their lives.

 

Finally, three long, but to Lily fun, weeks later she got the access level to her father’s bank account so deep that there was almost nothing stopping her from clicking that button to get the money. The bedlam was now unleased.

 

For weeks, Lily’s family lounged around the large Caribbean mansion they brought. Servants there were disgusted with the way they were treated by the three family members. Lily’s sister was given the task of checking the bank accounts. They were secure. Lily’s father was so lazy now. He said to his wife “I’m done with all the hacking. We have enough money, safely all over the world in various currencies. The Bitcoin interest we receive will be enough to feed the entire population of Africa three times over. Not that that will be happening” he mockingly laughed.

 

The nanny secretly filmed all the interactions. They were fed to Berger, recording more evidence to give to team who had the family under surveillance.

 

Although Lily’s sister hated Lily, always dad’s favourate she would often mumble, she was horrified more so by her mother’s attitude. She overheard them talking. Her mother said “well I don’t want to bring up her, but it’s good she’s rotting in jail.”

 

Their laughter horrified Lily’s sister, but in the end, she knew this was right to do to Lily. She too like Lily was young, but comprehended what was going on. She was beginning to feel expendable, but loved the lifestyle. She was not prepared to confront her dad about her suspicions that she was not in her mother and fathers’ future plans.

 

As she tried to log out of her dad’s online trillion-dollar bank account, she noticed the screen had frozen.

 

In frustration she beat the keyboard. “Come on!!!!!!” Then the message arrived in bright red.

 

 I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

 

“Dad come here quick.” Her father, not hiding his annoyance at the interruption, thought to himself, time to get rid of another family member, and smiled.

 

His look turned to horror when he saw the locked screen. The message changed his life in an instant. It was the one he planted into the code to implicate Lily.

 

Moving on the screen was a fast dwindling money amount account balance. He went white as a sheet when he saw his dollars moving towards zero. It was being drained like a vampire drains the life out of a human with their fangs.

 

Then the familiar second message appeared, in a deeper blood red colour. The colour of revenge he thought, because he had been the one who had written it and it had appeared on Lily’s computer almost moments before the raid.

 

I STILL KNOW WHO YOU ARE. THEY ARE ON THEIR WAY.

 

They? Obviously, the authorities were onto them. But they were far from a police station. It dawned on him that perhaps some of the servants were involved in this implication.

 

Lily’s mother sensed what was going on and retreated to the 8-million-dollar bedroom. Quietly packing her things, she took her credit card her husband never knew she had and slipped into the secret elevator to the basement car park installed in the bedroom for emergencies. Her husband was too busy to notice her exit. That confirmed to her, as she briefly watched him fixated on the computer screen before the elevator doors shut, he would even sell her out if needed.

 

As she hurried with a servant in tow through the basement to the waiting car with a trolley of nine suitcases, a shot rang out. Lily’s mother lay on the harsh gravel in pain. At that point she released she had betrayed Lily. She was sorry. But the shot was only her leg and although painful, it was not bleeding. She told the servant to help her up. He carried her to the car. In the back seat the bars came up between the back seat and the front of the car. The doors shut fast as she tried in vain to open them. She was trapped. The doctor then arrived and told her it was just a scrap on her leg. She would just have to be more careful. Especially in jail.

 

Lily’s father screamed. The account got to zero. He knew he had to get out. He grabbed Lily’s sister and locked her in a cupboard. Plenty of time to escape. But what he didn’t know was the staff were all specialised law enforcement officers. He too got to the basement with only one suitcase. There was a country in South America that could house him so he could claw back his money and hacker reputation.

 

His mobile phone beeped. The message unforgiving.

 

SO IS THIS ENOUGH BEDLAM FOR YOU?

 

He could not reply. His prodigy, Lily, had betrayed him. A shot rang out. He fell. Like his wife, it was just a shot in the leg, but shattered his knee. The nanny coldly looked down at him with a gun pointed at his head. A shadow urged her to put the gun down.

 

The odd thing was when the other police officers and medical staff ran to him, he yelled out I’ll never forgive you Lily. A voice, sounding full of satisfaction, said “I don’t think she’d be troubled by that. Let me introduce myself sir. My name is Detective Berger. Cyber criminal investigator from Scotland Yard London. I’ve bagged the biggest hacker in history. Job done.”

 

EPILOGUE: HAPPY HACKER AFTER

 

There was no doubt Lily needed to work through trust issues and trauma for a long time after her family’s capture. The pieces of her though were falling into place. She got her things out of storage and moved in with Mrs Jones and Preak. Her family home was demolished. The proceeds from her father’s stealing were used to build a modest apartment complex for the homeless. Those were the people her father stole money from.

 

She was hailed a hero by her hacker community. But she said she was to retire from amateur hacking.  Hollywood came for her to ask to make a movie about her life, but she politely declined. She knew being anonymous was not going to be possible, but she was now in control of her life and knew human nature a lot better.

 

Nevertheless, and with her impressive school grades, she was offered a six-month course in Oxford England. Leaving Preak was difficult, but it allowed her to get into Harvard later, which was near where she lived. Her degree and post graduate degree allowed her to work as a security expert. She did it for free. She also made sure although she protected the computer systems of her clients from hackers, she never ratted on her hacker friends.

 

Jill and Martha, compensated generously for their help, obtained jobs in New York and London as computer security consultants. Berger was promoted to head of the cybercrime unit. All’s well that ends well?

 

Not exactly.

 

Lily’s mother and sister disappeared. As part of the deal with Berger, her family was not to be harmed but only he, his department and Lily were to know that the mother and sister had their identity changed. They were relocated to Germany and were not allowed to contact Lily or her father. Their nanny turned out to be one of England’s top detectives who never gave away she was sent to spy and report on them. The hackers truly got hacked on many levels.

 

Lily’s father looked through the small window of his cell. The number of charges against him was so large it would take years of court hearings to sort them out. Yet he was not remorseful. I am the king of hackers he thought to himself.  A life sentence was imposed based on a few charges alone. Lily’s sister being locked in the cupboard was initially enough for 10 years in a not so luxurious Caribbean prison. At his age he would never see freedom again. He felt betrayed, yet never saw Lily’s point-of-view or once considered her feelings.

 

He was not allowed to go near any computer devices. But one.

 

Oddly, he was given a phone. It had no service or internet connection, but he could play games on it.

 

But one day, as he was forced to pick fruit in the hot Caribbean sun, a message appeared:

 

DIGITAL BEDLAM LEADS TO BETRAYAL. OH AND PREAK PURRS HIS REGARDS


Submitted: February 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 michaeln. All rights reserved.

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