The Storytellers - Restless #4

} end if by Ruby Blessing

92102256_2c2b26f8fd_o 2385998520_5d90c7fc8f_b 5842987075_f563cbac18 5870541051_5186a9bf89_oAda was holding court at her usual table, at the usual time of two a.m. A stream of young acolytes streamed past, sometimes sitting to pay doe-eyed homage. Sometimes to sneer. All to ask questions.

She would have killed for a cigarette. But they had been banned for so many years now that even the black market didn’t bother anymore. Besides, this new generation were too busy with their programs to take the time and effort required to sustain a habit.

The café was unusually full, muted dubstep playing over the speakers, serious groups huddled over their glowing tablets and coffees.

Ada sighed. Some rebellion. Ever since the Red Hats took over, no one seemed to have fun anymore. And it was mostly her fault. Now she was left with the dubious title of Queen of the Revolution, with every coder in the city passing by her table to ask some inane scripting question just to say they had met her.

Still, it was better than staying in her apartment. Too many memories there. Plus she was sure it was bugged. Ironic really. The ultimate hacker having her own life hacked. At least the bedroom was secure. Soon she would have to choose a new skid to take home. She usually gave them a week. It took that long to get them to think for themselves.

Bogey sat down, pushing a tattooed boy aside. “One of yours?” he nodded his polished head towards an attractive young woman surrounded by other script kiddies like some minor celebrity.

“She was last week’s,” Ada sighed, “She had some surprising, um, tricks, I must say.” Quite an enjoyable week really, she thought, remembering Layla’s soft skin and skilful tongue.

“At least she used her imagination,” she added, out loud, “More than I can say for some of the boys. They seem to think that their manhood is enough.”

“I remember when my manhood was enough,” Bogey said, looking into her eyes, a nostalgic smile on his lips.

Ada looked at him and remembered when it was too. Boges had known her when she was still a mediocre hacker for a cheap internet security company. That was until she stumbled into Darknet. And started a rebellion.

“Have you come to watch, or is there something else you wanted?” Ada asked, knocking back the last dregs of her third glass of red wine.

“Well, I was wondering if you had heard from Tom?”

Ada had to stop herself from snapping at him. It wasn’t his fault that both their sons had disowned her. Tom had moved to the other side of the world to escape her, and her fame. Or infamy.

“No, I haven’t,” she said, gritting her teeth. No tears. Not here. “Why do you think I would have?”

Bogey paused, swirling the warm beer at the bottom of his glass. He was trying to avoid telling her something. He had never been very good at the serious, and she was starting to get concerned. Then he took her hand and she knew it had to be bad.

“He’s disappeared, Ada. Completely and utterly gone. And I think you might be the only one with the skill to find him.”

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{This piece of fiction by Ruby Blessing is part of a new guest post series on my blog called "The Storytellers." I have given creative folk from all over the world a theme - in this round, it is "Restless" - and invited them to create anything they like. To see more from The Storytellers, follow this tag. I'll update it with a new post each week.}

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Ruby Blessing has worked at the forefront of the digital space for the past 16 years. Apart from being a leading Digital Strategist (having co-founded the first-ever Internet company to launch on the Australian stock market), Ruby is also mother of four voracious readers and she struggled to find a new books series for her children (who had devoured all the usual suspects). Not one to let a challenge get in the way of a good idea, Ruby decided to write one herself.

Crispin Scales and the Golden Pearl is the first installment in her exhilarating fantasy series for eight to 12 year olds. With a twist that will drop your jaw to the floor, and charming supernatural characters, Crispin Scales is the children’s series we’ve all been craving.

Ruby is also working on several adult books. This post is an excerpt from } end if, a story about the hacker wars of the mid 21st century, and a revolution led by a woman.

Image credits: red hats, all licensed under creative commons, top to bottom by katsuuu 44 // Arnaud DG // Fabio Rava // Joseph Crawley