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Infinite Exposure – Pt. 20

A Cold Calculation of Winter

Nedim’s alarm went off around lunchtime. The rest of the week he was allowed to work a late afternoon shift that ran into the evening. He had just enough time to clean up and head for afternoon prayer. He didn’t even mind when his “friend from university” tagged along. At least the man stayed behind him and didn’t pray right beside him. After prayers he went with the cleric and a group of others for his private discussions on the Quran. He could sense the obvious displeasure coming from the back of the mosque and didn’t care. When you have already decided you are dead, you no longer care who will be the one to kill you.

Promptly at 3:00 he excused himself to go to work. Ramesh (the name given his “friend from university”) was waiting for him outside of the mosque. When they were out of earshot of others, he began berating him.

“Do you want I should kill you now?” “It does not matter. If you do it now it will save me the trouble of waiting for it to come.” “Your only chance at life is to cooperate with us fully.” “I have,” Nedim lied.

“And you call disappearing with a cleric for hours cooperating?” “If you wish to join the discussion, say something to the cleric that impresses him and he may invite you. I cannot invite you directly without giving up all of your background and I have no idea what that is. I participate in those discussions at least three days per week.” “If I start missing them I know two things for certain. The first is that the email I’m relaying will stop. The second is that very soon after I will be dead. You might say I know three things. The third is that if I manage to survive doing this until I’m no longer useful, you or one of your team will kill me. Do you really think threatening my life is any way to motivate me?” For a brief, but not too brief, moment, Ramesh thought about offing him right there on the street in front of everyone. The only thing that stopped him was thinking about how he would explain it to the man in the suit. On short notice he could not come up with a story that was convincing in his own mind. The cleric visit by itself wouldn’t cover it. Ramesh also knew there was no way he would be the one sitting in Holy Quran discussions with a cleric.

Nedim stopped at home, packed a lunch, then walked to work. This time Umar accompanied him, but they did not speak. When he arrived at work there was a fax for him waiting at his desk.

I have escalated your issue to the highest authority.

God is Great.

John had understood his message and informed others above him. If there were any cross communications between cells, those Nedim worked with would know in a matter of days. In a week or so, the bulk of his email would stop. Only those under deep cover who do not communicate until necessary would send him anything. Perhaps before then he would have outlived his usefulness. Nedim threw the fax in the shred bin. A Funny thing about working for an offshore consulting company: everything you needed to destroy evidence was right here in the office.

John knew he should not have sent the fax to Nedim, but they had been intertwined in this for some time. He needed to pass along the information to the leaders he knew about so they could arrange for his relocation. Nedim was a good Muslim, but not a great Muslim. If he was squeezed, he would give up John. As long as John had an Internet connection he could obscure the IP address and continue to function without being located. He just had to move before he was located now since Nedim knew where he worked and the infidels probably had a couple of his work emails. Those fax numbers went to physical addresses. He had to be a long way from here by tomorrow.

A new passport and identity were being delivered to him within the hour. He would move to another tech center and hide among the population. This time he would be living in Bangalore. Technical support centers were so desperate there he didn’t have to fill out an application. Simply speak clear enough English during the interview and answer two out of five technical questions correctly. If you were willing to start off with a pathetic salary, you walked out of the interview and started your shift. Most people hated working at the call centers, but not John. It provided him with income and didn’t cloud his mind when he left. His real occupation was communications relay center for al-Qaeda.

His computer at home had to be left on to retrieve all email to an encrypted folder. He received more than 500 emails per day. He never bothered to decode them, he simply didn’t have the time. There were now fourteen cells for whom he handled communications. Most ISPs in this country would bounce your email after you received 200 messages. John couldn’t risk that. Many of the soldiers in the field used libraries and colleges to send email to him. He couldn’t risk a bounced email landing in an administrator’s folder. It might actually be looked at and figured out.

John kept up on all of the latest technology trends. He read the industry trade magazines during every free moment. He didn’t read as much to satisfy a thirst for knowledge as to find out anything new that was mentioned about surveillance and viruses. He ran every kind of virus scanner imaginable. The last thing he wanted was some Trojan horse piggybacking on an email message that would give him up to the authorities.

You are reading a special promotional version of “Infinite Exposure” containing only the first 18 chapters. This is the first book of the “Earth That Was” trilogy. You can obtain the entire trilogy in EPUB form from here:

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Roland Hughes is the president of Logikal Solutions, a business applications consulting firm specializing in OpenVMS platforms and Qt on Linux. Hughes serves as a lead consultant with over two decades of experience using computers and operating systems. With a degree in Computer Information Systems, the author's experience is focused on systems across a variety of diverse industries including heavy equipment manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, stock exchanges, tax accounting, and hardware value-added resellers, to name a few. Working throughout these industries has strengthened the author's unique skill set and given him a broad perspective on the role and value of technology in industry.

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