It felt like everyone in the Lair hated me, because … everyone in the Lair hated me
I didn’t really understand how much, until they tried to kill me
Few hackers living in The Lair would look me in the eye // wait to start
If they did, they usually glared at me
One guy tattooed “eff off” on the middle finger of his left hand
and flipped me off every time he saw me.
Hahahahaha! I thought that was hilarious
Besides Mom, Stoney and Lita, that dude was my best friend
I called him Bird Man
He called me ” you! Mother!”
I think I liked him more than he liked me
But, the Lair was awesome!
I was falling in love with the place, and the vibe
I kind of wish I hadn’t been such a jerk to Exclusivor
From the get-go, I had been on Exclusivor’s bad side
And if Exclusivor don’t like you
Nobody like you
And if Nobody like you, chances are they might try to kill you
Case in point, I was hanging out in the hot sun by the huge pool // Immediate start!
Chaise lounger, sipping this weird Cambodian whiskey I really liked
Mentally prepping on how I was going to slip away from this Collective
During the chaos of the next bug out
So, I was sitting, sipping, thinking about slipping
When I felt this crawling, cool caress on my thigh
First thought: that geeky babe from the OSINT team finally noticed me
Nope. It was a snake. Not just any snake
One of Cambodia’s most dangerous snakes
A six foot long Malayan Blue Krait
I yelped a little and leapt higher than Lebron James ever has
From around the pool people looked and pointed at me. Some laughed.
I could have died. From the snake. From the embarrassment.
This is my problem.
In real life, I never fit in.
It could have been worse, though
I yelped, sure, but didn’t scream or run frantically, arms waving
Really, the snake ignored me …
Slithered right by me to the other side of the hot tub
And completely emptied the entire Pool area
People screamed and ran, and the snake cornered one dude. He cried.
To top it off, everyone blamed me for releasing the snake!
Said I faked the yell and the leap, said it was terrible acting!
Exclusivor had done such a masterful job of discrediting me
That even almost being killed by a dangerous snake wasn’t enough to garner sympathy.
I should have never crossed Exclusivor.
After Snakegate died down, and around hacking up new ways to launder the various currencies, real and crypto, Exclusivor revived my embarrassment by telling a story about me that she introduced by playing a video of me walking my apartment, buck naked.
The mansion was so big it had a banquet room
And the banquet room so big it had a video screen
And the video screen was so big that when I was naked on it
Everything looked really big
Every other week, Exclusivor dressed up in an elegant evening gown
Grabbed a mic, and used the room to host a big, fancy banquet
The food was amazing
The booze was top shelf
Everyone dressed in their hacker-best
T-shirt, jeans and Cambodian flip-flops
Usually we just presented ideas, and demonstrated hacks
This time, Exclusivor created a presentation about how she took me down
So, Exclusivor was in front of the room
She made me sit up front, like the teacher’s table in Harry Potter, facing the room
She had a champagne glass in-hand, pacing, talking, gesturing
Teaching a master class in deception and conniving.
She said she had a dream
Bigger than a new app
Bigger than some company
Bigger even than a new form of government
But this dream needed stuff
The Collective had most of this stuff
Tons of money, hackers, researchers, intellectuals
But, it did not have an atomic lathe
And, for her dream to work, she needed an atomic lathe
She started researching how to get access to one
She found an article in my hometown newspaper
An article about me, small town boy
Now a big shot atomic lathe engineer
Usually the US Government doesn’t publicize who runs the lathes
For this very reason.
Then her hacker side kicked into gear
She said she searched dozens of breech databases using my name from the article
She filtered and narrowed and researched
Closing her fingers around my digital throat
She found a few of my accounts
Found the associated pre-cracked passwords
Searched other breeches for those passwords
Found dozens of my other accounts
I had used a really long and complicated password
But it was the same really long and complicated password every time
My password re-use gave me away.
She was able to link me not by my anonymous accounts
But by the password I used for each of them!
It was like leaving fingerprints!
I am such an idiot.
She learned that I was a hacker myself
Found all these shady things I had done
Figured, hmm, “I’ll threaten to dox him, and he’ll cave.”
And she was right.
It turns out Starwood Hotels logged the last five IPs used while making reservations
In last year’s major Starwood Hotels breech, Exclusivor found the IPs I’d made reservations from
Tracked those IPs, hacked my ISP, got in the middle
Owned me since March
She said she wanted to put pressure on me
People under pressure make snap decisions, bad decisions
She hacked my Samsung Smart TV’s camera to record me being naked in my apartment
To shame me, she said
She recorded me farting in my sleep
Big, long, loud farts, she said
She found my tax shelter skimmer in the Caymans and shut it down
Squeeze me financially, she said
She hacked my phone and conned me into thinking she would dox me
Scare me, she said
Anything for her dream
Exclusivor then said: “Distinctive doxxed me, I was mad, but it’s over, we’re even”
She said: “We need an atomic lathe.”
And it hit me right before she said it
She said, “Distinctive will obtain for us an atomic lathe”
Everyone’s face looked shocked.
Then Exclusivor said:
“This is so important, I’m giving Distinctive the honor of being my second in command.”
The shocked faces erupted in anger
She yelled: “Silence, I’ve made up my mind! He answers only to me!”
The shocked faces were angry, but they complied.
The shocked faces glared at me.
I thought I felt the hate before, but no
Before, what I felt was adoring love compared to this.
Stoney and Lita didn’t look at me
Mom was looking at Exclusivor
The silence made what happen next sound louder than it should have
What happened next was this dude ran into the room, shouting, “Bug out! Bug out!”
Exclusivor said, “What? I thought we had another three weeks!”
He looked ashamed but said, “I’m really sorry. We have an hour, tops.”
It was bedlam.
And, it was my chance to bolt.
Since it was monsoon season most of the people would be on foot
At least as far as Siem Reap, the nearest city
I found Mom and said, “Good news, we’re getting out of here. You and me. They’ll never find us.”
Mom said, “Are you crazy? Of course they’ll find us. Besides, they need you! You can’t abandon them. Sean, I like it here.”
I couldn’t believe it.
I said, “Mom, no way. It can’t last, and they are doing so many shady things. Mom, we have to go.”
Mom finally agreed to go because I had probably the only map of all the minefields in the area
And she didn’t want to die in the bug out
I was tempted to ask Lita and Stoney to come with me,
But I was worried, because it felt like no one was on my side.
I proved that no one was on my side when I trapped that six foot Blue Krait and I set it on myself at the pool
I proved that everyone in the Lair was self-centered and crazy
I proved no one gave a rat’s ass about me.
We’d take a vanilla boat across the Tonle Sap lake,
Down the Tonle Sap river.
And on to Phnom Phen.
Mom and I would get to the US Consulate, and I could turn myself in, plead for mercy.
But, it was really weird, when we got on that Vanilla boat
Stoney and Lita were already on it
Standing on either side of Exclusivor.
Mom turned to me and said, “I’m so sorry, Sean. I had to tell her. I want to stay, and the Collective needs you.”
Mom turned me in.
Wow, the stuff parents do, am I right? What will Distinctive’s Mom do next? We’ll find out, next time, right here. Check out Exclusivor.com in the meantime.