0's and 1's: Book 1 CBDT (Cyber-Bullying Defense Team)


Chapter 7

(Hunter Douglas, Code Name: Verne)


               Damn, I knew investigations would not be as easy as TV shows and mystery novels, but after a full week of reviewing data logs, video, and Benji's "inside man" insights, we're still no closer to the end of this case. I know this is a game of cat and mouse, but I worry that I am missing something, just like I did with Ryan. I wish I could ask Benji to sit down and give me his details in person; our arguments usually help me focus on the goal. Kevin could help me review some of this stuff and help me pick up what I might have missed. I set the ground rules to keep us separated, maybe that's a huge mistake from watching too many TV shows with Ryan.

               Access to the hospital was the easiest part of the entire investigation. Benji and I knew the place extremely well. My mom works as their head of pediatric oncology, meaning she handles kids with cancer. It's a really sad job; some days, when she comes home late, I've heard her crying with my dad in their bedroom. As a doctor and mom, she taught me that life is valuable; we should make the most of our time as not everyone has that luxury. I only understood that fact when Ryan died. This hospital is not some make-believe Red Band Society crap you would find on Fox; the kids are real and their oncoming mortality is too.

               Last year for our mandatory community service as High School students, Ryan and I both volunteered to be tutors to some of her long term patients. They were awesome kids, not all of them were your stereotypical balding cancer patients with sarcastic attitudes or extreme emotional detachment. They're just kids with a rotten lot in life, who need breathing machines, wheelchairs, and selective dietary requirements. Ryan and I stayed on after we completed our 120 hours; we even got Benji to join us this year. Kevin was a dork; he chose to work at a public library. It seemed odd to some people to tutor cancer kids, who could die in months, weeks, or even days. Ryan thought that even if they were going to die tomorrow, they shouldn't die ignorant. I wish he took his own advice, but cancer is biological and progressive. Ryan was attacked by human beings and committed suicide due to rapid destruction of his life. After Ryan died, I stopped being a tutor, but Benji is still volunteering there.

               At first, everything worked out so perfectly. On Monday; I had set up a small worm on my mom's phone that allowed me to access her work email, which I knew she would open immediately and sync onto her phone when she arrived at her office. The appointment manager did not auto-update her calendar until Monday, so she had to "hot sync" her phone at the start of each week. The hospital operated on a Microsoft Outlook server, while the database they kept their patient information was on a local Microsoft SQL server. A simple macro allowed you to link the two together, since all Microsoft Office based software programs were meant to operate as one unit. Kind of sad really, Microsoft based programs are very integrated despite its many layers of security "add-ons", which can be bypassed due to third party program requirements.

               After the worm opened up, I gave Kevin access to her Microsoft Office suite, so his surface program could enter the SQL server, and perform a criteria match for certain downloads. Every day, the log would download into my Mom's phone as a text file and when she gets home, I extract and wipe it from her phone. Since we are not taking patient information or any type of sensitive details, it limits our exposure to detection. Conversely, I hoped Chief Wayne and Judge Thatcher would appreciate our discretion. Even as a surface scan of criteria based on SQL tables, we can figure out what sets of data came out of the secure server.

               It's now Friday night. I have a week's worth of logs, detail interactions, and two concise 35,000 word reports from Kevin/Shelley and Benji/Wells. There is absolutely nothing; the servers have a few results for isolated data extracts, but no more than 5 lines of detail. What am I missing from all this data? Why can't I see the big picture?

               The intercom sounded as I ran my 10th forensic examination of the available data. It sounded like Jeremy, but he's not supposed to be here. Is he here to ask for my help? Has he come under attack already? There is only one way to find out, but I needed protection against outside data hacks. These guys were eavesdropping through Jeremy's phone and other micro-electronics. Ryan built me a "blackout zone" system in the loft for my 14th birthday; it completely shuts off all incoming/outgoing data. Ryan joked that I wasn't making enough time for us, so he surprised me by shutting off all our equipment and waited naked in bed for me to open my "present". We would continue to turn on the "blackout zone", whenever we felt like we needed a little time for each other after a new project or just due to a certain "itch" in either of us. There are serious drawbacks to it too. The blackout zone is so complete even normal wired phone calls do not work, plus electrical output is 1/100th of normal to prevent "smart" devices from syncing, limiting standard electronics as well. It's insane over a long period, but if you just want intimacy with your partner, it's probably the best gift ever.

               This will be the first time I turned it on without him; I wish there was another way, but this is the simplest and easiest safeguard for all the work I have here outside of ignoring Jeremy. It could be nothing at all, but I can't run the chance of losing a friend. Here goes, nothing...

               A slight flicker of lights and the display going black was all it took. Then I grabbed my keys and went downstairs to check out Jeremy. When I got my first real look at Jeremy, I could tell he was coming off a high, there was a noticeable scowl on his face, a slight indentation on his brow, and a faint smell of cannabis. Jeremy is actually a nice looking guy; 5 feet 10 inches, moderate muscle mass as a soccer defender, and short rock star brown hair would make anyone give second looks. The alcohol and drugs have robbed some of his youthful visage.


I tried to put up my best front as I mulled over my friend's intent, "Hey Jeremy, what's up?"


He smiled politely and I could see the want in his eyes, "Hey Hunter, umm...look...Evan...eh", he hesitates and sighs, "I need to find a place to crash. I know you are dealing with Ryan and stuff, but it's late and no one is answering their cells."


               Something must have happened with Evan, Jeremy's "boyfriend". Personally, I think Benji and Kevin have a deeper relationship than Jeremy and Evan, who I'd classify as fuck buddies rather than boyfriends. Jeremy is a popular guy with a rising star; Evan is in it for the sex and stardom. We've told Jeremy to watch out for the guy, but this was his first love and like many gay guys, he chose to follow his dick rather than his brain. With Benji and Kevin, it's more like they can't commit to be boyfriends, but they are great friends with special benefits. Ryan and I were unique as true partners; we found each other, complemented each other, and loved each other without reservation. We looked at other guys, but we kept to ourselves. Not many people gay or straight have that kind of relationship. Despite what people read in books and online stories, true love is rare. Damn, I miss Ryan so much.


"Jeremy, you can stay here tonight, but don't light up."


He beamed a big smile, "Sweet. I can't thank you enough Hunter, you'll get front row for all my concerts, plus VIP access for life."


"No thanks, I'm not looking to be your groupie; I've seen where that dick has been."


               Opening the loft door, I directed him to take the single bedroom with the walk-in shower, but he insisted on taking the couch. I wasn't planning on sleeping anytime soon, so I warned him I might be up late. Even though, I had turned off the entire tech, I still have the printed copies of reports concerning data logs and hospital staff interactions to keep me busy. I don't know how long I had been reading, but Jeremy came over and placed a hand on my shoulder.


"Dude you should sleep."


I mumbled, "Just a few more pages."


"You won't find who killed him by killing yourself with work."


I stopped dead in my tracks, "What did you say?"


Jeremy seemed a lot bigger and older at that moment, "I am not that burnt out yet. I've been dealing with fucking family and screwed up relationship, but I still know who my friends are. You, Ryan, Benji, and Kevin gave me the courage to put myself out there. You personally got me my first gig at CBGB festival. Hunter, I know you better than you think. I know I am not part of your circle and I don't get half the stuff around computers or technology. I also know your hurting inside right now, you want to get justice for Ryan, and you're unsure about everyone, including your friends like me."


               `Jeremy might not have a high IQ, but his EQ is very impressive. That's why I like him as a musician, Rock more than any genre needs strong empathy to create a unique sound. Emotional intelligence helps people to connect and make leaps of logic that otherwise cannot be reached by pure analysis. He is half right based on intuition alone; beyond telling Benji and Kevin, indirectly, I have other friends like Jeremy, who are still in the dark and wondering what I am doing. I won't tell him the truth, because of obvious reasons, but I am quite impressed.


Looking him straight in the eye, I deflected "Come on, do I look like I am Emily Thorne? Besides, I am not the only one mulling over a lost love."


Jeremy shifted uneasily, "It wasn't his fault; I mean he could have defended me a little more."


I kept pushing, he's not the only one with high EQ in the room, and "I know you well too, Jeremy. You're hiding from your father again. That's why you couldn't just go home."


               I hate doing that to him, but it is the easiest way to move him off my trail. It was pretty obvious he got into a fight with his family before he went over to Evan's place. His dad probably came home and they had another fight, so he couldn't go back there. He is too harsh on his dad, whose biggest mistake was being unable to be a father and federal ATF agent. That antagonism led him into the arms of Evan.

               Based on his body language at arrival plus the trace of cannabis on his clothing, I guessed he was discovered sharing a joint with Evan. Evan's parents are very open-minded people, but they utterly hate Jeremy due to his lack of social inhibition. I guess parents can be liberal about their gay son, but can't be open minded about rock stars and marijuana use. If they had gotten to know Jeremy a bit more, they'd probably like him.


Jeremy grew tense, looking at the door thoughtfully, "I...uh...I thinks...uh...I should..."


I am not going to let him leave, I just wanted to make a diverting point, "Look, Jeremy, I don't care what happened. I know you and I know your situation. You're my friend and teammate, there are very few things I won't do for you, and least of all letting you stay here."


He sighed and sat down on an adjacent chair that Ryan used, "It was my dad, but he got on my case for a "quarter" bag of premium stuff. I just left and went over to Evan's place to chill out with him for the weekend. We got relaxed and stripped down to have a sweet weekend between us and my quarter. Then his folks saw us naked together in bed, smoking a few joints with our loads on each other's chest, and kicked me out. Evan freaked out; he shoved me out the front door and threw my clothes out his window, without the quarter. Fuck `me!"


Just as I thought, "Dude you should lay off the stuff; it doesn't hurt to smoke a few, but you don't need a quarter."


Jeremy looked down at the floor, "I blew it with Evan didn't I?"


I wanted to say this to him for a long time; he needed to hear it now "Evan is not right for you. He's in it for the popularity, supply of weed, and sex. I know he's your first boyfriend after coming out, but he is not in love with you, nor does he understand you."


               Jeremy stood up and, for a moment, I thought he'd run out the door. Instead, he came over to me and began to hug me. He was crying softly and I couldn't help but feel pity for him. He's a really nice guy, emotionally intelligent beyond belief, and in my eyes, a great catch despite everything else. While, he was hugging me, I felt a strange sensation in my pants. It's been over two months, since I last had a hard on, before Ryan died. I haven't let anyone get close enough to me to comfort me or embrace me like this, not even Kevin or Benji.


Jeremy must have noticed my "problem", he placed his hands on my fly, "Let me help you out."


As I vocalize my objections, he slid open my fly and grabbed my dick, "No, Jeremy, don't..."


Jeremy slid his long fingers up and down the length of my shaft, "You need this man, I know we're not going anywhere with this, but you're the sweetest and most honest guy I know. I want you to be happy."


               If Ryan were still here, he'd probably crack a joke at the irony of my situation. Here I was at the scene of my most intimate encounters with all the pre-requisites for an amazing night of hot sex, but I could not jump into bed with Jeremy, because I still had a yearning for my dead boyfriend. The lengths I'd go for friendship are wide, but a "blackout" night of sex could ruin my objectivity. No one would ever know we'd had sex, but it would still...oh my god! Oh My God!


I blew my load straight onto Jeremy's face and shirt, while screaming "I Got It!"


               Every computer database has a downtime, where maintenance can be performed and updates installed. During that time, the entire database is compiled once for data integrity testing, but you could also use the time frame to download the entire database as a part of the compiling program. There wouldn't be a trace of access against your database at all. They must have access from working on the tech maintenance team, maybe an outside consultant or a hack onto their computers. If I cross reference hospitals for where the last few victims attended with active technology consulting firms, I could link up the data extraction to its source. If this was a "real" world person, then I would have brought down one link to this group of cyber terrorists.


Jeremy smiled at my orgasmic realization, "I think we both need a shower."


               He will never know how important that hand job was for me, nor how he single-handedly made a difference in the lives of so many people.


If you like this story, please feel free to send feedback to time_391@hotmail.com