Friday, February 22, 2013

Anti-Hero (#FridayFlash)

Chirp, the computer said.

“Hunh,” said Helmut Harr, better known as the supervillain Pulse. That chirp meant he’d received a DM on Twitter, which didn’t happen often. He kept a low profile online, routing his access through several hacked PCs and an anonymizing relay or three. His Twitter account followed a few random normals and the known superheroes and supervillains. Even mortal enemies had to communicate on occasion. Harr shrugged and closed his solitaire game. He gave the tweet a curious scowl:
Captain Heroic (ret.)
You have HNN on? Go check it out.
Vas ist…?” he muttered, then shrugged and ambled into the living room. HNN was often useful for tracking movements of the enemy, giving villains windows of opportunity, and that was the channel the TV came up to most days.

Harr gasped at the title on the screen: “Pulse: Supervillain or Folk Hero?” He gaped at the parade of normals being interviewed. “About time someone took Wall Street down!” “Yeah, Pulse, stick it to the Man!” “He did more for normal people in ten seconds than all the superheroes combined have done in ten years!”

They cut back to the studio, where Betty Kanaka (so easy on the eyes, Harr thought) anchored the desk. “It was an audacious caper,” she said. “Pulse managed to gain entry to the server rooms at Goldman Sachs headquarters, and the Skyscraper City branch of Bank of America, and left them a smoking ruin. Computers, routers, disk drives, security systems—all completely destroyed. Statements issued by both banks claim that no data was lost, and disaster recovery plans allowed them to function normally within a few hours.”

“Ha. No data lost.” The fact was, Pulse had hacked into Bank of America and deleted several hundred mortgages from the system (including his own), along with about ten thousand foreclosures (including one for Jaguar, a supervillain who’d had a run of bad luck lately). The EMP attacks covered his tracks, and he’d hit Goldman Sachs just because they were assholes.

“Pulse has not yet issued a statement, nor has he responded to our emailed questions.”

Harr muttered a curse in German. He only checked his email once a week, and most of it was spam anyway.

“The FBI has reiterated their standing offer of a two-million dollar reward to anyone who can positively identify Pulse, or bring him to justice. For HNN, I’m Betty Kanaka.”

Harr hit the Power button on the remote, and returned to his computer. The DM window was still up, so he typed his question to Captain Heroic: WTF?
Captain Heroic (ret.)
You thinking about switching sides?

sv_pulse
Nein. No. Hell no.

Captain Heroic (ret.)
Hey, I’d come out of retirement if you did. Might be fun to work together.

sv_pulse
I had personal reasons.
He opened his email, and found the questions from HNN buried in about two hundred offers for reverse mortgages, horny married women, Nigerian ancestors, timeshares, discreet pharmacies, and the like.
Captain Heroic (ret.)
So what’s next?

sv_pulse
Spammers. I hate opening my email these days.

Captain Heroic (ret.)
So you’ve already switched sides. If you need help with that one, let me know.

Captain Heroic (ret.)
Miss Siles wants a piece of spammer. Or some spammers in pieces.

Captain Heroic (ret.)
But keep it online. She’s… distracting to work with in person.

sv_pulse
So I’ve heard. I’ll keep that in mind.
“No time like the present,” he said, opening the HNN message. He scanned the vacuous questions, clicked Reply, and typed: Those who make a supervillain look like a hero, should take a good long look in the mirror. Yesterday, big banks. Tomorrow, spammers. Do not think of this as switching sides, rather I am eliminating the competition. He clicked Send, and smiled.

17 comments:

  1. this was gr8 fun. Love the idea of a superhero sat there playing solitaire. Also using superpowers to wipe out your mortgage!

    marc nash

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  2. Lol... I love twitter popping up in lit

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  3. Ha! I love the mix of superheroic and mundane.

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  4. Pretty much my spamm box! Ha!

    Definitely fun to read, I loved the little touches of German language. Pulse is a neat anti-hero.

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  5. It's funny 'cos it's true. And yeah, if a supervillain thinks you're an asshole, it's definitely time for a rethink. Can he do telemarketers next? Especially the robocallers? I've "won" enough cruises in the last week to never set foot on dry land again...

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  6. Ha this had me smiling! Good fun Larry.

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  7. Ha! A superhero indeed if he can bring down the spammers. Loved the bit about eliminating the competition!

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  8. Thanks, Marc. I guess that's one of the perks of being a supervillain: after a successful caper, you get to kick back and live in your secret identity for a while.

    Angela, Twitter is so prevalent these days…

    Tony, everyone has to kick back once in a while, right?

    Cindy, it was so weird… when I thought of Pulse, it immediately came to me that he was born in Austria and emigrated with his parents around age 10. He works as an electrician, that's his cover. It helps to be immune from electrocution, too.

    Katherine, is that the one where it starts off with the foghorn? I've gotten those. Some scam outfit outside Orlando.

    Thanks, Helen!

    Maria, I think his conversion is just beginning. Isn't denial the first step?

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  9. One man's villain is another man's hero...

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  10. This was a great mix, super villains, social media, and annoying but attractive news reporters. Everything balanced so humorously. This was just perfect.

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  11. "HNN" made me tremble at the notion of Hacker News getting its own Network channel. But I got what was probably the correct answer a moment later. This one was fun, Larry!

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  12. What a fun read, Larry! I loved the DM exchange between the retired superhero and our super villain.

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  13. Icy, so true. Plenty of examples in Westerns, too.

    Thanks, Cathy! I'll take "just perfect." :-D

    John, I think you just gave Pulse an idea… hack into HNN and change their graphics to say "Hacker News Network." And if that doesn't work, he can just fry their satellite uplink!

    Thanks, Chuck!

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  14. Terrific story, Larry! And I want more PULSE, please. He deserves his own series.

    I love how nonchalant he is and that he was playing Solitaire. There's so much in this that I liked, from the reasons behind his follows on Twitter to the superhero-villain DM exchange to his aside on the news anchor to his populist way of solving the Banking Crises. LOVE IT!

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  15. Fun story! Banks and spammers, fun choices. Cable companies, perhaps?

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  16. Lol funny. Getting rid of spammers and mortgages needs a super power or two. Also loved the twitter conversion between the supervillain and the retired superhero

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  17. Haha, this was great fun, Larry. Always nice to see Miss Siles again! ;-)

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Comments are welcome, and they don't have to be complimentary. I delete spam on sight, but that's pretty much it for moderation. Long off-topic rants or unconstructive flamage are also candidates for deletion but I haven’t seen any of that so far.

I have comment moderation on for posts over a week old, but that’s so I’ll see them.

Include your Twitter handle if you want a shout-out.

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