[S] A Disturbing Message

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Scott Robert Dawson

Dec 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/23/97

Karol Burnett looked at the amber letters on the screen with dismay.
"Steve," he said, "You'd better have a look at this- but you're not
going to like it."

Steve Davidson came over tho the dining-room table.

It was a few days before Christmas. They were in an old motel in a
roadside town on Highway 17 north of Lake Huron. The town was barely
more than a truckstop and a gas station, with a few houses. The motel,
too, had seen better days. But it was relatively warm and it kept the
snow off.

Steve looked at the screen. The newsreader was up and set to the
alt.devilbunnies newsgroup.

"Look at this post. It seems to be some kind of test transmission, but
it's posted under Johnson Morikawa-Smith's name!"

Steve started to read:

"[begin transmission]

[Algonquin Labs Subvocal Speech-to-Text Conversion Utility]
[Exec Version 0.79 alpha 3]
[Hardware Version P4 rev 1]
[BUNIX Encryption available; not engaged]

*Wow!* that was weird... <pseudohop>
Where am I? I don't recognize this room at all...
<pseudowiggle> Pokemon? What an odd cartoon! <twitch> It's so
What day is it?
Say, the window shade's open
[rustle] <pseudolollop>
What the- Snow???
Where's my stuff? I gotta call work! That South Bay area's gotta be
mapped before the end of May...
[thump] OW! <PiG-13>! I can't walk right! [rustle] <shudder>
Oh my god... my hands. What happened to my hands? <shudder>
Ah ha hrr [inarticulate noise]
[rustle] [thump]
Where's Steve? Mom?
The door's locked! Now what do I do? I wonder if any of my stuff is in
these cabinets?
[click] [creak] Shit! It's all stuffed toys...
[click] [creak]
[My 9000! What's it doing down there? [rustle]
Damn... no signal. Where AM I? That looks like Algonquin Park!
What the--? What's all this stuff on the back?
[inarticulate noise] [inarticulate noise]
Who are you?
[inarticulate noise]
Wait! <panic> What are you doing?
[inarticulate noise]
No! No! I can't not again

[end transmission]"

Steve looked at Karol, eyes wide. "This looks like something from
Johnson... but it's like some kind of accidental test transmission.
What the hell's gong on? We haven't heard anything all year, then

Karol muttered, "He must be still alive. Oh god. The fluffers are
keeping him alive."

Steve looked at the screen again. "Can the fluffers have... bugged...

"Unless he's carrying around some pretty hefty hardware, I don't think
so. But I also know not to underestimate the fluffers. They might be
decoding stuff remotely."

"Let's see if there's any more." Karol and Steve scrolled down the
message list.

"Wait... what's this?"

It was another message, actually _labeled_ "Test Transmission", with
some kind of hexadecimal message ID and an originating site in the
'bunnet' domain. Karol knew that this was a domain naming-scheme that
the buns at Algonquin Main warren were trying to set up as the world
standard for bun domains- but he also knew that other North American
warrens were having none of it.

The second message was worse, much worse.

The bug, if that's what it was, has suffered a system crash and spewed
garble before the transmission ended. But it said enough.

"Karol, I don't know what all that other stuff is, but they've drugged
him, and they've got him following orders like a damned slave! He
pushed someone into the sp- the spa- I can't say it..."

Karol's face was grim. "The spam machine."

"Yes..." Steve put his head in his hands. "The spam machine."

"We've got to get a message to other Fudds," said Karol, "...if they
can hear us."


Scott Robert Dawson
Note: remove the characters .antispamtext from
this address to get my real address...

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