flashed through his mind. No way was he going to let the Secret
Service get hold of those. He needed to stash them and fast.
He could see the Secret Service agents searching the computer chalet.
Thank God he and Nibbler had moved all the equipment. At least there
was nothing incriminating in there and they wouldn't be able to seize
all their gear.
Par breathed deeply, deliberately, and forced himself to back away
from the railing toward the door to his room. He resisted the urge to
dash into his room, to recoil from the scene being played out below
him. Abrupt movements would draw the agents' attention.
Just as Par began to move, one of the agents turned around. He scanned
the two-storey motel complex and his gaze quickly came to rest on Par.
He looked Par dead in the eye.
This is it, Par thought. I'm screwed. No way out of here now. Months
on the run only to get done in a hick town in North Carolina. These
guys are gonna haul my ass away for good. I'll never see the light of
day again. Elimination is the only option.
While these thoughts raced through Par's mind, he stood rigid, his
feet glued to the cement floor, his face locked into the probing gaze
of the Secret Service agent. He felt like they were the only two
people who existed in the universe.
Then, inexplicably, the agent looked away. He swivelled around to
finish his conversation with another agent. It was as if he had never
even seen the fugitive.
Par stood, suspended and unbelieving. Somehow it seemed impossible. He
began to edge the rest of the way to his motel room. Slowly, casually,
he slid inside and shut the door behind him.
His mind raced back to the photos of Theorem and he searched the room
for a safe hiding place. There wasn't one. The best option was
something above eye-level. He pulled a chair across the room, climbed
on it and pressed on the ceiling. The rectangular panel of
plasterboard lifted easily and Par slipped the photos in the space,
then replaced the panel. If the agents tore the room apart, they would
likely find the pictures. But the photos would probably escape a quick
search, which was the best he could hope for at this stage.
Next, he turned his mind to escaping. The locals were pretty cool
about everything, and Par thought he could count on the staff not to
mention his presence to the Secret Service. That bought him some time,
but he couldn't get out of the room without being seen. Besides, if he
was spotted walking off the property, he would certainly be stopped
Even if he did manage to get out of the motel grounds, it wouldn't
help much. The town wasn't big enough to shield him from a thorough
search and there was no-one there he trusted enough to hide him. It
might look a little suspicious, this young man running away from the
motel on foot in a part of the world where everyone travelled by car.
Hitchhiking was out of the question. With his luck, he'd probably get
picked up by one of the agents leaving the raid. No, he wanted a more
viable plan. What he really needed was to get out of the area
altogether, to flee the state.
Par knew that John travelled to Asheville to attend classes and that
he left very early. If the authorities had been watching the motel for
a while, they would know that his 5 a.m. departure was normal. And
there was one other thing about the early departure which seemed
promising. It was still dark at that hour.
If Par could get as far as Asheville, he might be able to get a lift
to Charlotte, and from there he could fly somewhere far away.
Par considered the options again and again. Hiding out in the motel
room seemed the most sensible thing to do. He had been moving rooms
around the motel pretty regularly, so he might have appeared to be
just another traveller to anyone watching the motel. With any luck the
Secret Service would be concentrating their search on the chalet,
ripping the place apart in a vain hunt for the computer equipment. As
these thoughts went through his head, the phone rang, making Par jump.
He stared at it, wondering whether to answer.
He picked it up.
`It's Nibbler,' a voice whispered.
`Yeah,' Par whispered back.
`Par, the Secret Service is here, searching the motel.'
`I know. I saw them.'
`They've already searched the room next to yours.' Par nearly died.
The agents had been less than two metres from where he was standing
and he hadn't even known it. That room was where John stayed. It was
connected to his by an inner door, but both sides were locked.
`Move into John's room and lay low. Gotta go.' Nibbler hung up
Par put his ear to the wall and listened. Nothing. He unlocked the
connecting inner door, turned the knob and pressed lightly. It gave.
Someone had unlocked the other side after the search. Par squinted
through the crack in the door. The room was silent and still. He
opened it--no-one home. Scooping up his things, he quickly moved into
Then he waited. Pacing and fidgeting, he strained his ears to catch
the sounds outside. Every bang and creak of a door opening and closing
set him on edge. Late that night, after the law enforcement officials
had left, Nibbler called him on the house phone and told him what had
Nibbler had been inside the computer chalet when the Secret Service
showed up with a search warrant. The agents took names, numbers, every
detail they could, but they had trouble finding any evidence of
hacking. Finally, one of them emerged from the chalet triumphantly
waving a single computer disk in the air. The law enforcement
entourage hanging around in front of the chalet let out a little
cheer, but Nibbler could hardly keep a straight face. His younger
brother had been learning the basics of computer graphics with a
program called Logo. The United States Secret Service would soon be
uncovering the secret drawings of a primary school student.
Par laughed. It helped relieve the stress. Then he told Nibbler his
escape plan, and Nibbler agreed to arrange matters. His parents didn't
know the whole story, but they liked Par and wanted to help him. Then
Nibbler wished his friend well.
Par didn't even try to rest before his big escape. He was as highly
strung as a racehorse at the gate. What if the Secret Service was
still watching the place? There was no garage attached to the main
motel building which he could access from the inside. He would be
exposed, even though it would only be for a minute or so. The night
would provide reasonable cover, but the escape plan wasn't fool-proof.
If agents were keeping the motel under observation from a distance
they might miss him taking off from his room. On the other hand, there
could be undercover agents posing as guests watching the entire
complex from inside their room.
Paranoid thoughts stewed in Par's mind throughout the night. Just
before 5 a.m., he heard John's car pull up outside. Par flicked off
the light in his room, opened his door a crack and scanned the motel
grounds. All quiet, bar the single car, which puffed and grunted in
the still, cold air. The windows in most of the buildings were dark.
It was now or never.
Par opened the door all the way and slipped down the hallway. As he
crept downstairs, the pre-dawn chill sent a shiver down his spine.
Glancing quickly from side to side, he hurried toward the waiting car,
pulled the back door open and dove onto the seat. Keeping his head
down, he twisted around, rolled onto the floor and closed the door
with little more than a soft click.
As the car began to move. Par reached for a blanket which had been
tossed on the floor and pulled it over himself. After a while, when
John told him they were safely out of the town, Par slipped the
blanket off his face and he looked up at the early morning sky. He
tried to get comfortable on the floor. It was going to be a long ride.
At Asheville, John dropped Par off at an agreed location. Par thanked
him and hopped into a waiting car. Someone else from his extensive
network of friends and acquaintances took him to Charlotte.
This time Par rode in the front passenger seat. For the first time, he
saw the true extent of the damage wreaked by Hurricane Hugo. The small
town where he had been staying had been slashed by rain and high
winds, but on the way to the Charlotte airport, where he would pick up
a flight to New York, Par watched the devastation with amazement. He
stared out the car window, unable to take his eyes off the storm's
trail of havoc.
The hurricane had swept up anything loose or fragile and turned it
into a missile on a suicide mission. Whatever mangled, broken
fragments remained after the turbulent winds had passed would have
been almost unrecognisable to those who had seen them before.
Theorem worried about Par as he staggered from corner to corner of the
continent. In fact, she had often asked him to consider giving himself
up. Moving from town to town was taking its toll on Par, and it wasn't
that much easier on Theorem. She hadn't thought going on the lam was
such a great idea in the first place, and she offered to pay for his
lawyer so he could stop running. Par declined. How could he hand
himself in when he believed elimination was a real possibility?
Theorem sent him money, since he had no way of earning a living and he
needed to eat. The worst parts, though, were the dark thoughts that
kept crossing her mind. Anything could happen to Par between phone
calls. Was he alive? In prison? Had he been raided, even accidentally
shot during a raid?
The Secret Service and the private security people seemed to want him
so badly. It was worrying, but hardly surprising. Par had embarrassed
them. He had broken into their machines and passed their private
information around in the underground. They had raided his home when
he wasn't even home. Then he had escaped a second raid, in North
Carolina, slipping between their fingers. He was constantly in their
face, continuing to hack blatantly and to show them contempt in things
such as his voicemail message. He figured they were probably
exasperated from chasing all sorts of false leads as well, since he
was perpetually spreading fake rumours about his whereabouts. Most of
all, he thought they knew what he had seen inside the TRW system. He
was a risk.
Par became more and more paranoid, always watching over his shoulder
as he moved from city to city. He was always tired. He could never
sleep properly, worrying about the knock on the door. Some mornings,
after a fitful few hours of rest, he woke with a start, unable to
remember where he was. Which house or motel, which friends, which
He still hacked all the time, borrowing machines where he could. He
run by The Mentor and Erik Bloodaxe and frequented by LOD members and
the Australian hackers. Some well-known computer security people were
also invited onto certain, limited areas of the Texas-based board,
which immediately elevated the status of The Phoenix Project in the
computer underground. Hackers were as curious about the security
people as the security people were about their prey. The Phoenix
Project was special because it provided neutral ground, where both
sides could meet to exchange ideas.
Via the messages, Par continued to improve his hacking skills while
also talking with his friends, people like Erik Bloodaxe, from Texas,
and Phoenix, from The Realm in Melbourne. Electron also frequented The
Phoenix Project. These hackers knew Par was on the run, and sometimes
they joked with him about it. The humour made the stark reality of
Par's situation bearable. All the hackers on The Phoenix Project had
considered the prospect of being caught. But the presence of Par, and
his tortured existence on the run, hammered the implications home with
As Par's messages became depressed and paranoid, other hackers tried
to do what they could to help him. Elite US and foreign hackers who
had access to the private sections of The Phoenix Project saw his
messages and they felt for him. Yet Par continued to slide deeper and
deeper into his own strange world.
Subject: DAMN !!!
From: The Parmaster
Date: Sat Jan 13 08:40:17 1990
Stupid Admin comes on and asks who i am ...
Not only this .. but the
whole fucking Philippine Net isn't accepting collect calls anymore. (The thing
went down completely after i was booted off!)
Apparently someone there
had enough of me.
By the way, kids, never
drink and hack!
Date: Sat Jan 13 09:07:06 1990
i'm still fucking free.
From: The Parmaster
Date: Sun Jan 21 10:05:38 1990
The bottom line is a crackdown. The phrack boys were just the start,
i'm sure of it.
whether it's just codes, cards, etc.
all of this in the news now, they will be able to get more government
money to combat hackers.
And that's BAD fucking news for us. I think they are going after all
the `teachers'--the people who educate others into this sort of thing.
way. The only way they canprobably see is that we are hackers. And
so that is where their energies will be put. To stop ALL hackers--and
stop them BEFORE they can become a threat. After they wipe out the
educators, that is. Just a theory.
Date: Sun Jan 21 10:16:11 1990
hacker] would say.
on my epitaph.
THE ONLY CONNECTION IS
Oh well, maybe i'll take
a few of the buggers with me when they come for me.
Subject: Oh well.
Date: Tue Jan 23 19:30:05 1990
the words of the King. Oh well. Who cares? He was a fat shit before he
To everyone who's been a good friend of mine and help me cover up the
fact that i don't know a fucking thing--i thank u. And to everyone
else, take it easy and hang tough.
i was temporarily insane at the time
See you smart guys at the funny farm.
From: Erik Bloodaxe
Date: Tue Jan 23 23:21:39 1990
healthy, mentally or physically.
A year in minimum security (Club Fed) is better then chucking a whole
life. Hell, you're 19!! I have discarded the `permanent' solution for
good. Dead people can't get laid, but people in federal prisons DO get
Call over here at whatever time you read this ... I can see you are
really getting worried, so just fucking call ...
Date: Thu Jan 25 18:58:00 1990
Subject: Well shit.
Date: Mon Jan 29 15:45:05 1990
nada. They are nearby now.
weirdest case of Deja vu i've ever had.
Bell systems computers.
`Goodbye'. Eddie was a good friend, smartest damn UNIX box around ...
And he called today to tell me goodbye.
Now i know i'm fucked. Thanks, Eddie, it's been real. (whoever you
are) `ok eddie, this one's for you'
Date: Mon Jan 29 19:36:38 1990
with glasses and dark suits are Feds. Not all cars with generic
hubcaps are government issue.
Well, hell, I don't know what the hell `Eddie' is, but that's a real
bizarre message you left.
until things can be smoothed out for a calm transition.
From: Phoenix [from Australia]
Date: Tue Jan 30 07:25:59 1990
what is young Par up to?
Subject: Par and Erik
From: Daneel Olivaw
Date: Mon Jan 29 21:10:00 1990
Erik, you aren't exactly the best person to be stashing people are
Date: Wed Jan 31 14:26:04 1990
You know you are screwed
When surveyers survey
your neighbors regularly, and wear sunglasses when it's like 11 degrees
farenheit and cloudy as hell out.
driving by outside day and night. (I've been thinking about providing coffee an
Subject: heh, Par
From: The Mentor
Date: Wed Jan 31 16:37:04 1990
eliminate that one. :-)
Subject: Hmm, Par
Date: Thu Feb 01 10:22:46 1990
At least you arent getting shot at.
Subject: Par, why don't you ...
Date: Thu Feb 01 10:56:04 1990
seeing the same people tooling around my neighborhood, i would
actively check them out if they seemed weird.
Subject: Par, jump 'em
From: Aston Martin
Date: Tue Feb 06 18:04:55 1990
(you know, the one with the two guys sitting in it all day) with a
pair of jumper cables. Tell them you've seen them sitting there all
day and you thought they were stuck. Ask them if they need a jump.
matters. Other hackers routinely asked him questions about X.25
networks. Unlike some hackers, Par almost always offered some help. In
fact, he believed that being `one of the teachers' made him a
particular target. But his willingness to teach others so readily,
combined with his relatively humble, self-effacing demeanour, made Par
popular among many hackers. It was one reason he found so many places
the run, then summer. Par was still on the run, still dodging the
Secret Service's national hunt for the fugitive. By autumn, Par had
eluded law enforcement officials around the United States for more
than a year. The gloom of another cold winter on the run sat on the
horizon of Par's future, but he didn't care. Anything, everything was
bearable. He could take anything Fate would dish up because he had
something to live for.
Theorem was coming to visit him again.
When Theorem arrived in New York in early 1991, the weather was
bitterly cold. They travelled to Connecticut, where Par was staying in
a share-house with friends.
Par was nervous about a lot of things, but mostly about whether things
would be the same with Theorem. Within a few hours of her arrival, his
fears were assuaged. Theorem felt as passionately about him as she had
in California more than twelve months before. His own feelings were
even stronger. Theorem was a liferaft of happiness in the growing
turmoil of his life.
But things were different in the outside world. Life on the run with
Theorem was grim. Constantly dependent on other people, on their
charity, they were also subject to their petty whims.
A room-mate in the share-house got very drunk one night and picked a
fight with one of Par's friends. It was a major row and the friend
stormed out. In a fit of intoxicated fury, the drunk threatened to
turn Par in to the authorities. Slurring his angry words, he announced
he was going to call the FBI, CIA and Secret Service to tell them all
where Par was living.
Par and Theorem didn't want to wait around to see if the drunk would
be true to his word. They grabbed their coats and fled into the
darkness. With little money, and no place else to stay, they walked
around for hours in the blistering, cold wind. Eventually they decided
they had no choice but to return to the house late at night, hopefully
after the drunk had fallen asleep.
They sidled up to the front of the house, alert and on edge. It was
quite possible the drunk had called every law enforcement agency his
blurry mind could recall, in which case a collection of agents would
be lying in wait. The street was deadly quiet. All the parked cars
were deserted. Par peered in a darkened window but he couldn't see
anything. He motioned for Theorem to follow him into the house.
Though she couldn't see Par's face, Theorem could feel his tension.
Most of the time, she revelled in their closeness, a proximity which
at times seemed to border on telepathy. But at this moment, the
extraordinary gift of empathy felt like a curse. Theorem could feel
Par's all-consuming paranoia, and it filled her with terror as they
crept through the hall, checking each room. Finally they reached Par's
room, expecting to find two or three Secret Service agents waiting
patiently for them in the dark.
It was empty.