I had been awake for what seemed hours, the darkness of my hotel room purged by tiny flashing LEDs and the shaft of light from the streetlights outside. It was three am. The illuminated dial of my watch visible on the side table, nestled in the folds of my jacket. I turned over, closing my eyes, willing silence on a slowly dripping shower. I gave up, sleeping seems so futile, I rubbed my eyes to full waking, and sat up in bed, rearranging the pillows for my back. I turned on the bedside light by reaching down and fumbling for the switch on its power cable. I was now lost in a tunnel of yellow light and did not know what to do next.
I had flown to this city on the other side of the world earlier today, it took funds I could not really afford to waste but I had to leave. The trip was sudden, maybe ill judged, but to stay meant losing everything. There are some things even I cannot brazen out of. At least I had my freedom, if only for now. I’m no policeman with a knowledge of what country extradites and which does not. This current hotel is on the back roads, the edge of the city, and I have never been here before. The concierge does not ask many questions. And my name? My name is not important, it’s not what it was only a few days ago, so there is really no point you knowing.
You will be wondering why I left, why am I hiding and why am I running as hard and as fast as I possibly can. I cannot give the details, too much information in too many places is what gave the game away. The money has been slowly accruing, a trickle of cash into my hidden account until I got unlucky. It’s been a solid five years of success until I got stupid and altered the program to nudge up the haemorrhage from my clients accounts. Stupid, so stupid, not rounded off balances tipping tiny amounts of money but a full handed leap into the till. The first nobody noticed, the second might as well have flashing lights and ” go directly to jail ” cards.
The appalling taste of opportunity wasted. Yet it was my own uncontrolled avarice compounded by my computing naivety that made this situation come about, and made it necessary to run.
It’s four am, my phone must have found a local carrier as it is whining in my trouser pocket. I stand up, reach over, twist away the fabric and yank out the thing. In the tiny black text there is a message. It is an automated message from the hardware back in Sydney. ” Unable to complete program changes requested, incorrect passwords, please enter correct authorisation codes. ”
And so it never happened, and a few days later, I was back. A brief sudden holiday, a dead distant relative, I cannot remember what excuses I gave for my precipitate disappearance but I never tried to alter that program again. It is such a sweet little earner, and I have no right to expect another reprieve.