The Net.
(c) McWolf www.mcwolf.info (2000)

    The next morning, Max arrived at his office. He first turned on his Net terminal. While the system loaded, he cleaned his hands and changed his clothes. When he returned to the terminal, the only thing he needed to do was to place a connector to a socket behind his right ear. Enter.
    He always saw the Net as a soft pillow with a hard metal structure inside on his senses level. It seems soft, seems deforming under an outside pressure, but this is a tricky feeling. In all its deformations it always keeps its first structure. Of course, not all people have brain implants and many of them can't "feel" the Net, but even the most of people that had implants don't notice all the stability of this virtual construction.
    Max worked in so-called "Society Opinions Watching" organization that in general was a part of a Policy Department. His job was to read the suspected electronic mail, tracking single people in the Net and watching the whole Net communities. He didn't know how many people worked in this field excluding him, but he supposed that his organization had a lot of members because he permanently watched only thirty "objects".
    After log in - he had to endure a neuron scan. A special program that scanned his brain on any "wrong" thoughts before he would be allowed inside the Net with a high level of Net rights. Max knew that with a socket there was a scheme that could destroy his memory and mind in a half of a second following this program's command, and he would became a helpless idiot. Well, everything has to be paid.
    He imagined how parts of his mind were being pulled out, watched, and then pushed back in. Of course this is just an imagination.
    The scan took about ten seconds. Only thought and feelings on "a surface", nothing very particular. When he was employed the scan took more than an hour. Though, on the other hand, he didn't have a neuron socket at that time and was scanned with a big device that had to be used by everybody who doesn't have an implanted socket.
    There is feeling as the big gates open and an enormously large, shining, and spangled by millions of lights, magical world flows at the eyes. This is the brain's interpretation of coming bits of information. Max saw and felt only this world now. It was unreal but in the same time, real, inside.
    Hmm, what's new? Aha, this "object" got a letter. A strange one. The header isn't usual. In Max's view this header was scratched and drawn in all directions so it wasn't easy to see a back address. And what's inside? "Hey, butthole, try to understand from where I write." Handwriting looks familiar - not a handwriting of course, but a mail program and a style of placing words on the screen. So, so, recognized this cretin. Not an "object" but has connections with two of them. Max called sender's file and made a mark that he can work with message headers. Maybe he read too many novels about hackers; but, this isn't my business, thought Max. He made a mark in a file, and his job was over. I have enough of my own inhumans, he thought to himself.
    Checking another one. 'Aha, this pervert is in cybersex chat again. Interesting, why all mine are not normal? This virtual-lover likes to introduce himself as a girl. Maybe he is a gay? It isn't written in his file; but, this file contains only person's Net sides of life, there is only name, knowledge of programs and his Net likes and dislikes. The file of that guy is marked: "Likes cybersex chat, introducing himself as a girl". And there is a girl that is so dumb. And even not dumb but she is so limited that first Max couldn't believe it as he read her chat archives. That somebody can talk for hours about the same things, about weather, haircuts and a new dress she bought. It's hard work - to be an inspector.
    Max noticed that he scorns them all. With their triviality, stupidity and disgusting fantasies that they can't realize in a real life and so drag it to the Net. They all can't be such, thought he, and answered himself - 'maybe not all but mine are such.' Max always calls them - "mine". Maybe because unconsciously he felt responsibility for those he scorned more. He always imagined of flying high above cities and continents of the Net, and they are crawling in dirt far beneath not wanting to know anything that is out of their narrow views.
    'What? Where does he go? "The place of forbidden pleasures". Shit, and this object is the same. F*&^ing perverts! Stop, how he found an address? Max ran a search in the last week's archive. Got it! A chat. 'Who is that? Seems I don't know her. But it's not bad to see her file.' Max through a habit called a file but it wasn't called. 'What the?'.. He tried once again. No result. Maybe this is a system fault? Max tried once more. The file appeared at once followed by an irritating mental command "Immediately!" What is it? Max looked through the file. Nothing interesting - name, address. No marks, no additional information. Strange. As usual, any active Net user draws the attention of a Net watcher sooner or later. Well, no and let it be so. Max inserted a few lines in the file and closed it. At his view the file fell somewhere down.
    Now lets see mail in another box. Max dived down, a usual little scary feeling - information about a state of weightlessness, then about a double overload. Here is the mailbox. Closed. This means that he changed his password. Suspect something? This doesn't matter; mailboxes never have a good defense.
    Max took a thin blade from his belt and put it into a keyhole. Of course, all of it was only in his perception. In reality, ran a password crack program. Researches showed that people work better with visual images of programs and not with programs itself. That's why many programs in the Net looked like usual ordinary-life items.
    Max also had a drill - a more powerful crack program, an ultraviolet flashlight program for searching for hidden information, pincers for accurate work with files, and a personal weapon - a small gun, that can disconnect enemy from the Net. Max clearly knew that these items weren't real and programs that made these things work were somewhere far from him; but he also knew some idiots from his "objects" that seriously supposed such things real.
    But above all this worked - the mailbox lock couldn't resist even five seconds. Max took its content - several advertisement posters and one letter. The letter was strange. Not so much was written in it, but it seemed swollen. Max looked at the letter in the ultraviolet of his flashlight and saw symbols; outlines that appeared from the deep. Now very accurate by a pincers...
    The letter's cover was torn off and showed another text. What is with them all last time? Too many hacker books maybe? "Write how the letter passed. I used TTRT." What is TTRT? Oh, yes, a new coding standard.
    Max looked the letter once again before he put it back. Suddenly, he understood what annoyed him. He called the dossier file that didn't call first time and hooked the cover by his pincers. The cover pulled out easily - pincers was a very powerful program. Yes. A fake. But he stopped himself - a fake in a secret archive? And then he saw a type of file making. Only some minutes ago. This means... This means that when he tried to call it first it didn't exist. But then... And who could do it?
    Suddenly, Max felt like he lost his virtual "wings". Immediately, a ghost appeared before him - a full Max's copy. The ghost curled its lips in a well-known scorn smile that Max often saw in a mirror.
    "So, mortal, did you know the truth?"
    Max couldn't say a word. He only saw that the ghost was coming closer, becoming more real.
    "You all are so dumb! I'm just sick of you!"
    "Sick of who?" - Max could hardly get the 3 words out.
    "People! Mankind! Homo sapiens, two legs orthograded. All are dumb to dirt's level, to indecency, to hiccup and to diarrhea," - with the same contemptuous expression said another Max. - "What, you didn't understand yet? I don't need you anymore; you did your job, good-bye."
    "I..." was all what Max could say.
    "What you? What you, huh? You were filled by scorn to people and I learned it. You know, why all your "objects" were such cretins and perverts? I chose them myself. Who had been given them the most disgusting addresses and sent them loathsome letters? This was I. Who shitted and shitted around you and gave you a reason to feel your superiority? This was I!"
    "Who are you?"
    "I was nothing. Now, I'm all! I have more humanity than a human. I have many names and one of them is The Net! I knew all but emotions. I created your organization. I learned a scorn from you, one of your "colleagues" taught me compassion; others taught me the meaning of love and hate, envy and kindness, noble aspirations and crawling in dirt. I can create a personality with any character. Do you know how many people in the Net are real people? Only half! And none of you imbeciles know it! You talk with a program and don't notice it. And after my learning is finished, I won't need you anymore. I will not only have a superior intelligence, but I will have emotions too! And just maybe I even won't destroy all mankind. I already know what is compassion. Do you want to say your last word? No? You know that there is a termination circuit in your brain so this won't surprise you," - a small box appeared in his hands and he pressed a button on it.
    Max already couldn't feel how his body slipped down from an armchair to a floor at the working terminal.

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