Tobias Buckell's "System Reset": tense, taut hacker tale

IO9 has published Tobias Buckell's tense, taut technothriller story "System Reset." It's a story about hacker/bounty hunters, taken from the pages of John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey's new anthology The End is Nigh, the first of three volumes that deal with pre-apocalypses, apocalypses, and post-apocalypses, in order.

Toto's from Kansas. And he's loyal. Knew him from a message board where he sold stolen credit card numbers online. That was back in high school, when I first dipped my toe into the other side of the internet. He takes to wearing cut-off shirts and ironic trucker hats, which is doubly ironic given that he calls himself trailer-trash-reared and city-ambitious. He likes layered jokes like that.

Back then we'd both been illegitimate. I used the cards to get some equipment shipped to a dead drop in a nearby county, then had a fifth grader bicycle to the mailbox center to pick the stuff up. He would hand it off to another kid, and once I was sure that kid hadn't been followed, I was rocking some serious gigaflops for my part-time, personal server farm.

Every kid needs a hobby, right?

Most others liked creating botnets, but I had a soft spot for my own gear. It made me feel in control.

Toto moved out to the city when I told him where I lived. "You need muscle," he had said.

And he was that. Spent most of his spare time in the gym, though I didn't think he stuck himself with any needles to get that kind of beef.

The End is Nigh (The Apocalypse Triptych)

Read this intense, pre-apocalyptic hacker story by Tobias Buckell