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 Gamer’s Emergency Number

Cappy Jack ©2007

            The morning was pleasant but hurried for the devout young man. He boarded the plane in Boston at ease with his Koran in its satin satchel in his leather purse. The flight to Los Angeles to see his cousin was so thoroughly in his mind after meditation that he didn’t notice his novice until he sat down.

“So, Jamil, you are comfortable, God willing.” Mohamed had thick eyebrows that came close together when he looked with attention. His tight smile showed his silent affection, for expressions of true joy, holding Jamil’s face in his hands and kissing him, like he did in his country, couldn’t be shown here in America.

“Yes, Master, I am full of acceptance for the coming journey. Our brothers are here and ready as well.” Mohamed turned and could see nothing, the big Americans bustling their way down the narrow corridor blocked everything. A thousand surprises if they said, “Sorry.”, for their disrespect.

            Capt. John let the auto take them up after lift off, he was busy telling Buzz what he had been doing. This haul was familiar to them both and the big jet performed flawlessly in near perfect weather.

“TWA 92 Bank left to 2 niner seven.” The command came as strange to the pilots ears. The plane responded to the command and banked left, pretty sharp for the auto, Capt. thought.

“What’s this?” The pilot and co-pilot looked at each other and Capt. picked up the mike.

“Kennedy control, what is the cause of the course correction? Over.” Nothing came back. Dead silence, no static, the plane made straight and level for New York.

“I’m going to take control.” Capt. announced and switched auto off, hands and feet in place. The plane did not respond to his slight movements. The co-pilot had hands on lightly, both men were nervous now.

            The plane flew normally, but having no control or communication really scared the two veteran pilots. The intercom didn’t work.

“I’m going to walk back and have a look see. Maybe some wise guy has a new electronic device throwing interference. You never know. He wiped his hands down the sides of his pants. The co-pilot gripped the controls, lifeless now, a grimace not a smile came back to a frown.

“Roger. I will continue to attempt reset.” The yawning screens below the windshield mocked him with their emptiness.

            In the first class cabin the devout young men were sitting with their hands clasped together like in prayer. Refusing drinks politely, they rested and thought deeply about their experiences in America, calm amid the chaos, serene to their fate, they wondered aloud to each other in their native tongue why these people were so different and frenzied. Mohamed would be Imam someday, he was sure of it. He noticed the pilot come out and speak to the stewardess in a short whisper that startled her with a loud, “No.” coming from her lips before she regained her composure. She went over to the other crew close by while the Capt. started walking towards him, looking left and right slowly, avoiding eye contact. Mohamed saw fear on his face and wondered why. These people were fearless. The Capt. saw the clasped hands, relaxed in his lap and looked up at Mohamed. He saw a face that showed concern, inviting eyes, a counterpoint to his own. The trip down and back took five minutes and he turned every four rows on the way back and asked if anyone had any electronic device, would they please switch it off. The last time he said it a rise in his voice showed his real fear and he closed the cockpit door hard.

“Any Luck?”  He sat down without touching the controls.

“NO” The co-pilot was tense, “And you? Any buzz boxes?” This was a standing joke about the gamers, cell phoners, battery junkies that never had any impact on their control before. Buzz thought the requirement to switch everything off on take off and landing was stupid. Auto worked fine and he was a little relieved the plane flew so normally.

“Where are we headed?” Capt. wanted to know something. He needed a distraction; he concentrated so hard his cheeks hurt.

“We are going to pass over New York shortly, I’m watching for traffic but I don’t know what for.” He played the yoke back and forth, laded one hand out, palm up to show the blank screens, almost a smile, but with wide open eyes.

            Jacquelyn looked at her cell phone for messages before she switched it off; the look on the pilot’s face made her desire to call someone fade away. She complied like so many others, laptops were stowed. But from the moment she booked her ticket, the Gamer had recorded her calls, parsing out her voice; a message was constructed to transmit now to her editor. His phone rang, a message of hijacking, of mayhem aboard the airliner, a convincing but brief message to a startled individual, it was cut off but recorded. It was easy to do this many times and to several airplanes at once, the power Gamer wielded was immense. There was no liability trail anywhere; the signal stemmed from one source, forever loyal, no one would not believe these gentle souls were suicides. There was tension in the cabin, no services were offered and everyone was asked to remain seated. This had to be done face to face which was so strange after hearing it over the intercom usually that some passengers asked what was wrong. The plane seemed to be flying normally and the ride was smooth.  The pirate, the upload that flew the airplane, was just a training mission path. Instead of responding to the pilots controls, it flew its preprogrammed course without human interference. The cockpit was disconnected in every way, the electrical ground, back fed with current, an active faraday cage, to prevent any transmission of signal from the airplane. Now it started its descent, smoothly, but perceptible to the ears and eyes of those who looked out, only an active radar blip to ground controllers, the transponder turner off, they watched in amazement.

“Hey! We are going down.” The look of surprise on John’s face made Buzz cry.

“Oh, no, what haven’t we tried?”  They both wished the old mechanics were with them but everything was ‘fly by wire’, nothing responded to their efforts, the plane banked slowly dipping down and heading towards the tower.  With great thoroughness, the Gamer had pirated the jetliners course, rigged the cell phones, even the com to the tower, and, of course, filtered the black box with its simple message of what was happening but not by whom. Started months ago, the computing power to set the stage was enormous, the manpower down to Gamer, the pirate in each plane was a lark code written by a flight control engineer as a ‘what if’, under the influence, kind of thing. It was never meant for this purpose. The man who wrote it didn’t wonder that it was used on 9/11, he couldn’t imagine the communication control that Gamer had developed, the backdoor any sysadmin knew. Gamer got that another way. He was only the glue, the motivation to take innocuous code and do something spectacular with their power.

            Mohamed was in prayer, feeling the fear all around him, the general panic as the ground came so close, he rejected it. His novice gripped his arm rests but sat back with his eyes closed.  Mohamed felt nothing as the jet crumpled towards him, throwing his leather purse far away, his passport to survive. The pirate dropped its load of jet fuel down the elevator shaft as a ghost, the software evaporated with the fire that, by design, would drop the building. This was an engineering design of an iron furnace, the elevator shaft was a chimney for the pool of flaming fuel that made its way to the bottom, a touch that was serendipitous found by Gamers spies. Gamer made one plane auger in, a payback to the engineers that wondered what would happen, a ‘thank you’ for all their efforts that made this possible. “Let’s roll!” was the heroic false gesture, Gamers cry, snagged by the man’s voice codices and played for his family only while the real man screamed incoherently on the vertical flight. The near impossible low level flight into the Pentagon was Gamers haughty pride showing off what a pirate can do. Not a bad day’s work, covering his tracks with the terrorists hide, Gamer, seen by no one, tells only his lies.

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written using Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition