Ode To My Lover: Him and Her

 

tim-marshall-114623

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

There’s something about the way
She pouts her lips defiantly
And leaves traces of her kiss
Lingering…
Or maybe it’s the flip of her hair,
As she insists she has no care
For my night time
Escapades,
She only cares for the days
When I belong to her,

But there’s something about the
Quietness
After a maelstrom
Of scarlet red anger
That fades to deep indigo sadness

It’s what we do behind the scenes
When the sheets are remade
And she momentarily puts away
Her pariah’s name
When she isn’t answering
Bottom ended calls at midnight hours

She puts on a personality
That runs deeper than the highest intimacy
She becomes a side to me
That’s better than I’ve ever known.

Maybe its in her innocence
As wet tears cling fiercely
To her eyelashes and she assures me…

Or is it the innocence I robbed?
For some fleeting passion…
A shared breath
A moment that bubbles between two lungs.

Or maybe that’s just fantasy

***
I know it’s unsustainable
I know I am not right,
But it’s more than just
The way he lays
His fingers on me
Or looks into my eyes…and smiles
See, I am enthralled by him
Wholly and Irrevocably.

Maybe it’s the way he talks
Maybe it’s the way he talks to me.

But after a hurricane
That’s coloured rainbows of emotions
I know.

I think it’s funny;
His boys told me I’m all but a
“Booty call”

The ladies call me a hoe
But I know.

I know it’s not right
And that should stop me
But as the rosary entangles in my lingerie
I shed a few tears
That paint my shame
Grey and Unspectacular
Misguided, Ill-advised.

I should know better but I don’t.

Maybe it’s just fantasy

LOCKDOWN Chapter 3

atharva-lele-103389 Photo by Atharva Lele on Unsplash

15.3879oS, 28.3297oE, DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE. STATUS: RESTRICTED

19:05

The lights flickered on overhead and illuminated Computer Lab 3. I reminisced about the lectures I attended, sitting next to Stephanie and playing Zerg Rush when we got bored. Stephanie slumped into a chair and groaned, the day’s events were taking their toll on her. Silas too took a seat and kneaded his head with his knuckles, deep in thought. Milimo however, stayed true to character and set up four computers, deftly accessing the deep web. Each monitor showed the position citizens in real time. Government officials were marked with a red x, cops with a blue dot and civilians were black dots. All the government officials were in their respective homes, all the cops were moving about on the screen, clearly doing their patrols. Silas gave us each a chance to rest. Milimo wrapped himself up in a blanket he had produced from somewhere, Silas fell asleep in his chair. I took out a joint and lit it up, allowing the aroma to engulf me. Stephanie sat on my lap and rested her head on my shoulder. The last time I saw Stephanie was the day before the cops got her. As much as I loved Bupe, Stephanie was a challenge for me. She made my mind work in ways I didn’t know were possible. We didn’t need a label; she was my ride or die. Feeling her small fingers grab the joint from me made me laugh. She took a drag and passed it back, then kissed my neck gently.

“This is far from normal, but it will have to do in terms of intimacy.” She laughed, burrowing her face in my nape. I kissed the top of her head and wrapped my arms around her. Normal and intimate were two things that meant nothing.

02:15

Milimo woke us up abruptly. Stephanie was still curled up on my lap, snuggling close to my body, breathing slowly in and out. Silas was pacing up and down, his brow burrowed in thought. Milimo pulled a chair up and sat in front of us. He put his hands together and exhaled slowly.

“Lady and gentlemen. On the off chance that you actually want to hear me talk; it’s about to go down. I know…I know guys. The world we live in is incredibly messed up. We’re under the rule of people who don’t give a flying rat’s ass about us. It’s a fact. But we’re going to change that. We have so little influence yet so much. Henceforth this city will not be the same.” His voice was heavy with emotion and hoarse from being tired.

“This is crazy.” Stephanie murmured. “What if there’s someone we want to save?”

“I’ll give you the algorithm in a moment, just back code them into the system.” Milimo said.

“There’s no one I’d save.” Silas sighed. Milimo looked over at him and they shared a look, all they had was each other.

“I wanna save Bupe.” I said. Stephanie clicked her tongue in irritation and stood up. She walked to the far end of the room and sat at one of the monitors Milimo had set up.

“I want her to see what this world is really like, not the world she believes we live in.” I continued, staring doggedly at Stephanie.

“Dude. What she sees is what she needs to see.” Stephanie said sulkily. “The world she belongs to, injustice doesn’t exist. People die and their bodies are recycled after. Violating people’s bodies is research. She benefits from the system. The system was made for her.”

“Stephanie, she needs to know!” I said raising my voice. I stood up to. My relationship with Stephanie had always been case in point sexual. We didn’t talk, we didn’t need to. But suddenly, it seemed like the whole world was thrown off balance.

“Dude, shut up.” Silas groaned. “I’ve got bad news.”

“Chabota.” He continued, looking directly at me. “Bupe’s dot is off screen.”

“What does that mean?” I said, feeling a knot grow in my chest.

“Most likely explanation is that she was disconnected.” Silas said gravely.

“Fuck.” I groaned, sinking back into my seat. “Fuck.”

Stephanie sniffed from the other side of the room, still sulking. Milimo patted my back and sighed.

“Let’s do it.” I said resolutely.

I tried to ignore the fact that I was blinded by tears as I back coded. I tried to tell myself the greater good was more important than love. I tried to tell myself I loved her. I also tried to tell myself that cheating with Stephanie meant nothing at all. But I failed. I didn’t mean to fall for Bupe, but when I woke in the hospital, seeing her smile at me, dimpled and with twinkling eyes, I knew everything in my life had changed. She was a medical intern and I was computer scientist, who routinely tested government software. She whispered in my ear that it would be the last time I’d see anyone, they were simply running brief tests on me and then I’d cross to the other side. I had no idea what that meant until I blacked out. When I woke up again, the next person I saw was Stephanie. She was frowning at me. “Damn nigga. You just had to die, didn’t you?” she said. I listened awestruck as I met Milimo and Silas. Collectively, we called ourselves The Rats. I learnt about the illegal network they had set up and their plans. I wanted to be a part of it.

We coded in silence, hearing only the random chirping of crickets in the distance of the approaching morning. Suddenly the lights flickered and Milimo screamed in triumph.

“We did it!” he yelled, jumping up. “We have shut down the domain!”

The silence that followed was thunderous. It was the type of silence that settles after you know you’ve won a battle that you didn’t have the strength to fight. The type of silence that is comfortable in triumph, and thrives in victory. The kind of silence that needed no explanation, just savour. And so, we sat there, in the old Computer laboratory, passing around a joint and feeling oddly exhausted but thrilled. Presently, Silas said, “let’s go outside.”

15.3879oS, 28.3297oE, GREAT EAST ROAD. STATUS: PUBLIC ACCESS ROUTE.

06:00

The apocalypse my generation faced was not a biological weapon or zombies. It wasn’t political terrorism or greed. It was fear of the known world and a longing for freedom. The sunrise tinged the horizon with seashell pink and cast warm rays across the city, illuminating every crevice. The streets were empty. From the distance a lone dog howled, another returned his howl with three sharp barks. And what we saw was desolation. Everything was opposite of what he had expected, what we had needed. We saw bodies. Body after body after body. In the short time, we had been coding under the comfort of our selfish needs, we had willfully and deliberately killed each citizen of the city. I didn’t even want to think of the rest of the country. It wasn’t beautiful or breathtaking, it was dire and sickening. We hadn’t achieved anything but waste.

10:00.

15.3879oS, 28.3297oE GOMA LAKES. STATUS: NEUTRAL

The days passed by uneventfully. An interesting thing about sitting in a post-apocalyptic city is despite the stillness, there will always be wind. The wind caused ripples on the surface of the Goma Lakes and I watched the little waves form and ebb away. Maybe it was fear or loneliness, but the team somehow stuck together. We went to Bupe’s house, to see if we could find any clues. Stephanie chose to wait outside, in a car we had stolen. We found her hanging from her ceiling, her microchip just under her feet. She had killed herself. I cut her down and inserted the chip back into her neck. If nothing came of all this mess, I wanted her to be left in dignity.

“Chabota!” someone called me from a distance.

“Chabota! Come now!” she called coming nearer. Stephanie sounded irritated as she approached. “Chabota. I’ve been calling you.”

I wiped the tears from my face and turned to her. “Quit crying, this is what you wanted.” She said hollowly.

I glared at her, not moving an inch. She came and placed her hands on my head, and I closed my eyes at her touch, savouring the softness of her skin on my hair.

“This is what no one wanted, Chabota. We wanted freedom, not death.” She whispered. She sat down next to me and wrapped her arms around herself, rocking backwards and forwards slightly.

Maybe there is freedom in death, and we just don’t know it yet. Maybe freedom is a concept relative to different people. Maybe death is a price to pay for freedom. The truth is freedom is a concept that you only understand when it’s taken away from you. But somewhere between the flaring lights of cars chasing each other down a freeway or the quietness of dawn, when police officers dust off their boots and finish their shifts, there is a freedom that exists deep within the chests of each of us. We just need to use it wisely.

 

Sonnet by Lachlan Mackinnon

the jupiter collisions

image by FWallpapers.com, http://www.VETTON.ru

(poem taken from The Jupiter Collisions by Lachlan Mackinnon)

Suppose there was no great creating Word,

That time is infinite. Corollary?

The present moment gives infinity

An end, by coming after it. Absurd

 

Say the beginning of the world occurred

In time and call that moment T,

Everything needed for the world to be

Was, at the point T minus X. Absurd

 

Falling in love’s a paradox like this.

Either it happens like a thunderbolt,

So when it makes our lives make sense, it lies

 

Or we had long been hoping for the kiss

That changed us, and, aware how it would jolt

Our beings, we could suffer no surprise

LOCKDOWN Chapter 2

delf-renniel-rivera-273007

15o23’40.97,,S, 28o1830.18,,E, Sector 15 Designated Coffee Shop. STATUS: INHABITABLE

I couldn’t help it. Every time I saw Bupe, I smiled uncontrollably. She looked stunning in a simple baby blue off the shoulder dress. Today she tamed her bouncy hair, and had it pulled back into a pony tail that exploded lush curls over her head. She was smiling too, a little bit shyly. It had been two months since we’d had a real date and three since we were intimate. Maybe today would be a good day.

“I feel like we have so much to catch up on.” I said softly. I reached out and put my hand on top of hers. She clenched her muscles slightly, but did not move her hand.

“You’re right.” She said, not quite meeting my eyes. “we need to talk.” The air seemed to settle heavily around us. Bupe opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted by the loud voice of a waitress.

“can I take your order yet?” she drawled lazily.

I shifted in my seat, and nodded my ascent. “you first babe.”

She bit her lip, and I immediately knew what she would order.

“king sized fries with hot wings.” She smiled and glanced at me. It was the first meal we’d ever had together.

“uhuh,” the waitress said, taking the order. “government name?”

“9512B- XX” she said. The waitress’s eyes seemed to glaze over as she processed this information. Waitresses had been fitted with a certain software to help them know of customer’s allergies and dietary tastes. After a few seconds, the waitress turned to me.

“I’m not eating, thank you.” I smiled at her.

“come on Chabota. Just eat. You look like you haven’t had anything in ages.” Bupe said, meeting my eyes for the first time that day. I opened my mouth to protest but changed my mind halfway. I’d risk it.

“onion rings and hot wings, please. Plus, two milkshakes.’’ I said listlessly.

“okay, do the thing.” She smiled, waiting for my own ID.

“9516C-XY” I said, shifting nervously again. Moments passed by as her eyes glazed again and finally she said it.

“there’s a whole chunk of missing information.” Her voice was no longer lethargic, it was alarmed.

“I know,” I waved her off. “I was in an accident. Recovering my files was a nightmare. I hit my cerebrum” the lie was well practiced and almost believable.

“uhuh, ok.” She reverted to her usual drawl. “food’ll be out in ten.”

Bupe was looking at me, a mixture of sympathy and curiosity on her face. “this is why you hate eating out, huh?”

“yeah. If I could remember my accident it would be easier.” I lied again. I remembered everything. Silas made sure of that.

“I wonder what it feels like when you die.” Bupe whispered shakily.

“why would you think that?” I asked. ‘it’s so… messy.”

“I know. I just… you have answers for everything. I thought maybe you’d have an answer for this.” She sounded dejected.

“Bupe, is everything okay?’ I asked. I was worried that she knew something. I would have to go missing for another few months.

“yeah. I’m just tired, I guess.” She mumbled.

“okay. How’s school going?’ I asked, clutching at straws. I needed to control this conversation. As soon as I said that, my mobile flashed. It was a message from Silas. The preview read ‘shu shu shu.” I gulped uneasily, that was a sign of trouble.

“how’s school going.” I asked again, I was getting more nervous.

“I’d rather we just sat in silence, that okay?” she said. I nodded slowly. I hated to admit, I was scared. Tension clung in the air, heavily. Despite the hum of chatter in the café there seemed to be a heavy silence. As if to add more tension, my phone buzzed again.

“you can answer your phone,” Bupe said calmly. Silas had sent another message. This one simply read “run.”

“Chabota, our order is taking too long.” Bupe said suddenly. Before I could react, she was signalling for a waiter. Our waitress came back, she was wringing her hands nervously.

“it’s been 20 minutes.” Bupe huffed.

“oh, I’m sorry… I… let me just…” the waitress stammered. She walked back to the kitchen urgently.

“baby let’s just go. I’ll buy you a snack elsewhere.” I urged. My phone rang almost on cue. I silenced it and put it in my pocket.

“no, Chabota. I want to eat now.” Bupe asserted. She gave me a steely glare and then decided to focus her eyes everywhere except on me.

The waitress returned, her face tear stained this time, visibly shaken. ‘what’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’m sorry.’ She stammered before shouting, “run!”

I barely had time to react when four heavily armed police officers strode towards us.

“9516C-XY, you are under arrest.” The foremost officer said tonelessly. “you may either come with us, or do this the hard way. Anything you say can and shall be used against you.”

“where’s your search warrant?” I asked, standing up. I stepped in front of Bupe, shielding her with my body.

“we don’t need one.” An officer from the back growled at me. I slumped temporarily and turned to Bupe. She was stricken, her eyes were wide and her mouth was slightly open.

“Bupe, run!” I screamed. I pulled her forward as I rushed towards the nearest exit. Suddenly I heard a loud bang, followed closely by another and Bupe’s hand slipped out of mine.

I spun around hurriedly. Dust filled the air and screams engulfed the once tense silence. My eyes scanned hurriedly for Bupe, she was cowering behind an overturned table, crying. I rushed towards her, to grab her. out of nowhere, a bullet sped right past my ear, I could feel the tingling heat still on my skin. I stumbled to the floor in shock. Before I could react, a heavy steel boot thudded right in front of my nose. I stared upwards into the rough face of the police officer.

‘that was a live bullet.” I said bitterly. I spat some blood out and watched it splatter hopelessly on the boot of the officer.

“I don’t care.” He said gruffly. I narrowed my eyes at him and moved to get up, knowing my chance of escape was limited. As I sat up I heard a small scream and what sounded like a vague struggle. Through the dust emerged another officer, pinning Bupe to his body. Her tiny frame struggled against his huge one.

“your life is forfeit, boy.” He jeered at me, “it’s either you or her.”

Suddenly the officer’s eyes went round and he crumpled to the floor; he was taken out by a perfect head shot. The other three officers followed soon after and someone grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, pulling me towards my temporal salvation. Blinded by adrenaline, I couldn’t see anything, until I was pushed into the back of an old jeep wrangler. I heard a thud as the front door slammed shut and someone spoke.

“you okay, fam?” the voice was milky and familiar. Slightly deep but very obviously female. I rubbed my eyes and sat up, gathering my bearings.

“Stephanie?!” I exclaimed incredulously. “oh, good lord.”

“in the flesh babes.” She smiled indulgently at me. I took some time to look around and realised that The Rats had assembled. We were in business and it was about to go down. Milimo sat in the front seat, typing furiously at one of his many laptops. Silas was cruising way above the speed limit and I only just noticed that Milimo was hacking all the traffic lights in the area to turn green as we approached. Stephanie was also working hard, running through codes on her smartphone, her brow furrowed in concentration.

As I sat up, Silas barked, “when I tell you to move, you move!” he whipped around and glared at me from the front seat. ‘I sent you a whole string of messages.”

“yeah, I was kinda on a date.” I sighed. “it was crazy back there, how’d you find me?”

Silas reverted his eyes to the road and huffed. “we kinda set off security services.”

“whoa! How?” I said leaning forward in my chair.

“they were bailing me out.” Stephanie chipped in. I turned to her aghast. Looking at her properly, I realised that her skin had lost some of its lustre. Her hair wasn’t as shiny and she had lost a lot weight.

I cursed softly. “where were you?” I reached out and put my hand gently on her thigh. “what did they do?”

She coughed. “remember your accident?” she looked upwards, trying to fight tears. “I had one too.”

“fuck.”  I said out loud. “how did these guys find you?”

“you’re sharing a car with the most dangerous hacker in southern Africa.” Milimo said. “apparently, I have a price on my head.”

“fuck.” I said again. “why didn’t you tell me?’ I sunk back into the chair and exhaled heavily.

“all’s fair in love and war.” Silas said grumpily. He was about to say more, when suddenly he hissed “get down you two!”

In a blur, Milimo was pushing my head down under a heavy coat, that smelt like stale weed.  Through the darkness, a small warm hand grabbed mine, it was Stephanie. I sighed and waited.

“Good evening.” I heard the oily voice of an officer say.

Milimo and Silas grunted non- committal replies.

“where are, you headed?” he asked, feigning a conversational tone.
“back home, outskirts of sector 15.” Silas said cheerfully. “my nephew has just come home from China.”

“you were studying there?” the officer said, genuinely curious.

“systems engineering,” Milimo lied easily.

The officer was quiet for a while. “be careful, there is a slight security worry here. Be home before curfew.”

I lurched forward slightly as the Jeep begun to move forward and begun to sit up. Stephanie pulled me downwards roughly.

“don’t be stupid. There’s another roadblock twenty metres ahead.” She hissed.

“how do you even know?” I mumbled angrily. She shoved her phone under my nose and I rolled my eyes.

Once again, I could hear the voices of police officers, interrogating Milimo and Silas. They stuck to their lies easily, acting like nothing was up.

“have you heard about the criminals on the loose?” the officer asked, a tad roughly. Milimo and Silas murmured their dissent, when suddenly they were being forced out the car. I heard Milimo grunt as the officer pushed him against the Jeep.

“what’s in the car?” the officer asked. Milimo’s voice was strangled as he said. “nothing.”

I felt Stephanie shift uncomfortably, I clenched her hand and held my breath.

“your coat moved.” The officer said non-commitally.

“could be a rat.” Silas grunted. The cop said something inaudible then wrenched the door open. I held by breath, hoping he wouldn’t see us in the half dark. Seconds passed by before what felt like a baton slammed heavily onto my face, several times. I bit my tongue so hard to stop from crying out I tasted blood. The officer slammed the door shut and scoffed. “probably just a rat.” He affirmed. “get out of here, fast.”

We drove for a few minutes before Milimo turned around and whipped the jacket off my face. I looked at Stephanie, she had blood all over her face and bruises across her cheekbones. I figured she’d been treated to the baton too. I pulled her close to me and closed my eyes. I needed this to all be over. I just wanted to taste peace and freedom.

Before long, Silas parked the car in an overgrown field. “Clear everything out, we’re making the last leg on foot.” He ordered. “the grass is long enough to give us sufficient cover, walk parallel to the road.” We got all the fancy gadgets out of Silas’s car and hoisted our bags on our backs. Silas removed a jerrycan from the boot of his car and begun to pour petrol around it. He sighed heavily before shrugging and setting it ablaze.

Nebulous

greg-rakozy-38802

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash 

I almost knew you.
I already knew your name.
I already loved you.

I love curve of your face
The shape of your fingers
I love the softness of your skin

I love you.

But you were taken from me.

I needed you but I couldn’t have you.

I hope that,
When life is better
And we are meant to be

We can meet again.

And then i will

Hold you closer to me
Dearer to me

I still love you.
And I always will.

It Flows and It Ebbs

nathan-anderson-299583

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash 

This the story of what happened.
I lit a match,
It faltered and died
Fell to the ground.
It lit a spark,
That was fanned on flames
And started a wildfire.

You unwittingly
Came to put out the flames,
But you let them rise.
You stood in awe,
It was a tsunami wall
Of everything amalgamated
Into a beautiful disaster.

So we stood together and watched it burn.

A Doing Word

broken doll

They told me loving my body
Is a doing word.

They’d actively worship it
On the anti-throne of lust
Pull me apart and piece me back together for their own appreciation

They told me that I shouldn’t worry,
That those girl-like ridges
Above my ribs
Would blossom into the fullness
Of womanhood incarnate
In the curvature of
Somewhat recreational glands.

They told me not to freak out
My asset is one
That will be spinning heads because the sway in my hips is enough to slay.

They told me I will be enough;

If I listened to the sweet melodies,
That surfeiting
Eventually the appetite may so sicken and die

They told me loving my body is a verb.

That is done to me.
Over and over and over.

But they forgot to tell me,
That the verb must first be done by me.

LOCKDOWN Chapter 1

lockdown part 1

15.3879oS, 28.3297oE, Engineering Annex. STATUS: CONDEMNED

The apocalypse that my grandparent’s generation faced was not a biological weapon or zombies. Neither was it a tsunami or the world erupting in flames. It was lawlessness and greed. As stock markets grew and world powers cemented their iron rule, there were always those rats, the ones that wanted two bites at the apple.

As the world became digital, systematic attacks were carried out against the most powerful companies on Wall Street. Once the financial systems were crippled, they begun to target governments. Russia was first to fall, and the rest of the world followed soon after.

Chaos became an everyday occurrence, shops were looted, people were killed on the daily. Leaders either stepped down from power or were impeached, killed or crumbled under coup d’états.

In our country, as soon as the leader of the free world was found hanging from his ceiling, our own president immediately stepped away from office, no longer having the goodwill of the IMF to back him up. Jerabos finally had free reign in our country. And all hope seemed lost. Until Japan and Germany, the only remaining powers in the G20 made the decision.

They claimed the decision hurt them more than it hurt us, but we will never know the truth, they had the luxury of dying a natural death. The first biological weapon was launched across the world, a virus with effects similar to mustard gas. Crude in its delivery, but efficient, the weakest members of the population all died. The survivors however, were “treated”. Every single human alive, was linked to a worldwide network. The internet as it was known became a living breathing being, joining everyone. We were all one.

Each country had its own IP address and domain. Despite this, one person owned each domain, and naturally he was the most influential there was. The domains were shrouded in mystery. There were rumours that when The Custodian, as they were known died, the domain died with them, or others still that certain family members passed the domain down from hand to hand. The Custodian held the power of life and death in his hands. He was virtually unstoppable

04:35 CAT

I knew she wouldn’t be moving; she woke up at five am. But I enjoyed monitoring her movements online none the same. I wasn’t a stalker at all, I was looking out for her safety. Ever since my accident last year, I knew that nothing or no one was safe. No one was to be trusted. My girlfriend Bupe lay peacefully asleep in her house. It was slightly higher up in sector 15 but I couldn’t go visit her; curfew ended at 5:45. So instead I watched her little dot on my illegal GPS stay stationary, and I felt a little pang in my heart. I missed her. the project the boys and I started working on late last year was involving. If it worked, our generation would have a taste of true freedom. And if it didn’t, I would either be incarcerated for life or unplugged. Both were not welcoming.

Milimo spun around in his seat excitedly and faced me. He was working on a quantum computer, one he’d been building since he turned 15; he was naturally bright like that.

“I accessed her.” he whispered, wholly awestruck.

I looked at him, my head slightly to the side. “who?” I asked, confused.

 

“Marianna. I accessed Marianna’s web.” He threw his hands up triumphantly. “I did a lot of back hacking and searching, it was crazy. The algorithm had me up for months.” He pushed his dreadlocks out his face and leaned back in his chair, sighing. I was equally as awestruck. Before the accident, I learnt about Marianna’s web from a computer ethics class. We were given heavy warnings to why the dark web was not to be accessed, but over the course of three days all that changed.

‘what about the supposed Artificial Intelligence?” I asked.

“well, I am yet to come across her.” Milimo sighed. “I doubt she even exists.” He laughed.

“We need to clear out before they find us in here,” he said suddenly urgent. We cleaned up the numerous crisp packets and crumpled juice boxes. I swept the ashes from all my joints into a corner and shook some fine dust over the decrepit laptops of the engineering department. The Engineering building was once always bustling with activity, but after someone used the network to hack into a government account, it was Quarantined and then Condemned. The time was shortly after 5 am, we had to be stealthy. Due to the political situation at hand, we entered and exited through a disused air vent. I led the way, allowing Milimo to use his huge frame to his advantage. As soon as I placed my hand on the latch, a siren went off.

“shit” Milimo cursed. “keep calm it’s my computer” he continued gravely.

He rushed back to the table, typed frenetically and shut the warning off. I looked glanced over his shoulder, and read the warning on the screen “what you are doing is illegal.”

I scoffed. We both knew. But then I began to worry. “will we be found, Milimo?” I hissed, scared to raise my voice.

“look, you and I don’t exist. We run on a network that no one knows about. We are darker than the darker web.” He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “tell you what? You go ahead of me. I’ll talk to Silas in a minute, but we’ve nothing to worry about. Except curfew, go home and act normal. Take Bupe on a date, I know you’ve been missing her lately.”

“okay dude. I just hope…’ I hesitated. “you know what, never mind. Tell me if we’re meeting The Rats.”

Milimo clapped my back encouragingly and watched me gravely as I clambered through the air vent. I sat down in the vent and took a few moments to gather my thoughts.  I shook my head, hoping it would shake the thoughts out too. I grabbed my phone and used its backlight to pull out a tiny microchip from my pocket. My fingers reached to the back of my neck and found a perfectly rectangular scar. My calloused fingers struggled with the little chip but eventually managed to push it back into its former port.