Displaced - Day 2

He spent the rest of the morning doing his job, if you could call it one. Things were tight back home in ‘41. Good paying, legitimate jobs were few and far between. He was a skimmer, someone who trolled the constant stream of internet traffic for vulnerable transactions, those that could be intercepted, and most importantly, those that could be modified.

Internet security was said to be a bit of an oxymoron by those in the skimmer community, though it’d gotten far better than it had been when the ‘net was in its infancy. The rise of the mesh-net architecture had been both a blessing and a curse to skimmers; mesh-net had seen the end of big centralized authorities on the internet, which made for fewer big, tempting targets. But it also meant greater personal responsibility for security, and weaknesses always flourished under conditions like those.

The sad fact was that even by cheating the system and preying on the unwary, he couldn’t earn a living, and so he’d taken to living in the past. Literally.

A blinking visual alert dragged him out of his reverie. Incoming message, on a quantum-encrypted key.

“Hey yo Skeeve, you asleep at the slate today, or what?”

He cursed under his breath. “Yah, sorry man, early alarm, only on my first caf, you know how it is.”

“Get wit it, we got other skimmers waitin’.”

He wasn’t kidding. There were several teams worth of them, waiting on his unique combination of skills and gear to break through the protection on the Goldstream, skimmer slang for the shifting trails of data that wound their way through the digital banking networks of the mid-twenty first century.

“I’m on it, I’m on it.” His fingers stabbed at the screen harder than necessary, and he took a deep breath.

“You better be. This don’t go down right, you know who’s catchin’ the blame.”

He snorted. Empty threats. As far as he knew, they didn’t know any more than his online handle, Skeeve, and nobody knew where, or especially when, he was. Time hopping wasn’t something just anyone could do.

He rubbed his hollow cheek in thought as he shut the conversation down. Hitting the screen control, he stashed the equipment back in the crate and returned to the kitchen for more coffee. He was going to need to be sharp and alert for this operation. He needed the money bad if he wanted any hope of being able to return full-time to the present.

He sipped the coffee appreciatively. There was plenty to like about living in the past. Things were generally simpler, and a lot of things, especially coffee, seemed to taste a lot better. He’d brought enough supplies back with him that money wasn’t an issue in the bad economy of the 1930s. He’d almost be tempted to settle in permanently if it weren’t for Silvia.

His sister was several years younger than him, and still living in the high school student shelter. She’d be graduating in ‘42 though, and then she’d be turned out to fend for herself. They were on their own; he had to take care of her.