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In Plain Sight

September 24, 2013

“Kinda busy, Rog. What you got?”

This was the standard response from the head of the division office. It merely meant: ‘Don’t waste my time.’

“Take a look at this, Brad.”

Roger laid a technical spec out on Brad’s desk. It was familiar, of course. It was the schematics for the hardware on the most expensive surveillance device the Department of Defense had ever bought.

Brad glanced at it, scanned it quickly with his eyes. Then he shrugged.

“Ok, lay this on top of it.”

The differences were clear. At some of the logic gates, there was extra code. Some kind of subroutine.

“That’s f—ing impossible,” he took a sip of coffee. This was looking like a long night. “Tell me this is impossible.”

“‘Fraid not. Taken from a burnt out unit. The extra stuff? The stuff added in? Guess what it does.”

It only took him three seconds to respond.


“Yep. Every time we listen in, we are also attacking the same target.”

“With what?”

“Variable sound that appears to be designed to annoy. Imagine a persistent, low-grade headache that won’t go away. The more we keep our eye on them–”

“The more irritated the target we watch becomes. The more violent. The more likely to do or say something suspicious.”


“Who knows about this?”

“Just you, me, the boys who scanned and analyzed the board…and of course the manufacturer.”

“Jesus Christ. No wonder…”

“What do we do?”

“Can’t stop listening and watching, can’t keep listening and watching. How did this go unnoticed?”

“Those subroutines were hidden along the edge of the module. The pathways were smaller than average. Made of a different material that blended in but prevented resistance from increasing. We only found it because that one burned out, became discolored. It was basically invisible.”

“Christ. Snowball effect. Crazier the target sounds, behaves, the more we listen, the crazier we make him. Kinda thinkin’ this was on purpose.”

“Seems that way.”

“Get me everything. I’ll go tell the Director.”



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