Only a few quickly-spent months ago her pasty skin would’ve reflected more sunlight in these weather conditions. But the harsh Californian sunrays have turned her skin to a telling buff color, only a shade or two lighter than a Manila envelope.
As she hasted down the littered sidewalk of San Francisco’s designer district, her rickety frame oscillating left-and-right––whether from the wind, or her own volition, I don’t know––propelled forward—most definitely by her own volition—she had to swing away from the refinished eggbeaters, now sold as bougie chandeliers, to ensure that her purse won’t get caught. Her purse, containing a lot more than the absolutely necessary, yet unreasonably unequipped.
Her purse, filled with artifacts of a subculture she despises: battery-powered objects meant to be discarded after a few good years of grueling usage: an iPhone, a teensy Macbook Air, and a battery-powered cigarette. Batteries made of dangerously combustible chemicals, only a few degrees Celsius away from igniting her bundle of possessions and memories wrapped in elegant Hermés alligator skin.
Three city blocks away, with his black boots splashing runoff water on the sidewalk's side, a young man rushes down the street. His gait is lagging under his 6 feet and 5 inches of height, and his RayBan aviators, demanded by the hot Californian sun, can barely contain the sparkle of his eyes. His hotfooted walk is pure self-indulgence, only occasionally cluttered by guilt. Unlike her purse, his bag is uncluttered and mostly organized. Sufficiently organized to enable him to pick any common lock and patch into most alarm systems in under two minutes without ever shuffling through for any tools. Two minutes doesn’t win you a competition at DEFCON, but he thought it pretty respectable. The unconsciously selected mantra for his rushed walk today is "Eighteen U.S.C. Ten Thirty". Knowing of the surveillance cameras on 17th Street surrounding the San Francisco SWAT headquarters, he performed his well-practiced why-are-you-even-looking-at-me look that makes him look like a teenage girl from Orange County who's noisily drinking the melting remnants of a heavily-creamed bathtub-sized Trenta Iced Coffee. His sunglasses do little to protect his aquamarine irises from the blinding Californian sunshine. Instead, the weathered RayBans hide his gaze from the unprepared world—the sparkle originates somewhere in the top-right quadrant of each pupil. Left Turn. Eighteen USC Ten Thirty. Step. Eighteen USC Ten Thirty. My my, we got ourselves a problem.
As celestial masses of unimaginable mass continue their infinite rotation around each other, the shadows on the basement brick wall dither.
The solar panels on the roof of the four-story building—about 72 feet above his head—are buzzing with chemical excitement. The result of this chemical reaction is feeding about 360 kilowatts per hour into his 21-node computational cluster floating in a mineral oil-filled bathtub. He used to throw pennies in the bathtub, pretending it’s a wishing well, but he stopped since he managed to eviscerate months of work by causing a Murphy’s-law-proving short circuit.
He logged into his home-brewn command and control software using his three-letter username. The contrasting bright green characters against the macabre black compute backbround caused pale green reflections on his half-naked geek-tanned body. The cinematic quality amused him, and he human-meowed to himself in appreciation. “Meowr, this is going to be a good story one day”, he thought to himself.
The moment her Macbook Air was plugged in to be re-energized for the day to come, a teensy transitor deep within the elegant white power brick started oscillating: on one hand, to create the charging voltage to the California-designed Chinese-made 17V battery, on the other other hand, to produce an obnoxiously high-pitched noise that you could only perceive if your hearing ability hadn’t been damaged by years of loud music shows. She couldn’t hear it, so she appreciated the revitalizing service it offered to her computing device, mostly used as an ultramodern typewriter.