The Wrong Type of Redemption

13 Returning to Present Day


13: Returning to Present Day

Present day…

Jerry checked his phone. A little after nine o’clock and Anon from the letter never showed. He looked down at Derrick who was doing push-ups. Then his gaze lifted up to the front entrance where Enrique, the gym’s co-owner, came strolling in holding a box. He spoke to Dale for a moment before his eyes shifted to where Jerry stood on an exercise mat beside Derrick’s scrawny form.

As if shocked, the man’s eyes widened. He put the box down on the front counter and walked up to Jerry.

“J?” The man chuckled then paused his approach and held up his finger as if to tell him to wait. He jogged to the back, disappearing behind an office door. A minute later, Enrique came back holding an envelope. It was a white envelope just like the one he got earlier that day at work. “This came for you today. A kid from the neighborhood told me to make sure you got it. At first, I wasn’t sure what Jerry the boy was talking about because you don’t live here anymore. But then the kid said, you know…the scary one that used to come here with Mia.” Enrique frowned slightly looking away. Jerry noticed the pain he tried to contain. Though it had been years, the grief didn’t just go away. It dulled…but never vanished. “He was too young back then to remember who you were but… I was going to try to dig up your phone number or try to ask the center for you address to mail it to you, but here you are right on time.”

Without drudging up the past or explaining why he was there, Jerry took the envelope and thanked the man. He opened it.

Mr. Mathers,

By now you realize you can’t track us, even by satellite. But you can try.

Though we aren’t your enemy, we must hold you hostage for a night. Go to your old apartment. There you will be given a task. We highly encourage you to complete the task if you want your secrets to stay secret.

Have a good night,


What was this? A scavenger hunt? A game of catch me if you can? And task? Jerry grumbled under his breath as he crumpled the paper in his hand.

“Jerry.” A hand tugged at his t-shirt and he smiled down at Derrick.

“Yeah, buddy?”

Large round eyes, drooping from fatigue looked up at him. “I’m going home. I have school tomorrow.”

“Later then,” He patted the kid on the head before leaving himself.

Miami’s heat reminded him of those days. And how everything had changed even while some of the stores and buildings still remained.

Jerry came back to Miami often enough to keep an eye on some of the people still here that he spoke to, but he rarely stayed for more than a couple of days. While his life was in California for now, Miami still held a lot of memories. Some good. Some painful.

Jerry walked into the old building where he used to live his second year in college. It wasn’t fancy but it worked. He jogged up to the second floor and halfway down the hall to the efficiency that used to be his.

He knocked wondering if it was vacant.

When no answer came, he tried the knob. It opened.

Inside a soft light welcomed him.

The apartment wasn’t anything like he remembered. While it was still a studio apartment, it had a raised queen bed in one corner instead of just a mattress that once sat on the floor. The kitchenette had all new appliances, stainless steel. The wood cabinets were also new. The small section of the kitchen had wood flooring instead of the old berber carpet that covered the whole floor. The rest of the floor was replaced with a fluffy soft beige carpet that looked nice enough to sleep on. There was a forty-inch television mounted on the wall instead of the small twenty-three inch that sat on his dresser. Jerry checked the bathroom and laughed. It was still cramped with just a sink next to a toilet and a shower. However, all the yellow tile had been replaced with a light grayish, nearly white tile that looked marble. And the sink actually had a cabinet under it hiding the plumbing.

He marveled at the small space and how a few cosmetic changes made a huge difference. It actually looked nice.

Jerry turned back to the room that used to be his. His eyes went to a small table and chairs strategically between the kitchen area and bed as if to be a divider. It was just big enough to seated two people. Just two.

On top of the table was a white bag…which looked just like the white bag that came to him around lunch. He approached it and peeked inside. Not food. A phone and an envelope sat inside with words staring up at him in bold print:


He pulled out the envelope and opened it to find cash.


It wasn’t just coincidence that they asked him to order pizza — someone did their research. He knew it wasn’t anyone who he knew, because they would just come to him without cloak and dagger. So who? Who wanted him this bad and wanted to keep their identity secret?

After ordering his pizza, he turned on the mobile phone and found an unusual app on the home screen sitting by its lonely. No other apps were loaded on the phone.

He opened it. A white screen appeared, and dark blue writing gave him instructions:

You are not the best hacker in the world. That needs to change. This is the IP address of the best…

Jerry memorized it as he noticed a counter in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. He had less than a minute or…what? The phone reset, deleting all information. Or something else? He finished reading:

Set this person up to fail or eliminate him. We don’t care which or how. You have until 10 a.m. your time zone. Should you pass, you’ll get further instructions.

If you don’t, the FBI will be coming for you. And there will be nothing your employer can do to stop it.

“Task my ass,” he grumbled as the counter on the screen hit double zero and went black, battery dead. Clearly, they — whoever they were — wanted to test him otherwise they would’ve dealt with whoever the hacker was themselves. But why? And to what end?

Jerry didn’t like the bullshit, but they had him by the balls. So, play their game he would. Slinging his laptop bag on the floor, he sat at the table, opened it up, and brought out his computer. Time to find out who the best hacker was, and why he was about to be destroyed.

In three hours’ time, he not only knew why the man was the best, but he also had no problem destroying the fucking pedophile. Most of the crap on the man’s computer were pictures that made Jerry ill. No wonder the man was such a good hacker, he had to hide his shitty habit.

The man wasn’t in a country with harsh penalties against child pornography, so Jerry needed to set him up for something else…and in China, treason was the highest offense.

There was a time Jerry wouldn’t have been able to hack into the Chinese government because he didn’t know the language. But with a little time and effort, he not only knew the written language, he’d been in and out of the toughest Chinese firewalls that they could concoct.

By five the next morning, Jerry had taken secret files from inside a Chinese military mainframe, used the asshole’s computer IP address to send the classified documents to British Intelligence, and scheduled several other transmissions that would occur over the next seven days just in case the first wasn’t convincing. He encrypted the information in a hidden program on the guy’s computer, which he would never find if he didn’t know what he was looking for. If Jerry’s research into the guy’s computer was correct, the pervert was paranoid and ran daily scans of his computer, so he masked the program as something his scans would never detect — a trusted program.

Then he sent the most damning information, not to the Chinese, but to a few international news outlets so whoever was watching knew he’d done his job.   

By six-fifty a.m., Jerry had not only scrubbed any traces of what he’d done and how he did it, he had the phone his mysterious taskmasters gave him plugged to his computer to charge and to give it a look-see. With a program he created himself, he began to run detailed diagnostics on the firmware and software that made the phone tick — cross referencing serial numbers and registration keys.

By nine-thirty, Jerry knew two things. The first was that the people who were fucking with him weren’t as good at hacking as he was, sloppily giving him an electronic device. The second thing? The phone belonged to a regular everyday person who worked a normal administrative job. But what the woman didn’t know, was her husband had very irritating connections. Many of those connections were dangerous elements that Jerry had been trying to avoid ever getting involved with…


He ran a hand over his chin wondering what the fuck to do? He’d tripped over criminal organizations before and he sure is hell didn’t want a repeat. Clearly, they wanted his hacking abilities, and it looked like they had enough shit on him, he wasn’t getting out of it. But how did they learn about what he was capable of? How?

Then something struck him as he continued digging. Each of those criminal ties were connected to very powerful bank accounts — very old money and extremely old companies that had been around for longer than the internet. What he was learning didn’t all fit into a neat little puzzle and yet, it was starting to make one thing clear as he stared at the news article from  years ago that his research pulled up. Headlines read:

Three More Found Dead In Connection to a Possible Drug War: Authorities Warn of Rising Gang Activity as Execution Style Death Toll Reaches Seven

If the “authorities” had a fucking clue, that article would’ve read a hell of a lot differently.  Then he cursed and cursed. And cursed some more as realization smacked the hell out of him. Were the people playing with him related to the shit-storm from five years ago? Fucking shit, I hope not… 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.