writing chapter 10.4
Snake was forced to backpedal after that. You can’t control people if they doubt you. So he apologized for being selfish, and confessed that he’d never cared about finishing anything before – because of his childhood at the hands of abusive parents who neglected him and destroyed the model airplane he made. He was sincere, even tho he was making it up, and then he could feel them starting to sway, feel sorry for him, decide to give him another chance. The fools.
Snake had been busy during his time away after Kurt’s death. He’d been playing spy king. It was a project by the name of Anti-Q and it was established to develop, test and evaluate the metrics and assess the viability of strategies and methods of evidence-based information, establish the efficacies of the operationally based best practices to be used against the introduction and spread of the quantum threat within the population. Should it turn out to be anything.
Nobody was planning for a quantum apocalypse, but Homeland Security was giving away money to beef up any and all state security tools, and this threat of quantum terrorism was every bit as nebulous and panic-inducing as any terrorist plot.
Snake’s part of the project was doing field studies on the fundamental psychological processes that motivate subjects toward an interest in quantum. Discovering developing metrics for how they thought and what they thought, and why they felt what they felt. Gathering data on how gullible the proquantum types were. Because magical realism is a more primitive state than the cold impersonal rationalism of the classical universe. Like the difference between kids and adults. Kids feel entitled, convinced they create their own reality. They like to think of themselves as enlightened, transcendent. They believe that before they were born the earth was without form and void. Adults put those childish fantasies away and grow up. You don’t create a wife and kids, a mortgage and a job. The truth is that life is servitude with real punishments if you won’t go thru the hoops.
The people who singed up for testing on the game were resistant to the truth like children, and figuring out why they thought what they thought would help them create a profile of quantum subjects of interest. He pulled some likely candidates from the signup sheets for game testing, and approached them thru an intermediary. “How would you like to take a personality test?” went the pitch. Resistant subjects were offered money.
He picked Caroline’s name out of the list and smiled as he included her, even tho she had no email address. Might as well use her as a placebo subject. He handled her recruitment himself, telling her it was a security field assessment program, and that it was her patriotic duty. She almost snapped to attention. As Snake suspected, she tested as slow witted, unintelligent, totally uncreative. Perfect, she would totally show up the differences between normal people and the pro quantum proto terrorists.
In the months since Kurt’s death, Caroline had gone and reached retirement age and the company told her she couldn’t stay, so she currently had nothing to do but sit around in libraries and malls all day, ride the subway, walk the streets.
But she’d been walking for a million years and all she wanted to do was sit around. Not in public places: at home, in front of the TV with a beer in one hand, a joint in the other, and lesbian porn on the tube. She needed a third hand. But it got old fast, and the usual thing only worked for a couple of viewings and then it was disgusting rather than inspiring.
The answer came to her – live phone sex. She picked up on a robocall about seniors and their home security options and listened to it all the way thru. A surprised operator came on the line and Caroline chatted her up for ten minutes, drawing it out, listening to the sound of her voice.
The supervisor broke in as Caroline started grunting low rhythmic obscenities into the phone, and Caroline pulled her hand out of her pants and gave the supervisor what for, making sure they knew they were messing with an intelligence operative.
One day a tablet computer showed up at her door and she sat and stared at it for a week until Snake called and asked why she hadn’t logged on. She thru a hissy fit, so Snake graciously (in lieu of her fee) sent a tech out to hook her up and teach her how to use it.
Faced with a cute young piece of ass, showing his crack in her living room, she paid no attention to his words, and drooled and slavered over him simply because he was squatting next to her armchair (there being nowhere else to sit in her hoarder’s living room). She felt almost menopausal, she was getting so overheated – hot and cold at once. She tried to impress the young thang with her computer savvy, trying to get into his pants by talking to him as an equal. She was versatile like that. Like, it didn’t matter if he was a guy and she was a lesbian – anything with a hole was good enough for her.
The tech was too naive for school or something, because he acted like she wasn’t coming on to him like a male dog smelling pussy.
He looked at her crew cut. “Are you a cop?” he asked.
She grinned and swaggered close. “No, I’m just a bull dike. I only look like a cop.” She leered. “How would you like me to show you my badge?”
After the tech left Caroline took it out on her vibrator and a special boy-on-boy jailhouse movie. Then she took her kicking back dose of pain pills, chased them with a beer, and tried to operate her new tablet. She’d so far resisted the damn computers fad – her cellphone didn’t even have a screen. But Snake told her a computer was essential for the security program he recruited her for. Plus, she could use the tablet to be a game tester when they were ready.
So she reluctantly came up to speed on modern electronics, the manual open front of her, trying to recall what the young thang said about it, dozing off in her chair.
She realized she needed another visit from the talent in those tight jeans, and called customer service. She got Curly, who’d talked to the young thang when he got back to the office. Curly took a dim view of pervs, and walked her thru the basics himself, on the phone, using military grade courtesy and politeness. Caroline felt like she’d been yelled at by the sergeant. Curly had pegged her at once – a victim, a whiner, unconscious. Trouble. Caroline, taking great pains to come on as rough and hard, suspicious and mean, wouldn’t have recognized herself in Curly’s report.
After many tries and many phone calls to an increasingly hostile customer service, she found the web page for the testers. But she had no idea what they were talking about. She saw she was expected to test for only an hour a week – that sounded great. They also wanted her to help them troubleshoot, by phone, chat or email, and it was going to have to be by phone because she’d be damned if she was going to learn how to use email. Except they were setting up a game group and email list she was required to join, and read, and every few weeks download and install a new release of the game from.
She froze at that sentence, fear melting her brain, and never made sense of the rest of the list – the testing requirements, the reporting requirements, using the web-based interface, submitting detailed bug reports. Using the fucking Windows Installer CleanUp Utility.
She suddenly thought of the kid in the food court and wondered if he’d be able to explain it to her any better. He could have, of course. Nathan would have googled alpha testing and read a bunch of sources, and looked at a few forums, and looked thru the game group and found a video about testing. Which is what he did, because he’d signed up to be a tester too.
Larry and Curly could find out even quicker, because they were involved in the test-the-tester program with Snake.
(Caroline only singed up to be a testers because she thought she might be working with Anomia)