Tokyo Firewall:a novel of international suspense

By: Elizabeth Wilkerson


The ’90s





1


The calliope carnival tones of Tokyo’s five o’clock song burst from the public address system and bounced through the streets of Akihabara.

Shit. He was really late. They’d be starting without him.

The icy bite of the late-autumn evening air prompted him to pick up his pace. Head lowered against the wind, he hugged the oil-treated paper bag close to his chest and elbowed his way past the pack of bargain-hungry gaijin tourists rummaging through electronic parts crammed into the sidewalk arcade.

Akihabara. Stall upon stall, row upon row, street upon street of computer parts, accessories, peripherals and pieces. A high-tech candy land of overwhelming proportions. Akihabara’s alleyways were a black market of guts for the computer industry those Americans had long ago lost control of. He was sure there was nothing to rival Akihabara in Silicon Valley.

Damn foreigners in their baseball caps and T-shirts — they infested Akihabara like roaches, looking for discounts on electronics they could show off to their friends. Idiot Americans. Happy to pay full retail price for last year’s junk. Didn’t realize that Akihabara was the one place in Tokyo where you could — where you were expected to — haggle over prices. Explained why the Americans were always on the losing end of the trade imbalance.

A hulking linebacker blocked the passageway in front of him. Guy looked as oblivious as a dumb cow grazing. American meat was so full of hormones and steroids, it was no wonder they grew to the size of obese cattle. Even he had gained over five kilos during the semester he was in school in Boston.

He prodded the cow in the back as he made his way through the blockade. The big guy yelled “Hey!” and stared. Too slow. Steroids must have gotten to his brain. Moo.

He edged past the hawker giving away tissue packs with an ad for a new phone sex service. Trotted past the pawn shop that still held one of his server computers hostage until he paid up. Fuck them. Ducked into a nezumi-dori, a rat street, the footpath that ran behind a discount ticket broker and was the shortcut back to his “mansion” apartment.

Train tracks overhead formed a ceiling and trapped the smell of urine in the back-street corridor. With a slight adjustment of his earplugs, the deafening clatter from the trains was reduced to a muffled annoyance.

If he hurried, he’d be home in twenty minutes. His small apartment was conveniently located near the Akihabara district, but off the beaten path enough to be affordable for him. Affordable with a little help he’d had to squeeze out of his dear old dad. Those tightwads at the post-production house where he worked had refused to lend him the reikin key money and shikikin deposit money. Seven months’ rent, upfront and in cash. Just for the privilege of moving in.

His apartment was far from swanky, but at least it was quiet. So quiet that he could sometimes do rough edits of the sound tracks for his commercials from home. Or he used to be able to before that obnoxious couple with their shrieking baby moved in upstairs. The soundproofing he’d installed helped.

He turned onto his street and raced down the block. His apartment’s bamboo window blinds, closed tight, offered no hint of what was inside. He waved at the motion-activated surveillance camera he’d hidden above the windows, opened his door and entered his apartment without turning on the lights.

The blue glow beacon from a 27-inch Sony monitor guided his way as he removed his earplugs, loosened his tie and walked across the tatami mat, stepping over the shoebox-size plastic bins labeled with their contents: coax cables, circuit boards, RAM cards, anything else he could get his hands on to go into the next box he’d build.

A bank of five server computers weighed down a metal table in the middle of his apartment. Without stopping to see who was on his Bulletin Board Service or what whining email complaints they had sent to him as SysOp, the system operator for the BBS, he pulled out a chair and logged onto World NetLink using an anonymous backdoor connection he’d hacked.

Luv2Blow, DaikonDik, SweatySue, RodSukr. The regular gang had already gathered in the “It Really Happened to Me” sex fantasy chat room. Tonight’s chat was already underway.

SWEATYSUE>>: The cockpit is filled with glowing instrument panels. I sit down in the jump seat and the pilot fastens a shoulder harness restraint around me really tight. He’s says it’s in case of unexpected turbulence.

LUV2BLOW>>: Safety first!

SWEATYSUE>>: The pilot says he has to check the harness straps and he reaches under my blouse and rubs against my tits. My body trembles at his touch. He unfastens his belt and pulls out his Boeing.

LUV2BLOW>>: So that’s why they call it the *cock* pit ;-)