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Punk Kid by Allan R. Wallace

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  • Punk Kid by Allan R. Wallace

    Punk Kid

    As they prepare to leave their table at the restaurant, Mose waves to a planter on his left, and encourages a hidden refugee to approach. "Come over here, don't be afraid, I think we can help you."

    A young boy slowly pokes his head out from behind the plant. Mose tries again, "I know you were part of the theft ring, but we can help you. My handle is Mose, what's yours?"

    "Is Mose a gang handle or a hacker handle?"

    "To some it wouldn't matter, you can call me Mr. Mose if you wish. Since you know the difference, what's your hacker handle?"

    "I know that's not your real handle, so I won't give you mine."

    "All right, I'll call you Moonlit Knight, or Moon for short. What do you know about hacking?"

    "Cool, that's kinda like Knight Watchman's handle. I read his comic books."

    Jon smiles, "I'm sure he won't mind. In fact he would probably enjoy knowing a young hacker is wearing a t-shirt with his comic art drawn across the front. But back to what Mr. Mose said, what do you hack?"

    I code ok in five 'puter languages, and I can script in more; writing scripts, not just using them. I'm the kid that fixes broken things at school."

    At that point a security officer walks up behind the child. "Thank you for detaining him, The cameras were tracking him. I'll take him now."

    Mose stands and walks slowly to the guard. "Let me show you my ID, I'll handle the child."

    The guard signals him over, "I'm told you were the one's that spotted the Fagin, do you know this kid?"

    "Just met him, but he talks a good game. If I find out he's not for real, we'll let you have him. I think I can help him."

    "That seldom works, but we don't have his face on file as a prior perp. This appears to be a first offense. I'll scan your ID and talk to the Chief, If he objects I'll come back and you can talk to the Chief."


    Moon had nervously stood listening. "I ain't agreed to nothing."

    Gloria looked at Moon. "First off, stop trying to talk ignorant, you're not good at it. Second, It's your life, not ours -- you can run off if you wish. The cops will be waiting outside. Finally, we can help you, and perhaps the future of hacking, if we think you may be worth the effort -- It will make us feel good if it works."

    "So you will help me because it will make you feel good. That's pretty selfish."

    Mose smiled, "Thanks for losing the sloppy speech. Real coding is precise, Hackers may instigate linguistic bathos, but its not based on ignorance."

    "Hey, I'm just seven years old. Talk slowly if you use big words."

    "What's the most complex Hack you can do?"

    "Hardware, firmware, or software?"

    "Good answer. You didn't get that from a comic book."

    The three tested the limits of Moon's knowledge. They then had him sit at the table with them. Like most kids he ate well. At Gloria's insistence; each wrote notes on napkins, shared them between themselves, then handed them to Moon.

    *I like that you've read outside of technology texts. A well rounded hacker can be more creative.* Miss Gloria
    *Nice depth in software. You need to study recent trends in hardware.* Mr. Jon
    *We will try to trace your parents. I too am from Elldee. My father died there. You show potential to help the people of Elldee, even if we can't locate your parents.* Mr. Mose

    Moon was crying as he read the notes.

    Once Moon was done reading, Gloria spoke first; "The officer left, you can leave now if you wish, or stay and let us help you."

    "I won't even finish formal school reading, reasoning, and rhetoric until I'm eight. Then I'm supposed to do open learning about things that interest me, for as long as I wish. What kind of help am I worth?"

    "The best," said Jon. "Have you heard of Hacker School?"

    "Well Duh, That's where Knight Watchman taught. That I did learn from comic books. What do comic books mean to me?"

    "If Hacker School exists, would you want to go?"

    "Hacking is what interests me, Hacking is what I'd mostly study in open learning, if I could find enough information. But hacking schools are fairy tales, I need something real or I'll end up in jail like the older kids. I need reality"

    Jon laughed, he liked being lectured to by a seven year old. "You are about to enter a comic book if you wish. I know Dean Gladys of Hacker School. She will accept you into a local branch at my say so. I'll say so: If once you graduate you find Mr. Mose, who will be well hidden, and agree to intern under him."

    "I can't make a legal promise until I'm twelve and an adult. But I promise."

    Mose looks a Jon and shakes his head, "I thought we were free, and you make this choice for me?"

    "Your wet eyes made the choice, I just echoed them."

    "You're right, but next time ask so I can pretend to think about it. I promise too."
    "Haters, gonna hate"