Dry Drupe

“Whatever,” he scoffs. 

Getting up from his computer desk, Zay heads for the kitchen. His terminals are in the closet behind the bathroom. There is a magnetic strip lining the door frame so that anything that goes into or out of is wiped completely. As he steps out from the closet, ducking the robe and dirty towels hanging from the door to deter guests, he grabs his phone from the shower caddy and checks his messages as he walks through his apartment. 

Helen had shared several gifs that she had found of herself online. Zay clicks through them while he puts a pot of tea on the stove and lights his range. He waits on the couch passively listening to the tea turning to boil while getting lost in pictures of Helen. Starting with the most recent that she uploaded to her feed, he scrolls through and dreams on the face he knows so well. Until he goes so far back that he begins to himself the way he used to be. He was never a girly girl, but the picture of himself just less than a year ago was still drastically different from the reflection he just saw in the bathroom mirror. 

The kettle starts to whistle and Zay drops his phone on the couch to respond. After pouring himself a large cup of Oolong tea, he goes back to his desk to visit a different chatroom. 

Silver Soldiers Main Room

V01D: Looking for Red Riding Hood in the Penthouse.

Amid all the chatter and codes, Zay’s message is dropped and bumped up and up until someone snags it and requests a private chat. 

570RM: You going for the insurance codes?

V01D: You got ‘em? 

570RM: For the right buyer. 

V01D: This is the Red Vine. The only buyer is credits. There are is no right or wrong here.

V01D and 570RM go further back than any other hacker crew that the two know. They’ve taken down postal systems and rerouted Wi-Fi networks so that inner city kids could access the same speeds as the upper crust kids. Zay had even sent 570RM pictures of himself as he transitioned, but then again so did 570RM when he was going through it. Now 570RM, has a family and only sends pics of his kids and him playing VR games in their home when they aren’t playing in their fantasy league with other transmen. 

570RM: Well then, what credits are you looking to exchange for the codes? 

Before Zay can respond, they get a delivery of the codes in their inbox. 

V01D: I owe you one. 

Zay signs off, switches terminals and servers. He is no longer V01D, serpent of the Red Vine, but is now 640ST, the unseen hand behind the destruction of the world. 

    IT Tech Reports from Jake Compas

        Issue: My login password is not working.

        Date and time: April 8th, 2026 at 6:53am 

        Website: N/A

Comments: After several attempts, I was able to gain access to my login and discovered that my password had been changed to IAMINHEREEEE. This is very unusual, but nevertheless, I have resolved the problem myself.

Issue: My background and certain reports are displaying unwanted images.

        Date and time: April 20th, 2026 at 3:57pm

Website: AmeriEuro Corp database. My personal homepage on my computer and phone. 

Comments: This must be someone’s idea of a sick joke. My recently deceased mother is appearing across all my screens no matter what I do. I reset channels and set up plug-ins to display targeted images and deny others, and yet! There my mother is staring back at me with those bulbous penetrating eyes. FIX THIS!

        Issue: Unwanted messages

        Date and time: May 3rd, 2026 12:13pm

        Website: Google email account 

Comments: I am cautious to speak of what is going on, but I will say that I am receiving very unnerving and unsettling messages from someone who has compromised my systems and poses a great and grave threat to the AmeriEuro Corp networks. Please send someone from your IT department up to assist in the troubleshooting.

Issue: Unverified documents being sent with my unauthorized sign off. 

        Date and time: May 10th, 15th, 20th, 21st, and 25th-30th

        Website: Personal document accounts and email services

Comments: This is the manner of action that I was worried about happening when I began filing these hack reports. Your team should have responded to the first one and taken a more productive action against these malicious offenders. On the advice of personal council, I will be wiping my drives and installing all new moderns, terminals, and systems. I’ll be sending my old system to your offices, and I expect a full report on your findings. I want these people caught and punished. 

        Issue: Infection has spread

        Date and time: June 5th, 2026

        Website: Health Services database

Comments: This ‘infection’ or ‘virus’ as my tech team is calling it has gained access to several servers in our medical facility and has been playing with life and devil. Certain senior officers who depend on the on-site hospital need these services to continue running this great company that ensures we all get fed and paid. Now that these officers cannot trust the facilities we have provided for them, they have moved to working strictly from their homes. This is not an option we at AmeriEuro Corp can accept. These issues have been escalated up the chain. You will shortly be hearing from our legal and technical departments who will be taking over the case.

        Issue: Contact with entity made

        Date and time: June 10th, 2026 1:15am

        Website: Home phone system

Comments: Mother was always a night owl. At first, I believed that it was a joke gone too far, but then I heard her speak to me. No one can imitate the way my mother sounds when she’s chastising me for some believed wrong I have committed. In her very own words, I have abandoned her and left her to rot inside the eternity of the web. I had several technowiccans, as they are called, check to see if my mother’s spirit was truly trapped in my system. They confirmed my fears. 

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