PACKET RAT

Coaster zooms the Rat to the gates of spookdom

It somehow didn't surprise the Rat very much to learn that the new political appointee in charge of his agency was a sock puppet monkey from a defunct dot-com.

After that leap of logic, it began to seem inevitable that the repurposed foot covering in question would be the equity interest of a certain group of black-bag venture capitalists with whom the Rat had crossed paths before.

As he subjected himself to various levels of G-force activity at the insistence of his offspring, the Rat reflected on this turn of events, in between stomach flips.

The entire family had followed the trail of undersecretary Bonzo's former business associates to a mop and bucket at Marine World in California [GCN, Sept. 17, Page 48], home to a veritable forest of roller coasters. First on the ratlings' ride list was the V2, a double-corkscrew vertical velocity coaster named, it appeared, for the upper gastrointestinal event it inspired.

As the coaster careened to a stop, the woozy wirebiter tried to lift his restraining harness to exit quickly. But the yoke wouldn't unlock. When his progeny ran down the ramp to get back in line for another go, the Rat called in vain for them to wait.

'Enjoy the ride?' a familiar voice asked.

The Rat's gag reflex indicated that it was about to trip again. Mr. Pink, his old contact from the Langley Investors' Club, was fastening himself into the adjoining seat.

'It's not unlike watching the Nasdaq Stock Market,' the cyberrodent replied. 'What brings you to Northern California?'

'Family vacation, same as you,' replied Mr. Pink. 'Let's take this chance meeting as an opportunity to talk. I've paid the attendant a gratuity to let us ride for a couple of cycles undisturbed.'

As the ride began anew, the Rat felt a strange sensation'his stomach sinking and rising at the same time.

They rocketed upward while Mr. Pink chatted over the rattle of the wheels on steel. 'So, you've undoubtedly found out about our interest in your new boss by now.'

'Urrp, yes,' the Rat replied through gritted teeth. His internal organs began to push past his backbone.

'Well, we needed to open a direct channel to you, so we pulled some strings with friends such as the former director. We have need of your services, and a flurry of meaningless IT initiatives seemed like a good cover for the time we're going to require from you.'

As the coaster fell backwards, twisting, the furry one's knuckles turned white under the fur. 'Well, this has been the most creative way I've seen of getting my attention so far,' he managed to get out between screams. 'What seems to be the'arrghh'problem?'

'We have a problem with a certain software vendor that has, perhaps inadvertently, become a threat to cybersecurity.'

'What did Larry Ellison do now?' the furry one asked as they hurtled upward yet again.
'Oh, no, it's not Oracle Corp. It's this new activation feature in ' '

As the coaster fell forward again, the Rat's howls drowned out the rest of Mr. Pink's sentence. But he could tell where it'and he'likely was headed.

'When can you leave for Redmond, Wash.?' asked Mr. Pink.

'As soon as I'm in the same time zone with my inner ear.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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