Packet Rat: The Rat finds gator legends are no croc

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

WiFi may have been the Democrats' unanimous choice last month in Boston, but the only IEEE 802.11b wireless networks anywhere near Madison Square Garden at the Republicans' big blowout were outside'run by the protesters.

That put the kibosh on the Rat's undercover blogging gig. Most of the cybernetic enhancements he had acquired on assignment to the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency were blocked from their uplinks by noise, electronic and otherwise.

Plugging an Ethernet jack into his nostril, the whiskered one headed outside in search of better reception. When he managed to squeeze through to the outside world, his ears started ringing.
Tapping one ear, he spoke into a concealed microphone in his nose, right next to the Ethernet jack. 'Yello?'

'Thank goodness we finally got through to you,' his HSARPA handler sighed digitally. 'There's a sensor threat we're picking up 15 blocks north of your current position. The particle detectors indicate a potential biological agent release.'

'Oh, great,' the wirebiter whined. He trudged uptown, following the directional beacon on his nose cone to the threat coordinates, which turned out to be an open sewer manhole.

'That explains the biohazard,' the Rat reported.

'Go down and investigate,' HSARPA ordered.

'You've got to be kidding,' the cyberrodent implored. 'I can even smell it through my nose-cam.'
'We've got to find out if there's an actual terrorist bioweapon down there,' his handler snapped. 'Don't force me to turn on the remote persuasion system.'

'Oookay.' Holding his breath, the Rat squeezed through the manhole. Halogen headlights flipped on behind his ersatz campaign buttons and filled the manhole with enough candlepower to give him a nice, even tan on all exposed surfaces.

When he reached bottom, all he could see was a slimy landing ledge above the effluent. After wandering a few yards down the ledge and recording his findings, the Rat turned to make his way back up to the surface. 'Nothing here but the usual,' he told his overseer.

But there was no reply, despite the relay antenna wire strung behind him like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs. 'Hello?'

Then the headlights reflected off something scaly.

Later, the Rat dragged himself into the local HSARPA command center minus a few of his digital enhancements.

'Hey,' the cyberrodent panted, 'did we classify sewer gators as weapons of mass destruction?'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at [email protected].


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