It is 4 am and what am I doing? Not sleeping. My fault, of course. I could have fallen onto my bed (yes, those are Star Wars sheets, they're a statement), could have closed my eyes and just let myself fall into oblivion. That would probably have been the smart thing.

I, however, am brilliant. I read about this one guy who trained himself to live on 4 hours of sleep a night. That's kinda crazy, honestly, 'cause I like sleep. But tonight I have things to do, things only my brilliance qualifies me for.

Or maybe it's my paranoia.

I called Mack earlier, but I'm not positive she took me seriously. Okay, I accept that part of that may have been the fact that I asked to be called "Q." I had just watched a marathon on MovieNetwork though. Can you blame me? To heck with Bond, I want the gadgets! Can you imagine? Just getting the funding to make some of that stuff is the stuff wet dreams are made of.

But I guess asking Mack to call me "Q" might have slightly lessened her ability to take me quite as seriously as she should. Or it might have been the fact that I set up the honeypot, and about five other levels of traps that I never did fully explain to her, right from the beginning.

For the first time, I'm feeling thankful for that. I tug my laptop closer to me, and with a few keystrokes I start the process of logging in. Nothing direct. I am, after all, brilliant. It takes about 5 minutes to get through all the protocols and jump through all the servers I hacked my way into. The minute I get in, though, my mouth goes dry.

I had figured the earlier bash-and-grab attacks had been meant as a message. I figured it would take them longer to realize that what they'd gotten was fake.

I had been wrong.

In the hours since I had called Mack to alert her to what had happened, there had been 6 more attempts. Successful attempts. Every single one got a little farther in, a little closer to the point that would make it clear that there might just be a trail from the honeypot back to something else.

Not good. Really, really not good. I should call Mack, let her know. Tell her to get gone. It wasn't that they were seconds from showing up on her door or anything. I was better than that. They had gotten too far though, farther than they should have been able. So far they had gotten through the geriatric school teacher, the fish store guy who had sold me the defective goldfish when I was passing through California that time, the jock who harassed me in high school who was now living in Hawaii, the recently deceased guy who had been hit by a car ( I saw the news story when I was surfing local papers for Alaska). They had also made it through the Walmart manager in New Brunswick and the minor porn star who I found out was living in New York.

I may have spent a little more time picking the aliases than I should have. Now there were only three levels left. Then they would hit the bottom of the pot and if they were good, and it was looking like whoever was doing this now was far better than the joker who had broken in earlier - not as good as me, but good - and they might just get lucky and catch enough hints to go snooping.

This was serious. Too serious.

It was a little flattering. I never thought the Rebel Voice was quite this much of a threat. Sure, there were some good stories, but nothing that went beyond a few threats that Mack never took seriously.

Not this time. This was serious. So should I call Mack now, leave her a message in the usual way, or see what I could do about hiding it all and then call her?

I knew her name. Had to. Had to know the truth to know how to hide it. She knew the same about me. She knew that my name was actually Jim Kutcher. It had never seemed like a risk before.

My fingers tap on the keys as I considered my options. The way they were going there wasn't all that much time. Time I need to sweep through, make sure there was no trail, that once they hit the bottom they would think they had at least destroyed it all.

Until the Voice showed up again. Then they'd know.

I got Mack's journalistic integrity, but maybe it was time to disappear. Just until this cooled off.

Grabbing my cell, the one I'd doctored myself, I send a quick text to a number I'd also set up. Got trouble. Laringitis for a while? Q.

She'd understand when she picked up the text from the mailbox it would wait in until then.

Time to get to work destroying any trace that I had ever existed. Gotta just pray that Mack is smart enough to take the hint. This isn't a Bond movie, I'm not really Q, and she sure as hell isn't M. It isn't worth it. Not worth the possibilities that are starting to occur to me. My life might not be much, but it is mine. Underground isn't comfortable. Don't want to do that again.

The End

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