The next day, Jake came back from school around 3:20pm, running through the door. He looked around briefly, and shut the door behind him. He went to the basement door in a slow jog and opened it up.
Dustin looked up the stairs as Jake walked down. "-What's up?" He took the headphones he was wearing off and closed the laptop.
"'ou know my mum will be back fro' work at five?" He gave Dustin a puzzled look. "-And 'ou sta'ed up all night?"
Dustin tried rubbing his neck, but the handcuffs made it difficult. "... Yes, and yes. We have plenty of time till she comes back. Should probably use that for a nap or something..."
Jake glanced around. "-Where's Tracy?"
Tracy poked her head out from behind a pile of cardboard boxes. ".. Here I am." She flipped her hair. "-It's freakin' impossible to sleep down here! It's cold and the ground is hard..."
Jake looked away. "... Well, umm... 'ou need rest t' heal that wound, right?"
She tilted her head. "I guess, why?"
"-'ou could sleep with me in my room! -I mean, not sleep with me... I mean, sleep in the same room? -Rather, I'll sleep in a differ'nt room..." Jake stammered. "... Ohhh, bollocks t' it..." He muttered, giving up, and turned around to head back up stairs.
Tracy opened her mouth to say something, but closed it again once she realized that Jake was already halfway up the stairs.
Dustin watched in puzzlement as Jake left in embarressment. Jake closed the basement door behind himself. Dustin stared for at the vacant door for a few seconds as he heard Jake walk around upstairs, then he opened up his laptop.
"... The hell?" Tracy asked.
"Yeah, not sure either. But I'm just a bit too close to finishing this to sleep now..." Dustin added a few more lines to the script he was working on.
"Come on, you've been working on that bug for ages now. Couldn't you just hack the computer where the messages came from?"
Dustin shook his head as he worked diligently. "... No. The app probably used a routing PC, not uncommon when you don't want to be caught. But that routing PC is a place to start, because there's probably a path we could back-track from there."
"Then why not do it yourself? Why send a bug?"
Dustin sighed. "... Because I don't want to face that freakin' terrifying thing again. Besides, the code can find patterns and locate the trail for us, useful especially since it probably stopped a few places along the way."
"... And how close are you to being done? I wanna get some goddamn sleep for the first time since Saturday..."
Dustin bit his lip, and backspaced through a few lines that wouldn't work. "... An hour or so... "
Tracy rolled her eyes, and tried to get comfortable leaning against the cardboard boxes.
At 4:10pm, Dustin set his headphones down once again. He sighed. Finally done. All he had to do was send it on it's way. He looked over. Tracy was fast asleep, nothing would wake her up. He shrugged. He'll just send it by himself, then.
\c: run tracethatbastard.cs
- Calling tracethatbastard.cs Function...
- Compiling tracethatbastard.cs...
- Return: _
Dustin leaned back, and waited for the code to return a positive.
- Return: Redirecting.........
- Return: MAlfUncTioN neEd INput..._
Dustin paused, and did a double-take. The fuck?... He thought. What's going on? Is this another...?
He held his breath, bracing himself for the worst. He stared at the screen, the only thing moving was the cursor at the end of the message, blinking as normal.
A minute passed.
Dustin cautiously put his fingers to the keyboard once more. Nothing happened, so he decided to type something in.
- Return: MAlfUncTioN neEd INput...
\c: Rewrite tracethatbastard.cs return "input"
- Return: _
Nothing happened for a moment, and Dustin slinked away a bit.
Slowly, text appeared in the return slot.
- Return: wOuLDn'T YOu liKE To be A PepPeR, tOO?_
Dustin sat there for a moment, completely dumbfounded. The fuck was this?... What?... He couldn't wrap his brain around the nonsensical return value.
Wait... Isn't that from...?
A new line manifested itself.
- Return: wOuLDn'T YOu liKE To be A PepPeR, tOO?
- Return: Mr. Decker, watch where you put your maleware, the police aren't completely clueless.
- Return: Taken care of, for now. Signed, GTA
Dustin cringed that the code had redirected itself to the police station. He should've known that the app would've hid it's tracks well.
But his grimace turned into a smirk. At least it was stopped by someone trustworthy before going too far. But Greg didn't seem the kind of guy to prank like that. Leaning more every day.
Making friends in high places, indeed.