here he is.
Eric spotted him at the gate. Jack Lyttle. Here for the big game. The bastard was smiling as he handed over his ticket. He probably thought he was going to be enjoying this day. Eric had other plans for Jack.
He knew Jack had a season ticket. Six months after the last time Eric had gone to a game he had seen Jack there, oblivious to him, a dozen rows down, along with several of his buddies. Laughing and drinking.
Eric seethed at that memory. He’d be in pain forthe rest of his life because of Jack. He’d never be able to walk without a limp. Dentures replaced all his broken teeth. Loss of vision in one eye. A bland, soft food diet. A colostomy bag. All because of Jack and his laughing friends.
He had lawsuits against Officer Jack. Improper procedure, illegal entry, police brutality. He had been hopeful about the lawsuits. He really had. But one of the people Jack was drinking with was the very judge who had denied each of his cases.
Eric had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’d been walking home at night, a techie who kept odd hours. Officer Jack drove by, stopped his patrol car, and demanded to know what he was doing. Eric told Jack he was doing nothing wrong, and to go to hell. That was the first beating.
The second one was in his home. Eric had filed a lawsuit. Somehow Jack found out the same day he filed. Jack had broken down the front door and beaten him again, far more brutally. Laughing and yelling the whole time, “There ain’t nuthin’ you can do!”
Even with Eric’s home cameras recording every blow, the judge had dismissed the case. That judge. The one drinking beer and slapping Jack on the back in the stadium.
Jack had gone federal at that point, an agent of the FBI had contacted him. Eric was told that due to the uncooperative police department, it would take years before his case would ever reach a trial. He researched Jack Lyttle then, hoping to prepare a massive case, this time his plan was to show it to the local newspaper. Maybe they could bring him some justice. That was the third beating. Someone at the newspaper had warned Jack.
After he’d recovered, Eric had tried to do something normal again. He’d gone to a game to clear his mind, to watch the teams play. He sat there wondering what other options he had, beginning to despair, when he had first spotted Jack.
Till the end of the game, Eric had pulled up his hood and gone quiet, staring at Jack’s back. He knew from what he saw then, there would be no legal justice for him. No day in court. His research had brought up other cases against Officer Lyttle. And two other lawsuits had been dropped. Both for “lack of evidence” even though there was camera footage. And both of the accusers could no longer be found. Either they were hiding from Jack, or Jack had killed them. Jack had hinted at that, telling Eric he would not walk away if there needed to be a fourth visit.
And Eric watched Jack laughing and joking with the people Eric had hoped would help him. Both the judge, and the federal agent. All three side by side, laughing and enjoying the game. Eric realized the FBI agent may be nothing of the sort, maybe just a friend of Jack’s, pretending to help Eric, while telling Jack his every move. He realized, in any case, he would get no help from him.
That’s when he decided on a different path.
He prepared for some time. It was a modern arena, full of cameras and technology. But the sysadmin hadn’t fully locked down the network. Eric gained access to a wiring closet easily enough. Full of equipment. Routers. Switches. A couple terminals. A server rack. Eric had always been a master of these. He had pulled out his smartphone and taken pics of every label he could find. Mac addresses, model numbers, wireless keys and passwords.
Someone had left a clipboard hanging from a nail with the names and ID’s of every tech with access to the closet. It was supposed to be for security, a log of who came in, when they left. Wow, that was a score. And, sure enough, Eric found a piece of paper taped underneath a keyboard with numbers and letters. Another score. Sloppy password protection. Eric smiled at that. “Hard to guess. Changes often. Not written down. Choose any two.” He shook his head. He had access to half the network that very night.
Working steadily, he had managed to gain one login after another. It took only a few days before he could remote into every camera, every server, every piece of equipment in the stadium. The scoreboard. The plasmatron. The spotlights. He had control of it all.
He kept up the pretense of the appeals. Meeting with the judge, meeting with the ‘federal agent,’ recording everything. Every lie. Every betrayal. They would tell him they were working on his case, and yet, every game, there were the judge and the agent, sitting side by side with Jack.
Now. Today. At the bottom of the plasmatron, he inserted a short message that scrolled every few minutes. “For free wifi connection, log into Arena-Network.” Jack didn’t have a smartphone, as far as Eric could tell. Jack wouldn’t care about the scrolling message. Well, not at first. He had prepared anyway, a tight deadzone prevented anyone in the seats around Jack from getting online. A small box under Jack’s seat the size of a deck of cards made it difficult to connect to any wireless signal for at least a five foot radius.
Weeks ago, Eric had installed dozens of routers onto the network, breaking in late at night. It was easy when he already controlled the electronic locks.
He’d made his own badge, buying a batch of cards online and matching those serial numbers up to the security program. He simply changed the serial number of the card to match an arena employee, and changed it back when he was done. Had there been a guard, he might have noticed that his badge was a plain white card. But the arena was modern, and they trusted the technology.
He’d hooked his wifi up to the arena network and made sure it all worked. The only differences were, in the rest of the arena, the hotspots were completely open. Anyone could use them. But of course now they routed through his own gateway before they connected to the internet supplied by the arena. An amazing connection, that. The latest in technology. Eric was impressed.
When he was done, his routers were running far more efficiently and giving a better connection than even the original format. He smiled. In his profession, he always tried to leave things better than before he had touched them. Amazing the kind of motivation he had now. The software he installed that improved the cameras almost felt like an act of love. The control center was going to get a gift. He wondered if they would appreciate it. He hoped so.
As he set his plan in motion, it crossed his mind that he might not be allowed to live to the end of the week. He didn’t much care.
First quarter of the game.
An app on his smartphone allowed Eric to see a few hundred people were using his free connection. Not enough. He changed the plasmatron scroll to be continuous. “Free Wifi. Connect to Arena-Network to watch any camera in the stadium.” He then added the first splash-page. That page had little thumbnails which allowed people to watch the live feed from any of the two hundred cameras in and around the stadium. Ten thousand people began to play, bringing up and watching one after another of the raw feeds. He could see them nudging one another and getting a huge kick out of showing their friends one particular angle or another.
Eric nodded to himself. It was working.
Before halftime, thirty thousand people were huddled around one handheld device or another, laughing as they chose their own views and camera angles. He could see people grinning as they used the little tool-sets Eric had provided to digitally pan and zoom the cameras, or reverse and slow motion a particular image. He couldn’t help smiling to himself. Now only a few of the cameras were pointed at the game. Most were focused on the fans. Thousands of people in real time remixing the game and acting as their own control studio.
During halftime, Eric started his own endgame.
A new splash-page appeared on every single device. “Before continuing, please watch this five minute video. Arena-Network promises you will remember this for a long time.” Nothing else would work on their devices until people clicked on the video. Fast forwarding was disabled. The cheerleaders doing their halftime thing were, for the most part, ignored.
“Hello. My name is Eric. I can no longer see out of my right eye. I can no longer stand straight. Jack Lyttle is responsible.” That was how the clip started. The video was a masterpiece of editing. Step by step it explained what happened. Clips from the video showing the first beating, the second, the third. The lawsuits. The betrayals. The hospital stay. The bruises. The doctors explaining how much his life had to change.
While the video ran, documents appeared one after the other below the stream. They showed Jack’s record of brutality as a cop, the many complaints against him, transcripts, court records. A masterwork of video design. The entire stadium began to grow quiet as the clip played from so many devices simultaneously.
Jack and his friends never noticed. They were drinking and laughing, looking at the girls doing back flips, not paying attention to the crowd. Three minutes into the video, just as the teams were coming back onto the field, the lights dimmed except for a single spotlight focussed on Jack Lyttle.
Jack watched his face on the Plasmatron. He looked up and then aped a silly look to the camera, then flexed his muscles and enjoyed himself. He nudged his friends. They laughed too, but nobody else in the stadium did. It was surprisingly quiet but Jack and his pals did not notice. Eric put the remainder of the beating video in a window below Jack’s live face.
Jack still was not aware of what was happening.
The crowd watched, silent and angry as slowly Jack noticed the other video. A split screen of his own face, live on the Plasmatron, above the tape of him beating the hell out of Eric, lying on the ground in the clip. They watched Jack grow horrified in real time, proving to fifty thousand people that the video was the truth.
The tape below Jack’s real-time face of horror, showed Jack laughing as he kicked Eric, over and over again. The live screen showed Jack aghast. The tape showed images of the judge and the agent sharing beers, recorded from game after game. Splice. Jack laughing. Splice. Eric bloody and in a hospital. Splice. Jack drinking a beer with the judge. Splice. The judge denying Eric’s appeal. Splice. Jack drinking and laughing with the agent. Splice. The agent saying to Eric that there was nothing he could do. And after each five second vignette, spliced with different footages of a kick to Eric’s ribs. All the while the live split showing Jack, and now his buddies, panic stricken.
“There ain’t nuthin’ you can do!” repeated from the loudspeakers continuously at the end, along with the sound of the pounding of a courtroom gavel. Jack’s sadistic taunt grew louder each time.
Twelve seconds were left on the video when the first bottle hit him. Jack tried to run. He didn’t make it to the stairs. Neither did the agent. The judge made it a little farther.
The moving photo that begins this article is of a sculpture entitled, The Flight of Keys, Sycamore - [Resin - H: 1.60m; W:1.50m; L: 1.70m].