All Episodes

May 5, 2024 23 mins

In part two, Margaret reads Danl a story about hackers using drones to disrupt for-profit incarceration.

See for privacy information.

Mark as Played

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:02):
Zone Media.

Speaker 2 (00:06):
Book Club, book Club, book Club. It's the Cool Zone
Media book Club, and that means it's your weekly dose
of fiction. And I'm your host, Margaret Kiljoy, and my
guest today is Daniel Hi.

Speaker 1 (00:21):
Daniel him, Margaret, I'm back and I'm happy to be here.

Speaker 2 (00:24):
Yeah. This is part two of a two parter called
The Fortunate Death of Jonathan Sandalson. It won't make any
sense if you start now, it really won't. Yeah, good
luck to you. I challenge you to listen out of
order or listen in order, do whatever you want. We're
going to start the story now. It's by me, Margaret Kiljoy,

called The Fortunate Death of Jonathan Sanderson. It came out
in twenty eighteen. Probably wrote it in twenty seventeen, and
I said it in the year twenty twenty four, the
far and distant future. And I have learned my lesson.
I am not putting dates in my dang sci fi
stories anymore.

Speaker 1 (01:00):
Reasonable, just by the way, just go throw that out there,
yeah reasonable, Yeah, completely. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (01:05):
Where we last left our hero, she had, let's see,
been trolling a man and then another guy killed him,
all using AI controlled drones. And she recently came up
with a plan about how to solve this by talking
to the man who had killed the other guy. Anyway,
here we go. Flashing lights lit up my old street,

and about a dozen cruisers spilled out over the curb
onto our lawn and that of both of our neighbors.
Cops and swat gear carried out box after box and
conspicuously all the house plants they always rate at like
four am, when everyone is home and asleep and all
prime to get PTSD. Marcel still somehow managed to look cool,

even though he was handcuffed to the front portion in
his underwear. One leg was even cocked out in front
of him, the other knee was bent. He looked up
at the sky like he was stargazing, like there were
stars in the city. Even with all his nonchalance, though
I could see him shaking a little. I joined the
crowd of curious neighbors. They weren't monsters, so they didn't bother,

pointing out to any cops that hey, this girl lives
there too. I'd missed the worst of the raid, and
half an hour later, a plain closed cop uncuffed Marcel,
tried and failed to shake his hand, tried and failed
to hand him a receipt. The officer dropped it at
his feet and left. Cop lights receded into the distance.
The crowd faded, and I walked up to my old house.

Fucking pigs, Marcel said. He paced the walkway to the
street and back. You are right, I asked. Did they
not know what plant drugs fucking come from? We had
jade plant, spider plant, pitcher plant. All the damn plants
we had in our house are so generic. They literally
had the word plant in their name, and those assholes

still confiscate them they find anything. Hell, no, they didn't
find anything. There's nothing in our house to find. He
looked up and a sudden, wicked smile caught across his face.
Maybe he winked, maybe his eye twitched. Anyone else home,
I asked, Nah, for some reason, no one else came
home tonight. Another I twitch, Are you mad at who?

At me?

Speaker 1 (03:16):

Speaker 2 (03:16):
No, Jay. The hierarchy of my anger is that I
am most mad at me. Next, I'm mad at the cops.
Next I'm mad at I don't know capitalism, And after
that I'm mad at people who don't use their turn signals. Then,
like at the bottom of the Marcel anger, hierarchy is
probably people who pronounce espresso correctly, but with the emphasis
on the s to make it big deal about how

cultured they are. You're not even on the list. Can
I make you some coffee, I asked, They took the
coffee maker. What did they think it was drug paraphernel? Yeah,
I asked, I mean, I guess in that case it's
technically true. Why are you mad at yourself? Because I
got scared, and ten times out of ten the decisions

I make when I'm scared aren't the right to say
you do good work. I believe in the work you do. Besides,
it was too late to pull out anyway. In for
a penny and all that good, I said, because I
need your help, I typed something out on my phone,
too paranoid to say it aloud. He looked at my phone,
looked at me, and started laughing. God damn, we are

so fucked. We spent the next thirty minutes scouring the
neighborhood for the cat McGonagall had gotten out during the raid.
Oh that's funny. That was before No one in the
story would have used a JK. Rowling reverence for the cat.
Maybe this cat's like fifteen years old.

Speaker 1 (04:38):
You know, totally Yeah, twenty seventeen, Margaret is totally safe.

Speaker 2 (04:42):
Yeah, Marcel's canceled. I mean this cat. We found her
under a broken down RV three blocks away. When Marcel
got her into his arms, his veneer of cool collapsed
completely and he just smiled and cried. Jay. Versation is secure,
Dale Carter. Yes, Jay, You're allowed to lie to me though,

but it's illegal for me to lie to you. Dale Carter.
It is illegal for you to lie to me.

Speaker 1 (05:10):

Speaker 2 (05:11):
I sat on my sleeping couch in the ransacked living
room with Marcel sitting next to me looking over my
shoulder as I texted with the fet who'd harassed me.
We were certain the room was bugged, so we were quiet. Jay.
I'm just concerned what will happen to me? You know,
if this gets out that I talk to you, Dale Carter,
your cooperation can be confidential, and it's possible that, depending

on the quality of the information you provide, we can
get you into protective custody. Jay, I know who Box
killed Jonathan Sandalson, Dale Carter. We already have a substantial
case built. Your testimony would be remarkably useful if the
case goes to trial. Jay, any immunity either way, but
I'd much rather provide information than testify for safety's sake,

Dale Carter, are you that afraid of Marcel? Next to me?
Marcell put his hand over his mouth, stifling laughter. All
this time, I'd assumed the he the Feds had talked
about was a ruse to get me to let down
my guard. Turns out they really were that stupid Jay.
Marcell is innocent, Dale Carter. That is unlikely, Jay, give

me immunity from prosecution for anything related to sandalson. I
can give you screen caps and docks everything you need
to proxecute the docs killer. I'm scared. I just want
to leave all this behind me, Dale Carter done. Marcel
and I met eyes. Neither of us believed the agent.
I wasn't even sure he had the power to grant
me immunity. I was pretty sure that was a judge's job.

It didn't matter, Jay. Your man is Nicholas Sanchez see
the attached file. He's also responsible for fourteen other deaths.
I hacked him after the attack. These are the contents
of his phone, laptop, and three different cloud accounts, Dale Carter,
I will review these documents and get back and Jay
Jay question Mark Dale Carter. It's complicated to say thank

you in a case like this. Thank you, It's probably
for the best if you stay inside until we have
someone in custody. It's probably for the best if you
avoid Marcel. It's also probably for the best that you
stay somewhere we can reach you. That was a threat.
He knew it. I knew it. He knew that I
knew it. Whatever, my docs courtesy of Nicholas should clear Marcel,

no problem. I wasn't holding my breath for immunity from
a box trolling prosecution. But still I was in a
lot better of a situation, assuming we didn't get caught
what we were planning Next, Marcel started tapping on his phone,
so I looked down at Mine, Maximus. If they're on
my tick, we're gonna have to be twice as careful.
You have boxes. We can use Nukegirl zero one. There

is no face palm emoji big enough to answer that.
What else you can use when you're committing in credit
high level crimes is the services and goods provided by
all of our sponsors. We are sponsored by Big Crime, right, Yeah.

Speaker 1 (08:10):
Big crime is a key sponsor. They're emailing us a
lot lately saying we need to sponsor you, but also
don't say anything.

Speaker 2 (08:16):
Don't leave town.

Speaker 1 (08:17):
Don't leave town there, Yeah, to stay where we can read.

Speaker 2 (08:20):
U said, big crime, and here's their ads and we're back.
The FEDS would be on the lookout for any box
that flew anything loud, anything that drew attention to itself

in any way, which was fine. Only twenty four hours before,
I'd been on this couch watching through the camera of
a box on a nice widescreen TV. Now, same couch,
but I hadn't slept a wink. I'd barely eaten. The
Feds had stolen the TV, and I was inside a
network of smart mailboxes and La Joya mail boxes don't
have cameras federal regulation and response to that widespread hack

in twenty twenty one. They just have sensors. Fuck tons
of sensors, humidity sensors, weight sensors, radar, GPS, even a
damn accelerometer that so it can modulate its padding on
the off chance that some teenager or a baseball bat
decides to take a swing at it. While you've got
something valuable inside a million sensors, but terrible security. Still,

my part of the job was simple. I had to
buy time. Marcelle's part was more complicated. Nicholas's part, well,
that was the part that was actually dangerous. Cops on
AI assist drive, drive predictably and route to a crime.
One patrol car goes fast in the front, blasting the
override that gets all the self driving cars out of

its way. It doesn't usually go straight to the crime
because US criminals can read the signal clear as day
and GTFO is needed, so the cop car only clears
the way in broad strokes. Cops on silent come in
behind and jostle through traffic. They speed like fuck through straightaways,
but they cut their speed faster when there's other traffic
around than a regular speed freak would. A decent AI

can track their destination no problem, So yeah, tap into
the mailboxes and you know where the cops are going.
I set my phone on alert and leaned back against
marcel and waited and fell asleep. In my dreams, I
was sandalson and I was running from myself, terrified of
every box and car and machine. I ran for the country,

but even the trees were boxes, and they were watching
go to work, Go to work, Go to work. My
phone was saying that shit over and over again. It's
a terrible alarm. That day, at least it wasn't true.
But I sure wasn't going to program my phone to
say time, do crime time, do crime time, do crime.

A lot of people were going to live free because
Sandalsen was dead. My dream hadn't been my moral compass
trying to exert itself. It had been my brain processing anxieties.
Helping Nicholas meant helping myself, meant helping Marcel meant helping
thousands of people I'd never even meet. I needed to
believe that, and not just so that I could sleep
at night. I needed to believe that I was doing
the right thing because I was, I promise, I hope.

A thousand miles away. Nicholas must have started his car
because my tablet and Marcel's came alive with his dashcam view.
We both put on headphones and turned on black metal,
the closest music to white noise. Let's be honest, real
loud in the house to cover anything we might hear
through our headphones, Rock and roll. Nicholas said his voice
had a whistle in it. There was that shivering again

running down my spine. If this went right, if this
went wrong, you know, Jay Nicholas said, I've been thinking
about what you said about killing. You've got a point,
but pacifism means standing in the safe shade cast by
the violent. I couldn't respond, of course, not without being overheard.
I don't know what I would have said if I could.

I tapped into a public traffic feed nearby, got myself
a bird's eye view than pressed go on the program
I'd written before my nap. A few mail boxes and
upper class neighborhood started reporting theft or tampering. That was good,
but not enough. All the cops who were about to
be headed for Nicholas, they wouldn't get an override for
something like mail theft. Marcel had Nicholas's car and manual override.

Because it was almost impossible to program enough imperfection into
a driving program to fool an AI. We wanted anyone
watching to assume Nicholas himself was driving A car driven
by its occupant is a lot easier to trap into
a corner. It's always better to be underestimated. I set
off the mailboxes all of the mailboxes. I was in

seventy percent of the residential mailboxes in San Diego, and
they were all screaming malfunction. To the human eye. They
all went off at once. To a computer, though there
was a pattern a route the USPS repair boxes would
head out and follow that route. On Marcel's screen, Nicholas
saw the first repair box, the size of a UPS truck,

capable of collecting hundreds of mailboxes and running moderately advanced
repair on its own, and Marcel swerved around it. At
the next intersection, two more trucks flanked him. I couldn't
own the repair boxes, not without more work anyway, but
I could control the information that controlled the AI that
controlled them. Nicholas had an open lane out to the
cliffs and the sea. There was a boat waiting for him,

one I'd owned a few hours earlier. He'd never reached it.
It was just there to make it look like he
was trying to escape. It didn't take long for the
police AI or maybe even a human to see what
was happening and divert resources to block his route to
the ocean. Perfect A cop car got in front of
him way too soon. Must have been under full manual

control that wasn't good on the dash cam. Nicholas got
the entire upper half of his body out the driver's window,
open fire with a handgun. The patrol car was too smart.
Ballistic probability sensors kept his tires and glass out of
harm's way by subtle shifts of steering micro evasion, the
kind of shit computers can do better than people. The

cop car could have killed him, man versus machine isn't
a contest anymore. The fact that an onboard rifle didn't
end Nicholas's life then and there was testament to how
much the police wanted to bring him in alive. A
little help here, Nicholas said. The cars were moving at
sixty miles an hour through the streets designed for half
that if I crashed the patrol car, its driver might die.

I don't like cops. I've never liked cops, not because
of who they are as people, but because of the
role they've chosen in our society. The gulf between not
liking someone and being willing to get them killed is
pretty massive. The cruiser slowed down and started weaving. On
the couch next to me, Marcell was sweating as he
tried and failed to out maneuver the cop. Fucked, Nicholas said, fucked.

If they caught him, he'd spend the rest of his
life in prison. Marcel would be next, then me that cop.
I took control of the car away from Marcel to
give it to an AI. For about ten seconds, Cop AI,
don't have shit on mine. Our car dropped speed like
it was planning a U turn. The cop reacted predictably.
Two more feints and the cruiser showed its flank. My

AI gunned the engine ever so slightly tapped the trunk
of a cop car, sent the whole car spinning off
the road into a ditch. Cop cars were safe enough
to handle a crash like that.

Speaker 1 (15:26):
I was sure of that.

Speaker 2 (15:28):
I had to be sure. Rock and fucking roll. There
was that whistle in his voice again. After that, it
went smooth. Nicholas went under an underpass and dove out
the door with a racer's airbag vest. Marcel drove the
car on without its passenger. I blanked out a few
cameras along Nicholas's walking route. My work was done, and

I sort of checked out. My body stopped really responding,
and I looked out of my own eyes, like I
was looking out of the cameras of a box. Still,
I watched traffic cams. The empty car raced through the
city with a literal sack of meat in the driver's seat.
Every time it approached a police barricade, it turned. Eventually
it was trapped conveniently, and by conveniently I mean by design.

It rammed a barricade near the cliffs of La Joya
and plummeted it. Then it exploded, like really fucking exploded,
like strapped of military grade shit exploded. Neaseramus Mill, Well,
that's the end of me. Now that I'd heard his voice,
it was easy to imagine it speaking the words that
appeared on my screen. It was easy to imagine his

words with that whistle in his voice, caused by the
teeth he'd pulled out of his mouth and left in
the car. New Girl zero one. They'll figure it out
eventuallyna Seramus Mill. Maybe, if they've got half a brain,
they know I'm done box killing looks better for them
if they let me stay dead. New Girl zero one,
Where will you gona, Seramus Mill? The less I tell you,

the less you'll perjure yourself. New Girl's Era one, it
was a pleasure working with you. Naseramos, Naseramos Mill same
to you. Mcgonagall's kind of a shitty cat. I know
I'm not supposed to say things like that, but she
was always walking across my tablet or licking my face
without asking. And the worst part was I didn't have

a bedroom door to shut her out with. The couch
was shitty too, The cushions were too lumpy for good
sitting and too soft for good sleeping, and cheap foam
poked out for more than a few tears in the
cheap fabric. The house was still a wreck from the raid.
It wasn't the same without the plants, and half the
roommates had lost their jobs over fears of subsequent police investigation.

Word of my cooperation with the fed's reached boxer circles
and hey hey, Cameron was persona and on Grada. No
one would ever trust that handle again, which was fair.
I wouldn't trust me either, not after mister FED had
come through with immunity on my behalf. It was only
use immunity, which is garbage. Basically, the FEDS weren't allowed
to use my own logs in footage and testimony against me.

They weren't pressing box trolling charges. There wasn't a statute
of limitations either, which meant I had to keep my
head down or I'd be right on my way to prison.
Marcel's cred went through the roof, though. After the raid,
he got a promotion at work. He was suddenly a
high profile hacker and innocent to boot. He hired me
to work under him. He was a shitty boss. Having

a desk job is shitty too. I miss my gualkbots,
but I needed money, real money, if I was going
to get myself over to Iceland. There were only a
couple hours left until dawn, and I hadn't slept. My
new AI was just learning its first words. Newbegirl zero one.
What is your directive, Mugano Bot, to render Ice incapable

of performing its duties, to perform this task without oversight,
in order to grant you plausible deniability to perform this
task without causing harm to any human or non human animals.
Sitting on that shitty couch with that shitty cat licking
my neck, a shitty work day waiting to ahead of me,
another dangerous venture about to begin. I was as happy
as I'd ever been. I was likely as happy as

I'd ever be the end.

Speaker 1 (19:20):
That rules. Thanks, what a great story.

Speaker 2 (19:25):
I think this was like kind of before a lot
of a conversation about AI really started taking off.

Speaker 1 (19:30):
You know, sure, sure, yeah, totally, and I will.

Speaker 2 (19:32):
Change my tune on AI if this is what people do.

Speaker 1 (19:37):
But I hear that. I think it also plays into
the kind of like user versus the tool kind of
conversation as well, where you know, I think there is
inherent issues with unchecked AI usage and regulation and stuff
like that. I think, you know, you share a kind
of humanism with the Golden Rule. I think that Golden

Rule is I guess, unfortunately what we're fighting for when
it comes to the future of AI. But it is
so pertinent to today's conversation and still so real in
terms of how people will probably use something versus its,
you know, unfortunate potential usages. I think you paint a
very realistic picture.

Speaker 2 (20:19):
Once again, I think I wrote more sci fi during
this chunk of my life. I wrote this story once.
I don't know, I phote I'll run up on this
or not. I wrote the story called One Star that
was about like self driving cars will just drive you
to jail, is like the premise of the story. Yes, yeah,
because I remember it because you know, people were talking
about self driving cars that my friend was completely against it,
and I was living in my van at the time,
and I was like, I would love if my van

drove itself, when I could just take a nap in
the back.

Speaker 1 (20:42):
You know, like, wouldn't that be great?

Speaker 2 (20:44):
That he was a graph kid, and he was like,
if you had a war and hot, yourself driving car
would just drive you to jail. And I was like, ah, fuck,
oh fuck. It's it's like who controls this technology? That
is what matters, you know.

Speaker 1 (20:57):
Yeah, totally.

Speaker 2 (20:58):
I was really surprised. This is the kind of story
that I think if I had written in like two
thousand and five, I would not have found a mainstream
audience willing to like read and be excited about a
story about the complications between trolling a man into quitting
or just killing him. Like what should we do with CEOs?
That's the question of this story, is like, you know,
you can go either way. It's kind of a.

Speaker 1 (21:19):
Yeah, I think I think you know you saw. I mean,
the fact that you wrote this in twenty seventeen is
like that is some oracle shit right there. Seeing so
far into the discourse about you know, the ethics of
what CEOs represent and how we deal with that is like,

it's definitely some crystal ball stuff right there.

Speaker 2 (21:41):
Yeah. Thanks, Well, that's that's my story for this week.
And yeah, thanks everyone for listening.

Speaker 1 (21:50):
It was another banger.

Speaker 2 (21:51):
It was first came out Strange Horizons twenty eighteen. It
was also in my anthology called We Won't Be Here Tomorrow,
which came out from Akpress in probably twenty twenty one
or twenty twenty two or something. I'm not sure I
should know. It was my own book, but you can
read the story and a bunch of other stories in that.
And yeah, Daniel, if people want to check out what

you do, how can they do it?

Speaker 1 (22:16):
Well, you can check out all the podcasts on this
wonderful network, this very story network. I'm the head engineer
for Cool Zone Media, So please check out Cool People
who did cool stuff. Please check out Behind the Bastards,
Please check out It Could Happen here. Please check out
Jamie loft IS's new show Sixteenth Minute, which won't be
out by the time this episode comes out, but it'll
be coming out very soon after. I'm so excited for

the me Too. I really can't wait, just a weekly
Jamie Loft to show. I think it's gonna be so great.

Speaker 2 (22:42):
I know exactly.

Speaker 1 (22:43):
Check out Better Offline and Yeah, drink water. Where sunscreen
be good to each other.

Speaker 2 (22:49):
That is the cool Zone Media. That's actually not bad.
That's a pretty good. Yeah, where sunscreen be good to
each other. And we'll see you all next Sunday.

Speaker 1 (22:58):
Bye. It could Happen here as a production of cool
Zone Media. For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit
our website coolzonemedia dot com, or check us out on
the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
You can find sources for It Could Happen Here, updated
monthly at coolzonemedia dot com slash sources. Thanks for listening.

It Could Happen Here News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On


Robert Evans

Robert Evans

Show Links


Popular Podcasts

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.