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Ghost in the machine

3 September

Just when you think things are weird, they get a little stranger…

It wasn’t hard to find an entrance to the underground tunnels and rooms once we knew where to look, but it soon became obvious that it was a proper labyrinth. We had anticipated this and one of the Monster Highs stayed outside on the spot the coordinates had pointed to. The girls know where each other is at all times so even underground we could navigate to an exact spot even though our GPS wouldn’t work in the nuke proof complex. We were led unerringly through the tunnels and eerily deserted rooms. Some of them were a bit Mary Celeste because they had that look about them like someone had just stopped what they were doing and left.

Some of the doors were locked but none of the ones we needed to go through were, so we made good time. When we reached the spot where the girls unerring sense of each other’s location synced up we were in a medium sized room (based on the size of the others we had passed through) that contained several metal cabinets and what looked like an autopsy slab. Sluice drains were dotted around the tiled floor and the only other thing visible in the room was a desktop computer and CRT monitor on a metal table. We split up and checked the cabinets, but they were all empty and the Monster High stood by the slab and said that something very bad had happened in that room.

Dave wandered over to look at the computer and Tony pointed out that the power light was on so Dave switched on the monitor and when it blinked into life there was a message on a black square in the centre of the screen. ‘HELP ME. THE SKY IS TURNING BLACK. THIS IS JUDYZ AND I AM IN THE DARK.’ Dave said that the text messages I had received must have come from this computer but then he just stopped and stared as more words appeared on the screen. ‘I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE. I AM HERE.’ We all looked at each other and The Monkey just said, ‘Fuckin’ hell!’

The Monster High touched the PC and after a few seconds said, ‘She is in there. Or at least what remains of her.’ The Monkey told the Nerds to grab the PC but the message on the screen changed, ‘NO. NO. NO. IF YOU TURN OFF THE POWER I WILL CEASE TO BE.’ The Nerds went into a huddle and after a few minutes Tony pulled out his smartphone and after a couple more minutes of fiddling with cables they had managed to plug it into the PC. Once more the message on the screen changed, ‘OKAY. OH SHIT. PLEASE WORK.’ Then the screen flickered, the black square scrambled, and the Monster High said, ‘She has gone.’ Tony held out his phone and she put her hand over it and looked at us with a smile and nodded. A message appeared on the screen, ‘Bubble Witch! Oh please!’ Tony looked shamefaced and we all sniggered.

We retraced our steps and got out of the base without any incidents. Back at the house we sat down and just looked at each other. Tony’s phone had gone quiet but the Monster Highs confirmed Judy was still in there, so he put it on charge…

5 September

Judy is still charging up. Seems she needs a lot of power and she drains the battery of the phone within an hour, so it is plugged in constantly. The Nerds are working on getting a laptop set up to transfer her into and Dave went and got a UPS to make sure nothing happens to the laptop power (that’s Uninterruptible Power Supply just in case you don’t know – me and The Monkey had to ask).

We have lots of questions that we would like answers to but Tony reckons she needs some more time to integrate and find her way about in the phone, plus the girls think we should just leave her alone for a bit. The Monkey is strangely accepting of this. I think he feels guilty as she has ended up in this state after helping us. He is back on the books, at the moment he is reading Lebor Gabála Érenn – The Book of Invasions, he also has the graphic novel version in case he gets bored…

6 September

Ended up watching Enter the Dragon again last night – it was on, so like we weren’t going to… After a few more drinks the acting out parts of the film got a bit special and some furniture got broken and Kev’s leg wound opened up a bit. The Bullshit Mr Han man sequence resulted in a lot of punching and the finale saw The Monkey as Han griping butter knives between his fingers and flailing around like a psychotic windmill. It’s surprising how much damage butter knives can do…

7 September

JudyZ is now ensconced in a shiny laptop with a huge processor, loads of RAM, massive battery life and attached to the UPS. The Nerds did the transfer from the phone and she seems to have settled in rapidly to her new digital home. This means that we finally got to have a chat…

We asked JudyZ what had happened to result in her being inside a computer and the answer was predictably strange and very unpleasant:

She told us how she had been sitting in her Reading flat working on the stuff the Nerds had asked her for when she heard the door burst in and something bounced across the floor. It was a while before her senses returned after the blast of the stun grenade and she remembers vomiting and then trying to struggle against the cable ties binding her wrists. She watched as men in black tactical gear and gas masks gathered up her computer equipment, hard drives and USB sticks and then one of them knelt beside her and injected her in the neck and she passed out.

She came round as they frog marched her from a helicopter and into a dark hangar entrance – it was still night. Her head was hooded as she passed into the hangar and then she was strapped to a trolley and wheeled down endless corridors. Next, she was questioned in an interview room by suited men for hours on end. They asked her random questions that she could not possibly answer to disorientate her and then began to question her about why she was hacking classified US military networks. She said she knew she was in deep deep shit and decided that the only thing to do was to tell a version of the truth. She told them she had heard rumours about a secret military project involving psychotropic drugs and had gone looking for information. There was also a screen on the wall, and on the screen she could see a man sitting behind a desk observing the interrogation and occasionally asking questions in a soft American accent. She said the figure on the screen frightened her far more than the men in the room with her, he didn’t stop grinning and his face seemed fuzzy.

At some point one of the men was called out of the room and when he returned it was to shout in Judy’s face that she might think she was very clever but she was just about to find out how wrong she was. They had discovered that all of Judy’s computer equipment had been wiped clean by the degaussing loop that was fitted around the entrance to her flat – and they were pissed. Judy said she knew it was about to get physical and was expecting waterboarding but what happened next was way worse than anything she could have imagined. She was dragged to the room where we had found the computer and stripped naked before being thrown onto the steel table. She was then injected with something that paralysed her but even though she couldn’t move she could still talk and feel. Then they went to work on her with cutters, pliers, scalpels, hammers and a blow torch. All she remembers is screaming and screaming until she passed out, but they brought her round again and it continued.

Then JudyZ explained how she had got into the computer. At Uni she had been involved in a bio computer experiment and had a processor implanted in her arm with which she could interface with computers. The fuckers who were torturing her got out the electric cables and started zapping her and she said that she blacked out and when her consciousness returned everything was black and she couldn’t feel anything anymore. She thought she was dead and in some sort of limbo. It took her a long time to realise what must have happened, she thinks that her consciousness tried to escape from the horror that was happening to her and somehow the electric shock had caused the processor in her arm to overload and the resulting data surge took her consciousness with it into the nearest computer equipment – the desktop PC. (None of us can come up with a better explanation.)

Time passed in which her body must have been disposed of and the room abandoned. She gradually began to work her way around the operating system and discovered that she could access tracking and communications data within the base, and although she had no internet connection, she found she could piggyback the comms. Then after many hours she began to sense us and that we were close – that’s when she worked out how to send texts… Judy was quite upset by this point and we all agreed we should let her chill out in whatever way she could before we asked any more questions. The Monster Highs are sitting with the laptop and doing some more voodoo stuff to help Judy calm down. The Monkey is chewing on a cigar and there is fire flickering over his fur. He is angry, a cold fury, and we all know what happens when he gets this angry – someone is going to die…

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