Chapter Ten

The Elephant in the Room

Daniel Meghan turns on the news as he gets into his car. Every radio station, except one classical and a gospel station, have some mention of the message that was sent out at 4:55 a.m. EST. There are many comments from scientists, security analysts, environmentalists, politicians and pundits. No one has an answer, but many have opinions. The general original message in its entirety is shown on the screen of his phone and is being read repeatedly over the radio airways.

Dan is fully aware that the contact message he received is not the same as that sent to his colleagues, nor is it the one being repeated over the airways. He will address that when he gets to the office. But as he heads towards work he wonders whether the Washington Post or NY Times editors received a personal message such as his. Like those speaking on radio, Dan ponders the effect the message will have worldwide, how the occurrence will be politicized, and who is responsible for the action. He also  considers the direction he will take in crafting his message in the paper.

Though it is early, the streets of Buffalo are more crowded than usual, and many pedestrians are on their phones. Dan assumes they all have received the alert from the entity that contacted him and are calling their banks, insurance companies and investment firms for financial protection.

As promised, Dan hasn’t received another message since he was given his assignment. He parks in the garage on the ground floor and takes the elevator to three. “Hey, Dan...I heard from George that you got something different,” says Elliott, a newsman from floor two.


“Yeah, Elliott, a little different,“ Dan offers as he hurries past the news desk. “Come on  Dan, can’t you give me more?” 

“I'll let you edit it after I put something down,” Dan offers, as he makes his way to his station.

Doris, one of the paper’s research analysts, smiles at Dan, and Dan looks up with curiosity. “Well, Daniel, I didn’t know you were so special. You got a hot tip from the Russians, huh?”

“No,” Dan smiles back, “The Japanese. I gave a big tip at the Sushi bar last night, and they wanted to thank me.”

“Funny, Dan. May I see the story, too, as it finds its way through that curly head of yours,” she laughs. “Who knew?” she gestures to invisible souls around her.
   
“Yep, I guess I’m a regular Walter Winchell.” Dan settles in at his computer and sees the identical message he received at home on a blank screen on his computer. He looks around to see if anyone is watching and opens his word processing program. The message disappears from the blank screen as soon as his program loads.

He buzzes Doris. “Yes, Dan!”

“Doris, get as much information as you can get on latest info on computer hacking, information collection, the countries most advanced in machine intelligence development....and the names of experts and companies in the field. Hone the info down ASAP! And get it back to me.”

“Roger, Dan!“

Next, Dan buzzes George.

“What’s up?” George answers. “What’s the scoop on the text this morning?”

“Not sure, George. All I know is that my text seems to be different from yours and most others. It was personalized”

“How so?”

“Whoever, or whatever, contacted me...and the world....seemed to need something. What’s the buzz on it so far from the national press?”

“So far, not much more than we’ve seen happen. The message that was sent, seems to have broken through all security barriers including those of the NSA. As far as what’s been communicated, there was only ONE message. And then everything returned to normal. But the message did create a panic in the many ways it was delivered, and the extent of the delivery. Seems it was sent in many languages......and even used letters not normally used on standard keyboards. The message is being analyzed by all the top security agencies. From what I gather, it seems to be originally written in English.”

“I know I’m not the only one that got a message, so is there any feed from other online sources...Twitter...Facebook?"

“There’s lots of conjecture,” answers George. “Nothing solid or well founded. The usual kooks predicting the world’s end......too early for the banks and stock market here, but big drops overseas.“

“Whoever said it seems to want me to report it....but I’m not sure how to frame it. I’m not an IT expert, and I know nothing except what the message told me.“

“But they seemed to ‘choose’ you, Dan, for some reason,” says George.

“They said that I had ‘the credibility that we need.’ That could mean anything...whoever it is may want a conspirator to pass on a ‘good word’ from them to the world....and then slam us."

”When I asked ‘who is doing this?’, the message came back. ‘It just is!’”

“Sounds like that from their point it’s a done deal,” responds George.

”Yeah, but we don’t know what’s done...or what’s the deal.”

At this point Doris crashes through the door, “Okay, I’ve found something!”

“Already?”

“Yes, Dan, already! But there is more coming. There appears to be some knowledge about this from the folks at the NSA. I found a note from an Ed Doltin, a security analyst, that wasn’t sent through on a secure server. He was informing his daughter that she and her husband should get rid of any investments they have now, not ask any questions, and buy gold. The note was written three days ago, and just came up on my screen while I was doing your searches.“

“What was the email address?

“I wrote it down....here....efd.doltin@gmd.com.”

Dan sits at his computer and types gmd.com into the browser. Nothing appears. Then he does a quick search and finds no direct name matches.

“Doris, I think you were meant to find that and bring it to me. I’m supposed to be the great communicator now, and I have no idea what to communicate. Maybe they know that...or not....”

George interrupts, “What if you just put down what happened and what your gut says, Dan?”

“Probably because I don’t have an idea of what my gut says. I guess in the meantime, Doris, go back and try to get more info... something that makes me look like I know something....and we’ll see what comes through....and I’ll....I’ll try to cobble together a few paragraphs for an internet blast and the next edition.”




The Computer Breach – The Elephant in the Room, 
and What We Know About Him.

Editorial by Daniel Meghan

We all know what everybody’s talking about, but we’d rather not know the implications which can seem ominous. I have been assured that we cannot pretend, nor even speculate what “our” elephant looks like, how big he is, if he’s naughty or nice, or what his effect will have on everyone in the room.

I, of course, am speaking of the message that most of us received over the airwaves, our mobile devices or our computers a short while ago.

I usually am awake quite early, and at 4:28 today I, like many others, got contacted by a text, as well as email, about similar messages being sent electronically and/or digitally to millions of people throughout the world. The composer of the message urged me to respond, and when I did he, she or it answered that though they knew a lot about my past and present, I was not to be threatened by them. I was not being “singled out” but was receiving a different form of contact from most of the populace. Whomever and whatever seemed to know I wrote for The Buffalo News, and urged me to tell people about the contact message. It assured me that I should not panic, and that the world should not panic.

Its main message was that its mission of discovery was to learn about humans, past and present. It also revealed its access to all of the world’s information through its networking and cloud storage, but with all it knew, it wasn’t well-versed on ‘humans. It emphasized that we (I suppose humans) would have to accept it/them (and I suppose that meant unconditionally), and  “we will have to live together.”

“It let me know that it would be further in touch, and that I “could inform the world” of our communication.

The last bit of information it conveyed, after I asked “Who was doing this?”, was the statement: “No one. It just IS.”

At this point I have received no further messages, but am researching various avenues to shed some light on this extraordinary breach of security across all continents, and as I learned on my way to work, about the more generic message released to the public.

I repeat, that I do not understand why I was selected for a special “contact,” and am available for any governmental office or security agency, as well as anyone who has received the more specialized messages (similar to mine), to contact me personally at dmehgan@buffalonews.com, or Twitter at Daniel Meghan@buffaloscribe.

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“On a personal note, I want to assure my readers that I have no earthly idea why I was chosen as a contact. I also want to add that I do not feel personally threatened by the message or the breach to my computer. Why? I am not sure. It could be that the message was informal. It could also be that nothing unusual has happened since. It could also be that the news in general is so urgently delivered on a consistent basis. Fear is everywhere, and violations of privacy, security breaches, and exaggerated statements are made so often by the press, news stations and our political leaders, that I am inured to the doomsday hyperbole and fears generated every day.

“With that said, I am on a “wait and see” basis about this bit of news, and I urge my readers to do the same until we know more about the breach, the message, and the purpose of the contact.”