The First Sprout

Chapter 1 – Planting a Seed

Jen watched as Mac walked through the front door of the coffee shop. He stood out, but not necessarily in a good way. Your average guy comes into the shop in nice jeans, t-shirts and well taken care of gym shoes, or they show up dressed in work attire like slacks, button up shirts, usually a jacket, more often at least a tie. The laptops they carry are usually showy MacBooks (to say “we’ve spent some money”), or boring corporate laptops that are relatively feature packed, middle of the line and owned by their corporate overlords. His jeans, on the other hand,  were worn out and faded.  His shirt looked like it had been washed a hundred times and had stains where something greasy had obviously dripped onto it and he didn’t know how to get rid of. His skin was very pale, as though he may not have seen any sunlight in the last few years. The laptop he carried looked heavy, obviously a gamer machine, with a huge screen on it. The stickers all over it gave more credence to the fact that it was his personal machine. She also noticed that his shoes looked old and she was pretty sure she could see his socks through the tops of his shoes.

As Mac walked up to the cash register to order his coffee, she noticed that he did not look her in the eye, instead, he kind of glanced around her head.

“Can I get a small coffee?” Mac asked Jen.

“Sure, a tall drip coffee,” Jen said. “Would you like room for cream?”

“I’m sorry, what?” He asked, his voice wavering.

“Room for cream? Milk?”

“Oh! No, thanks.”

Jen rang the coffee up on the register and turned to make it. In the list of Mac’s strange behaviors, he did not immediately pay with his card.  He watched instead, as she made the coffee and filled the tall cup up. When she turned around she saw on the screen that he hadn’t paid yet.

“That will be $3.15, how would you like to pay?”

“Cash please,” Mac said as he handed exactly $3.15.

Jen rang Mac out and watched as he walked away. She noticed that he did not take a sip to make sure that it was fresh or anything else. He sat, opened his laptop, then went to work on whatever mundane task he was there to work on. She went back to work, paying close attention to the order of the next customer, then the customer after that. Every once in awhile she would look over at him and see him steadily typing away on the keyboard, his eyes pasted to the screen.

Mac sat facing into the store, facing Jen, but she could see the reflection of his screen against the glass window behind him and noticed that there was what looked like a pie chart, with a lot of green, and a little bit of red. After about 30 minutes, he looked up, and leaned back from his computer, and had a weird smile. Her gaze was cut short by the next customer ready to place an order; she happened to glance at one point and noticed that the drinking hole of the cup was facing toward her, and that there was no brown stain on the lid, as if he had not taken a single drink of the coffee.

The rest of the afternoon for Jen went by quickly, and she found a couple of minutes to respond to Rob, her boyfriend of almost 3 months. It was almost an hour after he texted her. She let him know that she would be leaving work on time, and she sent a nice little selfie along with it, because she loved to wave and blow kisses at him. It was something that she had started doing a couple of weeks after they started dating, and now it was something that she loved to do for him every afternoon when she was almost done at work. In her mind, this and the morning photo to wake him up, seemed very complimentary.

As 6:00 rolled around, Jen waited impatiently for her replacement to walk through the door so she could get out of the store, home for a shower and to clean up, then over to Rob’s for the evening. She always told Rob that she finished at 7:00, and that she would be at his place around 9:00, but she wanted that time to herself to get ready. As Jeff came into the store, she smiled at him as always, said “Only 15 minutes late, what an improvement” and ran out the door.

Jen drove home and dashed into her apartment. She knew her preparation would take almost 3 hours for her night with Rob, as she had done almost every night for the last 2 months. They seemed to be all over each other, spending 4 or 5 nights a week together, and enjoying each other’s company. She turned on the radio as she walked into her apartment and started dancing and throwing clothes onto the couch. The black shirt she wore all day, followed by the bra, the desire to get out of the clothes that now smelled like coffee grounds and sweat. She threw her phone on the charger on the counter next to the refrigerator, grabbed a bottle of water, and then started to work on making herself presentable. She had little doubt that he would accept her no matter what, but she still wanted to look pretty.

When Jen attached her phone to the charging cable, the worm woke up again. It silently detected that the device was back on WiFi and started to scan through the network. It sent a quick report back to the command server stating that there were 2 other devices on the home network that could be attacked if so desired. It also reported back the Network SSID and the password of the network, as well as the coordinates where the GPS said the phone was located.

As 7:00 came around, Jen picked up her phone and sent a quick text message to Rob, basically stating that she was heading home to grab a quick shower and she would be over about 9, if that’s not too late. His response was almost immediate, telling her that would be great, he had a little cleaning to do before she came over. This made her laugh, she had been in his place and wasn’t sure what that meant, it had never really been clean when she had been there. She responded with LOL and set her phone back down.

Jen finished her shower, and preparing for a night at Rob’s, knowing that she had to pack a set of clothes, and looking at the stack in the corner, knowing she had to do some laundry in the next few days, but definitely not ready to bring up to Rob yet that she actually did laundry. It was Tuesday, Thursday was her day off, she did some quick thinking. She picked up her phone, and added an entry to her reminders for tomorrow. “Go to Vickie’s at lunch, buy a couple pairs of panties.” She then texted Rob, telling him that she’d be there in 20 minutes, his response coming back quickly letting her know that he was looking forward to it. She sent a quick smiley face. She took the phone off the charger, back to 90%, not as good as normal, but she could charge it tomorrow at work, it’s not like she used it a lot during the day, and she wouldn’t need it much tonight.

At 9:15, Jen arrived at Rob’s apartment, and he greeted her as he did every night, with a huge smile, a big hug, and a sloppy kiss. The door closed behind them as they went in, and she set her phone down on the end table. In the background her phone connected to the WiFi, sent the Network SSID, password, and the coordinates of where they were currently situated, and after a quick scan of the network, it reported that there were currently 4 devices that could also be infected in this location. Every 30 minutes for the rest of the night her phone detected that it hadn’t moved, and that nothing critical had changed, so it only reported back a single text message to the command server at 11:45. She wouldn’t see that text until early in the morning, as she knew that it would come in, but there was no reason that anyone but her and the sender would ever know it was there.

Chapter 3 – The Root Deepens

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