Page 100


Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   The agents had been less than two metres from where he was standing

   and he hadn't even known it. That room was where John stayed. It was

   connected to his by an inner door, but both sides were locked.

  

   `Move into John's room and lay low. Gotta go.' Nibbler hung up

   abruptly.

  

   Par put his ear to the wall and listened. Nothing. He unlocked the

   connecting inner door, turned the knob and pressed lightly. It gave.

   Someone had unlocked the other side after the search. Par squinted

   through the crack in the door. The room was silent and still. He

   opened it--no-one home. Scooping up his things, he quickly moved into

   John's room.

  

   Then he waited. Pacing and fidgeting, he strained his ears to catch

   the sounds outside. Every bang and creak of a door opening and closing

   set him on edge. Late that night, after the law enforcement officials

   had left, Nibbler called him on the house phone and told him what had

   happened.

  

   Nibbler had been inside the computer chalet when the Secret Service

   showed up with a search warrant. The agents took names, numbers, every

   detail they could, but they had trouble finding any evidence of

   hacking. Finally, one of them emerged from the chalet triumphantly

   waving a single computer disk in the air. The law enforcement

   entourage hanging around in front of the chalet let out a little

   cheer, but Nibbler could hardly keep a straight face. His younger

   brother had been learning the basics of computer graphics with a

   program called Logo. The United States Secret Service would soon be

   uncovering the secret drawings of a primary school student.

  

   Par laughed. It helped relieve the stress. Then he told Nibbler his

   escape plan, and Nibbler agreed to arrange matters. His parents didn't

   know the whole story, but they liked Par and wanted to help him. Then

   Nibbler wished his friend well.

  

   Par didn't even try to rest before his big escape. He was as highly

   strung as a racehorse at the gate. What if the Secret Service was

   still watching the place? There was no garage attached to the main

   motel building which he could access from the inside. He would be

   exposed, even though it would only be for a minute or so. The night

   would provide reasonable cover, but the escape plan wasn't fool-proof.

   If agents were keeping the motel under observation from a distance

   they might miss him taking off from his room. On the other hand, there

   could be undercover agents posing as guests watching the entire

   complex from inside their room.

  

   Paranoid thoughts stewed in Par's mind throughout the night. Just

   before 5 a.m., he heard John's car pull up outside. Par flicked off

   the light in his room, opened his door a crack and scanned the motel

   grounds. All quiet, bar the single car, which puffed and grunted in

   the still, cold air. The windows in most of the buildings were dark.

   It was now or never.

  

   Par opened the door all the way and slipped down the hallway. As he

   crept downstairs, the pre-dawn chill sent a shiver down his spine.

   Glancing quickly from side to side, he hurried toward the waiting car,

   pulled the back door open and dove onto the seat. Keeping his head

   down, he twisted around, rolled onto the floor and closed the door

   with little more than a soft click.