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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   Fortunately for Pad and Gandalf, everyone else in Kirkham knew why

   they were there. At the end of their first week they returned to their

   room one afternoon to find a sign painted above their door. It said,

   `NASA HQ'.

  

   The other minimum security prisoners understood hacking--and they had

   all sorts of ideas about how you could make money from it. Most of the

   prisoners in Kirkham were in for petty theft, credit card fraud, and

   other small-time crimes. There was also a phreaker, who arrived the

   same day as Pad and Gandalf. He landed eight months in prison--two

   more than the 8lgm hackers--and Pad wondered what kind of message that

   sent the underground.

  

   Despite their best efforts, the 8lgm twosome didn't fit quite the

   prison mould. In the evenings, other prisoners spent their free time

   shooting pool or taking drugs. In the bedroom down the hall, Gandalf

   lounged on his bed studying a book on VMS internals. Pad read a

   computer magazine and listened to some indie music--often his `Babes

   in Toyland' tape. In a parody of prison movies, the two hackers marked

   off their days inside the prison with cross-hatched lines on their

   bedroom wall--four marks, then a diagonal line through them. They

   wrote other things on the walls too.

  

   The long, light-filled days of summer flowed one into the other, as

   Pad and Gandalf fell into the rhythm of the prison. The morning

   check-in at 8.30 to make sure none of the prisoners had gone

   walkabout. The dash across the bowling green for a breakfast of beans,

   bacon, eggs, toast and sausage. The walk to the greenhouses where the

   two hackers had been assigned for work detail.

  

   The work wasn't hard. A little digging in the pots. Weeding around the

   baby lettuce heads, watering the green peppers and transplanting

   tomato seedlings. When the greenhouses became too warm by late

   morning, Pad and Gandalf wandered outside for a bit of air. They often

   talked about girls, cracking crude, boyish jokes about women and

   occasionally discussing their girlfriends more seriously. As the heat

   settled in, they sat down, lounging against the side of the

   greenhouse.

  

   After lunch, followed by more time in the greenhouse, Pad and Gandalf

   sometimes went off for walks in the fields surrounding the prison.

   First the football field, then the paddocks dotted with cows beyond

   it.

  

   Pad was a likeable fellow, largely because of his easygoing style and

   relaxed sense of humour. But liking him wasn't the same as knowing

   him, and the humour often deflected deeper probing into his

   personality. But Gandalf knew him, understood him. Everything was so

   easy with Gandalf. During the long, sunny walks, the conversation

   flowed as easily as the light breeze through the grass.

  

   As they wandered in the fields, Pad often wore his denim jacket. Most

   of the clothes on offer from the prison clothing office were drab

   blue, but Pad had lucked onto this wonderful, cool denim jacket which

   he took to wearing all the time.

  

   Walking for hours on end along the perimeters of the prison grounds,

   Pad saw how easy it would be to escape, but in the end there didn't

   seem to be much point. They way he saw it, the police would just catch