- Author: Reagan Keeter
Book online «A Reagan Keeter Box Set: Three page-turning thrillers that will leave you wondering who you can trus Reagan Keeter (most difficult books to read TXT) 📖». Author Reagan Keeter
THE REAGAN KEETER COLLECTION
THE REDWOOD CON
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Connor Callahan has been through a lot. More than anyone should. It has left him with an overdeveloped sense of justice. Perhaps that is why when he sees a man discreetly tag a stranger’s suitcase with a black magic marker, he sets out to discover what is going on. It’s a decision that will thrust Connor into a conflict far more dangerous than he could have imagined, and when it’s over he will know one thing for sure: You’re not always safer on the ground.
Details can be found at the end of this box set.
That was the first message Ion had sent when Connor tried to hack his machine. It appeared suddenly in a black window in the center of his screen as all of his applications shut down.
Whoa, was the only thought Connor could manage at the time. He was studying computer science at Stanford University, but had been hacking into other people’s computer systems for much longer than that. His fingers had been practically attached to the keyboard since he was four years old. Until that day, nobody had caught him in the act. Or, at least, nobody had kicked him out. He wouldn’t have even thought it was possible to do what Ion had done.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. Two days later, he got an email from email@example.com. He recognized the domain as the one he’d tried to hack and deduced Ion must be the handle for the guy who had kicked him out. It contained only one line: Stay out of my system or I’ll make sure Matt finds out what you’ve been up to.
The messaged bothered Connor for a lot of reasons. First, it meant Ion had hunted Connor down, found out who he was and how to contact him. Second, despite all that work, all the research Ion must have done, his email referenced someone named Matt, and Connor knew no one by that name. So who was Matt?
Connor wasn’t a malicious hacker. His targets were not financial institutions or government entities. He didn’t send out phishing emails or try to steal anyone’s identity. He was a hacker of, as he saw it, the most righteous type. He sought out sites that dealt in misinformation and did what he could to disrupt them. Some of them were political. Many were not. There were “the sunners,” for example, who actually claimed the government had harnessed the sun’s rays and was using them to monitor people’s outdoor activity. It was an absurd notion. Connor hated the idea that these fools were out there spreading lies and, as hard as it was for him to believe, gaining followers.
For three days, the sunners’ website had shown a popup to every new visitor that said, “This is a lie. Do not buy into their half-truths.”
Connor knew, though, that he would never be able to stop a group of people like that permanently. Everyone he attacked eventually fixed their sites, patched the holes Connor had been able to exploit. But the way he saw it, if he kept even one person from slipping down a rabbit hole that would twist their view of the world into something untrue, possibly destroying their lives in the process (as he understood it, many sunners had found themselves alienated from family and friends), then he had done something good.
TruthSeekers was one such site. It didn’t peddle in sunners theories, though. It had no such single focus. It had posts on Bigfoot and aliens, modern-day vampires and possession. A smorgasbord of crazy, in other words.
Connor had stumbled upon the blog by accident. A Facebook post on blood diseases had caught his attention. It had had enough truth to sound legitimate, but something had smelled wrong. He’d followed a link in it to another site and a link there to TruthSeekers.
But he didn’t go after the site right away. He had other things to do. He was home from school for the summer, working for a house flipper named Austin during the day, and was just too tired to bother with a mere blogger who posted stories so obviously false.
At least, that was how he’d felt when he found the site. But he couldn’t stop thinking about the lies TruthSeekers was spreading. These weren’t the kinds of lies that would destroy anyone’s life. They were, however, the kind that would eat at you slowly, shift your thinking just enough to make room for more nefarious ideas. They were, he realized when he was lying in bed one night, “gateway lies.”
And, for that reason, they were just as bad as, if not worse than, those told by the sites he attacked regularly.
Stay out of my system or I’ll make sure Matt finds out what you’ve been up to.
Connor had read the message over and over the night he had received it and, tonight, a week later, had pulled it up again. The gnawing, relentless question wouldn’t leave him alone. Who’s Matt?
He was sitting at his computer in his attic bedroom, still wearing the clothes he’d put on for a day of painting with Austin: a pair of old khakis and a Cure tee shirt he had found at a thrift shop in Greenwich Village. He had taken to showering at night since he had started working with Austin, and his blond hair stuck out every which way.
From downstairs, he could smell dinner cooking. His mom liked to use a lot of spices. Nutmeg and oregano were her favorites. But unless his nose deceived him, tonight’s meal would feature basil.
He could also hear his parents going at it again, something that, this summer, had become almost a nightly occurrence. His mother tells his father to stop being so mean, to stop sulking around the damn house all the