Home > King of Code

King of Code
Author: C.D. Reiss

I

Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Jeff Bezos.

Kings. Emperors. Rulers of kingdoms they built with their own hands. Their own sweat. Nobodies who clawed their way to the top with sheer grit.

Everett Fitzgerald. Even my buddy Fitz is a king.

Rockefeller. Carnegie. Ford. Vanderbilt.

They changed the world.

I’m about to become one of those guys.

Decades from now, they’re going to talk about what I’m about to release into the world. Where I thought of it. What I ate for breakfast. How I got here. I worked harder, thought bigger, drilled deeper. I changed myself from the inside out to get here.

Today, I am granted meetings with kings.

In thirteen days I, Taylor Harden, become a king of kings.

II

There’s going to come a day I don’t have to fuck in the supply closet.

One leg over my shoulder, the other dropping off the side of the table, naked enough to get the job done, but clothed enough for waistbands and shirttails to get in the way. I hadn’t fucked in a bed in four years. I didn’t see my apartment for weeks at a time. I’d showered at the gym until we bought the QI4HQ and warehouse, then I put a shower stall in my office.

“Harder,” she grunted in the dark. “Fuck me harder.”

I gave it to her. A stream of filth left her lips, and I parried with more until we were both reduced to syllables. Then, nothing but the need to get back to work.

We rustled our clothing back on.

“Did you set up the cage?” I tucked in my shirt.

“We made it presentable last night. Jack needed to clean his shit.”

Jack. I loved him like a brother, and he could cut code like a motherfucker, but he’d left a Tech World packing slip on his desk when the NY Times had done their profile on me. The photo Greeked when it was enlarged. Lucky him.

“Raven, I don’t want a repeat of—”

“There’s not going to be—”

“I mean it.”

“Taylor.” Her voice had moved to the door. “Everything’s going to be perfect this time. I promise.”

She opened the door before I could remind her that I was the one who decided what was perfect and what sucked.

III

“Why four?” Keaton had asked in my studio, years before. His English accent made him sound perpetually disgusted by my arrangements, but he’d insisted on seeing the shithole I lived in so he could feel sorry for me. I’d gone white hat and starved while he’d stayed black hat and thrived. His shirt cost more than my rent.

“Why four what?” I sat in the desk chair in front of my machine. It was the only other chair besides the one he’d bent his six foot four inches onto. He took up half the damn apartment.

“You’re naming the company QI4. Q is quantum. I is intelligence. Why four?”

“I liked the way it sounded.”

He finished his beer and got up to put his bottle in the recycling. He did it slowly, as if he wanted to fuck with me. He’d been an asshole since high school. Keaton Bridge, aka 41ph4 W01ph (Alpha Wolf if you don’t speak l33t), had taught me the art of the dark web, where identities, guns, and drugs were traded in glorious, unindexed chaos.

“Seventy million,” he said.

I was glad I hadn’t dressed up to meet him because I almost pissed myself.

“But…” He trailed off intentionally for effect.

“But?”

He leaned his ass on the kitchenette counter and folded his arms. “You clean your ass up. You look like a bloody slob.”

I ran my fingers through my hair. I hadn’t had it cut in months. It was straight-ish when short, but when it got below my ears, it started curling. My beard was short, and my skin was olive but sallow from lack of sun. I’d lost weight, missed the gym for forever, my clothes hung off me.

“At least I don’t look like a politician.”

“Seventy million,” he repeated, reminding me I was in no position to insult his suit. “In Bitcoin.”

Oh, fuck him. He couldn’t pay me in an underground, digital currency to finance my above-board venture.

“Dude. Come on. How am I going to exchange that?”

“Dude,” he mocked me flatly. “I’ll help you.”

“I’ll never get a government contract.”

“We will. It’ll just take time.”

“We?”

“I’m tired of living in the shadows.”

“Whoa, whoa, I said ‘silent partner.’ I don’t need someone coming in, telling me what to do. Not even… before you even say it… not even the ‘Devil of the Dark Web’ or, no, especially not the devil.”

“You’ll have control, Taylor. It’s all you. I’ll never even show up at the office. But my investment will essentially reveal Alpha Wolf’s identity, which will serve my purposes and clear the way for the exchange.”

I tilted my head right then left as if I was letting resistance drop out of my ears. It was a moment to breathe. I’d expected worse when I asked him for seed money. I’d figured he’d drop a couple hundred grand I could tuck away in expenses while I tried to line up real capital.

Now he wanted to be the capital. Talk about a gift horse. I was looking right in its mouth and wheeling it into the gates anyway.

* * *

My phone had encrypted channels with all my primary contacts, including Keaton. As I was walking out of the hall closet after Raven, it rattled as he messaged me.

<Good luck today. Don’t fuck it up.>

<You should be here to take some credit.>

<Credit is one thing I don’t need.

Keep the receipts off the desk.>

Raven looked great walking into the hall after she’d just demanded I rip her apart with my cock. I had no feelings about her whatsoever, and that lack was mutual. Working sixteen-hour days in the same office meant we fucked each other or didn’t fuck at all.

This was why I didn’t hire women, besides the fact that they turned nerd IQ points into premature ejaculations. I usually wound up fucking them. But my lawyer had said to hire one, pay her well, and not fuck her. I’d taken two thirds of his advice. Raven had needs, same as I did. She was so anti-drama, anti-emotion, she practically had a dick.

“Check on Jack.” I closed the door to the supply closet. “He’s a fucking slob.”

“The room will be clear.”

“It better be.”

“Yes, El Presidente.” She threw the snark over her shoulder when she was already halfway down the hall.

I went the other way and pressed my thumbprint into a pad by sealed double doors.

A robotic voice came from the speaker. “Name.”

A name would have been too easy. None of us used it. I used song lyrics.

“I don’t give a fuck, chuckin’ my deuces up.”

A slot opened, and I put my phone into it. The slot closed. I had a mechanical watch, a Langematik that had set me back twenty grand, which was a deal, I promise you. It wasn’t digital, so it didn’t need to be checked before entry.

Green light. I burst into the Faraday cage, which was spotless and windowless. The walls, floor, and ceiling were lined with copper mesh that would stop all manner of motherfuckery. The room had no internet. No signal entered or escaped. Not even the drip-drop of electromagnetism from monitors. I’d put copper wire cages around the coding pit and the small factory on the floor below where engineers built the chips and boards.

I’d put full-spectrum lighting on both floors. It dimmed as it went dark outside and projected season-appropriate nature scenes on three walls. The rows of monitors were manned by the best coders on two continents. Three if you counted Giorgo, who had been born in Italy but trained in India. Above them was a huge screen rolling code.

I watched it roll. It didn’t look like C++, Java, or anything seen before because I’d rewritten the rule book.

It was beautiful.

I got up on the platform in front of the screen and faced the thirty-three guys sitting at their computers. “Jack!”

He spun around. He was in Silicon Valley chic: a Nirvana T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. I was the only one wearing a suit, but then again, I was the only one in charge. Fuck Zuck and his sweatshirt and sneakers. I was rewriting the rules.

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