© 2007 by Jessica Draper. All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Zarahemla Books. Smashwords Edition. Cover design by Paul Browning.
I stalked silently through the buzzing data corridors, my feline ears pricked for the slithering of worm’s scales against file walls. I slipped around a well-worn electronic corner in the shadowy database and peered discreetly into the next volume—and pounced! As my claws slashed through the ether, the slick tendril reared back and curled on itself, flashing away down the dark channel toward the portal. I threw myself after it, all four sets of claws digging into the hallucinatory fabric of virtual reality for traction. As I ran, I tapped alerts into the system around me. Obediently, a firewall sprang to life, blocking the worm’s path with a blast of light and heat. The worm desperately flexed against the locked files around it, flailing against the burning walls in blind, mindless-program panic.
I closed in, grinning sharply—I couldn’t help it, with my teeth. “You’ll make a lovely addition to my collection,” I purred. I readied my worm safe, the sticky strings of code ready to envelop and immobilize the sneaky program. Once safely contained, it could not avoid my sharp claws; I’d dissect it, pull its master’s name and address from its digital guts, then track him down and pin him to the wall.