Executable File

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Dan File is a wise cracking computer hacker who has serious problems with authority. A promising but tumultuous college career comes to a quick and nasty end, leaving him at the mercy of the retail industry. When an old college classmate throws Dan a lifeline, he suddenly finds himself leading the software development team at a hot data communications startup. Just as everything is on track, his life comes to a screeching halt when he's framed for a double murder. However, the prison transfer bus carrying Dan and five other inmates, including his original college roommate, Brax Johnson, loses control and crashes on an icy road. On the run with the opportunity to set things right, Dan devises an ingenious plan to win both his and Brax's freedom. But first they have to make it through a fight in a homeless camp, an armed confrontation with Dan's nemesis, and several big surprises. Will Dan and Brax make it through the adversity and succeed in winning their freedom from false charges?

Executable File is filled with fascinating technologies, some boasting real life promise, some offering cool techniques, and some just plain juvenile. Join Dan and Brax as they race to clear their names. It's a heckuva lot of fun, and you might just learn something.

"It's kind of like Hackers meets The Fugitive...I really liked this one" --- Reader Review, 4 Stars

"...this book can be best described as Silicon Valley meets CSI" --- Reader Review, 4 Stars

"Verdict: Executable File is an engaging and snark-filled whodunit thriller perfect for anyone who loves technology" --- IndieBookReviews

"Persistently appealing tale with a good natured protagonist, even when he's breaking the law" --- Kirkus Review

"With well-developed characters and a clever plot arc, this is overall an enjoyable read" --- Reader Review, 4 Stars

"This was a great read over all, and recommended even for those who are not tech savvy" --- Reader Review, 4 Stars

"Fast paced with good character development...I would recommend this book and look forward to reading others by Dave Cohen." --- Reader Review, 4 Stars

"An entertaining story that was fun to read with a touch of suspense...the writing was good, the characters were fun and interesting." --- Reader Review, 4 Stars

"Couldn't put it down...Thrilling. Funny. Quirky. Super enjoyable...I loved it...I'm going to read it again...Would totally recommend." --- Reader Review, 5 Stars

"All of the misfit characters make this book entertaining and riveting to read...he is able to make fiction fun and believable." --- Reader Review, 5 Stars

"Great story with loads of action and characters that keeps you entertained." --- Reader Review, 5 Stars

Executable File: About the Author
I've been immersed in technology from high school through a computer science degree and on to a career with several high tech companies. My degree came from Georgia Tech, where I graduated summa cum laude, unlike Executable File's protagonist Dan File, who got booted during his sophomore year. My journey has taken me from punch cards and paper tape, to TRS 80s, to Apple IIs, to mainframe computers, to minicomputers, to Unix workstations to PCs. Currently, I am struggling through life as an independent Web developer.

While I did get through Georgia Tech, there were some questionable incidents along the way - though not worthy of Dan File's implosion. For instance, one graphics project proved especially trying given the primitive machine at hand, so I titled my finished version 'The Graphics Oriented Design Drawing and Manipulation Program'. On startup, I used the abbreviation: "Welcome to the GODDAM program". The professor was not amused. Another character in the book, Brax Johnson, got in trouble for tossing a guy through a window in a strip club. I didn't go that far, but was nearly arrested when a group of friends decided it was a good idea to relieve ourselves out back of one such club in Atlanta prior to entry. It was not a good idea, and I still owe that cop a big thank you for letting us go. Nothing about that incident would have looked good on my resume.

After graduating, I worked for a series of companies that inexplicably went under. Data General boasted the fastest path to one billion dollars in sales, yet fell into repeated layoffs and reorganizations after I joined them. Another, Global Logistics Venture, was already a dumpster fire before I joined them - or so I believe. In any case, it's hard to believe that none of the companies I worked for ended up firing me, because I really tried. Hard. Some of the things Dan File did in Executable File were real life episodes. One that didn't make the book was my posted 'Manager-to-Developer' count at Data General, highlighting the point at which there were more managers than developers - a clear signal of the beginning of the end.

While driving these companies into the ground...err, working hard for my employers, I tried my hand at independent projects as well. I single handedly developed the portfolio manager Capital Gainz, which was a modest shareware success, The program was a top selection by PC World Magazine, had thousands of registered users, and was mentioned in several books, including Online Investing for Dummies. Although I am a software engineer, I am not communicationally-challenged. After writing a 300 page user's guide, along with an interactive tutorial, for Capital Gainz, I tried my hand with industry magazines. I managed to get published in Microsoft Systems Journal, LAN Magazine, SunWorld, and several others, eventually landing a weekly column in Triangle Business Journal.

On a personal level, I am married with two boys, age 16 and 17, a dog, and a cat. I am active in the animal rescue community, developing and maintaining the Chatham Animal Rescue and Education web site. The web site has garnered over 1.2 million visitors since 2001, and nearly 9000 animals were adopted through the site in that time. I'm an avid bowler, carrying a 220 average with several 300 games and an 800 series. I've even participated in some regional professional tournaments.

My novel, Executable File, captures a slice of the life of a hacker, partially as I lived it and partially as I would have liked to have lived it. The murders and false imprisonment in the book were derived from my long affection for thrillers from authors such as Lee Child, William Lashner, and David Freed, all of whom also feature heroes outside the typical mold. I believe Dan File, from my book, fits in well with those group of, well, misfits.
Executable File: Reviews
Review Posted Online: February 12, 2018
A hacker recently escaped from prison uses his skills to find the individual who framed him in Cohen's debut techno-thriller.

Though Dan File wants a lucrative career, he and his football-player roommate, Braxton Johnson, start their freshman year at Georgia Tech in an unproductive marijuana haze. Dan's love of computers and hacking, however, becomes his true focus. He tweaks Brax's grades and helps the football team (and his gambling odds) by sneaking a peak at the other teams' plays. Both Dan and Brax ultimately get caught and take early exits from Georgia Tech. Thankfully, former college pal Will Goings brings in Dan on a startup tech company, LineSpeed. But the real opportunity for success is Dan and Will's idea for substantially boosting wireless communications. This is followed months later by a bombshell: Dan is the suspect in a double homicide. His conviction and subsequent prison-bus ride reunites him with Brax, in for a bar fight that turned deadly. When the bus crashes, the two friends, along with other inmates, flee the scene. They hide as best they can, but soon Dan begins hunting for the person who's made him a patsy for murder. Though the thrills in this techno-thriller don't materialize for some time, Cohen fosters tension by opening with the prison-bus crash. This allows narrator Dan to tease upcoming events, from the murder rap to his stunted college life. Dan's jargon-heavy dialogue is devoid of pretension; he's merely relaying what he's doing or listing equipment specs. And his best hacks are pranks, like slightly altering his boss's email text ("your" to "you're," etc.). Most characters leave a mark, including the convicts. Disappointingly, women are largely absent; the only female of significance is a romantic interest whom Dan hardly knows.

Persistently appealing tale with a good-natured protagonist, even when he's breaking the law.

From Ditrie Marie Bowie for IndieReader
EXECUTABLE FILE: hacks, pranks, and murder - by Dave Cohen
November 8, 2017/in Action/Adventure, Fiction, Indie Book Reviews /by IR Staff
Verdict: EXECUTABLE FILE is an engaging and snark-filled whodunit thriller perfect for anyone who loves technology.

EXECUTABLE FILE, by Dave Cohen, is a roller coaster ride through the life of Dan File, a skilled hacker and college-dropout-turned-software-developer, who was finally at the top of his game until someone framed him for a double homicide.

The story opens in the middle of the narrative timeline with a prologue detailing the crash that allowed Dan and his fellow prisoners to escape to freedom. It is a scene which is revisited in detail later on in the book, both in dialogue with other characters and in the narrative, itself. After the prologue, EXECUTABLE FILE is broken into two parts. The first and longest part guides the reader through Dan's college exploits, career opportunities, and subsequent arrest and conviction. Picking up after the bus accident, the second part follows Dan's attempts to clear his own name as well as that of his fellow inmate and old college roommate, Brax Johnson.

Though there are some sections of EXECUTABLE FILE where the pacing slows down due to technical details or dialogue that doesn't forward the narrative, these instances are far and few between. Where this book really shines is the character building behind the protagonist. Dan File is a loveable geek, equal parts awkward loner and brilliant goofball. He infuses passages of dialogue with witty banter that make the conversations both more entertaining and realistic. Unfortunately, he does carry some stereotypical views into the first person narrative which may be objectionable to readers from underrepresented communities. However, this is in keeping with Dan's background and flawed personality.

Another hallmark of this story is its focus on real-world coding and technology. Instead of littering the narrative with cherry-picked jargon, Cohen does a deep dive into the mind of a tech geek, briefly explaining certain concepts along the way as needed. In fact, the afterword section includes a wealth of resources for those who are inclined to pick up some of the skills described in the book. However, none of this ever feels teachy and strikes the perfect balance between informative and entertaining. Overall, this is a suspenseful and satisfying read for anyone who loves tech.

The Book Review Directory: Editorial Review - Executable File
December 29, 2017
Title: Executable File
Author: Dave Cohen
Genre: Techno Thriller

This novel covers the rather uncertain career of Dan File, a superhacker who was so bored in college that he began tweaking his football-playing roommate's grades for the fun of it.

After that escapade, he began downloading the oppositions' playbooks and sharing them with his school's team.

His electronic antics went unnoticed for some time, but at last, the discrepancies became apparent. Dan was too smart to leave any evidence behind, but his college scholarship was revoked all the same and he was asked to leave the school.

So he finds himself a retail geek job, selling products people don't need to earn a higher commission and messing with his boss just for the fun of it. Then, a college classmate contacts him, saying a new company is interested in an idea they used for a school project. He gets him a new job and it looks like the beginning of success for Dan - not with girls, perhaps, but at least where his finances are concerned.

But then things take another turn for the worse. Dan targets his new bosses and plays juvenile pranks on them, but he soon discovers they aren't nearly as incompetent as they seem. One of them has a vengeful streak, and after Dan gets him fired, trouble ensues.

The story is more of a mystery than a thriller, a sort of puzzle for readers to figure out as it starts with Dan on a prison bus, headed for a state penitentiary. In a scene that has parallels to The Fugitive, the bus has an accident and the men aboard are set free, giving Dan and his football-playing-roommate, who also was also wrongly sentenced, a chance to clear their names.

Sadly, the biggest turn-off could be the main character, as he has few friends or connections of any kind. He checks on his parents every so often, but he tends to focus on himself and his own problems, which can make it very hard for a reader to truly root for him.

Unlike most thrillers, this isn't the kind of tale where you worry about the well-being of the characters every page of the way. There are a few points of worry and tension, and a few great surprises as loose threads return to haunt Dan, but for the most part, the joy of the story is in trying to figure out how a geeky and rebellious troublemaker gets himself framed for murder, and then in waiting to see if he can get himself out of the mess.

Since the story is told from Dan's point of view, there are times when the terminology gets fairly technical, but one doesn't need to be a geek to enjoy the story. Anyone who likes a tale of justice gone wrong and a man's struggle to right things, told with plenty of sarcasm and humor, will enjoy this story. It's a steadily-paced tale of one man's witty, irreverent attempt to enjoy his life, despite how illegal his hobbies tend to be.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Other Reviews
Amazon.com: You don't need to be into technology to enjoy it. --- June 12, 2020
The main character in the book Dan File was well developed. I definitely found myself caring what happened to him and where the story was going. The author does a great job of keeping the story moving at a good pace and it's intriguing. It's not serious the entire time though. I found myself laughing out loud at certain things. The main character's sense of humor was great. That helped me connect with him more and helped keep things fresh and entertaining. Even if you aren't a big tech buff I think you will like it. The author did a good job of explaining certain things about different technologies without hitting you over the head with them or going into unnecessary details, but you will still likely learn some things. Definitely worth reading.

Amazon.com: Five Stars --- June 1, 2018
I really enjoyed this book. Great read. It was funny and I just couldn't put it down.

Amazon.com: Awesome read --- May 31, 2018
...Second part of the book where he finds justice is awesome reading!

Amazon.com: Fun and fast --- May 30, 2018
Fast paced with good character development. I find it more enjoyable to read a book when I care about the characters and this book satisfies that...The characters were relatable and the tech speak not too deep for most readers to understand. I would recommend this book and look forward to reading others by Dave Cohen.

Amazon.com: So good! --- May 30, 2018
I really enjoyed this book, so much more than I anticipated...It was so much fun to read...

Amazon.com: The Hacker and his Cat --- May 29, 2018
Executable File by Dave Cohen was an entertaining story that was fun to read with a touch of suspense. I thought the writing was good. The characters were fun and interesting...

Amazon.com: Not what I expected --- May 29, 2018
...I really enjoyed the author's sense of humor and writing style. The further I read, the more I liked it! ...It ended up being a very good book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Amazon.com: Quirky and thrilling. --- May 29, 2018
...Couldn't put it down...Fast-paced but not so fast-paced that I couldn't enjoy the story. Thrilling. Funny. Quirky. Super enjoyable...I loved it...I'm going to read it again...Would totally recommend.

Amazon.com --- May 29, 2018
...The book is realistic with the way it is worded. It reads well and has humorous parts...I definitely would read another book by the author.

Amazon.com --- May 29, 2018
...This was a highly entertaining book. The author has a quirky sense of humor that makes his main character Dan File believable in his role. Don't know much about computers but if none of it is accurate Cohen makes it believable. All of the misfit characters make this book entertaining and riveting to read. Though I have never read this author before I will be reading more of his works because he is able to make fiction fun and believable.

Amazon.com: Sometimes overacted --- May 29, 2018
A fun and exciting story. It had a good amount of action and suspense in here as well...overall it was a good story!

Amazon.com: Not a thriller, but entertaining and quite funny --- May 29, 2018
This book is quite different, and I liked it...What I liked is that the characters have real life characteristics, needs and problems. The prose reads well and most of the dialogs are funny and well thought. I laughed a lot and found the story to be absorbing and entertaining, so I never had the temptation to drop the book. I would certainly like to read another book by this author.

Amazon.com: Good story --- May 28, 2018
...I truly enjoyed this book, for me it kept me going till the end...I will be looking for more books by this author.

Goodreads --- May 28, 2018
...An enjoyable read and it lets you realize how shockingly easy it can be to be accused and convicted of a crime you are innocent of, and the struggles you would have to try and prove your innocence.

Amazon.com: Good thriller read --- May 25, 2018
Great story with loads of action and characters that keeps you entertained.

Amazon.com --- May 25, 2018
...The book was fast paced and descriptive. A must read!

Amazon.com: Good read, was both intriguing and suspenseful --- May 24, 2018
Good read, was both intriguing and suspenseful. I didn't find this too technical and was expecting more on that note but for the non-technical reader this is safe and good read. Moved quickly and was a book I read in one sitting.

Blog: ARC REVIEW Satisfied my smart and nerdy book craving --- March 26, 2018
It isn't a thriller in the traditional sense it is as the cover says a techno thriller, it's kind of like Hackers meets The Fugitive...I really liked this one; where the story went and how it got there. I enjoyed it.

Email --- February 3, 2018
Just finished reading your book. Got it through Amazon and have to admit it kept my interest all the way to the end, unlike a lot of the Amazon books I download. Was impressed with the detail you described while keeping it from becoming boring. Very well written and enjoyable.

Amazon.com: Silicon Valley meets CSI --- November 29, 2017
This entertaining story of the misadventures of a young hacker manages to be both humorous and suspenseful. The plot moves along quickly, and while filled with discussions of digital and computer activity, the jargon used is never dry or difficult for the layman to comprehend. In fact, it adds a a layer of intrigue to the story. Combining the archetype of the quick-witted tech nerd with the exciting drama of a criminal case, this book can be best described as Silicon Valley meets CSI. It's easy to imagine the hardworking and straitlaced character of Will Goings in the vein of Silicon Valley's Jared. This book manages to strike the perfect balance of mild humor and fast-paced excitement. With well-developed characters and a clever plot arc, this is overall an enjoyable read.

Amazon.com: A sarcastic, cat-loving hacker with expert skills --- November 29, 2017
File is a hacker, software-developer with a jagged, blunt humor and a high expertise in computers that often leaves people perplexed. He's also a vegetarian and a cat lover, so he's not so common. Executable File is not just a hacker-driven world filled with suspense, it also has information on computer science along the way without being overly technical. It's entertaining to read about File's hacking exploits especially against authority like when installing pranks, listening to recorded conversations or reading private information, and other serious exploits. As a reader, you can't help becoming sympathetic, since the protagonist wants to help others while also staying ahead of the curve, but he does often find trouble, since he's always questioning authority. In a way, he challenges people and shines a light on their incompetency, which I think is an admirable characteristics, but he can be overconfident and rash. ...This was a great read over all, and recommended even for those who are not tech savvy.

Executable File: Sample Chapter
Prologue: Going for a Ride

It was dark and cold inside, so cold that I could see my breath. It shouldn't be that cold inside a bus with ten other men packed in, but the driver was smoking and had his window down half way. And it was almost silent, except for the ticking of the larger sized sleet on the windshield and roof, the consistent wheezing coming from the deviated septum belonging to John seated one row back on the other side, and the sporadic clinking of chains.

Tick, tick, wheeze, clank, tick, tick, wheeze, tick, clank.

John's busted up nose was courtesy of zealous police work, as they brought him down hard face first after he blew away his boss with a snub nose 38 special. The nasal septum was apparently damaged permanently. John had been an insurance agent, and was really, really close to making that quota to earn the bonus that he really needed to pay for that above ground pool the family craved, plus maybe get started on the bills for his youngest son's braces. But he didn't quite make it, and neither did his boss. I knew about John from the newspaper stories - John Bartlett, middle aged, quiet insurance agent. Thinning hair and, true to his name, a physique like a Bartlett pear. Gotta watch those quiet ones.

We were all duly manacled up to metal rails on the top and bottom of the seats, riding along in a dirty white transfer bus that looked like a chopped off school bus. There were four split rows of bench seat on either side, with eight prisoners, two armed guards, and one driver. No one was in the back rows of seats, and the two guards each manned one of the front seats. We were on the way down I-85 to south Atlanta's United States Correctional Unit. Rooms were reserved and ready.

Surprisingly, I was well acquainted with my aisle seat mate, Braxton Johnson. Brax had been my roommate at Georgia Tech less than five years and a lifetime ago. A self-professed redneck from Franklin, Georgia, he had once been a talented and large, 280 pounds, offensive lineman for Georgia Tech. He didn't last long there, nor did I. I actually prolonged his career a bit through some nimble grade hacking, but he caused the early exit when he tossed a guy through the front window of a strip joint on Peachtree Street one night in a steroid-induced rage. As for myself, I got tripped up by my computer hacking, bringing my college career to a sudden halt. More on this later.

So, here we were, eight cons on the way up, or down, with murder raps. Some were very deserving, such as Cheech in the row to the right of mine. A 250 pound tatted up half Mexican, Cheech had pruned his family tree. He didn't play favorites, taking out both American and Mexican family members for the last three generations.

Others, like Bartlett, had shorter lists of transgressions, but were still also on their way deep into the gears and cogs of the justice system, unlikely to see freedom until their 60s, 70s, or even 80s. Brax, after falling out from Georgia Tech due to a bar fight, went with what worked: tossing guys through the windows of bars. Unfortunately, the last one sliced his carotid artery during the abrupt exit, and had bled out on the sidewalk.

Tick, wheeze, clank, clank, tick, tick, clank wheeze.

And among this lovely group of winners, chaperoned by two armed guards and one driver, was little old me. My 5 foot 8 inch 141 pounds made me look like the little kid who won a prize, letting him ride to the circus with all the performers. Everyone seemed to dwarf me, as even 50ish John with his bad combover was rocking 220 plus.

The reason for the quiet, other than the silent contemplation of such an erudite group of gentleman, was because the highway was relatively deserted, dark, and swirling with snow flurries. Generally, transfers don't happen in such conditions, but someone forgot to tell the skies above Georgia that it wasn't supposed to let loose with snow and ice this late in February. All the sane people had pulled over or gotten off the highway.

I had already gotten caught up with Brax, and out of decorum had not commented about how his once rock hard abs had more or less slipped down to his waistline. Luckily, though, his failure to keep up in the weight room may have ended up saving my life in the next few minutes.

The bus sped through the night, and we were getting ready to cross a bridge over Point Lake. The left side of the the bus slipped a bit, the tired and stressed out driver over corrected, and then we were doing freestyle olympic skating - at 65 miles an hour. Veering across lanes, the bus clipped the edge of the guard rail over the lake, tipped, and slammed onto its side.

We slid for a bit, scraping and bouncing along the guard rail. Thankfully, the bus tipped to the right, so I was on top of Brax, rather than under him. When the guard rail ran out, we went over the embankment on the side and did a couple of barrel rolls. As I bounced back and forth between my large ex-roommate and the side of the bus, it felt like we were in a clothes dryer - me a pair of tighty-whities and him a bag of sand. If he had been in top shape, it probably would have been more like a bowling ball.

The roll stopped when we hit the edge of the lake, the bus resting on its right side. The front of the bus was on the muddy bank, but the back was in a foot or two of water. The bus had rolled far enough that it was not easily visible from the road. Inside, there was a lot of groaning, and a lot more commotion than before. No more hypnotic tick, wheeze, and clank.

Like the others on the left side, which was now the top, I clung to the top rail to lessen the stress of the manacles on my wrists and ankles. I cheated a bit, using Brax to support me some. And I was glad that I was above Brax, and didn't have to deal with him leaning down on me. I swiveled my head as best I could to survey the damage.

The driver was crumpled in a heap on the stairs inside the front door. His head was twisted at a very wrong angle, and he was obviously dead. He could have been the new spokesperson for why you should wear a seatbelt. He had not been wearing his, and had been launched head first out of his seat and into the door.

The guard that was at the front on the left, my side, was draped over the bottom of the right side seat's base. I could see his chest moving, so he was alive and breathing, but his head was bleeding and he was definitely not conscious. The bench seats did not have seat belts and, preoccupied with his phone, he had slid off his seat and slammed his head into the railing on the opposite front seat when we tipped over. The other guard, who had been upright, one leg on the floor and one knee bent on the seat with his back pressed against the side of the bus, had the bad luck of tumbling over his seat into Cheech's lap. It's amazing how much free play you can get from manacled hands when you are really motivated. And, when you are strong enough to yank a slightly damaged metal bar the rest of the way out of the seat back.

The prisoners that I could see looked to be relatively okay, surprisingly. With hands manacled to rails, we'd been quick to grab on as things went out of control. To my right, or down, and back a bit, I saw that John's combover was in bad shape, and he looked to have a dislocated shoulder. His seat mate, a country boy named Dab Cole, was trying to shake his head clear, probably from a concussion. I was bruised and had some cuts from broken glass, but did not think anything was broken. Brax actually looked fired up from the ride, as it was probably slightly less traumatic than facing the University of Alabama's six man blitz.

I couldn't see how the guys immediately behind me fared, but the grunting and moaning indicated that they were still among the living. 'They' were a 400 pound behemoth called Slim, and a cajun named Duchamp who was rumored to have eaten most of his murder victim. Duchamp was pretty fortunate to avoid being smothered by Slim's bulk during the roll. I think some of the groaning behind me was coming from the rail that Slim was clinging to.

Cheech did what he was good at to the guard, trimming that part of his family tree by getting the poor guy's head between his manacled wrists and the metal bar and twisting. After liberating the keys from the guard's ring he unchained his hands from the loose metal railing and his feet from the bottom metal rail. Nice manual dexterity, but I guess he'd had plenty of practice.

Based on some unwritten code of conduct, Cheech unlocked his seat mate, who was under him. Rasheem was an older, but still large, black man with premature wispy white hair. He appeared unmoved by the guard's fate as he pushed him away. Cheech handed Rasheem the keys, grabbed the rifle from the guard he'd dispatched, climbed over the driver's seat, and shoved the door open and up. He popped out and hightailed it into the darkening late afternoon. Rasheem seemed to warm up to the task, and took care of everyone else. It was a little tricky getting us unlocked on the left side, as Rasheem had to strain a bit to reach up.

After getting unlocked and rubbing some feeling into our wrists and ankles, Brax and I were ready to crawl out to freedom. Amazingly, I found my glasses, only somewhat bent but nearly tromped on by Brax's giant feet. I picked them up, pulled them on, and we crawled up and out of the bus into the muck at the edge of the lake.

After some loud pounding and cursing, the last two prisoners emerged. First, Duchamp struggled out of the door, using the other guard's gun as a lever and a crutch. Alternating between curses and groans, he appeared to be in a lot of pain. When he rolled off into the mud, I saw that his knee was bent at a bad angle. The gun made a lousy crutch, as it was too short to be very effective. Then, through monumental effort, Slim heaved himself up and pulled himself out, much like a very large mouse squeezing through a crack that looked impossibly small. He was also cursing loudly, and muttering about the emergency back door being bolted closed. So that had been the pounding I heard.

Except for Cheech, who was already long gone, the freed prisoners just stood there, staring out into the early evening, unsure what to do next. As quickly as the snow had blown in, it was now dieing down to very light flurries. After some indecision, Rasheem struck out east and the four others followed, possibly deferring to age. They looked like extras from the Walking Dead as they shambled along. Duchamp could not possibly get far with his messed up leg. I looked at Brax, he looked at me, and without a word we set off west. The unspoken plan was just to get as far away as possible and assess things from there. Brax and I didn't really belong on that bus, even though the courts decided otherwise.

I had been riding high, co-heading a hot technology startup with a dynamite new product, before my life went into the crapper about four months back. That life came crashing down when I was accused of a double murder of which I was definitely not guilty. Overwhelming evidence to the contrary, however, fed a quick verdict and punched my ticket on this bus destined for a 40 year reservation at the state penitentiary south of Atlanta. Someone had framed me, but now I had a sliver of an opportunity to set things right.

I didn't know how I would fix things yet, but at least I had a fighting chance now. Squishing through the mud at the edge of the water, I mused that while I was a well abled and accomplished computer hacker, having a 280 pound bruiser along for the ride couldn't hurt.