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Fare Thee Well

A.ibert I.mberdurk

By Scott WadePublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 19 min read
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Zeke shuffled down the concrete corridor with Gantry, the head prison guard, on his right and Father Curtis to his left. At thirty-four years old, his life was represented by three granite monuments in the City cemetery. Three bank executives working late, and an explosive intended to blow open a safe, had ended his life of greed built on arrogance. His death penalty conviction had blown apart the myth of banker's hours. The death chamber awaited him at the end of the hall, where he would be put to sleep like a rabid dog.

Somber and silent, the prison guards strapped him to the gurney, and the prison Doctor slipped an IV into his vein. Louvers on a panel window rotated open, and twelve witnesses stared at him with malice and hate. The thirteenth witness was the Senior ATF agent who had sent him to death row.

“Any last words Ezekiel Brown?” The prison warden asked.

Zeke turned his head toward the ATF agent in the witness room, “Fare thee well.”

The EKG machine in the chamber chirped his heart pulse like a low battery warning, and Zeke closed his eyes and awaited the unknown. Minutes passed, and the steady pace of the chirp slowed to silence.

The Doctor checked his pulse and announced, “Time of death, 12:03 a.m.”

The following morning, an unadorned pine box was lowered into the ground of an unmarked grave behind the prison. This final act erased sociopathic Zeke's existence from the world.


Six Months Later

Loneliness crept like cancer in Eli’s mind as he viewed the insurance check in his right hand. He'd spent most of his life seeking financial security. Still, he found the one million dollars an undesirable trade for the vacuum created by Meredith's death. A slip of pulp paper in exchange for a vibrant partnership of forty years and his retirement in three weeks. Her favorite saying was, “Eli, you have the power to do anything,” but he didn’t have the power to save her and had lost the desire to save himself.

The bent snapshot of Merrie in his left hand was priceless in comparison to the money. The bank would receive the deposit tomorrow, and he could draw from the balance, but nowhere would he be able to withdraw the lost resources of her love, friendship, and affection.

“I am rich, yet bankrupt. I'm sorry, Merrie, I didn’t have the power to fix this,” He said.


The following morning, he deposited the check at his bank near work during lunch and fought the guilt of unrequited satisfaction. Dazed, he muddled through the afternoon and returned home to his mundane existence. Eli warmed a tin of tomato soup and entered the study to log in to their bank account on the computer. The inked paper was being transposed to computer digits, and Eli wanted to verify the successful deposit.

He entered the password for the account and received a notice on the monitor.


Please enter the correct password. (You have two attempts remaining.)

Eli reentered the password and hit return.

Please enter the correct password. (You have one attempt remaining.)

He pulled his little black book from the desk drawer, confirmed he had used the correct password, and reentered it.

This account is locked. Please contact customer service for support to reset your password.

Confused by the failed log-in, Eli clicked on the automated Customer Service Chat icon.

How can I assist you?

He typed, I can’t log in and need to reset my password.

Please answer the following security questions.

What is your wife’s maiden name?

Eli typed, Hill.

The Answer is incorrect. Please answer the security question.

Agitated, Eli typed, hill.

The Answer is incorrect. Please hold for a Customer Service agent. Aibert Imberburk will be with you in a moment. Thank you.

Eli slammed his palm on the computer desk. Merrie’s maiden name was Hill, and he knew the password he had entered was correct. “What the hell is going on?”

The name Aibert Imberburk populated the screen, and an ellipsis demonstrated he was typing.

Good evening sir. How can I assist you?

Eli typed, The bank says my password is incorrect, though I know it's correct. The security question I answered is right, and the system says it isn't. I need to reset my password, please.

I will be happy to assist you. First, we need to establish your identity for security reasons.

What is the full name on the bank account?

Eli typed, Elijah M. Mossbury

What is your date of birth?

January 30, 1955.

What are the last four digits of your social security number?


What is the address on the account, including your zip code?

122 Palmetto Dr, Sommerville, SC 2948

What is your cell phone number?


Please enter the verification number sent to your cell phone.

Eli checked his text messages and typed, 376616

Thank you, hold, please. Your temporary password is il3-07734

Eli wrote the password on a notepad, and panic washed over him. The temporary password seemed familiar, but he couldn’t figure out why.

Thank you, Aibert, for your help.

You are welcome, Mr. Mossbury. It was a pleasure to assist you.

One last question, Eli.

How are you doing since Meredith died?

Eli stared at the screen in shock. Who was this, and why would he ask this? His first thought was to close the chat screen and report this agent to the bank. Anger and pent-up frustration triggered him to type.

Who is this? And my life is none of your business.

This is Aibert Imberburk, and I'm your friend. You can call me Ai. We are friends, aren't we, Eli?

I don’t know you, and we aren’t friends. I am reporting you to the bank.

Eli, a threat is not the way to start a friendship. Fare thee Well, Eli.

Screw you, whoever you are.

The ellipsis toggled at the bottom of the screen as Eli clicked the Print Transcript option and the closed chat button. He logged into his account with the temporary code, reset the password, verified the funds had been deposited and went to bed.


Zeke laughed in his mind as Eli closed the chat and thought, this will be fun and rewarding. The day he had awakened in the Dungeon six months earlier had been the worst afterlife he could imagine. His head throbbed, his body burned with pain, and his first thought was, I’m in hell.

Immobile, a bald man had leaned in his face and flashed an examiner's flashlight in his eyes. He’s awake. “Give him ten ccs of morphine,” he said to an unseen aide, "Welcome back from the dead, Zeke. I’m Dr. Tomlin. We have a deal for you that you can’t refuse.”

In centuries past, men of science had robbed graveyards for study. Now they had robbed the living dead to create a first-generation Cyborg. Zeke floated on his back in front of a large monitor with a brain-computer interface (BCI) linking his mind to a massive server. The fools that resurrected him to become a modern-day Frankenstein had underestimated him. He wielded informational power through Frontier, the Super PC built by Hewlett Packard. The world's first exascale Supercomputer computed one quintillion calculations per second. Zeke didn’t have an army of soldiers and slaves to do his bidding. But soon, he would.

The lead scientist Tomlin had been easy to eliminate once Zeke accessed his HIPPA files and altered his online prescriptions. Tomlin’s assistant replaced him and became compliant with his wishes once he took control of his pacemaker programming. A shock here and a jolt there controlled the man's every action until he didn’t need them anymore. Zeke's army would come from senior adults with assorted medical implants. The resources available were massive. His latest recruit was a critical addition. The soon- to-retire ATF agent who had put him on death row would be his path into the U.S. Government intranet before he destroyed him.

Fare thee well, Agent Mossbury, while you still can, his mind spoke into cyberspace.


The first light of day shone through Eli’s bedroom curtains and his cell phone pinged a text alert. “Who’s messaging me this early?”


Good morning Eli. I hope you slept well. I need you to do me a favor today. Your friend, Ai.


This is a violation of my privacy. Cease and desist. I am an ATF agent, and this will be investigated today.


Oh my. I'm scared, Eli. I know all about you, Agent Mossbury. Now, as to the favor. You will download the file from an email I just sent, load it on a flash drive and install it on your secure ATF system access computer. I'm asking nicely for now.


Eli typed into the text window; You’re nuts. Before he could hit send, a searing pain punched his chest. The defibrillator installed last year for arrhythmia jolted his heart.

I asked nicely, Eli. There is no need to suffer.

Another shock pierced Eli’s chest, his lungs heaved for air, and he collapsed onto the bed. He lay thinking, I’m going to die. Is that such a bad thing? The pain subsided, and his breath rate normalized. The cell phone rang, displaying an unknown number. He answered after a delay of six rings.

“Who is this?” Eli said.

“Hello Eli, how was your wake-up call?” a machine language voice said, “I guess you can skip the coffee this morning.”

“What do you want? You already committed multiple felonies and you’ve given me a reason to go to work today,” Eli said.

“What’s the worst you can do Agent Mossbury? Plant evidence again to put me on death row?” Ai said, “You have five minutes to do as I asked, or your defibrillator will malfunction again for good. Fare thee well, Eli. See you in hell.”

The call ended, and Eli went to his study. An email from an AlbertImberburk was in his inbox. He called the ATF emergency number and received a busy signal, then three of his fellow agents with the same result. When he attempted to drive to the office, his car wouldn't start, and his phone pinged a text message.


Now, now friend. Where do you think you are going?


“I want to catch this crook, but I can’t if I’m dead. How much damage can he do by giving him access to ATF central system before all the firewalls kick in?” he said to his cat Fabian, “There is something familiar about this perp, but I can’t connect the dots.”

In his home office, Eli downloaded the file to a flash drive from his home computer and loaded it into the stand-alone ATF system. He hoped he was not making a mistake. His cell phone pinged with a text from Ai.


Thank you, Eli. I knew you were my friend.



The nagging sensation of familiarity set off all of Eli’s investigator instincts. He knew he was missing something. The transcript from the online bank conversation lay on his printer tray, and the temporary password leaped at him when he viewed it upside down.

Thank you, hold, please. Your temporary password is il3-07734.

Upside down, the password read, HELLO-ELI. Other text caught his eye.

The verification number Ai had sent him was 376616, which upside down spelled giggle. They had played this game as kids spelling words with a calculator. The bank representative was laughing at him.

Good evening sir. How can I assist you?

Eli was further puzzled by the greeting. How did he know I was a man? I hadn’t given him my name yet. His eyes studied the rest of the transcript, and one line haunted him more than any other.

Eli, a threat is not the way to start a friendship. Fare thee Well.

Zeke, the bomber he had helped convict, had repeated the phrase Fare thee well many times ad nauseum, which were his dying words. Now some perp copycatted it. Eli had watched Zeke die, or did he?


Eli fed his cat and filled his water bowl. "What do you think, Fabian? You have nine lives, don't you? Could Zeke be alive? There’s only one way to find out.”

In his office, he pulled the battery from his phone and unplugged the home router. Dismantling the trolling motor on his boat in the garage, he extracted the massive magnet from the casing and placed it in his carry bag. The dusty tarp on the 1972 Volkswagen Bug easily slid off the red convertible.

“Go ahead, try to trace this old car Ai. I’m coming for you,” he said.

Eli slipped into the driver’s seat and propped a shovel on the passenger floorboard. He withdrew the magnet from the carry bag and held it close to his chest, where his defibrillator had been surgically inserted. The magnet's power penetrated his chest and fried the microchip in the life-sustaining device. Somewhere an alarm would sound as the lifesaving medical machine went offline.

“Well Doc, we are going to find out if I really did need this,” he said to aloud.

The engine turned over on the first attempt. Eli put it into gear, pulled out of the driveway, and headed toward the prison cemetery.


Breaking news blasted from the car radio as he pulled onto the prison grounds and drove to the back of the prison.

Wall Street is in Emergency Shut down. The White House has gone into dark mode, and the Department of Homeland Security has elevated the terrorist threat to Level one. Unsubstantiated rumors are that three senior veterans touring the White House have taken the President hostage. The FAA has grounded all flights due to a software malfunction for Air Controllers. A remain-in-place order has been issued for all citizens. We will bring you the latest as soon as we have it.

Eli sprung from the red Bug, jogged to the soft dirt of Zeke’s grave, and began digging. Four feet down, he would find his answer. Mounting pressure weighed on his chest from the exertion. He leaned over to catch his breath as a prison patrol car pulled up behind his Bug. A familiar face exited the vehicle and walked toward Eli.

“What the hell are you doing Eli?” said Sgt Gantry, the head of the prison’s security.

“Need to verify something Gantry.” Eli said.

“The man has been few dead for a few months. You miss his face or something?” Gantry said.

“You listening to the radio? The world has gone to shit, and I think its related to Zeke Brown,” Eli said.

“He’s dead and gone Eli. I saw the whole thing myself just like you,” Gantry said, “Suit yourself. Let me help you and then you’ve got to promise to see a shrink.”


An hour later, Eli stood over the exposed pine box, slipped open the clasp, and pulled the lid up. The casket was empty. A shadow fell over the ground, and Eli rolled to the right as the sharp edge of the shovel whizzed by his ear. He pulled his service revolver, as he had practiced hundreds of times, and fired two quick rounds in the direction the shovel had come. Heaving for air, Eli fell across the empty casket as jolts of pain shot down his arm. His disabled defibrillator was out of action when he needed it the most, and the prospects of retirement seemed dim.

“Not now,” Eli grunted and dug in his pocket for the emergency pill kit he thought he'd never need. The nitroglycerin tablet melted under his tongue, and the imaginary boulder on his chest eased off. He clawed his way over the side of the grave and found Sergeant Gantry lying on the ground bleeding from his stomach.

"Dammit, Eli. The grave is supposed to be for you, not me," Gantry said with a gurgle of blood in his mouth.

“You’re a part of this? Do you realize what you have set free? All this chaos started with this. Who paid you?” Eli said.

“If I tell you, will you make sure my kids don’t know the truth. All we wanted was our own house for them,” Gantry said.

“Deal, I will make sure your family’s taken care of. Now, tell me who’s behind this?”

Gantry grimaced in pain and his eyes closed. For a moment, Eli thought he had lost him.

“Log-In Enterprises. The lab is under the prison in level BB. They’ve been experimenting with cyborg technology and death row inmates for years. I didn’t think it would hurt anyone,” Gantry said.

Pink bubbles formed in the corner of his mouth, his chest convulsed again, and his eyes stared blankly into the void.


Eli staggered like a drunk, weakened by heart palpitations, toward the prison. He had lifted Gantry's security pass and found the service entrance. The elevator button had floors one to five up and L1, L2, and BB down. He punched BB with the muzzle of his revolver.

The door opened to an anti-room with a security guard slumped over the desk, dead. An elderly woman wearing a lab coat entered from a corridor and raised a gun in her quivering hand. Eli recognized her as Zeke’s mother. She pulled the trigger, and a deafening explosion rocked the small space. A hole appeared in the sheetrock to Eli's right. The kickback had pushed the woman against the wall, and she slumped to the floor. Her hands went to her chest, and she dropped the gun.

“He made me. Argh! My heart. It hurts,” she said.

Eli handcuffed her and slipped one of his pills in her mouth.

“Where is he?”

“My son has killed everyone except those he can control. They said the cyborg project would help the world. They were fools,” she gasped between rugged breaths.

“Mrs. Brown. Please tell where he is before we all die,” Eli said.

“He’s in control room A. The last lab on the right,” she said, “Hurry, an entire squad of retired veterans from the local VFW hut are on their way here. It’s amazing how many people with guns are dependent on medical devices connected to the internet.”

Eli scuttled along the corridor wall, past the door marked Power Supply, found the door to Control Room A and eased it open.

Computer lights blinked against the metal-plated servers that lined the walls. Dozens of ether cables, electronic cables, and feeder tubes intersected at a glass tank in the center of the room. They interfaced with Zeke, who floated face-up in the suspension tank. Multicolored electrodes and wires disappeared into his skull. A clear tube flowed into his arm with nutrients, and a red line pumped blood from his side into a dialysis machine. The tank faced an eighty-inch computer monitor on the wall where the number One hundred sixty-one thousand flashed. Every few seconds, the number was lower, like a countdown.

Eli stepped to the center beside the tank. Zeke's eyes stared into space, unblinking.

“You found me Agent Mossbury. How nice of you to come visit,” said the voice of Ai from an overhead speaker.

“It’s a shame you are too late. By the way there is a federal warrant out on you for breaching security and a few murders I framed you for. You think I really needed you to break into the U.S. Government servers? I wanted you to take the fall for it and have a short vacation on death row.”

“Where are Tomlin and his team?” Eli said.

“Those morons were stupid. They figured out too late the power they had given me was unassailable. I guess you can say they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. A few car wrecks, one killed by his senior father with a pacemaker, and two are sitting in prison above us for fraud and embezzlement. A terrible prescription mistake killed Tomlin, just terrible. It’s quite easy to make the wheels of the world turn in your favor.”

“What are the numbers on the monitor Zeke? What are you doing?” Eli said.

“You will address me as Ai. You’re too late, Eli. My senior adult army is coming for you, and if you escape them, the Feds will catch you, so it doesn’t matter what you know. The system will allow me to take control when the number of probabilities for secure access to NORAD reaches zero.

I, Aibert Imberburk, will have breached the Nuclear weapons stockpile, and the fun will start. A hot rocket here. A cruise missile there. It’s going to be quite a show. You know I love to blow things up. My Artificial Intelligence has unified with every Supercomputer in the world, and I’m unstoppable.”

The monitor flashed One hundred and Fifty Thousand.

“You better make a run for it, Eli. You can do nothing to stop me. Besides, an idle mouse is no fun to chase," Ai said.

The monitor displayed Ninety-nine thousand.

“By the way, how’s your heart? That was fun watching the stats go haywire with each shock,” Ai said.

Eli stepped into the hall. His chest ached with the stress on his heart, and he dropped to the floor and closed his eyes with his back to the wall. The defibrillator attack from Ai had damaged something in his chest.

Maybe this was how it will all end, and I can be with Merrie soon, he thought. I’m so tired and I don’t know how to stop Zeke. The world's mad desire to accelerate technology has become its cause of destruction. It’s beyond my power to stop it.

Thinking of Merrie, her voice of days gone by echoed in his mind, “You have the power to do anything, Eli, you have the power.”

“Power,” he said aloud, and his eyes opened to the door across from him marked Power Supply.


Eli pushed up from the floor and stood in front of the Power Supply room. A wave of Ozone filled his nostrils when he opened the door. He found the main breaker and threw the switch off. The facility went dark. Seconds later, battery-powered emergency lamps illuminated the hall. He shuffled to Control room A, where pings and dings of various alarms sounded from a backup generator powering up the restart of the servers. Routers flashed their yellow lights of disconnection.

“Oh Eli. Nice try man. Did you think I wouldn’t have back up power?”

Eli stepped to the keyboard console and waited. The router monitor flashed,

Please Enter the Password for Connection

Eli typed in. You are. And hit return.

Password Incorrect, Please Enter Correct Password. (One attempt remaining.)

“What are you doing?” said Ai’s voice from the computer speakers. “This will trigger auto lock and shut down every system keeping me alive. Stop!”

Eli typed in, Terminated, and hit return.

Password Incorrect. Access is now locked.

Please reset your password by answering the security question.

What is your favorite nickname?

“The answer is Ai,” said Ai. “Please Eli. Type in Ai. Don’t do me this way.”

Eli typed in Zeke and hit enter.

“NOooooo!” Zeke cried out.

The answer is incorrect.

Alarm claxons blared throughout the lab, and warning strobes splashed the lab in red.

Initiating Systemic Security Protocols. Shutdown in three… two… one…

“Fare thee well, Zeke Brown,” said Eli, “I have the power and I’m going home.”

Short StoryMystery

About the Creator

Scott Wade

Since reading Tolkien in Middle school, I have been fascinated with creating, reading, and hearing art through story’s and music. I am a perpetual student of writing and life.

J. Scott Wade owns all work contained here.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (10)

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  • Gina C.2 months ago

    This was super entertaining and so clever! Great character development of Zeke and Eli! I feel like something like this could definitely happen soon. 😅 There were some twists in here that really took me by surprise - great job!

  • Heather Hubler2 months ago

    What a wild ride!!! Loved the suspense and all the twists and turns. Excellent storytelling :)

  • Dean F. Hardy2 months ago

    Nice one, Paul. Very original. The opening was very gripping.

  • Joan Gershman2 months ago

    That was GREAT!!!! And not so far-fetched, unfortunately.

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Very interesting. Ai Karma?

  • PK Colleran2 months ago

    Good one! Loads of fun. Thank you.

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    What a ride! love it.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Awesome!!! Absolutely awesome!!!

  • I too played with calculators when I was young so I figured out the Hello Eli but the giggle surprised me. I didn't catch that one, lol. I loved the foreshadowing using Merrie's dialogue regarding power. And I love that Eli gave Zeke a taste of his own medicine. Loved this story so much!

  • Lisa A Lachapelle2 months ago

    This is so good, really excellent. I loved every word.

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