“Come on, Lucas, you’re gonna get caught.”
“No, I’m not; this firewall’s about as complicated as a Pop-Tart,” he answered, fingers flying across his keyboard. “I’ll be in and out before anyone knows I was there.”
Jackson shook his head as he watched the codes streaming down the computer screen. “Dude, this is serious. We could go to jail for something like this.”
“Only if we get caught.”
The rapid click of the computer keys sounded like raindrops falling on wet pavement.
Jackson sighed and stared down at a pair of converse sneakers sticking out from under the bed.
“I’m in,” Lucas said.
He stuck a flash drive in the USB port and Jackson watched the credit card numbers copying to the disk.
Lucas spun around in the office chair and grinned. “Told you I could do it.”
“Okay. You made your point, but you’ve gotta delete those numbers, man,” Jackson said, pointing at the laptop.
“Why? Dude, we have access to thousands of dollars. We can get anything we want. A new set of wheels. A new iPad. You could even pay for your college tuition.”
Jackson had been shaking his head until that. Then he frowned and began to doubt his convictions.
“But it’s…it’s not right.” His voice sounded less sure.
Lucas blew out a scoffing breath. “Come on, the company’s going to end up paying all these people back and they’ve probably got billions to blow anyway. Nobody ever felt sorry for a credit card company and there’s a reason.”
“Yeah, but it’s still not right, man,” Jackson said, regaining some of his certainty. “And stealing credit card numbers—that’s a felony. If we get caught we could go to jail for a long time. Then you can kiss Princeton goodbye and the closest I’ll ever get to criminal justice is watching a lawyer defend me before I get locked up for being your accomplice.”
“Accomplice? Really? Come on, we’re not committing murder; we’re just…digitally picking the pockets of some super rich bankers. They spend money like water. They’ll hardly miss a few thousand.”
“That doesn’t make it right.”
Lucas shrugged. “Fine. You wanna work your way through college bussing tables and pulling night shifts at a Speedway—go ahead.”
He spun around at the beep on his laptop and pulled out the flash drive. He covered his trail and then closed down the programs. The robot wallpaper on the desktop stared Jackson in the face.
Was he actually considering this? He could go to school for free. Not have to work his butt off while trying to earn a degree. He wouldn’t always be strapped for cash. He could…
He heaved a sigh and shook his head. “I can’t be a part of this, man.”
Lucas leaned forward and looked at him seriously for the first time. “Look, if you’re worried about getting caught, it’s not a problem. There’s no way they can trace the hack and all we have to do is transfer the money to a foreign bank account through proxy servers and no one’ll ever know any better.”
Jackson shook his head. “I would.”
Lucas sat back in defeat.
“Look, I’m not gonna rat you out,” Jackson said. “But…I just can’t be part of something like that.”
Lucas nodded. “Okay.”
Jackson stood and headed for the door. He stopped with his hand on the knob and looked Lucas in the eyes. “Delete the numbers, Lucas.”
Lucas shook his head. “I’ve got a fortune at my fingertips…I’m not just gonna throw it away.”
Jackson sighed and walked out the door. Lucas always had to learn the hard way.
© Whitney L. Schwartz
Written for Christian Flash Weekly #46