WARNING: THIS STORY IS OBSCENELY LONG, SO IF YOU DON'T HAVE TIME TO READ IT,
OR HAVE LITTLE TOLERANCE FOR VULGARITY AND OBSCURE, WARPED HUMOR, THEN PLEASE: GO AWAY.
THE STORY OF MIDNIGHT SORROW
(...in case you were wondering...)
By Mitchel Waas, aka Midnight Sorrow
An almost entirely accurate retelling of events which actually took place within the author's early years.
Originally written on 22 June 1991.
With addendums and afterthoughts dated 02 December 1993, 08 July 1996, 05 February 2000.
Converted to text by Jason Scott of TEXTFILES.COM ----------------------------------
GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED IN THIS DOCUMENT:
Previously, the author simply used inserted comments and notes to explain terms which were used, which may not necessarily be commonplace knowledge to laymen or normal, non-geek members of society. Unfortunately, after numerous revisions, the inserted comments and notes often were more verbose than the original text itself. Thus, it was decided, at long last, to simply create a glossary at the beginning of the document, to help any newbies come to terms with unfamiliar jargon or slang. Within the story itself, any words which may be found within this glossary will be highlighted in italic print. Enjoy!
- an emoticon, or emotional icon, representing a smiley face. Pretty much
even newbies should know this one by now.
BBS - an acronym for Bulletin Board System - a place where geeks chat amongst
themselves, basically a computerized bulletin board (hence the name) where users "posted" messages (think of a post-it note) on a remote computer. Other users would dial in via their modems, and read the messages posted, an then post their own in response. Also a great source of trading pirated software via the online archives. Basically, BBSes are what the internet was, before the internet existed. The author of this paper, in fact, still operates his BBS, Infinite Darkness, which has been running since October 1989 - though it is an entirely legal venture these days, mostly used to keep in contact with the older members of the computer scene, and just to chat back and forth with his friends, almost all of whom fondly remember the heyday of the BBS scene, which was in 1994, when virtually every new person to a computer would soon be calling BBSes at the behest of his or her friends.
C-64 - abbreviation of commodore 64.
card - one of the more insidious computer crimes of the 80s; using someone
else's credit card to order merchandise. nearly impossible to do these days, but back then, it was easy - find an empty house (preferably without a for sale sign) in a lower middle class neighborhood (where no one pays any attention to unknown people driving around). get the credit card numbers (which were easily available on any underground bbs at that time), and order your merchandise. no one knew about such things back then, so no one ever tried calling the owner of the credit card to verify the order, no one got suspicious when you specified a different shipping address from the address the credit card was billed to, even if you asked for overnight shipping, and most importantly, Fed Ex and UPS would routinely leave packages in front of an empty house without requiring a signature or getting in any way remotely suspicious. So you'd order your stuff, then just cruise by the house once every few days, go up to the front door and pick up the packages... Voila! Instant new computer... or Vuarnet sunglasses... or whatever... anything you wanted. The author of this particular story didn't get busted for carding at all, which is something that he did DOZENS of times from 1986-1989, without a single hitch.
Commodore 64 - one of the more popular early 80s computer systems, an
inexpensive alternative to the IBM PC or Apple II series. later versions were called the commodore 64c, then the commodore 128, finally the amiga, which had quite a rabidly loyal following until Commodore's demise in the mid-90s.
disk drive - still used today in a 3.5" format, back then the disks were
floppy disks, 5.25" or even 8" wide plastic disks used for software storage.
floppy disks - aka diskettes, called floppies because, unlike today's hard
plastic computer disks, these were a softer, bendable plastic.
floppy drive - another name for a disk drive. This name was eventually (and
somewhat obviously) phased out once floppy disks were no longer floppy, using a hard plastic instead of a softer one, floppy drives just became disk drives.
h/p - the computer scene characterized by hacking and phreaking, and other
invasive computer crimes.
hacker - someone who illegally gains access into another computer system,
typically just for kicks, sometimes (rarely) for malicious intent. access was typically gained by using a "wardialer" (aka Wargames Autodialer; see the 80s flick War Games for more info) to dial a long series of phone numbers, noting which ones were answered by another computer. The hacker would then dial into the computers, and try to gain access. Certain computer types had certain weaknesses (called "exploits") which were commonly known and traded within the underground community, so oftentimes once you knew how to get into one computer, you could get into every OTHER computer of the same type. The author of this paper was also a major hacker during the time of the writing of this story, though he never once got busted for that, either.
handle - the alias a person uses to mask their true identity; in the bbs years
of computers, mostly used by members of the underground. The author of this paper never really cared about such things, so even when he was using the handle "Midnight Sorrow", the majority of the members of the computer scene typically just called him "Mitch."
hard drive - still used today, the internal storage mechanism on a computer,
called this because, similar to a floppy disk, it uses a revolving platter to store your data, though unlike a floppy disk's bendable surface, a hard drive's platter is typically constructed of a ceramic and/or metal composite.. And yes, you are TRULY a newbie if you didn't know this term. ;-)
Hard Hat Mack - a very early clone of the arcade game Donkey Kong. Hard Hat
Mack was made by Electronic Arts, a software company which still exists today.
newbie - a person who is inexperienced with computers. also known as an
AOL'er, a lamer.
phreak - someone who exploits the telco to obtain free phone calls, or other
exploits of the telephone service. The more knowledgable phreakers typically used hardware devices (called boxes, or phreak boxes) to tap into the telephone networks, and actually reprogram their lines to offer different services, or not charge them for long distance service, or think the line was onhook when it was really in use, etc. The author of this paper never really delved too deeply into the phreaking scene, mostly just limited his phreaking to the use of other person's calling card numbers to gain free long distance service, and that was about it.
phreak boxes - Not really covered in this document, just included for
completeness, "boxing" was one of the more popular hardcore computer crimes of the 80's and very early 90s. People used a Black Box to trick the telephone into thinking that a phone call you had made was still ringing, even though it had been answered, so you could sit talking on a long distance call and never be charged for it. Apparently this was a VERY popular thing in the Mafia of the 80's. There was a Blue Box, which allowed you to "surf" between the major telephone networks of the time, crossing continents with ease and operate a telephone just like a switchboard operator, splicing calls together and dialing ANYWHERE on the planet for no charge. Then there was the consummately popular Red Box, which duplicated the tones made by a pay phone, allowing you to place your red box next to a telephone (or next to the telephone handset), press a few buttons, and instantly place a long distance call with a single coin. There were literally DOZENS of other boxes, almost all color-coded for no particular reason (that the author can discern, at least - maybe there IS a reason, but he certainly doesn't know of it), but those were the Big Three boxes of 80s phreaking. Now, almost all of these boxes are useless, since back then, lines were all analog, connected by switches and easily tricked into believing the tones you made were instead legitimate tones. Now, everything is electronic, and installing circuitry to detect fraud is far easier, and thus, making phreaking not impossible, simply VASTLY more difficult than it had been.
pirate - someone who trades illegal copies of software via disk or modem,
instead of going out and buying a legitimate copy. This is the one and only computer crime that the author of this paper continued to do for a number of years after the original ending of this paper, finally ceasing ALL computer crime in mid-1994, shortly after the passing of his father, George Julian Waas. In addition, this is pretty much the only computer crime which is still in widespread usage today, particularly due to the advent of high speed internet connections. Typically, the only way pirate will ever get busted is by selling the software he is pirating, or being a very visible member of the scene. Infinite Darkness, the author's BBS, was in the early to mid-90s, one of the biggest and most well-known warez bbses in North America. After the advent of a publicly-accessible internet, and the decreasing popularity of bbses, it was one of the largest in the world, topping out at 16 dialin lines and over 120 gigabytes of online storage in early 1997. And no, the author was never once busted due to his software piracy, either.
scene - a word typically used to refer to the computer underground, or, more
commonly, one segment of the computer underground, such as the warez scene, or the h/p scene.
tape drive - mostly used on C-64s and Apple II's, this extremely cheap storage
format used ordinary cassette tapes for storage, as opposed to floppy disks. as computers became more powerful, the tape drive eventually was phased out, due to the inability of cassette tapes to handle the extremely high frequencies (and move at the vastly higher speeds) needed to store the larger and more powerful software applications. Even back in the early 80s, using a tape drive was an incredibly archaic and haphazard storage method; typical procedure was to make four separate copies of your software on four different tapes, and then HOPE that one of the four copies was reliable. Yes, tape drives were phased out by and large within a few years of their introduction to the public. :-)
telco - an abbreviation for the telephone company.
underground - any or all members of the computer world, involved in either
piracy, hacking, or phreaking. basically interchangeable with the word scene, or used in combination, ie: as a member of the computer underground scene, Midnight Sorrow was most adept at hacking, and was quite popular within the warez scene as well.
warez - as in, "softwares", an elite-speak slang term used to refer to pirated
software, or the pirated software scene.
…the end of your tutorial. and now, onto the story…
One dark, gloomy, and utterly foreboding day back in 1968, a hellish fiend was born. Some called him 'Mitch', a truly ridiculous moniker for such a righteous dude [Sorry. This text was created shortly after the release of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I talked this way.], but one name, and one name only, stuck in his brain. MIDNIGHT SORROW.
(Note: If you actually wanted to get technical, my original handle, back in the Commodore 64 days, was The Whizard. When I switched to the IBM scene, I wanted to start with a "clean slate", so-to-speak, so came up with a new handle, Midnight Sorrow - and that's who I've been ever since.)
At this point, you are surely wondering, what the hell is this guy talking about?
Well, simply put, this is Midnight Sorrow's evolution:
Back in August of 1983, young Midnight Sorrow was a bumbling, drooling, hopeless dork. He had no life, no direction, no goals, he was basically the same as virtually every other high school sophomore. So he decided, "I am going to find something good. Something worthwhile. Something ILLEGAL!" [Well, not really, but literary license being what it is ] So he began watching all the computer geeks programming, doing schoolwork, and most of all, playing computer games on the Apple IIe's in the school library.
"Hmm…this has potential!" thought Midnight to himself. So, after a good month or so of acquainting himself with the various computer dweebs, he insinuated himself in front of one of the Apples. Disk in drive, he started playing Hard Hat Mack. "Wowee, this is great! Gotta get one of these! NOW!"
Sprinting home at a most frightful pace, Midnight got home, only to find his father in a particularly hideously awfully bad mood. "Dad, dad DAD! Ya gotta get me a computer! Ya gotta! Cmon pleez!" "Sure, sure, leave me alone. How about a new game for your Atari?" (Midnight had one of those incredible marvels of modern technology, the Atari 2600. He thought it was a piece of shit.) "No dad, I GOTTA get me one of those Apples! They're too cool!"
After a good three to four solid hours (well minutes, actually) of haggling with his father, he convinced him to get him a computer. On his birthday. In July.
On his birthday, eleven extremely agonizing months later, Midnight Sorrow and father went off to the nearest Toys R Us [the computer and technology haven that it is] to try and find a worthy system. Midnight Sorrow, being the slightly spoiled, but highly imaginative young soul that he was, was thinking along the lines of an Apple IIe, with dual floppy drives, possibly a hard drive, and roughly a thousand blank disks for copying. Mr. Sorrow (Midnight's father) had something altogether else in mind. He bought Midnight …. (drum roll please) a COMMODORE 64! (with Tape drive yet, not even a disk drive!)
….FADE FORWARD A COUPLE SIXTEEN MONTHS….
It is now November, 1985. Midnight Sorrow now has his C-64, TWO disk drives, over four hundred FILLED disks [gosh]; an altogether very adequate system. However, he still remained unfulfilled. Talking with the other computer folks in school, he came to the conclusion that the Commodore was the wrong way to go. Sure, there were pirates all OVER the place, and there were games for it up the ass. But it wasn't the greatest. He needed an IBM. But what could he do? He had no job, no money, and only a miserable $5 a week allowance. So he suffered with the knowledge that he was fucked, doomed to use the Commodore 64 until he died of old age. [or got a job, whichever came first]
….FADE FORWARD SEVEN MORE MONTHS….
Early June, 1986. Midnight Sorrow now has a C-64, a Commodore 64C, a Commodore 128, two one megabyte disk drives (quite a treat on the Commodore, since most games were less than 64k), four 1541 disk drives, a 1200 baud modem!! [absolutely cutting-edge technology for 1986, when MOST people still suffered with 300 baud modems], and around one thousand filled disks. He was now heavily into the illegal sector of Commodore use. He had friends all over the United States, through which contact was made possible by the use of other people's MCI, Sprint, and Teltec calling-card access codes. His entire system was made possible by the use of other people's MasterCard, Visa, and American Express numbers. He was truly enjoying life. However, he was only weeks from graduating high school. His parents expected him to go out of town, attend Florida State University, get a nice shiny degree [in Molecular Biophysics, nonetheless], get married, have three or four kids, and die a horribly wealthy man. Midnight Sorrow, ever the impetuous youth, said "FUCK THAT!" So he decided to go to FSU, become a school hero of dubious notoriety, while at the same time becoming the disgrace of his family. (Well, he didn't really plan it that way, that's just the way it turned out). "Oh well, I gotta goto college, I guess I'll bring my computer there, it'll probably help out with my term papers and everything," innocently thought Midnight Sorrow.
….FADE FORWARD THREE MONTHS….
September, 1986. Midnight Sorrow is now at FSU. He has been rather halfheartedly attending his classes, instead preferring to stay at his dorm room in Osceola Hall, and party his ass off. Last month, seeing that the monthly contribution from his parents was definitely not going to cut it, Midnight Sorrow decided to make a few extra bucks. He was now running a highly profitable, very busy and successful typing service. If you are currently going to college, you will know the extreme number of term papers you have to write. One or two a week, many as long as 5000 words. All typed. Not fun, even if you DO know how to type. Most typing services charge around $2-$4 per typed page. Midnight charged $1 a page. His typing service was a bonafide hit, and everyone was coming to him to get their papers typed. A few weeks passed, and then, one fateful afternoon, a young fratboy came to Midnight's dorm room. "Hey guy, wussup, hey man, you got any papers for sale?" "FUCK YOU! Fuck off! Get the fuck outta my room ya stupid piece of shit! Ya think I wanna get kicked out of school!?" innocently replied Midnight Sorrow, not even aware of the idea already brewing in the darkly malevolent depths of his subconscious….
It may not be very obvious to you, but it [eventually] was to him. Every paper he typed, he saved on disk, in case the original paper's owner wanted another copy or had some changes, or something. By this point, he had close to two hundred assorted term papers filed away on disk. After a week of some very serious thinking, Midnight Sorrow decided to contact that fratguy and give him an affirmative answer.
….SKIP FORWARD ONE MONTH….
Midnight Sorrow's room now seems to be the source of some truly extreme moneymaking. Stereo and computer equipment everywhere, and a rather large record and compact disc collection seems to have sprung up out of nowhere. He has now decided to quit class, and work at his "JOB" full-time. He would still get the occasional person wanting their paper typed, but his largest mode of moneymaking was from the OTHER type of student. The desperate, "I'm about to fail my fuckin' class, damnit - I'LL PAY ANYTHING!!!", type of student. "Sure buddy, not a problem. $10 dollars per hundred words." And of course, a semi-wealthy, parent-financed student (of which there are MANY at FSU), who's right on the verge of flunking out of English 101, is often quite willing (and eager) to shell out $300 for an A-quality term paper (Midnight Sorrow, you see, is OUTSTANDING in English. It is far and away his best subject. Once he'd typed a paper in, he went in and revised it, correcting grammar and other minutia, making it pretty damn close to "A" quality.)
"So, what the hell did this stupid fuck do with all the money?" you are surely asking yourself. Well, aside from the extreme quantity of CD's, disks and electronic equipment he bought for himself, Midnight Sorrow was also the 'PARTY GOD' of Osceola Hall. He generally found himself the kind benefactor of many an all-night party, often buying several cases of wine coolers, a few pizzas, and a keg or two a night. Midnight Sorrow happily went around in an extreme drunken stupor for the last three months of his first college semester. Due to this, his judgment obviously wasn't exactly up to par. [Gotta love the foreshadowing, eh?]
…SKIP FORWARD TO DECEMBER 10, 1986….
"Son, do you realize the problems you have caused? You have sold EIGHT copies of the EXACT SAME TERM PAPER [Perseus and Agamemnon, Greek Mythology] to students in the same class! And god only knows how many other copies of that paper are wandering around campus! What do you have to say for yourself?!?" angrily queried the Dean of something-or-other, head of a hastily-convened board regarding this most devious miscreant, Midnight Sorrow.
"Uhh, umm, err, well, y'see, umm…", replied Midnight Sorrow rather eloquently, still hazing-n-dazing around through the depths of a most gigantic hangover. Needless to say, they presented him with an ultimatum: Get the fuck out of FSU, and never return, and we won't press charges. He left.
…SKIP FORWARD TO CHRISTMAS EVE, 1986…
Midnight Sorrow's parents still have no inkling of what their delightful son has been up to for the past four months. They think that he is on 'Christmas Break,' and will be returning to college in three weeks. Well, that's what they thought. Until today. See Midnight Sorrow's father, a rather hulking mass of 265 pounds, all of six foot four, come smashing through the front door. "OK you stupid shit, talk to me!" calmly said Midnight's father, as he cheerfully pinned his son to the wall one foot off the floor. "How could you do this to me! I'm a respected businessman in this town! You're going to ruin EVERYTHING!"
Needless to say, Midnight Sorrow neglected to remember a minor detail: One of his sisters lives in Tallahassee, the location of FSU. She and her husband are both extremely die-hard FSU fanatics, and alumni. Her husband's father just happens to be the Dean of the Mathematics department at FSU. Although he is seventy-two, and he wears a hearing aid, he just happened to be at a faculty party, when a conversation trickled around about this consummately evil student who sold countless copies of term papers at FSU, and the neighboring TCC (Tallahassee Community College, bonehead). Being the curious old fart that he is, he asked for the student's name. And of course, he then called his son, his son called his wife, his wife called her father, and her father came crashing through his own front door, seriously contemplating murder [is it still called infanticide, even if the infant is all grown up?].
Due to the extensive rumor-mongering and idle chatter regarding the incident, a goodly amount of publicity was aroused. The FSU school newspaper [The Florida Flambeau] printed a front page story relating the entire incident, in extreme, gory detail. The local newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat, then picked up this story and ran a sub-headline on the bottom of page one.
Then, that rather large news organization, Reuters, got wind of the story. The New York Times, The Miami Herald, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and pretty much every major news forum from here to Upper Mongolia ran a little story about that hideous abortion of society, Midnight Sorrow, and his devilish deeds at Florida State. For obvious reasons, the school board of FSU reneged on their verbal promise not to press charges, and pressed charges.
Wrapping up this dandy situation, Midnight Sorrow eventually ended up having to serve 120 hours of community service, by re-shelving books at a local branch of the Broward County Library. End of story. Alls well that ends well, all has been forgotten, so now Midnight Sorrow can live long and prosper, get a job, get wealthy, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after.
Nope, sorry, not quite.
….SLIDE FORWARD ANOTHER SIX MONTHS….
July, 1987. Midnight Sorrow has gotten rid of his Commodore 64, and taken a little defective IBM-PC from his job as a computer repair technician's assistant [at Inacomp Computer Centers, on Broward Boulevard in Plantation, long since turned into a Blockbuster Video]. Due to his connections at work, he was able to purchase a refurbished 330-meg hard drive for around $150 [absolute fantastic price for that time - like getting a 24 gig for $50 today]. He also purchased a rather complete system, enabling him to enter the crime world of the IBM. He found this to be quite a bit more fun than the dweebish lamer community surrounding the Commodore, and thus found himself operating a highly-illegal BBS called Deth Dunzhen (Pronounced, perhaps un-obviously, "Death Dungeon." The reason for the spelling? Who knows).
Having just acquired a wonderful set of fifty sparkling credit card numbers, he decided to go about attempting to sell them. He then posted a message, accessible only to the "Highest Elite" members of his system (typically only friends and close acquaintances), informing them of this fact. Unbeknownst to him, his Co-Sysop was seriously unhappy with Midnight Sorrow's participation in these highly illegal areas. Due to this fact, his Co-Sysop then called up Crimestoppers and told them of Midnight Sorrow's heinously anti-social activities. Crimestoppers then notified the Secret Service, who, at that moment, just happened to be conducting an investigation into the South Florida computer crime scene.
Midnight's Co-Sysop then called up his board, downloaded the message, and gave it to the Secret Service. One of their agents, at that point, logged onto the system, saying that SHE heard about the credit cards from the co-sysop, and was interested in purchasing. Sticking his entire foot in his mouth, and showing absolute, complete, blind faith in that traitorous cocksucking bastard, Midnight agreed to meet her, at a local Burger King, that Saturday.
Seeing how seriously hot this girl was, Midnight Sorrow salivaically overlooked his typical procedure of asking if she was a cop, fed, or a narc, and simply wondered if he could get into her pants. Stupid. He then gave her ten credit card numbers, selling them for $50 each. Exceedingly happy that that scheme worked, Midnight Bonehead then went out and bought a pair of Vuarnet sunglasses, twenty new CDs, and quite a bit of good computer hardware.
Two days later, she called him back, saying how great those numbers were, commenting on how they actually worked. She said she wanted to order some major computer equipment, and asked if he knew of any place that took fake card info without too much of a hassle. Midnight then said "Sure!" and gave her the numbers of a few places that he had recently ordered from.
Then she asked if it was possible to sell her some more numbers, meeting the next Saturday, at the same Burger King. Of course, he mindlessly said "Sure!", thinking to himself that he sure had a live one. She was probably thinking the exact same thing.
Next Saturday, Midnight's parents were out of town, so he figured it'd be a perfect weekend to smuggle large quantities of cash and computer equipment into his room. Once at the appointed "rendezvous", he then told her that he'd be glad to sell her twenty more credit card numbers, but for $75 each. She said no problem, took the numbers, and slapped a pair of handcuffs on his wrists. Taking out a tape recorder, and laughing at Midnight's splendidly overt stupidity, she read him his rights. Making things even more hideous and embarrassing, two cars slid in on each side of his car, and another pulled in behind it, totally blocking him in, looking like something out of "Wargames".
He was fucked.
The feds then ripped Midnight out of his car, slammed him up against the trunk, and frisked him rather unkindly. They then unlocked the handcuffs, put his arms behind his back, and re-locked them [rather tightly] into place. At that point, Midnight Sorrow was NOT a happy camper, particularly after they THREW him into the back of one of their Fed special Crown Victorias.
The Secret Service agents then took Midnight to their domicile, at which point he quite happily confessed to his crimes, and "narced" on some of his enemies in the scene. They then informed Midnight that they had been keeping tabs on him ever since his early C-64 days, and knew virtually everything about him. To fully complete the young mans impending paranoia, they pulled out a series of snapshots, seemingly randomly taken from outside of his house. One, in particular, showed Midnight Sorrow on crutches, limping his way to his father's Audi - which had been traded in almost two years ago. (Spooky, isn't it?)
Anyway - Midnight was then unceremoniously thrown into jail. He called his parents at the hotel they were vacationing at, and briefly, sobbingly, outlined the situation. Midnight was then told that he could damn well rot in prison, for all he'd put them through. Understandable, but still frustrating. After a rather, umm … probing … strip search, Midnight was then escorted to the Fort Lauderdale prison's juvenile holding cell (not the adult cell, though, sigh of relief), immediately having visions of being brutally raped by a 300-pound brick wall of a black man named Leroy. As always, reality proved only SLIGHTLY different.
Midnight Sorrow hung out with the other "inmates", and chatted with them for a while. Most were not much older than he was at the time; the oldest was around 25. Of the twelve people in the cell, ten were black, the other two being a very frightened young Nicaraguan boy awaiting deportation, the other being myself. After relating my story, they all seemed quite amused that whitemeat was busted for some petty computer crime, while most of them were in for grand theft auto, burglary, etc.
Later that evening, Midnight Sorrow feasted upon a nice dinner of meatloaf, string beans, mashed potatoes in gravy, corn bread, and some kind of sweet roll/pastry kind of thing. All in all, FAR better than he usually ate at home (Midnights mother, you see, is a certified diet fanatic; "sugar-free fat-free salt-free cholesterol-free" being almost a mantra around the house). Quite a satisfying meal, all things considered. Midnight then went to sleep, woke up the next morning, and just hung around, talking, playing cards, whatever. That evening, around 5pm, Mr. Sorrow came and bailed him out.
Approximately a month later, the trial was scheduled. Midnights father shelled out some cash and hired some super high-powered Miami criminal attorney. He talked with the DA, John Frusciante, who now happens to reside on Fort Lauderdale's high court, and actually tried running for Mayor once or twice. (Ain't life amazing?) Anyway, what it boiled down to was a plea bargain. Midnight got called into the judge's chambers, at which point the judge sternly promised young Midnight that if he EVER saw him in the courthouse again, awaiting trial, Midnight would pray for a quick death.
A couple of months later, Midnight Sorrow got off with two years probation, a prohibition from even TOUCHING a computer for the entirety of those two years, a rather large fine, and a slap on the wrist warning him never to do that again.
Addendum Number One:
Looking back on all of that, just judging by the sentencing, I would definitely do it again. The only thing preventing me, is the extreme amount of (emotional) pain I underwent when they confiscated all of my equipment, leaving me with a pretty much empty room. (Guilt? Remorse? Nah, fuck that.)
and here I am! My probation ended in October of 1989, and now I'm back (and legal, fortunately).
Midnight Sorrow June 22, 1991.
P.S.: They never took the CDs, stereo equipment, or the Vuarnets.
Addendum Number Two:
It is now somewhere over twenty nine months since the time I wrote the original text. I'm still in the computer scene, quite a bit more grown up, and dealing with things quite a bit more maturely (generally). I no longer phreak, no longer hack, no longer card, and basically no longer even pirate. Virtually my only current computer-related pastime, these days, is running my network, CyberCrime. (Funny that the name probably would have been more appropriate for me during the period outlined in this text, than it is now.) Anyway… Some people would call me reformed, others would call me an idiot, while still others would hail me as a hero (of sorts). Of course, half of the things I did back then would be asinine to even consider attempting now, with the advent of ESS, ANI, caller id, multi-faceted PIN numbers, hack detection, instant credit card referencing, order call-backs, no "drop-and-run" package deliverers, and extreme legislation against these various crimes, making the penalties so much greater now than they were then. Regardless, I would call myself none of the above. I would simply say I grew up. Then again, my morals have never been what one would call exemplary; only the thought of the consequences of a crime is what stops me now. Regardless…..
I am now 25, the proud owner of a home, a car, and quite happy and successful at my career. Still hoping to find a solid relationship, and biding my time. These days, computers are merely a hobby for me, and not my LIFE. Trying not to sound like a pompous, self-absorbed, head-in-the-sand, reactionary prick, I'd simply like to warn all the "kids" in the scene - stay cool, stay clean - don't try any bullshit, the penalties are simply not worth it. True, the price I paid was low - but it wouldn't be any more - not to mention the permanent marks those "indiscretions" left on my record.
Welp, I guess that's about it, folks. Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring.
Mitchel Waas Midnight Sorrow December 2, 1993.
The (Not So) Final Addendum:
It is now July 8, 1996 - my 28th birthday, a good thirteen years since the beginning of this story, and just under five years since the end of it. The computer BBS scene is all but gone, what with the massive popularity (and low cost) of the Internet. Gone with the BBS scene are virtually all major forms of computer crime, though hacking is still a hobby for many (though the price runs VERY high in event of a bust). Even piracy has been significantly reduced, due to the ubiquity of CD-ROM-based programs (making it so much more difficult to copy these HUGE programs than it was just ten years ago, where even a TWO-disc program was rarely seen). Gone from my life are all traces of computer crime - my only remaining infraction being the occasional bit of piracy. My life is damn sweet, far better than outlined in the previous addendum - an excellent career, outstanding social life, material possessions enough to make even the most wealthy persons whimper in their sleep - my life is pretty much complete, and losing even the least precious part would be catastrophic beyond measure - NOW, even the THOUGHT of doing any of the aforementioned crimes sends uncontrollable spasms up my spine. Suffice it to say, Im reformed. Today, Midnight Sorrow (the pseudonym) exists only as a nickname for IRC use, as a link to the glory days of yesteryear - as many of my fellow "oldsters" are encountered while haunting the endless halls of the Internet. Midnight Sorrow (the person) ceased to exist, in reality, shortly after my father passed away, in June of 1994, and now only exists in memories. Mitchel Waas is who I am, and Im damn proud of that fact, and of the name, and everything for which it stands for.
Thus ends the saga of Midnight Sorrow.
lateron for all eternity.
Mitchel Waas July 8, 1996.
It is now February 5th, the year 2000. It has been, oh my god, SIXTEEN AND A HALF YEARS since the start of this story, just short of nine years since the end of it, and life, oh yeah… life has most definitely changed. I read over this story once every few months, and have to laugh. What a CHILD I was back then! So obnoxious, so uncaring. But I guess that's the way of life, and maturity, and all that it entails.
Sometimes I read over everything, and can't even believe it was me, it almost sounds too crazy to believe in some parts, like something out of a movie, not part of someone's life. But believe me, it happened. The memories are all still quite vivid, though I still can't believe I did most of those things, and even worse, of the things I never even wrote about, and GOT AWAY WITH. Credit Card Theft? Pfah. Faithful readers, as Stephen King would say… that's NOTHING. I was one hell of a bad kid, and I never thought, not even once, about the consequences of what I was doing. I stole from people, I lied, I cheated, I destroyed private property, etcetera. Granted, it was pretty much all done from a distance, but still… I never once thought, or even cared, about who I was hurting with everything I was doing. My only consolation? At least I never murdered anyone. Cold comfort, I suppose.
I guess you know you're mature, when you stop wishing you could go back and right the wrongs, and start looking for ways to improve yourself, DESPITE the things you've done in the past. Work around your flaws, know yourself for what you can and cannot do, and improve more than just yourself, but the world around you as well. For so many years, I've looked back on what I've done in the past as a sort of "badge of honor," a means of thumbing my nose at the world, and saying "FUCK THE ESTABLISHMENT!"
Yeah, well, that's all fine and great… except that when you grow up, you BECOME the establishment. No one ever tells you these things when you're a kid. Why's that? Probably because even if you WERE told this, you wouldn't listen anyway, or would scoff the advice, say "yeah yeah, whatever old man, just leave me alone." So, I look over my past, with infinite chagrin, and with each new day, try and do something good, something selfless, something generous or kind or altruistic in some way, to help make up for the bad things I've done. My ultimate goal? Bring a son of mine into this world, and raise him to become an even better person than I am, than I ever will be. Raise him to scorn the bad deeds which I cherished in my youth, and teach him to love the world and everyone, everything in it. That is why I'm here, and I have absolutely no doubt about that fact.
A week doesn't go by where I haven't pondered at least once, "What would I be doing today, if all of this hadn't happened?" Where would I be, if I hadn't been kicked out of Florida State University, if I hadn't been arrested by the US Secret Service? I think about these things, and realize, life is good. I run a moderately successful business, make a damn good living, and truly love life and everything that it holds. I love the outdoors more than I ever had previously, I love the ocean and all living things, hold life as something to be cherished, not squandered, and feel genuinely at peace with myself and the world around me. Regrets? No, I have no regrets, at least, not about what I've done, or what I've become as a result. I am a GOOD person, inside and out, and strive to become better on a daily basis. That's all I could ever ask of myself. My only regret? I just wish my father were here to see what I have become, and I'd like to think that he'd be proud. I certainly hope so.
Signed, for anyone who cares, and has actually read this far,
Mitchel Brian Waas. 4:30am, Saturday, February 5, 2000.