(Listen to Otis Jiry, master storyteller, narrate this story)
Albert was born without the ability to speak. As if to make up for his loss, he was a genius when it came to fixing things from a very early age.
By reverse engineering everything within his reach, by age five, he learned how things worked, and never forgot. He enjoyed building gadgets and testing scientific theories, unlike most of the other 10-year olds on his block in 1977.
He was called a bookworm long before bullies learned to call kids like him a nerd. He was taller than most of his peers, and awkwardly thin. Despite his height advantage (or maybe because of it) he was clumsy, and did horribly at sports like basketball.
As if his intelligence and size didn’t already isolate him in school, being mute was the spark that got him teased since his first day of school. Kids can be cruel when someone isn’t the same as they are.
The one thing kids didn’t call him was dummy. He was too smart for that slam. Most secretly envied his ability to fix things. The boy handyman could fix go-carts, fans, and electric toasters.
When his 10th birthday came along, his mom and dad took him to Sears and said he could pick out any toy he wanted. When Albert saw the Atari VCS with nine-games titles available at launch, he fell in love with it.
His parents, true to their word, bought it for him and his love affair for computers was born. He instinctively knew that the Atari VCS was the tip of the iceberg.
In the following years he kept up with technological advances while going through high school, and eventually to a full ride scholarship at M.I.T.
Upon graduation with honors, Albert was offered a juicy job in the government helping to build a robust, fault-tolerant communication with computer networks. He was instrumental in building a primary precursor network, the ARPANET, which served as a backbone for interconnection of regional academic and military networks in the 1980s.
He was still with the government in the 1990s and made his contributions known again in the development of the World Wide Web, or Internet, as it became commonly called. Throughout his successful career he stayed a loner. He didn’t have any old high school friends.
Just the opposite.
He considered most of the kids in high school his enemies.
Their taunts over the years scarred Albert deeper than anyone, including his parents, suspected. The mild-mannered bookworm morphed into a mild-mannered nerd with a grudge, and became further isolated from his peers and the rest of the world.
He was a computer programmer, software developer, and troubleshooter. His colleagues respected him, but were not comfortable around him. He was the department’s all around handyman. But, to some of the women he seemed creepy, quietly walking around the office and lab staring at people.
Then one day his well-ordered life was shattered! His parents were killed in an auto accident! He was so distraught that he quit his job without notice. He went into a deep depression and left Washington D.C. and moved back into their house in Azusa, California.
As his days wilted into months he slowly began constructing a super computer. One like the world had never seen before. He designed it to surf flawlessly through the internet unobserved.
He discovered the dark web where youthful hackers were comparing techniques to access other people’s computers. He found arsonists, perverts, socialists, neo-Nazis, fascists, religious extremists, conspiracy nuts, and serial killers.
It was the wild, wild, west and Albert felt comfortable viewing what the dregs of humanity had to say to one another. There were a lot of angry people out there…like him.
The denizens of the dark web were anonymous or used fake names to protect themselves. Albert was soon logging in as The Handyman. He asked questions that no sane person would answer. His new found friends weren’t afraid to express their feelings, or to share their dark deeds.
One afternoon he went through his high school year books with revenge on his mind. It was a long time coming, but that was okay. He looked them up on social platforms and hacked their computers.
He started with the six worst offenders from his freshman year to his senior year. Five boys and one girl. He trolled them with death threats for months. He didn’t fear that someone would discover him. He was too good for that.
It amused him that he could toy with them, but he felt like there had to be more. It was ridiculously simple for him to track down where they all lived. It was also easy, and fun, building the bombs he was going to kill them with.
He was a fan of trip wires and set up a trap for each one of them in their homes. When all six bombs went off as planned, he found himself bragging on the dark web. Admirers asked questions like where did he set the traps, and his choice of explosives?
The police quickly realized they had a serial killer on their hands, despite differences in each one of the bombs their forensic team researched.
The sense of power Albert felt was indescribable. “The Handyman cometh...”he boasted on the dark web. Then he went back to the yearbooks and looked for more victims!
As It Stands, beware the loners.