Yann's cell phone had rung at the very moment that he was putting his computer to sleep. It was Taj, the webmaster for Dronos, a manufacturer of hobby drones, his biggest client. Their online store had been the victim of a cyber-attack in the early evening. All the aircraft models had suddenly displayed the same price: 1 euro dollar. Panicked, Taj – who was better at catalog management than programming languages – had hurriedly blocked access to the payment page before calling Yann.
"It's 7 o'clock on Friday," the IT specialist pointed out to him.
"You developed the back office. You're the only one who can clean this up."
"I didn't say I didn't want to do it. Let's say Monday morning."
"Monday? You can't be serious! Forty percent of our weekly revenue happens on the weekend!"
Yann knew he couldn't get out of it. Yet by dragging his feet, he hoped to raise the price. His bank account was in the red.
"Tomorrow. I'm going out tonight," he lied.
"Stop kidding around, Yann! If I get fired, you'll be on the Titanic with me."
He made Taj's anxious wait last for three long seconds.
"OK. But here are my non-negotiable conditions: a hundred euros dollars an hour, with every partial hour rounded up. I won't do anything until I get an email with management's OK."
The OK had come to him less than ten minutes later. He had taken a beer out of the refrigerator and, half-grumbling, half-whistling, had turned his machines back on.
First of all, Yann went over the list of files on the server. None had been added, but the one that managed the catalog display had been replaced on the very same day, at 4:38 PM to be precise. He downloaded it and edited it to verify that no malicious script was corrupting its code. Only one comment line revealed an intrusion:
/* I’m just a Peeping Tom */
He breathed a sigh of relief. This guy wasn't a psychopath. Just a hacker who felt the narcissistic need to display his computer piracy skills. He had only modified the price field of the database records. Nothing serious, but putting everything back in order was going to take him quite a while. An administrator's login and password had probably been stolen, the classic way. So the first thing to do was to change the authentication chains of all users.
The name jumped out at him as soon as he accessed the list of administrator accounts: Orrow, Tom. As far as he knew, no one with this name worked at Dronos. He immediately called Taj, who confirmed this.
It took him two hours and thirty-five minutes to straighten everything out: deleting Tom Orrow's credentials, changing all the passwords of the legitimate administrator accounts, modifying all the connection keys on the site and the linked database, and, finally, reassigning the real price to all the models in the catalog. Only then did he allow himself a second beer.
He thought again of this Peeping Tom, Tom Orrow, a lover of word play. Who was hiding behind this pseudonym? Strangely enough, an internet search revealed that there was only one reference to this name: a young Canadian who didn't seem at all like a geek. The other results were all about "tomorrow". One link, however, that had been recently indexed, attracted his attention, tomorrow.vision, and he instinctively clicked on it. Lucky move. A Guy Fawkes mask, white against a black background, stared at him with its empty eye sockets. The symbol of Anonymous, the most famous hacktivist movement. Yann couldn't get over it. He excitedly opened a tab and went to the ICANN site. The Whois database revealed to him that Tom Orrow was indeed the owner of this address but the contact information was that of the registration office. But the information about the ".vision" extension was more interesting. In addition to opticians and ophthalmologists, it could be issued to any person or entity with "a project or vision for the future." A voyeur or a visionary? Yann wondered. Unable to resist, he clicked on the mask. An orange folder with the date of June 25 replaced it. Tomorrow is the 25th, Yann thought. Visionary or clairvoyant? Double-clicking on the folder revealed two new ones: a red one on the left, and another orange one on the right. They were dated two days away, June 26. He couldn't go further; they refused to open.
He woke up at dawn, rested and in a joyful mood. Ever since his last romantic failure – his asocial character denying him a chance for any stable relationship – he had been interested in nothing but writing code. But on this early spring day, life suddenly appeared to him full of all kinds of hope.
His expectations were not disappointed. Strolling along the river, he worked up the courage to approach a young woman who was also alone. She did not turn away. He invited her to have breakfast by the water. Solène (that was her name) accepted without showing any hesitation. They discovered deep connections with each other. They spent the whole day together and said goodbye late at night, promising to see each other again the next day.
Back at home, moved by a sudden premonition, he went to the home page of tomorrow.vision. He chose the red file. This time, four sub-folders appeared: red, orange, yellow, and green, dated June 27. As he expected, none of these directories would open. And, strangely enough, it was impossible to go back. None of the menu bar commands functioned.
The next day, seeing Solène again, he felt the euphoria of love. Their day was rapturous. And their night was steamy, for she agreed to come spend it in his apartment.
She was sleeping peacefully, her auburn hair spread out over the pillow, when he awoke, shortly before dawn. On his nightstand, his tablet lit up. It displayed the four folders for June 27. He knew that logically the number of directories would double. There were indeed four additional folders: three blue – sky blue, indigo, and ultramarine – and the last violet. At this rate, the tree structure would soon become gigantic: 16, 32, 64, 128.... In one week, he would be met with 1,024 folders. Over a million in two weeks! And suddenly, he was struck with an epiphany. The number of paths could indeed be infinite, but he would always need to choose one. Plus, the arrangement of the colors – which were luminous, never dull or dark – wasn't random: he had before his eyes the spectrum of the rainbow. Through this optimistic symbolism, someone was showing him the paths to a serene life while reminding him that he maintained his free will. Whether "someone" meant a guardian angel, Tom Orrow, or a projection of himself guiding him from a dimension that was folded into the future, it didn't matter. Nothing was inevitable but everything was possible. Tomorrows would be other days.
Translated by Kate Deimling