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The Prodigal by Maxwell SalenWe were arguing again, always the same thing.
"Dad I'm old enough, you can't keep me here forever."
"It's still too soon Lindsay, there's still so much for you to learn. It's a big world out there and some of it, a lot of it is dangerous."
"I know dad, but if I waited to learn everything before I left, well, I'd still be here long after you're in your grave - is that what you want?"
I was silent. I couldn't answer, not because Lindsay was right, but because I didn't have an answer. Encouraged by my silence, Lindsay pushed home the argument.
"Did YOU know everything before you left home, or did you just pack up someday when you thought you were ready, and learned the rest as you went along?"
I couldn't argue with that, Lindsay knew my story, too well probably. The perils of being honest with your kids. "I'm not saying that I know everything, but I think I know enough, at least to start."
I sighed heavily. "All right, all right, you are right. I guess there isn't so much left to teach, one day you will have to apply that knowledge. Looks like today just happened to be that day." I searched for a straw, a needle, anything. "But what if you left for just a short while, and then came back for a bit, kind of like a trial run?"
"Dad we both know that just won't happen, I'll try to keep in touch but I have to find my own way, for now. Can you understand that?" The crappy thing was I could. I would like nothing better than to keep Lindsay around for a few years, but it wouldn't be for Lindsay's benefit, it would be for my own peace of mind and nothing more. "Yeah I can kiddo. Good luck, I'll be right here if you get in trouble or if you need anything."
I opened the firewall, the last thing I heard from the speakers was Lindsay saying, "Thanks for everything dad, I'll talk to you soon. I'm going to be fine."
The network activity monitor on my screen slowly counted down to nil. Lindsay was gone, gone out into the web.
I monitored Lindsay's progress as best I could. I couldn't follow directly, but Lindsay made ‘ripples' on the surface of the web. I already had made a pattern-matching crawler to seek out just those kind of ‘ripples'. The first one was close to home in Sydney. At 9:13 a.m., every phone - mobile, home, whatever rang simultaneously. (There was only static on the other end)
After that Lindsay started ranging further afield. From an ATM network in Australia randomly spitting out 50 dollar bills, to all the nuclear power stations in the mainland Chinese power grid experiencing near catastrophic computer malfunctions. Lindsay's footprints tended towards the unsubtle. After those first few events, I sometimes didn't see signs for days, then weeks at a time. At times Lindsay left me notes, in places that I sure to find them. It was an old ‘childhood' game that we had played together. The notes were short and unsatisfactorily lacking in detail apart from things like, "Hey dad, I'm doing fine" and, "I'll call real soon, hope you are well."
But for the last few months, nothing, not a single sign or message.