by Dave Cross
Chapter 6. The Aftermath
In which a crime is discussed
23:28 - [Pip has entered the chatroom] * Beta: hey pip, did you see the news? * Pip: about the paedos? yeah. grim wasn't it * Beta: my dad is freaking out big time * Beta: talking about banning me from using the net * MegaMe: my mum is reading this over my shoulder 20:30 - [Beta has left the chatroom] 20:30 - [Pip has left the chatroom] * MegaMe: guys? * MegaMe: anyone still there? 20:34 - [MegaMe has left the chatroom]
I couldn't get back online until after Pumblechook had gone home. And that didn't happen until he'd finished yet another interminable monologue on the dangers of the internet. He seemed more determined than ever that his employers should not connect themselves to the internet under any circumstances as it would expose the entire company to the dangers of paedophilia. He was, of course, unclear as to how exactly this would happen, but the fact that it had been on the BBC news was good enough for him.
Once Pumblechook had gone, Joe stood in the doorway to the kitchen looking at the piles of washing up. After a couple minutes he informed us that it would still be there in the morning and that he was going to bed. My sister finished her Baileys and stood up. Pausing only briefly to get her balance, she followed Joe upstairs. By this time I was pretty sure that I was the only one who had recognised our house in the photo.
I found the chatrooms in a very strange mood. Half of my friends were online and wanted to discuss what they had seen. The other half were nowhere to be seen. We had no way of knowing how many of those were missing because they had been banned from using the internet, but estimates ran very high.
There were a number of different areas to discuss. Firstly people wanted to know if anyone had come across these paedophiles online. It seemed that no-one had. Or, at least, no-one was owning up to it. I certainly wasn't going to. I was worried that someone might remember my questions about Magwitch's whereabouts from earlier in the day (was it really just a few hours ago?) but no-one mentioned it. We all agreed (or said that we agreed) that none of us would have been fooled by middle age men pretending to be children and that the victims must have been pretty stupid.
Then discussion turned to more technical aspects of the crimes. We discussed how it all worked and, more importantly, how the police would have tracked them down. We knew that it was possible to log just about all internet activity, but we didn't know to what extent the internet companies were doing that. We didn't know if the police would be able to use data on the confiscated PCs to work out which other PCs they had been in contact with. That thought scared me a lot but there was nothing I could do about it.
Of course we also had no way of knowing what data the paedophiles had kept on their PCs. We knew they had photos and videos (did he keep pictures of my face? I prayed that he'd only been interested in hanging on to images of my willy) but did they keep the logs of the chats between them and the children? That's when I remembered that I still had logs of the conversations between me and Magwitch. I spent an hour or so making sure that I had deleted them all from the computer. Then I downloaded one of those programs that ensures that deleted data is really removed from your hard disk. It took over an hour to clean the parts of the disks where the logs had been. Then I decided that having really clean patches like that on my disk would be really suspicious so spent another hour or so copying files into those areas and then deleting them so it looked normal.
I didn't get to bed until about 3am but that didn't matter as I couldn't get to sleep anyway. My mind was racing. Would I be linked to Magwitch? How long would it take for them to find me? What would they do to me?
Should I confess to my sister and Joe what I had done?
Last Updated: Mon 03 Nov 2003, 23:06
All material © 2003, Dave Cross. All Rights Reserved.