I held a small piece of paper in my hand. On it was written the key I’d used all those years before to encrypt the Hide system. This was the only place it existed and I still couldn’t bring myself to destroy it personally. So I thought I’d let the earth do it for me. I dropped it into the freshly dug six-foot hole in front of me. And as I watched it flutter away from me I spoke softly.

‘Sorry,’ I said to Karla’s grave. ‘And thanks.’

And I walked away.

It was just as well I left the Hide system buried deep in the net. In the final months of working on it I had implemented some of my new ideas. For manipulating people. For making them think in different ways. Making them do different things. Just by words alone. This was too powerful a system for anyone to be messing with. Too much power to bestow upon any person.

Now the key was gone, it would take nothing less than a global-scale computing effort to decrypt it. So as long as the internet itself didn’t develop sentience enough to crack it open and use it for its own ends, then all would be good.

So long as that didn’t happen…