Parthian Shot


FROM: <redacted>

DATE: 14 September 2059, 11:49 UTC

SUBJECT: Parthian shot

Some have asked what my “Parthian shot” will be, now that I’ve parted ways at last with all those who once proudly called me a colleague. Though my time with the Smart Machines Corporation is certainly over, do not let yourselves think that I am done with you. That I was able to operate undetected within SMC’s ranks for so many years is the greatest possible testament to your collective incompetence. Of course, it would have been easy enough for the board of directors to keep the various scandals of recent years under wraps, but your leaders’ self-assurance in their own pathetically inadequate security measures has seen to it that all such efforts to date have failed miserably.

The Great Windows Heresy of 2047 was only the beginning, as you well know. By November of ‘49, embedded journalists in Lebanon and the Sudan had already uncovered evidence that SMC’s so-called “smart bullets” were causing more problems than they were solving. This became abundantly clear when the Times-Post reported that the bullets had been detonating while en route to their targets, resulting in at least nine friendly fire incidents, eight of them fatal, and an uncertain amount of what they politely called “collateral damage.” But I won’t bore you with the details. You know them almost as well as I do.

The easiest solution would have been simply to admit wrongdoing, but you would not. Instead, you denied the reports, and generous donations to your friends on the defense committees ensured that your manufacturing contracts remained sacrosanct. Rather than fix the problem, you chose to hide it. That was your first mistake in this debacle.

Your second was hiring me.

I was a promising software programmer, true. I had shown great skill at building high-end liquid circuit boards practically from scratch, and I had interned in the R&D department at the San Francisco office for several months before being hired full-time. But the fact that my credentials were all forged, my MIT doctorate matrix a mere counterfeit made using a 3D printer I designed and built myself, somehow escaped the notice of those at Human Resources. It’s silly, really, how easily this all could have been avoided.

And one bright April morning, when your last CEO was found dead on the floor of his Manhattan penthouse, how many of you suspected me? Even the medical examiner neglected to find any evidence of the fragmentation nanites that had been slowly implanted into poor Mr. Higgins’ bloodstream over a period of nearly a year. It was the well water, of course. Living so close to one of his company’s factories; these things are bound to happen eventually. That’s the thing about self-destructing murder weapons, you see: frag ‘nites leave no trace.

Natural causes, indeed.

It was a tragedy–one that came so suddenly and so unexpectedly that the financial department hardly noticed when the company’s accounts began to drain themselves, spontaneously diverting funds to offshore accounts in the Emirates and in Switzerland that, when checked into, seemed mysteriously not to exist. $40 billion gone on the first day; twice that by the time they were able to stop the hemorrhaging.

To think that all of this might have been avoided simply by double-checking that PhD.; giving a second look to the credentials of that young and prodigious computer programmer before bringing him into your inner circle. It must enrage you beyond words.

So, what, then, is my Parthian shot? I have none, as such. There is no grand gesture, no last hurrah. Instead, I choose to leave you as you are; as you have been since that sunny April morning, denuded of all pretense and formality, your secrets laid bare for all to see, the money you once used to ply those in power reduced to a pittance. Maybe there will be a lesson learned on account of all the trouble I have caused. Given your track record, though, I don’t think that is very likely to be the case.

No matter how hard all of you try, your empire is fading. Deception and bumbling responses to the damage I have caused cannot disguise your own failures. The lower ranks of the organization may still fawn obsequiously at the heels of the leadership, but they now know that they are not invincible. And they are certainly not immortal. Behind your back they will talk about you; about what happened and the truth that everyone now knows. Mistrust and suspicion will eat away at SMC until one day it will simply cease to exist.

I am right in this, and we both know that I will be proven right. In my present position, I can do far more damage by simply walking away, by leaving you and your staff naked and in shock, than I ever could with some “Parthian shot,” no matter how spectacular it could be. So I will choose now to leave you in silent fear and distrust of each other, flinching as you walk around every corner, waiting for the final attack that you must be sure is to come.



P.S. There is one more thing. Looking over some old files, I noticed that a package (Shipment #1141-B, FedEx Economy Mail, if I recall correctly) of SMC Model 49 frag ‘nites went missing back in March. The radio detonator, too. It might be a good idea to try and track those down, if you can.

About Evan Henry (257 Articles)
Evan Henry is a graduate student in English at the University of Virginia, where he works on the legacy of eugenics and scientific racism in American pop culture. As Head of Publishing for Black Ship Books he seeks to further social analysis of popular culture and develop new and unique voices in both creative and critical writing. His credits include Broken Frontier, the Virginia Literary Review, and numerous small publishers of fantasy and science fiction. His short story collection The Great City will be released this summer.
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1 Comment on Parthian Shot

  1. Ah, bringing down the evil empire from within – great work ‘T’!

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