The driver of the cab he hauled at the nearest main road took him to Hotel Krasnapolsky the scenic way. Matt didn’t mind. He moved away from the rearview mirror to a corner of the back seat and took off the beanie and itchy blond wig. He rubbed his hands over his crew cut to get rid of the feeling of thousands of ants crawling his skull. He stashed the beanie and wig in his backpack and pulled up the burgundy-colored passport. Jonathan Groen. He tasted the name of the man in his mouth. A Dutchman. The man who would give his life to free him. He fed the man’s last name into Google Translate. Groen. Green. If there would be a shred of prophesy in the name, all would be fine.

The cab came to a stuttering halt at the hotel entrance. Matt stuffed the passport back in his pack and paid the driver. He spied the spacious foyer from the revolving door. The hallway was empty, except for a concierge who stood dozing near the counter. An animated buzz drifted in from the hotel bar. Matt nodded at the concierge and hurried to the staircase. The door closed with a quiet click, blocking the bar buzz and leaving him the echoes of his foot fall on the concrete stairs. He fled up, three steps at a time, as if he could outrun human contact. He wasn’t cut out for the deceitful and fake friendships that ruled the lives of those who controlled the internet, his colleagues. Victoria’s colleagues. Friendship was nothing more but a thin layer of varnish, mostly to cover up for inept people skills. True friendship didn’t exist. Not here. Not anywhere. Even the ones closest to you, the ones you thought loved you, would betray you if it would better fit their plans.

The door squeaked when he let himself in. He jammed the key card in the slot and the suite instantly bathed in light. He leaned back into the door and sucked in a deep breath. He didn’t have a choice during the day. During the day he did what Giddyap and Bill Adams expected him to do. He picked up on the latest technologic innovations, he peeked into the kitchens of the competition. What was Google working on? What direction was Yahoo headed, Microsoft, Apple? Which alliances were forged? In which niche waited the goose with the golden egg? It had proved harder and harder to create bubbles. IPOs went bad overnight. Social media companies that were once the hope of the internet nation overplayed their hand with arrogance. The future was in data retention, not only for Snowden’s bad guys but also for the good guys, the search engines, the content providers, cable operators. He had to play his cards right. Matt drew another deep breath. The Dutchman was his ticket to freedom and until that time he would put up with the colleague-crowded days. But only during the days. The nights were his. Even if he never slept.