“This 14-year-old boy, Aldrin, had been studying how to hack into many different systems since he was four. He wanted to do this because his grandfather mysteriously went missing eight years ago after he visited NASA to check one of their rockets.”
Around 11:00 p.m., at 1000 Chicken Avenue, Murica, Florida, somebody decided to hack into NASA’s most secret files, the ones that neither the public nor even the workers at NASA knew about. This 14-year-old boy, Aldrin, had been studying how to hack into many different systems since he was four. He wanted to do this because his grandfather mysteriously went missing eight years ago after he visited NASA to check one of their rockets.
Aldrin finally thought he was ready, and started looking for a way in. Apparently NASA had been putting anti-hack softwares, so Aldrin had a hard time getting into NASA. After a while, however, Aldrin finally found a way in. It was very ironic that NASA managed to install an anti-hack software for world-class hackers but didn’t do it for a method that virtually anybody could do. He quickly went into the mainframe, and a screen popped up with a bunch of files. Some folders said, “General Information,” while others said, “Classified Stuff.” There was one unique folder called “Top Secret Files,” and that was that was the one he needed.
He tried to go to the Top Secret files, but his computer immediately went into lockdown, and literally nothing could move. He was not scared because he knew exactly what to do in this situation. He typed into his keyboard, “F4_break_freeze” and clicked enter. His computer immediately opened the Top Secret Files. There was a lot of boring text with long words about “keeping your oath for your country” and other stuff. There were pictures too, but he had to download them because they were so big.
His parents had no idea that he was hacking into NASA. They always thought he had an average mind, but in reality he was smarter than they thought. He tricked them into thinking that every kid easily gets an A plus-plus every time.
His parents did not pay much attention to him because they had time-consuming work, so Aldrin also thought that he would finally get their attention for longer than just five minutes. With these thoughts in his head, he glanced at the clock, and he was surprised that he had spent more than an hour on this, when it only felt like a few minutes. Aldrin left his laptop running because he was too tired to continue, and then he went to sleep.
Aldrin woke up at around 5:30 in the morning to experiment with NASA’s top secret files. The first file he downloaded into his laptop was 8,800 pixels. Since his laptop only held 440 pixels at a time, he had to wait almost a full day for the picture to download entirely. Finally the picture downloaded, so Aldrin opened the file. He saw a chart saying, “Extra Terrestrial Officer Ranks.” In that chart there were a bunch of words that Aldrin did not know. The words sounded like Latin, so he searched up a translator that transferred Latin into English and vice-versa.
Aldrin typed in the name that was on the lowest rank, Vexillum, into Google translate. It showed that Vexillum meant standard. Aldrin thought that he was on o something. Then he typed the highest rank, Vix, and it showed scarce, which is a synonym for rare. He knew he was getting closer to the answer, but not there just yet.
He then typed in Jerry Armstrong, his grandfather’s name, and one result popped up. His arms and legs felt very weak as he moved his cursor to that single result, knowing that this would affect him in a big way. His cursor hovered over Jerry Armstrong, wondering if he should click it. As if in slow motion, Aldrin clicked the name, and it transported him to a page with the NASA background, and the title was, “NASA Offenders.”
As soon as Aldrin started reading, somebody banged on the front door. Aldrin jumped up and ran downstairs to open the door. Without checking who it was, Aldrin opened the door. The next thing he saw was five men holding guns, who were wearing black uniforms with badges that looked like “Δ.” One of them asked, ”Are you Mr. Aldrin Armstrong?”
Fear of getting put into jail for lying, he told the officers yes. Another one said, ”Sorry, sir, but you have to come with us. You hacked into NASA and read the most secret files. You cannot be trusted to be out in the public.”
Aldrin decided that, however stupid it sounded, he would try to knock out these people using his powerful yellow belt skills. Just as he tried a roundhouse kick on one of the security guards, another guard immediately pulled out a taser and electrified him. So much for powerful karate skills.
The last thing Aldrin could remember before passing out was the guards carrying him outside.
A few hours later, Aldrin woke up. He was in a room that was completely white with a NASA logo, and it smelled like disinfectant. It was just a closed-off room to any normal person’s mind, but Aldrin saw NASA’s plan. One wall was a different color white from the rest, and there were little visual holes. He was looking straight at a one-way window, and he knew that there were many people looking right back at him.
A voice boomed from hidden speakers, saying, “Aldrin Armstrong, you have violated America’s laws by hacking into NASA. Why have you done so, and how have you done it? We will give you some time to think of your answer, and then you shall give it to us. If you say something that is impossible, you will be executed.”
All this time Aldrin was thinking, Oh God, what should I say? Should I tell them the truth or some made up baloney?
Then Aldrin saw an air vent leading out of the room. It was near the floor, just about five inches off of it, and it had a NASA design on it. He pretended to go to sleep near the vent, so the people looking at him from the other room would start getting bored watching a boy sleep unsuspiciously near an air vent.
After thirty minutes, when there was no sound coming from the room, Aldrin pulled out a Swiss Army knife, only there for emergencies, and started unscrewing the bolts one by one. He then heard a shout from the other room, and collapsed, hoping that nobody noticed.
He heard footsteps in the room, and something sharp started poking him. After the poker guy was satisfied that Aldrin was asleep, he walked away. Aldrin kept up the act for a few more minutes, and then hurriedly started unscrewing.
He pushed down the air vent, and it fell with a loud thud. Aldrin knew people were looking at him because of it. He quickly climbed into the vent, with the sounds of people’s voices shouting behind him. Alarms started blaring as Aldrin crawled, the sound was deafening.
He saw an opening and started banging on it, hoping that it was weak and would fall easily. As Aldrin predicted, the vent opened after a few more bangs, falling and bringing Aldrin with it, who had no time to move out the way. Aldrin ran down a hallway, following a sign that said, NASA Systems MAIN II. The hallway was completely white, except for the occasional NASA logo.
The hallway went down a few miles, or at least it felt like that. Finally, he reached a huge computer, with the NASA logo bouncing around. Aldrin clicked “enter,” and the computer said to put in the password. Looking around, Aldrin also found a machine glowing beside the huge computer, and it looked like a finger-scanner. Since Aldrin spent most of his time hacking, he went for the computer. He spent a lot of time on trying to hack into the computer, but none of his techniques worked. He tried Ctrl-Shift-Alt-P, but that did not work. He tried P-F7, but that did not work either. His last technique was the old-fashioned “guess the password,” but of course that did not work.
Aldrin was thinking about different ways to hack in, and his eyes suddenly caught the fingerprint machine. He suddenly remembered an old Scooby-Doo episode, where they escaped an electrical cage that only worked on fingerprints. Aldrin found some powder from a battery, also called battery acid. He ripped a piece of his shirt off, and after carefully sprinkling the battery acid onto the finger-scanner, he gently pressed the cotton down. This technique was supposed to trick the scanner into thinking that the intruder was the one with the real fingerprint because the actual person’s fingerprints were still on the scanner if they didn’t clean it.
Suddenly the computer’s screen changed, and a voice said, “Welcome to NASA Systems MAIN II.” Aldrin quickly typed in “Jerry Armstrong” again because he knew that he was running out of time. Only one result popped up, the same one as last time, but this one was a different color. Aldrin clicked the text, expecting the same page again, and that was what he got.
This website looked exactly like the other one, but there was a new tab on it, This tab said, “Whereabouts.” Aldrin again suddenly felt very weak, the weakness starting small but spreading faster each second. He clicked it, and it said, “Offender in NASA Lockdown Area, in Prison 7, Area 51, 7.23 km deep.” Aldrin did not know anything about what these even could mean, but he was so happy he finally knew what he was doing.
Aldrin suddenly heard footsteps getting closer and closer, and heard a deep voice saying, “Check MAIN II, he might be checking the files. You three, go check Prison Seven, he might be freeing his snoopy grandfather.” The footsteps got closer, and Aldrin did not know what to do. Without thinking, he dove behind the huge computer, knocking down the fingerprint machine. The footsteps stopped, and a shadow came into the room. Aldrin held his breath for the longest time he ever had, until his face started turning blue. The footsteps came even closer, inspecting every part of the room the person could. The person picked up the scanner, inspecting if it was broken or not. A loud grunt sounded in the room as the person threw the fingerprint machine back onto the floor, this time the machine breaking into pieces.
Aldrin finally couldn’t hold his breath anymore and took a deep breath. The person suddenly stopped, and the footsteps came closer. A face peered over the huge computer, shock expressed on it. Aldrin could not think at the moment, and the first thing that came to his mind was the worst idea possible.
Aldrin stood up, and seeing that there was nobody else in the room, he jumped up and started punching the person in the face as hard as he could. Surprised but not hurt, the man pulled out his taser, but as he was taking a shot, Aldrin’s completely off-target fist knocked it into a funny angle. Already pulling the trigger, the man looked at where the taser was pointing, but he could not do anything about it. The taser end was pointed straight at him. The man collapsed instantly, and Aldrin could not believe that his amazing technique had worked.
Aldrin knew that the others would soon be looking for him, and he needed to take advantage of the time he had. He took a phone-shaped object and some keys from the unconscious guard, thinking that it was to communicate with the other NASA guards, he typed into it, “He is not in here, I think he escaped from the building.” Plenty of other messages popped up, all of them saying that they were going outside to check.
Aldrin then went onto an app that had the NASA’s logo on it. He searched up “Prison Seven, Area 51, Jerry Armstrong” and a map showed up. A red and blue dot showed up on the screen, and in the key it said “Red Dot = You Are Here, Blue Dot = Location Inserted.” Aldrin started walking towards the blue dot, occasionally checking to see if there was any people in front of him. He was in a tunnel-like area, with ceiling lights every 100 feet or so. Finally, it said he was 5.232 meters away from his grandfather when his eyes left the screen.
Aldrin was expecting many prison cells lined up against the wall, but there was only one. He walked to the front of that cell, his legs feeling very weak and shaky, his heart pounding, and he looked inside. Aldrin saw a crouched person on the floor, a pair of similar blue eyes looking at him. Nobody spoke for what seemed like hours, the silence so loud.
His grandfather shakily got up and walked just like a baby horse would, his legs wobbling and in danger of falling at any time. Finally he reached the iron bars and grabbed them so that he could lean on them for support. Now Aldrin clearly saw every single detail of his grandfather that he did not notice the last time they had met, which had been over eight years ago. His grandfather looked much older, with wrinkles and grey hair. He stood hunched, like a stick that broke but not completely, and definitely much weaker. He was dangerously thin, and Aldrin wondered when the last time he had had a meal was.
He wore a tattered blue button-down shirt and black pants with the knee part completely ripped, as if his grandfather had been dragged while wearing them.
Jerry Armstrong whispered so softly that it was barely audible, “Aldrin, is that you?” His face was bathed in shock and gratitude, because even though this person might not be his grandson, his motive was clearly to rescue him. Aldrin had been imagining this moment for years and thought of exactly what to say, but it seemed as if his voice was not working at the moment. He just stared at his grandfather, slightly nodding.
“Hello, Grandfather, I have come to save you.” His voice seemed to work automatically, Aldrin did not even think about what to say.
Slowly the other parts of his mind started to function, lastly his ability to think. As Aldrin was still in dumb shock, his grandfather hoisted himself up, thinking that he should now look strong for his grandson.
Soon after Aldrin’s mind was running again, he finally thought of the situation at hand. Aldrin pulled out the keys he got from the unconscious security guard and unlocked the prison cell. He still was in amazement that he managed to pull this entire NASA thing off, but he told his grandfather, “We have to get out of here before any guard finds us.” Immediately after Aldrin said that, alarms started blaring.
This time his grandfather said, “How could they have known?” Aldrin, still wondering, looked up at the ceiling, where he saw it littered with all kinds of security cameras, probably so if one person hacked into the cameras, they would not get the full view.
His grandfather also looked up, and a deep scowl crossed his face. It was now Jerry Armstrong’s turn to speak, and he said, “I know an easy way out of here.” Without pausing to see what Aldrin would say, he turned around and approached the side of the wall with the least cameras and what seemed like a faint square of light. Placing his hands on the block, Aldrin’s grandfather pushed, and the faint square of light turned into a secret tunnel, probably forgotten.
As they entered the tunnel, the door behind them slid shut, hopefully not trapping them. Aldrin was now pestering his grandfather with questions, from “Why did NASA lock you up?” to “Do you know my dad?”
His grandfather abruptly stopped, causing Aldrin to slam into him and bounce off. Jerry Armstrong slowly turned around and sighed. “NASA locked me up because I found out something that NASA didn’t want the public to know.”
“And what did you find out?” Aldrin asked.
Jerry Armstrong looked Aldrin straight in the eye and said, “For a while, NASA had alien contact.”
“That’s amazing! Why would Nasa want to keep it a secret?” Aldrin exclaimed.
“Unfortunately NASA thought that the majority of the public would go completely ballistic, so before anybody found out about the incident, all of the aliens were killed,” his grandfather replied with tears in his eyes.
“Yes, but now is not the time to dwell on that matter, since we have to escape.”
A few moments later they came to a dead end, and this time there was no hint of light.
“Now what are we going to do?” asked Aldrin. “It’s not like we could just push through the wall this time.”
“Think again, Aldrin. This wall is an optical illusion. Look closer and you will see what I am talking about.”
Aldrin looked closer and he saw. It looked like a dead end but it was actually a door. It was definitely the most convincing illusion.
His grandfather, clearly annoyed by his grandson’s habit of getting lost in thought, said, “There is no time to lose, mister. Now HUSTLE!”
They both opened the illusionary door, and walked into a huge office. In the middle of everything sat a huge desk, with a nameplate that was too far away for Aldrin to read. They moved closer and saw that the nametag said, “President of NASA, Charles Bolden.”
In the back right corner of the room was a glowing sign that read, “EXIT.”
Yes! Exactly what they needed. They started to move towards the door, but as they passed the desk, flashing red lights and alarms started blaring.
The door in the back right opened and a security guard angrily stomped in. He had a red face and a black eye. Aldrin recognized this officer as the one he had knocked out earlier. They were close enough to read his name tag, and it read, “Charles Bolden.”
The officer yelled loudly, “You have broken into the most secret of NASA bases, and have collected valuable information. You will not be able to leave this facility, in means that may be harmful.”
Aldrin knew that it was only one person, but before he could react, hundreds of soldiers marched into the room, crowding up the exit, and making sure the president of NASA was safe.
“Bring among the co-presidents of NASA, they are the only ones I can trust.”
Two people walked into the room, and Aldrin could not believe his eyes! His own parents walked in confidently, but it all wavered when their eyes caught his. His mother’s eyes reached his for a moment and her expression changed to shock for the tiniest millisecond.
“Reporting for duty, sir,” they said loudly.
The officer said, “I want these criminals to be locked up in Gate Z, where they will be killed.” His mother’s eyes flashed in alarm, but she said nothing. His parents walked up to his grandfather and him, where they turned around and announced, “We will take these fools down to Gate Z, but we do not need any help.”
The officer obviously trusted his parents so he just slightly nodded his head.
After walking for a few minutes in complete silence his parents turned around sharply and started yelling at him.
“What in the world are you doing here?”
Aldrin said, “I came here to save Grandpa, what are you doing here?”
His parents suddenly became quiet and looked at each other. “Well, see son…,” his father began.
“And what about Grandpa –– why didn’t you tell me about him?” Aldrin continued.
His parents were not even getting a chance to explain themselves. They nervously looked around to see if anybody was watching.
“Are you people even listening to me?” Aldrin yelled.
“Stop it, Aldrin, people are still in this building,” his father shouted.
Aldrin’s mother motioned for him to stay silent as his grandfather looked like he wanted to jump into the argument.
“There is not much time for you, so you are going to do exactly what we tell you to,” his mother hissed.
Aldrin was still in shock about the previous close call that he could not move his mouth even if he tried. “Yes, mom,” Aldrin said, and with that statement the family moved down the hallway, following the signs that said “EXIT.”
Twenty minutes later, after a series of dwindling pathways, Aldrin’s family stood at a door that read, “Exit.”
“What are you guys going to do when the officer realizes that we escaped?” Aldrin asked his parents.
“There is only one thing to do now, and that is bow down to the law and take our punishment,” Aldrin’s dad replied. Aldrin’s mind took a moment to process this information, and when it did he wished he never knew what his dad had meant.
His grandfather thought for a moment before saying, “There is another solution, and this one will keep all of us safe.”
Aldrin’s parents looked at his grandfather before Aldrin said, “Well, you could let us go right now and then hand in your resignation letter, so by law they cannot harm you at all because they would have no proof.”
“Brilliant plan, Aldrin,” his grandfather said. “That was exactly what I was thinking.” His parents looked like they were deep in thought trying to find flaws in this beautiful plan.
“Fine,” his dad said slowly, as if he didn’t like agreeing to a plan that his son made up, “but you know you are grounded for three months after this.”
“Wait, but why didn’t you ever tell me about Grandpa, or that you worked for NASA?” Aldrin asked his unanswered question.
“We didn’t want to tell you because we thought you might blab about it in school,” his dad told him, saying it surprisingly gently.
“Why didn’t you just quit or something,” Aldrin asked, his voice low and barely audible.
“They said that they would kill your grandfather if we quit,” his mother said. “But now, since he’ll escape, they won’t have anybody to kill.”
“Why would they even want Grandpa anyways,” Aldrin asked. “No offense, Grandpa, but why would they want you this badly?”
“NASA did not want him because of his skill,” Aldrin’s dad replied. They kept him because they thought he would tell the public about the information he found.”
“Sorry to interrupt this moment, but we are still being hunted down by one of the world’s most important organizations,” his grandfather said. “We will have a chat about this at home, but now is not the time.”
“Right,” his dad said.
Aldrin’s father swiped a card with the NASA logo on it, and a red light above the door that Aldrin had not noticed turned green. He shoved Aldrin through the door and waited for his grandfather to walk through the door. Without a goodbye, Aldrin’s father threw the car keys to Aldrin and quickly shut the door. Aldrin heard footsteps walk away before turning to his grandfather and handing the keys to him.
The ride back home was extremely quiet, the only sound being that of the radio. There seemed to be many more cop cars roaming the streets today, Aldrin thought as he looked out the window. I wonder why NASA wants my parents so badly that they would use a family member to do it, Aldrin spoke in his mind. Maybe they are some kind of super-smart prodigies that can benefit any company. Nah, if they were really smart than they would have tried to make me that intelligent. What if… THEY’RE ALIENS!?
Great, now I am babbling random stuff that makes no possible sense. Why in the world would my parents, the ones that raised me from birth, be some kinds of aliens? Fighting with NASA might have taken a huge toll on my mind. I should probably go to sleep.
No matter how hard Aldrin tried, he could not manage to sleep. He just kept thinking about different possibilities of why NASA wanted his parents so much.
Finally, Aldrin’s grandfather broke the thoughts by pulling into the driveway of a huge hotel. “We will stop in here for a few weeks and try to get off the radar,” said his grandfather. Aldrin switched on the TV, where the first thing that came up was, “NASA Security Breached?” Aldrin switched the TV off and then decided to go to bed, still thinking about the crazy things that had happened in the last few days.
In the morning, after a long night of laying in bed, Aldrin got out of his bed and went to his computer, thinking about if he should tell on NASA or not. He wondered what he would have done before this crazy adventure versus what he would do now. In the end he decided that he did not want to create any drama for anyone anymore and just live his life.
Three Months Later…
“Aldrin, come down for breakfast,” his dad yelled from the kitchen.
“He looked around his new room, satisfied that it was much bigger than his old room, but still had his old computer. He’d changed his IP address so nobody could track him from previous encounters. His mom and dad announced that they were moving just after they came back from resigning from NASA. Aldrin knew exactly why they were moving though. It was so that they could throw NASA off of their trail. His family had been acting completely normal in the past few months, but Aldrin still had nightmares from NASA.
“Aldrin, hurry up, we’re having pancakes today, and your mom and I still have to go to work.”
“Coming, Dad,” Aldrin replied. His parents seemed to be giving him more attention after the NASA catastrophe, and Aldrin was still getting used to it.
His parents quickly found high-paying jobs as web designers. Luckily they did not keep secrets from him this time and told him exactly what happened at work whenever he felt like listening.
His grandfather had adjusted pretty quickly, considering that he spent over five years in a prison cell with hardly any food and water. His grandfather had eaten a lot when he first came back, and he looked much healthier than he did when Aldrin saw him at NASA’s headquarters.
“Aldrin, come down here right now or I will come up and make you come down,” his father shouted.
Aldrin was glad that he finally got his parents’ respect and attention, and even more glad that they spent more time with him, but he was still nervous that NASA would find him someday.
All these thoughts swirled through his head as he went downstairs, but they were lured away with the amazing smell of warm pancakes with maple syrup.
His grandfather sat on one of the chairs, looking very happy as he munched on his waffles. He stared at the TV, which was showing the daily news. This time it was showing the weather patterns for next week. It said the weather was going to be perfect, all above 70 degrees.
“Good morning guys,” Aldrin said cheerfully. “I am just going to take five piles of pancakes, don’t mind me!”
Meanwhile, at the headquarters of NASA…
“We finally found out where the boy lives,” a general told the back of a man’s seat. “The ex-agents might have thought we couldn’t find them, but we managed to do it.” They changed their address, phone numbers, houses, even all of their IP addresses.
“Excellent job, Marcus,” the president of NASA said as he swiveled his chair. “We will first go for the parents, which will make the boy and his grandfather go crazy. Once the grandfather and the boy come to look for them, we will snap them up and place them in Prison One.”
His mouth curved into an evil smile as he said, “Beware, Aldrin Armstrong, you have messed with the wrong people.”
To be continued…