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"Deer in The Garden" by Michael Alexander

"Deer in The Garden" by Michael Alexander 

This story was published in "Analog Magazine" in the October 2012 issue. 

A man named Mr. Wallingford is sitting in a room, at a table, with a woman asking him questions.  She wants to know why he did what he did, and he wants to know how they caught him.  They are at an impasse.   

During the story there are flashbacks which tell the story of Wallingford.  The flashbacks also world-build and create the setting.  Each flashback is a mini scene in his mind.  The flashbacks suggest that the world is in the not too distant future.  That corporations, greed, and technology have been ingrained into society so much that people don’t remember what life what like before it all.  Part of what Wallingford wanted to do was disrupt the major hubs of information flow. 

To make sure Wallingford didn’t get caught, he changed appearances to fool the cameras all over the city with face recognition algorithm software.  He paid cash for everything he bought so he couldn’t be traced by financial transactions.  He didn’t wear cologne or any perfume styled soaps so he wouldn’t trigger the detectors around also around the city.  He did all of that with great detail and never failed to do it correctly. 

In the end he tells her why he wanted to destroy one of the major secret internet hubs.  Then he gets his answer on how he gets caught.  He was caught because he was different than the normal person.  He made sure he was always looking different, no smells, nothing to distinguish him from anyone else.  In the end the computer algorithm picked up on that fact that he was too different.  From there they were able to track him and his movements. 

I really like how this story ended and the message that the story portrayed.  We will (if not already there), live in a world that is just full of technology.  It makes people stupid while making society progress.  This story talks about the cost of that progress.  In the end being different, unique, and extraordinary set him apart.  Being mundane and run of the mill made him unique.  I thought it was a clever way of catching the bad guy while making the point of the story.

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