It all started with the new kid. His name was John Beowulf. He seemed to be the smartest kid in the school, he knew everything. As if the entire corpus of human knowledge was already in his brain.

There was a clear increase in the intelligence of the other kids who were in classes with him, as well. It's as if he activated a mental key in them--and the teachers were impressed.

But then, the weird things started happening. Kids started talking about weird dreams which seemed to universally involve binary--and then they started forgetting things. Mostly minor things, but most of the academic benefits seem to have disappeared and they've gone back to their pre-Beowulf days.

Soon, the school newspaper did a survey. 99% of the population had reported having the binary dreams. Of the 1% that didn't--John Beowulf.

The students started talking about John Beowulf. Nasty rumors abounded. The primary was that he was some kind of psychic. You also heard things about the CIA, FBI, all those agencies with initials.

One day, I decided to ask him.

"What's up?", I asked.

"The same as always", John said.

"Do you know what's happening with the dreams and such?"

"Yes."

"Would you mind telling me?"

"No."

"So, what's happening?"

"I need to crack an AES key."

"Why do you need to do that?"

"Crack encrypted FBI communications. Basically, I'm an experiment in human computing.

A group of scientists from various universities built a device that could read magnetic signals to such an accurate precision that they could do MRIs to the neuron. I was a test subject for the university study until it was taken over by the FBI. I got a lot smarter during those experiments.

The government then turned the reciever into a transmitter. They started working on Project ARTUMLK. It didn't work nearly as well as they wanted, but I could turn some of the darker corners of the brain that you weren't really using as parts of a huge biological computer.

Realizing how easily I would be able to do it, and what would happen to me if I didn't do it, I ran away. I need to know how they're going to get me, and to do that, I need to know what they're saying to each other."

"Could you at least stop using the brains of these people", I said, placing a list of names on the table. It was a petition.

"Sorry, I can't, not without stopping the whole thing. And if I do that, I get caught."

I didn't believe his story. At least, not the whole story.

But, just in case he was cracking something in order to cause real problems, I took to memorizing the ASCII binary for the beginning of an FBI communique, or at least what I think an FBI communique would look like, in order to hopefully trick his AES dreams.

I cut the FBI bits out, made it look like it was all part of the university study and the transmission was an error, and replaced the AES stuff with mention of a "program to solve P=NP" even though I knew that barely meant anything so that he wouldn't get arrested for cracking. Then, I submitted it to the school paper, anonymously.

The rumors increased exponentially. Nobody sat with John Beowulf anymore. I then, suddenly, blacked out and woke up three hours later. Apparently, during those three hours the MRI showed activity concentrated in one small piece of the brain.

The dreams stopped happening a few weeks later. Everything slowly returned to normal.

A few days before the end of the school year, the Secret Service came in and arrested John Beowulf for some sort of computer hacking charge. I don't know whether my plan worked and he was telling the truth, meaning that I just got him arrested. Or whether he was lying about the "escape from the FBI" stuff and he was trying to get into some other database.

The calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases were giving him trouble, but as soon as he figured out how to modify them, he loaded up his mosquito robot, sent it on its way, and directed it to the back of Allison's neck. She was the cute one in Mr. Reuther's biology class.

Anderson Pitts hid his modified cell phone behind his biology book as the mosquito bit the back of Allison's neck.

"Ow," she said.

She slapped her neck, but by then it was already gone, having injected Anderson's burrowing little beasty close to her spinal cord, where it tunneled down and figured out which of the major nerves it should tap into. The micropipette lodged itself through the myelin sheath of the nerve, and began altering the chemical interactions around one of its ion channels.

Anderson Pitts gave the bug about ten minutes to take effect, then using his cell phone typed:

TO: Allison
MSG: "JOHN IS STUPID. YOU WANT TO GO TO THE PROM WITH ANDERSON PITTS"

The received cell phone message caused a series of 90 millivolt spike trains to shoot up to pretty Allison's brain. The precise patterns carried both message and switching information, so that the message was switched to a series of nerves into the area of her brain governing her emotional state.

She decided she didn't want to go to the prom with John, the quarterback of the football team. She decided that Anderson Pitts held far higher mating potential for her unborn children than did John, who was a mouthbreather and was also flunking algebra. Odd, she'd never considered flunking algebra as being that important when dating John before. Oh well, she thought, and blinked her pretty blue eyes. She giggled. She felt a bit smarter. And Anderson Pitts looked HOT.

Anderson Pitts retrieved his robot mosquito and had it feed on another drop of special serum he'd created, full of the little nanotech bugs with the communications package, the micropipettes and the mitochondrially powered flagella that acted as the motor for the little bugs. He'd read about these little flagella type motors in last year's Scientific American, the year John had almost smashed his glasses in gym class.

Anderson Pitts released the mosquito again, which flew to Mr. Reuther's neck, who swatted and missed. Anderson Pitts then typed:

TO: Mr. Reuther
MSG: "END CLASS EARLY AND DISMISS US"

and then he pressed SEND. Mr. Reuther grew a quizzical look on his face, and then ended class early and dismissed them.

Allison was dawdling outside the classroom when Anderson Pitts came out. She accidentally knocked into him, and looked at him apologetically with her baby blue eyes. Blink blink. Like a doe.

"Like, Oh My God! Anderson! Are you in my bio class?" she asked.

She blinked, like a doe.

He pushed up his glasses with one finger.

"Like, all year," he said.

She giggled. She bent over to show him some cleavage.

"So, the prom's coming up. Have you asked anybody yet?" she asked him breathlessly.

A red flush spread across her cheeks and chest. It was a very demure red flush.

"I'd like to go with you, but I hear John already asked you," he said.
"OhmyGOD! TOtally NOT!" she said.

She made plans to tell John her change of plans after his algebra class.

"Oh wow. Well, do you want to go to the prom?" he asked, as if he knew the script to the play.

He was actually getting bored of Allison already. This was waay too easy.

"I... I guess so. I hadn't really thought about it," she said, unconvincingly.

Every cell in her brain was screaming IM GOING TO THE PROM WITH ANDERSON PITTS. Admittedly, the volume wasn't very loud. Hold back, her feminine instincts were telling her. Can't get too eager.

"Cool. Listen I have to go. AP Calc is calling," he said.

With that, Anderson Pitts wheeled and walked down to Mr. Fenske's calculus class, where Anderson Pitts flipped open his cell phone, addressed a message to Allison and texted:

TO: Allison
MSG: "WEAR CROTCHLESS PANTIES."


A tip of the hat to sam512 and his SciFiQuest 2106

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