I can still picture it: the carton of juice
on the bedside cabinet, nurses rushing
down the corridor. Sixteen years since
they wheeled her through the MCL.
She’d never heard of ransomware or

Other things on her mind. A different
enemy had ransomed her, taking charge
of her system. A different power left
her hoping and waiting for months,
laughing at her dependence before
presenting its final ultimatum.

If she’d lived, what would she have
made of our future? Of the gates and
walls we need to keep out hackers – of
whatever stripe – to guarantee our

The uncertain future confused her
deeply, I thought. But yesterday, out of
nowhere, I heard Mum whisper:

It’s the best and dearest thing we have.



Translated by David Colmer