Calvin sat down, leaning into the peeling leather-backed wheeler chair at the conference table. His lawyer’s office was musty, tucked into a rotting, early mid-century edifice in lower Manhattan, just off of Bowling Green. The conference table, scratched and coffee-stained, took up most of the small, windowless room. The legal secretary had let him in, said that Dan would be a few minutes late.
Calvin looked down at his hands, who’d found their way to the vape pen in his coat pocket. The cartridge was glowing a light red — empty, another menthal pack inhaled. He reached back into the coat pocket, hanging from the chair back, and pulled out yet another small black cube with a minty green top. His left thumb deftly popped off the spent cube, while his right fitted the fresh top snugly into the groove it left empty.
He hated the vape pen. He hated how the menthals were affecting him. Another three weeks to the SEC preliminary hearing. Another month til the final was scheduled. If everything with Merinda worked as planned, the bill would be out of committee and passed before the Senators broke for their spring break. Another few weeks of sliding memories, of livid daydreams, of nightmares where his brain feverishly worked overtime to re-write its forgotten past. He wasn’t a trauma victim, the memories weren’t as easy to root out so he was losing more vibrant things, things he didn’t think he could lose, all going, fading out one technicolor re-imagining at a time.
Long press to gear up the heating element; a slight pause to inhale; the minty exhale timed perfectly with the door banging open.
Dan was a forty-ish genexer, flamboyant for an SEC expert, turquoise and lime striped socks peeking out beneath his dark wool pants. No jacket today, just a creased bleach white button up, collar flattened inelegantly. Calvin had through some crypto twitter friends, had liked that he worked for stake. Chatter needed GovTokes to burn to be created; Calvin had burned most of the investor’s cash investments to build a nice Chatter balance for the company.
Easy come, easy go.
Another inhale, another puff of minty smoke, collecting up against the styrofoam ceiling panels.
“You’re gonna need to put that away before we start rolling.” Dan swiveled in his seat: left to turn on the air circulator, right to crack the door a solid inch. The flatscreen TV on the wall had a camera mounted, Dan picked up the remote from a stained white wicker basket on the table, the room came into view on the screen.
Another puff of minty smoke, the pen returned to the pocket.
Dan pulled out some papers from the stack of files that were dumped across the table. It was unclear how they had come to be there.
Dan pressed another button on the remote, the image on the screen zoomed to perfectly frame Calvin. Another press and a red light on the video camera turned on. “Alright I need to ask you some questions about the launch of Chatter. This is completely voluntary. You’ve opted to provide this information for the SEC hearing that we’ll begin preliminary meetings for in a few weeks. We’ve covered the basics of how this will go down already. I need you to swear that you’ll tell the truth.”
Calvin blinked, nodded. “I swear”.
Dan launched into the facts about Chatter. The number of tokens mined in the pre-mine, the wildly oversubscribed airdrop, the case of the disappearing government tokens.
Calvin answered deliberately, staring up at the ceiling or at the red, unblinking light.
No, he didn’t know where the GovTokes had gone. No, he couldn’t say if they had been burned. Yes, he had forgotten what the source code looked liked — there’d been a Github outage a few hours after the chain had gone live, they’d lost the entire repository of code.
No one knew how the chain contracts worked, what version of code was running on the chain. The SEC had gotten a binary copy last week, they were trying to reverse engineer it, to undo the complex, crowd orchestrated swap that had burned half a billion GovTokes in two hours.
Yes, he had deleted the code, he knew that much. He explained that the servers had dropped off from load. The intern had force pushed an empty branch to Github just before they’d, Ben and Calvin, had pulled down a latest copy.
Then Github had exploded. Bad timing. No luck. The git repos were hollowed out, the timestamps, the sha chains to prove it. Reflog fails in three dimensions.
The whole project gone except for the only running copy of it, now worth literal millions.
He remembered how much the contract was worth, and said as much.
How much, asked Dan. Calvin rattled off a number. It kept going up. GovTokes still got burned as The People cashed in their airdrops.
How the code deleted burned the GovTokes, no one knew. Yes, Calvin had written it. No, he didn’t remember. It was gone now, wiped out by some deep dream sessions and a few minty inhales.
The GovTokes, gone too. There was no getting them back.
Dan wrapped up his questions, shuffled the papers, picked up the remote again.
The red light went off.
Dan looked at Calvin. Alright, he said. I know you gave me more than enough Chatter credits to cover this but fuck man. Tell me the truth. Where did those GovTokes go?
The air circulator whirred. Calvin looked down at his hands. The vape pen rested there, again, the cartridge glowing a faint green. Long press, slow inhale, the scent of evergreen mint ebbing away slowly in the artificial breeze.
to be continued…