Vance was ridiculing Alice for her bold suggestion that she might have received divine wisdom for their situation; “Let me guess, something about seeking forgiveness and apologising to the family? Get real Alice. I don’t think they operate their business profits on forgiveness currency!” Alice was undeterred by his provocative remarks as she instructed him to follow her into the study room where Katrya’s PC was set up. Seeing the jar and the memory of her Dad had got her thinking, perhaps it was divine inspiration and perhaps it was her own memory, either way it was their only real option: Alice knew that it was possible to still gain remote access to the family’s accounting system. They may have discovered her but it was unlikely they had updated their Firewall, leaving the back door vulnerable to her hacking methods. She viewed the exact amount of money, that had been siphoned off the accounts, £301,982.76. Saying it aloud gave a heavy weight to the atmosphere around them. “Great job Alice if you were looking to depress us further. I can see exactly how that is going to help us with our current predicament,” scoffed Vance, his disdain for her ‘help’ igniting a further barrage of ridicule.
Alice was undeterred, deeply focused on her task she was unbothered about Vance’s sarcasm, she’d remembered something that Vance had said to her years ago, when he was busy having one of his ranting-sessions about his latest endurance tests at Christian Summer Camp. She began tapping so furiously on the keys that it appeared she was prospecting for biscuit crumbs and cat hair – the eternal quandary as to how these things end up under the keys! Vance was not interested in what she was doing, he was busy tormenting himself wondering how things could get any worse. Alice commenced taking pictures with her new Samsung S8 phone of the ‘work’ she had been engaged in, she shuffled nervously back in her chair as she ‘hit’ the send button.
“Come on V, we’re going on a road trip, we need to find a safe access point that can’t be traced. I don’t want to risk doing it here,” Vance tried to protest but she pursuaded him of the opportunity for a Starbucks visit. As they descended the stairs she boldly announced; “Us nerds need a supply run”. Before grabbing the shiny black case of awesomeness, named Bogdana. Alice had found this amusing as she was looking for a name online, she came across the Polish name. It gave her visions of this burlesque woman, roaming the streets looking to sling cow-poo through the windows of unwitting students!
“Alice I’ve known you for long enough to know that we aren’t heading out to purely satisfy our caffeine demands. What are evil schemes are you concoicting now?” Vance demanded, expecting to receive some insight into the true nature of this road trip. He had been suffering from a bad headache all day and was in no mood for Alice’s retail therapy.” You need to just trust me V, I’m working on something that will see your Dad safe. All of your family. Except maybe your Mum, she can get her own ‘fixer’, I’m sure,” Alice furrowed her eyebrows, allowing herself a brief moment of doubt before nodding to assure herself. She pulled her knees up to her chest, resting her feet on the dashboard as they drove toward the motorway in search of a coffee establishment.
Vance stretched like a skulking Lion in his seat, having collected his hot beverage that sounded like it had undergone the same preparations as a steam engine. He tried to make shapes with the cappuccino’s froth but it merely ended up looking like something from the Necronomicon rather than the latte art he’d seen online. Alice fired up her laptop, refusing to make eye contact with Vance as she tried to stir her drink into sleepy submission. “So, the thing that I need to tell you,” Alice sniffed, “you need to look at this first so I can explain.” Her laptop was showing some information about a statement of account with a Bitcoin balance that could be traded-in. What was a Bitcoin? “Those bottles that I mentioned to you, it reminded me of the things I did with my Dad before he died. We’d been arguing about Preppers and a zombie apocalypse, what we would do if it happened. The currency we use now would become redundant, Vance, so we decided to invest some money as a sort of bet. Dad thought you’d potential prosper more with smelted metals but I had found these,” Alice explained, nonchalantly. She turned the laptop to face him, showing the account balance. Vance challenged the cappuccino maker to a ‘steam-off’ with his high-pitched scream; “Alice there’s over three hundred and fifty grand in here. How did you even know the password details from all that time ago?” Alice sighed with an aggrieved look as she explained; “You take the piddle all the time, but I told you I had been given an idea from Jesus, I saw it in one of the bottles, a memory of the login details I always used with my Dad.” Vance merely rolled his eyes backward, not allowing himself to take this epiphany seriously.
“Look, Vance, if you trade this in, it will be enough to set your Dad, Katrya and Anichka up for a few more years.” She continued typing in a focused manner as tears began to form in her eyes. He didn’t dare question what she was doing, Alice explaining it to him had resulted in a two day headache last time. What he could determine was that she was releasing a virus into the system, corrupting it and the information belonging to the family was starting to fragment. “You aswell, potentially,” Alice continued, “It was the only way V, I’m so sorry but I have to let me do this and you have to let me.” Alice sniffed as the tears cascaded down her face like a rejected X-Factor participant. Vance looked all-shades of confused as he solemnly said; “Fuzzygal what have you done?” Alice positioned herself for a closing statement; “You’ve always been there for me, your family saved me and treated me as one of their own and for that I am so grateful. I’m not scared anymore though Vance, I don’t need protection and I’m not scared of the family, of going to jail, of any of it. I’ll text you the logins, just do me a favour and get me a good lawyer, please. I’m going to need one”.
The coke-can fell to the bottom of the vending machine as Vance processed what she was saying. She’d destroyed the evidence of the family accounts and passed it on to the Police. She was handing herself in. Alice was going to be the scapegoat, she was going to sacrifice herself. He tried to grab her arm, pleading with her to reconsider as she walked away but he knew it was no good, he knew they hadn’t come up with a better plan and were rapidly running out of time. Vance had never before seen this level of valor or self-sacrifice and he made himself angry to fight back tears as he jeered; “You won’t get any anime there, ya’ nerd. I’ll have to send you the manga of Tokyo Ghoul finale instead. You better read it!” Alice nodded, waving herself away from the situation. Vance knew he had to let her go, he knew Katrya, Anichka and his Father’s lives depended on it. This was all for them now. The Police may have been made aware but they were still at risk and needed to disappear, fast.
As he entered the house once more with tear-stained clothing Vance could barely form the words, and when they did escape from him they seemed to be meek mutterings; “Alice is gone. We need to phone….gather your things. We’re not safe here.” Anichka’s mother was familiar with this expression and had learnt not to question it, she simply obliged gathering a couple of small rucksacks, her daughter and some shopping, attempting to juggle all four things. Allen was not so complacent demanding; “Where is Alice?”….
Author’s Note – Alice has done an incredibly nobel, brave and loyal thing here and is perhaps illustrating some of the characteristics of Jesus in her willing sacrifice. She may not realise it but in simply talking about Jesus she is evangelising. She is also sacrificing her own selfish desires for this money in order to help someone else. Luke 16 speaks of the wise use of our money as stewards and how we should view money. It was a rather sober thought for me to realise I don’t treat money as if it belongs to God and I place too much value on it. It is a little thing to God yet it’s such a big thing to us. I used to believe that abundant life meant that God would always provide above and beyond what I needed (a supremely powerful PC) but if I’m honest with myself I know that what I value as a need, God perhaps doesn’t – not in the way I expect anyway. When I spoke with God about this recently I really felt that he was asking me: “If I were to give you 100k right now, how would it affect you? What would you do with it?” I had the maturity to realise that after perhaps buying a nice PC rig for myself and a few games, I’d be lost and the remainder would cause me a lot of stress, worry and anxiety. I recently saw a picture of someone who was really pleased with their new set-up (and it was a thing to behold) but I found myself thinking; that’s great, now how are you planning to use it to further the work of the Kingdom? As believers we should be using our money to invest in the financial success of the gospel. We cannot serve both money and God, one will rule us, there’s no middle-ground.
For those of us who perhaps are yet to believe in Christ Jesus as a personal saviour, it may present an opportunity to consider the finality of money; you can’t take it with you and even if you could, it wouldn’t mean anything. We can perhaps also ask ourselves about the value and worth we place on money. Does it define our identity? In a society that is so consumed with materialism, we must ask ourselves where are worth is to be found as a human-being. Are we just worth a few wads of cash? I used to believe that I had no worth, but that was a lie. I was looking for my worth in the wrong places. I now frequently tell people in a way that resonates with me as a gamer, that God views people as being worth more than all the DLC for every game ever made. I believe we need to understand not just how much Jesus loves us, but for this era, we need to understand our worth. In the online communities in which I operate I see so many youngsters struggling with low self-worth, low self-esteem and completely confused about what they want. And yet we live in times of such prosperity, so what’s going wrong for these youngsters that despite being raised in comfortable environments it seems they’ve never been more desperate in relation to their identities and security? If we choose to believe, we can know that we have been purchased with the blood of God’s own Son. The Bible speaks on the worth we have, the worth of our souls. Matthew 16:26(New International Version (NIV)); “26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”