Chapter 2. 

Hawke Mails the Web Manual

While most of South Carolina was bracing for the impending arrival of Hurricane Floyd on September 15, 1999, Davis Hawke was calmly surfing the Internet from Chesnee. The hurricane, packing 130 mile-per-hour winds at sea, was expected to make landfall on the Carolina coast that evening. Governor Hodges had ordered the mandatory evacuation of four coastal counties, causing a massive snarl of cars on I-26, the state’s biggest highway. Over half a million people sought higher ground ahead of the forecasted damaging winds, heavy rain, and widespread flooding.

A category three storm like Floyd could easily level a flimsy structure like Hawke’s rented mobile home. But he was staying put. Chesnee was two hundred miles from the shore, sheltered in the southern foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As evening approached, wind gusts occasionally rattled the trailer’s sheet-metal siding, and sporadic sprinkles of rain drummed on the metal roof. But the power and phone service remained on as Hawke logged onto InnovaNet, an ISP in nearby Clemson. Hawke had recently signed up for the service under a new pseudonym, James Kincaid.

Hawke had been spending a lot of time in the trailer since the disastrous rally in Washington, D.C. In recent days, as fall classes resumed at Wofford College, he’d managed to resist a strong seasonal force akin to what migratory birds must experience each autumn. For fifteen years he had found comfort in the cyclic back-to-school ...

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