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Dear ASTRID, It is for your safety that we must insist your new password adhere to the following requirements!

  • Must contain mixed-case letters and at least one number.
  • Must contain two non-alphanumeric characters (such as parentheses!)
  • Must not contain spaces or apostrophes.
  • Must not contain words
  • Must contain the obfuscated answer to one of your security questions.
  • Must not be pronounceable by human tongue
  • Must baffle me and break my heart
  • Must be something within it to make sense of this, ASTRID
  • Must explain why he left, ASTRID
  • Must not be his password
  • Must be okay.
  • This once.


PLEASE TRY AGAIN, it says in phosphor green.

“I did,” snaps Astrid. “I did.

The diagram shows a hand inserting the card strip-up, which she tries. There’s a short whine, and out it pops.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN. And the diagram, but this time strip-down.

“You. I. Can’t believe–” Astrid jabs it back in, and slams some buttons.

The screen wipes; more whining; somehow, her card’s in the bottom tray. In pieces.


Astrid remembers the hammer Morris left in her truck.

When the police arrive, they have to push through a cheering crowd.

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