The next day, Jodi and Tiffany hid out in Tiffany’s bedroom. The Watanabe girls had left that morning for Washington. June was on her way to Minnesota, but did take a call from Jodi and Tiffany before she left to give them some key information.
“You want to do the talking?” Jodi asked Tiffany.
“Sure,” Tiffany said. “June should’ve called him by now. You got the number?”
“Dialing,” Jodi said, pressing the numbers into the cell phone. She handed it to Tiffany as the phone on the other end rang.
In Minnesota, Matt Jerguessen saw the odd number flashing on his cell phone, along with the name Jasmine Thomas and a picture of an attractive blond girl. His aunt said she was safe. Matt shrugged and decided to answer it.
“Is this Matt?” a young female voice asked on the other end. “My name is Tiffany. Your Aunt June asked us to call.”
“Yeah. She said something about a Jodi Wheatly who works with my uncle.” Matt glared sullenly at his computer.
“Jodi’s aunt works with your uncle,” Tiffany explained. “She’s right here with me. Is it okay if I put you on speakerphone?”
“Yeah. I s’pose.”
“Say hi,” Tiffany told someone as her voice dimmed.
“Hi, Matt,” Jodi said softly.
“Anyway, your aunt said you were having trouble talking to her and your uncle because your mom has all this monitoring software on you?” Tiffany continued.
“Yeah. And she has most of their numbers blocked on my cell phone,” Matt grumbled. “Aunt June had to call from her hotel room this morning so she could get through.”
“We know. That’s so bogus,” said Tiffany.
“But what can you do about it?” Matt asked.
Tiffany giggled. “We’re Jasmine Thomas. We’re an avatar. So when this phone calls you, your mom will think it’s from this kid from California that got stuck here during spring break and we met at a party last night. It’s already on Jasmine’s Facebook page.”
“You started a Facebook page just to fake out my mom?”
“No.” Tiffany laughed again. “Jodi and I started it last spring for a social studies experiment. We wanted to test how many kids from our school we could get to friend this total stranger who claimed to go to school with us but didn’t really exist. A lot of them did.”
“Really dumb,” chimed in Jodi. “Weird thing is, it kinda grew on its own.”
“I think some of the girls get the joke finally,” said Tiffany. “But I don’t think anyone knows it’s us. Anyway, Jodi’s a computer wiz, and she can hack around your mom’s monitoring software on your laptop so you can email your aunt and uncle.”
Matt frowned. “I don’t know about that. Mom’s got some computer guy who puts all that stuff on. Won’t he catch on?”
“It depends on the software,” Jodi said. “But I have a very elegant algorithm that he’d have to look at the code to see. It operates manually, though, so you’ll have to be careful. But that’s why it stays hidden so well. So what program has she put on your computer?”
“Um, TeenGuard,” said Matt.
The girls giggled.
“Oh, that is just too easy,” said Jodi. “Mac or PC?”
“All right. Tiffany, can you text the addy to him?”
Matt saw the beep and saw two web addresses.
“You need to go to that first site and type in the second address in the box,” Jodi said. “It’s a site that will let me work on your computer.”
“Won’t my mom find out?” Matt tried not to squawk.
“Not likely,” said Tiffany. “Matt, the way that TeenGuard works is that it takes a snap shot of your screen every time you open a new window or it sees a file with certain key words in it. All those snap shots create these little text entries that are saved in a file and then the software contacts the server and uploads the file to your mom or her tech person. The easy part is that it only uploads the file when you click the turn off button on your computer.”
“It’s part of the stealth feature,” said Jodi. “But it’s kind of a dumb one because it’s really easy to defeat.”
Matt went to the website and then entered the second address in the window. It took a few seconds, but then Jodi muttered her approval and soon it was as if his cursor was moving all over the page by itself.
“This is going to be a snap,” Jodi announced as windows flashed open and closed. “I’m pasting the patch directly into the program’s code. What it does is toggle off the software with an alt-shift key stroke, then turns it back on again, only it looks like you’re doing something else. That’s the elegant part. Most hacks just disable the software, but then your mom will know you hacked it. But you have to remember not to leave it on too long or it will look strange.”
“The second thing we’re going to do is set you up on a proxy server so you can email out,” Tiffany said. “That way you don’t have to clear your browser history, just in case your mom decides to check that, too. I have it set up at my place and my mom couldn’t tell if there was something funny going on if she wanted to because she doesn’t get computers.”
“Basically, it just looks like you’re going to my website, but it’ll let you surf anonymously,” said Jodi.
Matt could hear computer keys rattling on the other end and marveled at the windows opening and closing on their own on his computer.
“There. I got the last few entries out,” Jodi said. “By the way, you won’t want to turn on your computer and turn the guard off right away, because it erases the last couple entries when you toggle it on, so they can’t be seen. But it could erase the start up entry and that would look funny.”
“Okay,” said Matt hesitantly.
“Oh, and you really should hide your phone number on your Facebook page,” Tiffany said. “It’s out there in the open for anyone to call.”
“I don’t have a Facebook page,” said Matt.
“Yeah, you do,” Tiffany said. “June was a little surprised. She said she didn’t think you liked party girls that much.”
“I don’t.” Matt did some clicking on his computer. “Oh, man. My mom must have put this up and friended all those girls. She loves those idiots.”
“More of a LinkedIn kind of guy?” Tiffany teased. “Or are you on Plaxo?”
“I’m not on any of them,” grumbled Matt. He paused. “I don’t have a lot of friends. I mean, I have friends at school, but Mom doesn’t let me talk to them because they’re… Well, poor and smart and she thinks I should hang with the popular kids.”
“Eeeuw!” Tiffany and Jodi groaned together.
“Totally my problem,” said Jodi. “My mom wants me to be normal and all the normal kids are so boring. Or into drugs and other stupid stuff.”
“Same here,” said Matt.
“Well, now you’ll be able to email your real friends,” said Tiffany. “Here’s the address for the proxy server. You can get to the free email sites from there and sign up for your secret address.” She giggled.
“Okay. Uh, thanks. Oh, and do you have an email address?”
“Sure.” Tiffany spelled it twice to be sure Matt had it. “And can you email us your new address so we can give it to Jodi’s aunt so she can give it to June?”
They clicked off and Matt went directly to the proxy server site and signed up for a new address.