It’s not terribly hard to imagine, really. As technology develops, hacking intensifies, and secrets multiply in number and importance, data security becomes more critical just when it becomes almost impossible. In Virt as well as IRL (In Real Life) it all comes down to trust.

Who do you trust? Who CAN you trust?

Ethan Kocsis is a jacker, a data carrier of the most secret and most secure packages on the net, the kind that require a level of authentication that machines can’t deliver. What once was a difficult job has been made practically masochistic by evolutions in intercept technologies, for when these programs come after you, they cause physical pain. It’s not personal; they just can’t tell you’re not a program. As the agony ratchets up, the number of jackers that can take it dwindles, until there are only a few left that will take the kinds of physical risks Ethan will.

Because death in Virt means you don’t come back IRL. Not all of you, anyway. Some part of you is left in there, wandering the electrons. The results are unpredictable, but always destructive.

But the money is running out. Pursued by the Feds, dogged by competitors of much greater funding and clout, Ethan reaches for that one job that will get him clear of trouble once and for all. He can’t know that he’s been set up, and that the only way to survive may be to die.

THE VORTIGERN JACK is a near-future tale of a world in which some things can only be bought by the punches you’re willing to take.

I’m a working writer. I’ve been published in five magazines, won several short story contests on two continents, and published three books on my own (including one you’re welcome to look up on Amazon). THE VORTIGERN JACK is my fifth novel, my first in the sci-fi/cyberpunk genre. I’m also published on Patreon under the CJ Lehi name (, where I have a solid patron group and make decent money publishing novel excerpts and short stories.