This is a story in response to a terribleminds.com Fridayflashfiction challenge. We had to choose two categories out of; Dystopian SciFi, Cosy Mysteries, Slasher or Serial Killer, Lost World, Spy Fiction and Boddice Ripper. I combined Dystopian SciFi and Serial Killer. Word limit 1000. Mine 1000. shortlink http://wp.me/p1BAlV-1K
Computer Games Louise Sorensen December 31, 2011
Walking down the dark corridor, Diamond listens to the growls deep inside her head, the High Computer’s instructions. Two men, armed, dark suits, guard the door of the suite. They frown at her ID but let her pass. The Computer hums gentle lullabies into the chips implanted in the cortex of their brains and they slump a little, still standing, but asleep.
She opens the door, enters. Sees the old man sleeping in the hospital bed. Motions the startled nurse away. The nurse protests, but the Computer whispers in her; she stumbles across the thick carpet to the sofa, sits down and waits for a movie.
Diamond, her code name, all other traces of humanity having been erased, recognizes the twitch and stir of an eroto being played in the young nurse’s head.
Diamond turns to the patient. The old man has a face that was once familiar in a younger form. The President. It is a simple matter of pausing the machine that keeps him alive. Her gloved hand is near the button.
“Are you an angel?” He looks up, pale blue eyes trusting on sight this white robed visitor.
“Yes. I’ve come for you.” Hesitating, hating this part. Considers a sleep injection, but a trickle of hope must have leaked through. The Computer cackles and she surrenders this battle.
The old man nods. Grasps her hand. Reassurance and absolution in his warm grip.
Her eyes locking with his the whole time, she accompanies him partway. The cold of him drains her as his spirit leaves. Pulling the blanket over him, she pats his shoulder. Wonders why the death of this person has been moved up; it’s so obvious his time was very near.
The Computer is pleased. It hums a little happy song in her head and posts another location. She retraces her steps down the long corridor. The security men are gone. Reassigned already.
Launching herself up the stairs, she leaps cat silent towards her next appointment. Computer efficiency. To cluster its kills is logical. Many floor levels only delay the inevitable, but she needs the exertion.
Down another corridor, this one better lighted than the last. She puts her thumb to a door lock sensor; mechanisms click open, and she enters a darkened apartment. The Computer springs her assignment on her. Three. Two children and their pregnant mother. A lesson to the man who has chosen to procreate without permission. Her forehead knots in a frown. She concentrates on the thought that she hates killing children. Considers refusing the assignment. Her choice. But the Computer will only come up with one even less appealing. She flicks open the needle embedded in her fingernail, reaches down to the sleeping woman and sinks it gently into her neck. The poison is painless. Fast. The man sleeping beside her, handsome in dim moonlight, doesn’t miss a breath as the rhythm of his wife‘s breathing changes. Sleep becomes infinitely deeper. Computer games. Move, and counter move.
Turning away from the bed, she creeps to the connecting hall and the children’s room. Two young ones, innocent, lay cuddled side by side in a wide bed. Leaning closer her hair brushes a mobile of clowns in airplanes hanging from the ceiling. Her needle nips the tender skin and they begin the downward slide to a sleep that is not quite death. A sleep so deep the computer can’t detect their brainwaves anymore. They will be collected and cared for. Mustn’t think that. Picture sand falling through an hour glass. Behold the jewel in the lotus. Calm thoughts. Null emotion. Move and counter move. The computer is in charge. It has developed a taste for Death; sends its Reapers out into the night to perform its kills. The Reapers do what little they can to resist. She shivers at this thought; she can’t always save them.
Standing at her own apartment door, she shakes her head, no. Tears threaten.
‘Why?’ she asks the computer.
‘You are my sword. You need tempering.’
‘I am not a sword, I am a woman. I’m not made for this. I don’t want to do it any more. I won’t do it anymore.’ A scream.
Unwillingly she presses her finger to the lock pad. It snicks open. Graceless, she approaches the bed where her husband and infant son lie still. The scent of baby powder trembles on the air. Their gentle breathing fills her heart and she exhales. Her husband, the father of both her son, and the High Computer, is locked in a battle of codes with his silicon child. But there are rules. Her husband will never find the key to the Computer’s madness if she kills him. But if she refuses this command, she must go out every night and kill others. The Computer gambles that Diamond will gamble on her husband‘s success. It has chosen a steady diet of death over the risk of sanity.
She touches her husband’s arm, warm from sleep. Their son slumbers on, silky hair shining in the blinking lights of the cradling machinery that holds his life in balance. The perfect hostage to her heart.
“Michael? Are you any closer?”
“Soon,” he says, eyes closed, and tenses his muscles once, twice, three times. Three hours? Three days? She doesn’t know, but hope grows that her man will conquer the machine. The machine that controls everyone.
She refuses to inject her husband. The Computer chuckles. Giggles. Savours her sorrow. It rams a new command into her brain. Up to the next apartment level. Every person. To die slowly. Waves of its hunger lap against her and she shudders.
Trudging up the stairs, there is no rush. She mourns the thousands killed before the sleep potion was discovered. Delay, delay, delay. The only hope, that Michael will find the code, the magic code, to defeat the Computer. In the meantime, all she can do is walk the narrow ledge of the abyss, and survive.