Author : Joey To

Tris slowly opened his eyes. He let his head remain on the cold workbench for a second before sitting up and rolling his stiff shoulders. Wincing as he rubbed his neck, he squinted at the window: snowflakes fell and white glare flooded the room.

The control-cube laid in front of him, still connected to the diagnostic panel via leads. The monitor displayed multiple graphs and lines of code. But Tris eyed the blinking words in red: AI Protocol #776 Failed.

He sighed and shook his head.

“That is the second night in a row, Tristan.”
He turned to see Jamie at the door, her perfectly neat and straight long brown hair gleamed hard in the natural light. He smiled weakly and shrugged.
Jamie smiled back. “This is bad for you, your neck in particular.”

“I know,” Tris mumbled. “But I need to—”
He stopped himself when Jamie glanced at the dented photo frame in the corner. “Would you like breakfast?”

“Maybe when I get back from the shop.”

Barry frowned as he disconnected the cords to the control-cube. “Nothing’s wrong. Maybe it’s your coding?”

Tris stared blankly at the thing as the shop owner sighed and eyed the snow building up at the window sills. “I could swap it for another anyway.”

“Nah, don’t worry about it,” said Tris, picking up the cube. “It probably is just my program.”
As Tris headed for the door, Barry called out. “You’re my best customer and maybe it isn’t my place to say this but it’s time to forget it. Work on something else.”

Tris nodded, strode out the door and trudged toward his car.

Back at his workbench, Tris scoffed down the scrambled eggs.

“Is that my spare control-cube?” asked Jamie as she entered the room.

“A replacement.”

He was about to hit the Enter key to initialize another test when the sun emerged and he caught a glimpse of the picture frame as it reflected a beam. He gazed at the photo, barely recognizing himself in it. The little one with brown hair… he had almost forgotten her too.

Outside, the snow finally stopped falling when Jamie nodded at the picture. “She would be my age by now—in appearance I mean.”

“Maybe Barry’s right,” Tris muttered, glancing out the window.

Jamie tapped her neck with her finger, opening up a small port and switch, then smiled. “Maybe he is.”

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows