Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: COMPUTER (05/19/16)
TITLE: Last Resort
By Sara Harricharan
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Ally sagged against the front door, allowing her briefcase to drop into the hole that opened in the floor. “Computer,” she whispered, head thumping back against the cool metal door. “Run program, Last Resort.”
Silence greeted her for a moment, before the computerized voice parroted the expected response.
“Program has never run in an open environment. Proceed?”
A bitter laugh crept past her lips. “Yeah. Proceed. Execute. Whatever.” Ally stepped out of her shoes, shedding her blazer and matching scarf as she went.
Her required causal wear disappeared through various laundry chutes that opened in the floor as the main system tracked her all the way to the kitchen.
“Program Last Resort, beginning—in three—two—one—“
Familiar strains of an old childhood lullaby began to warble through the surround sound speakers.
Ally’s smile wavered, but she continued her rummaging through the kitchen drawers until she found what she wanted.
The rose knife.
A pretty pink handle with bright, pink roses painted on the white blade. The jagged teeth seemed dull.
“…And we present to you, Miss Allison Weavers! The youngest individual to ever win the international intelligence award for discovering and crafting an affordable cure to the Harrow-wing virus. Not only is she the youngest, but she is also the only female to be inducted into the Hall of Fame for…”
Ally set the knife on the counter and turned to the fridge. She scanned her thumb when the screen beeped ‘last resort’ in flashing letters.
It took a half-second, but a fat goblet of rich, red wine soon awaited her.
“Happy birthday, Ally—my silly, milly-lily-girl. I’m so sorry I couldn’t come to your birthday, but I know you’ll record it for me. Have a royal day, princess. Daddy loves you.”
Two sips of wine. The second larger than the first.
“Ally, sweetie—I know I don’t say it often enough, but you’re a godsend. You really, truly are. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I’m so proud of everything you’ve done—okay? Love you.”
The words echoed in her head and Ally gripped the knife in one hand and the wine in the other. She eased down to sit on the cold tile floor.
That was the only time her mother had ever said something like that. The only time she’d ever said ‘love you’.
The only time she’d been useful to her family—in the wake of her father’s death.
Wine. More wine.
The music began to play—this time, the song from her sixteenth birthday, where she’d danced with her father until midnight.
Lights dimmed to an acceptable glow. A spritz of air freshener wafted through the air.
Ally choked back a cry. “Abort program!” she croaked out, smearing away the tears with one arm.
The music flickered.
“Abort, you stupid computer,” Ally clenched the knife. “Abort. Override. It’s a failure. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work at all.”
“…Program failure. Override needed.”
The music began to speed up.
“I can’t—I can’t…” Ally squeezed her eyes shut. It was almost a good farewell.
“Ally? Allison?” Jamie’s frantic voice came from somewhere nearby.
Ally jerked up, heart fluttering. Anything she could have said, remained unsaid as her younger sister came around the kitchen counter and nearly tripped over her.
There was no warning before Jamie grabbed her in a hug and pulled the knife away, throwing it across the floor.
“Don’t you dare,” she hissed, fiercely. “Don’t you dare leave me alone.”
Ally whimpered, struggling against the embrace she didn’t really want to end.
“You’re the only sister I have left and so help me, but I won’t lose you too.”
Lights began to switch on and off, the music grew louder. Jamie grimaced.
“Override needed. Override needed.”
“What’s the override?” Jamie tucked a curl of dark hair behind Ally’s ear. “I’ll turn it off and I’ll stay, okay? They can manage without us.”
Jamie hugged her harder. “I won’t let you fall apart,” she murmured. “I’m sorry I didn’t notice.”
“…Not your fault.” Ally hiccuped. “I just—I can’t, Jamie. I’m so—everything.”
“I know, Ally, but this isn’t the answer.”
“Yeah. Always,” she forced a smile. “What’s the override code?”
Ally shuddered. She leaned back to direct her words to the ceiling. “I am enough.”
“Override accepted. Program aborted. Retry?”
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