Killing Time OST – 3c – Death Row

<< 3b – Death Row

Cook Julia had made her famous brownies; Vexx hacked her system to replace the default recipe by his mother’s special. By technology’s standard, they were “chocolately unbalanced” for our palate. The machine who coded the program for food calibration couldn’t possibly know there was no such thing as too chocolaty brownies. Their theoretical imperfection was what made them so deliciously perfect in practice.
“How many times did she object this time?” Vexx asked, his mouth full of brownies.
Despite his best effort, he hadn’t been able to corrupt Cook Julia’s food calibration module. First, it ruled over all meal preparation so fiddling with it might cause culinary horrors to ensue. Second, it was tied directly into the fabricants mainframe so it could be updated on a regular basis. Neutralizing that link would be a bit of an overkill. As a result, every time I asked for the brownies, Julia’s analysis sent her an error message.
“Only two.”
“Wow! She’s learning! I didn’t know the recent update included that.”
No matter how fun it was to mess up with a computer program, I had grown a little tired of standing close to the kitchen to yell “Override” every time Julia bellowed “Alert! The recipe is corrupted. Retrieving original file from the mainframe.”
Pregnant women bought a “food experimentation” plug-in if they wanted the damn robot to agree to satisfy their craving. Price of the plug-in? One grand a month. And since, for our own safety, all kitchen appliances except the fridge required a licensed robotic cook’s activation, there really was no way to cook by oneself anymore.
Unless one had a Vexx handy to rework everything. Unfortunately, I didn’t know him when I furnished the house.
“When do you think you can hack into Subcut-W’s system?”
“We haven’t even finished dessert and you’re already back to business?” I shrugged. “I’ll do it when I’m done with that brownie.”
“Fine. Coffee?”
Vexx nodded. I picked up the plates and headed upstairs to order our drinks. I walked into the kitchen when the doorbell rang. Backing up a few paces, I pressed my heel against the pressure plate that activated the closure of the stairway to the basement. I dropped my two sets of covers in the kitchen and requested they’d be put in the washer immediately. No need to spark any questions over plates. I was glad I slipped in jeans and t-shirt after my shower; training gear would have drawn even more questions.
The doorbell rang again, seconds before I pulled the door open.
“Thank God you’re home!”
Naomi and her red, puffy eyes rushed inside the house without a hello or an invitation. I closed the door and fell in line behind her hurried steps toward the living room. I kept the silence intact until she chose to break it. We settled on the couch. She took a deep breath and blew her nose.
“My breast enhancement nanobots are about to expire.” She cried.
I wanted to smack my head but opted for opening my arms instead. Naomi was a prime example of why technology had to go. All of it. We could head back to the Stone Age for all I cared if it allowed society to finally remember what it meant to be human. To be oneself.
“He’ll break off the engagement if I don’t renew them but I still haven’t completed last time’s payment. I can’t take on another one.” I patted her back. I could hardly do more than offer the shoulder to cry on. No matter what I said, she always took on ‘just another enhancement’. I didn’t encourage her but in the end, if the repo men showed up to claim her possessions, I would pay them off. She didn’t know that and I hoped the scare of losing everything might finally force some sense into her.
“Can’t your employer pay for it?”
“No.” She hiccupped. “I told them they were real.”
I shook my head. That was how all the Pretties drove themselves to the ground. Employers were supposed to pay for all the necessary enhancements to make these men and women perfection on legs. However, they preferred to hire people who needed the less investment so aspiring Pretties paid for some modifications themselves to nail the job.
I didn’t even remember what Naomi was supposed to look like au naturel. Since her sole occupation consisted of going about her life wearing the current beauty cannon, her physic was technologically altered every year or so. Pretties showed that ‘real everyday people’ looked like the artificial bodies on publicity posters, basically taking on the role turn of last millennium’s celebrities had. However, there anonymous Jane Doe take on publicity made for a more insidious campaign.
I patted her shoulder again.
Julia rolled in with the coffee. Without obviously hurrying her out, I tried to expedite Naomi’s comforting. Vexx probably hacked Subcut-W’s system by now and I itched to get back to work. We emptied the coffee pot while she poured her heart out about how her fiancé, also a Pretty, would break their engagement if she lost her job.
Maintaining an official friendship would kill me one day. I loved Naomi growing up but since tech came between us, she had been a burden more than anything else. I couldn’t understand how anyone willingly submitted to the non-sense, let alone sympathize with the unavoidable downfall. And Naomi only found time to see me when her life was in shambles. I kept answering for old time sake and I hoped to rediscover our friendship before age took us.
At last, she shed all her tears, promised to invite me over soon – which she never did – and waltzed out the door. I had Julia make another pot of coffee which I brought to the basement after reopening the secret passage.
“Better late than never.” Vexx said, his oversized coffee mug tightly wrapped within his grip. “Which body part expires this year?” I cocked an eyebrow. “It was Naomi, right? I heard a few high-pitched cries.”
“Boobs.”
“Ouch! That’s a life changer. Maybe you should offer her a place in the basement to avoid shame.”
“And keep you company?” I laughed. “She’d love your body, hate your brains and order you away from your toys every second of every day.”
I pointed toward his computer, silently ordering him back to work. He grunted and negligently waved his sock-covered foot in the computer’s detection zone. The projection reactivated, displaying the mainframe of Subcut-W. Perfect!
Technology allowed improved security measures by recording just about everything that happened within a building and analyzing it to wave flags and ring alarms if need was. However, if one was blessed with the service of a genius hacker, all that recording became the perfect tool to breach the system. Vexx’s magic fingers opened me the door to the personnel list, key card uses, guards’ routine, internal detectors and all that jazz to successful murder. There was enough data to occupy me for days.
“I also hacked into Edouardo’s house. Unfortunately, the guy is a control freak. He has a custom secondary system that isn’t plugged on any network. It only establishes connection to ping the mainframe if something wrong happens. Same goes with the office.”
“Oh really?!” That shouldn’t be much of a problem.
It barely made the chase interesting.

4a – Scouting >>

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

4 responses to “Killing Time OST – 3c – Death Row

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