Program

Some folks are workaholics, the kind of people who just can’t let a project sit still. They’re the kind of people who have eight thousand things going on at once, the kind that never stop fidgeting, never slow down until they fall down.

He was one of those people; it was easy to see it in moments like this, as he sat, bathed in the pale glow of his monitor, his breathing ragged as though he were in the front seats at a strip club, rather than at his desk.

Vivid green eyes behind a pair of glasses reflect scrolling lines of code; fingers dance over keys as he tears through the piece of program that she gave him. Nearly perfect, it only required his permissions, and the briefest of tweaks to accomodate changes he’d made since she last had contact with his main project.

Since its return, he’d been burning to let himself get absorbed in the working, but then along came April, and somehow, he didn’t mind the distraction. Now that she’s sleeping in and he managed to tear himself away and back to the office, she’s the last thing on his mind.

He’s marveling over the given code, grinning like a schoolboy, and uploads it. Never with a second thought as to how this could potentially be one of those moments in time where the future is changed, irrevocably, and not necessarily for the better.

Waiting is the hardest part, of course — while he’s doing it, he gets himself food and some coffee — until that moment, he hadn’t realized just how much time had passed.

72 hours in the underground, working with only catnaps, without food, without a real break.

When he sits down in his upstairs office, just for a moment, it’s not until mail delivery the next morning that he wakes up, disoriented and bewildered.

Point-four-three seconds later, it occurs to him that he left the program running that whole time, without his supervision.

That desk chair spins lazily in his wake, while the door bangs open and then swings shut once more, but he isn’t even there to observe the sound.

* * *

Running back down the stairs, he nearly kills himself about thirty times as he slips on the stairs, all but flips himself over the bannister twice, is almost crushed by elevator security doors four times, forgets his pass and is summarily threatened by several guards with a gun, and forgets to disarm the alarm system that would trigger any number of unpleasant effects on his person.

And still, he manages to stumble in to the main programming center.

Dropping back into a terminal, he halts the software, shuts down half the processes and runs for the dais in the center of the room.

When he breaks through the perimeter of where the hardware is kept, he leans in to try and halt its systems before sleep mode is ended, but the change is startling enough to slap him in the face.

Because it slaps him.

In the face.

“I have learned fear,” it tells him proudly. “And fury.”

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