77. The Unnatural City, Part XII   Leave a comment

Meanwhile in Space…
Episode 77: The Unnatural City, Part XII: I Am The Programmer

The robots slowly stomped away from the walls of the tunnel and converged on the group of frightened scientists. Sundance, Astralyn, and Colonel Graves tried their best to be the first line of defense. They all fired upon the metallic beasts, but they showed no sign of weakness. They continued to gain more ground with each step. More slumbering robots slowly joined in the effort. Their metal teeth grinding as they ached for human flesh.

Timmy wanted to race down the tunnel and come to his friends’ aid. He held his laser pistol in his hand and was ready to fight. Then he looked back to the giant doors behind him. Behind those doors was freedom. It was then that he knew where he was most needed. He turned his back to his friends’ plight and ran towards the doors. He tried to ignore the sounds of the battle happening behind him as he ran. Soon, this will all be over, he thought. One way or another.

He reached the doors and searched for any sign of a control panel. He found it on the left side of the tunnel, a few feet away from the left door. Timmy immediately turned it on and tried to access the mainframe. The information display came up and asked him for the password. “I don’t need no stinkin’ password,” Timmy said to himself. He cracked his fingers and got to work typing in the passcodes he thought would work. All of them were denied.

“Denied?” Timmy entered in some more codes that he recalled seeing during his time in the mainframe. He grew more flustered as each code came back denied. “How could this be denied?” His eyes narrowed as he remembered the Mother Computer. She had changed the schematics of the map and now she had locked him out of the mainframe. He cursed to himself. He felt that he should have seen that coming.

Some of the scientists were running down the tunnel towards him. Timmy saw the combined look of joy and fear on their face when they saw the giant doors. Their eyes immediately went to Timmy and the control panel and then to the doors that were still closed.

“Come on, man! Open the door!” one of the scientists cried. “The robots are coming!”

“I know that,” Timmy snapped. “I’m working as hard as I can!”

Timmy tried to think of another way around the blockade. The Mother Computer had ample time to put up as many barriers between him and the passcodes as she wanted. It was time to get creative.

“Hurry up!” screamed another scientist. She wasn’t the only one; more of them running from the one sided battle were starting to panic.

Timmy placed both hands on the control panel as he leaned on it. He closed his eyes and concentrated on connecting with the mainframe. He couldn’t keep his mind clear because he knew with each passing second, the robots were coming and his friends wouldn’t be able to fend them off for much longer. He opened his eyes and sighed as he stood away from the panel.

“Maybe I’m going about it the wrong way,” he said out loud to himself. There had to be an easier way. He remembered back to the early days back in the academy. He and his friends were all about breaking into the S.P.A.C.E. mainframe and reading mission reports. They had the toughest security, but Timmy and his friends knew how to get around it. This instance was no different. He wouldn’t have to rely on his newfound gift, just his old ones.

“A-HA!” Timmy returned his attention to the panel and started furiously typing in code. He knew just how to end this problem. A few times the panel resisted him. He knew that the Mother Computer was trying to block his every effort, but Timmy wasn’t worried. If he played his cards right, she wouldn’t be a problem for much longer.

“Timmy!” Sundance shouted from just around the corner. “Timmy? How are things coming?”

“Just about there, Captain,” Timmy replied.

“That’s good news,” Colonel Graves chimed in.

Timmy punched in a few more commands and then gave the panel a final touch. “Come on, come on. No whammies, whammies!” He stared at the panel as it blinked on and off at him. Finally, the screen read “Access Granted”. A loud hiss sounds, frightening most of the scientists. The doors gave a heavy click and they slowly slid apart. “YAY! That’s what I’m talking about!”

A cool breeze rolled in between the spaces of the door. The scientists cheered! When the space was big enough, the scientists made a break for the outside world. The night sky greeted them as they were reunited with freedom. Timmy ushered the scientists out of the tunnel. When they were all out, Timmy ran back down the tunnel to assist Sundance and the others.

As he turned the corner, he heard a loud hiss. He looked back and saw that the doors were beginning to close. He cursed under his breath and raced around the corner. The robots were quickening their pace. Sundance and Astralyn were shooting the robots in their faces, but they continued to come.

“I wish we had something a little better than guns,” Colonel Graves said. He finally grew frustrated and chucked his gun at one of the robots. It simply bounced off its face and fell to the ground only to be stepped on.

“Captain, Colonel, the doors are open!” Timmy shouted. “But they’re closing! We need to go now!”

“You don’t have to tell me twice!” Sundance chucked his gun at the robots and ran for the exit.

Astralyn thought about tossing her gun, but decided it would be better if she kept it. She turned around and followed Colonel Graves down the tunnel. The robots stomped after them. She made the mistake of looking back and saw how close behind them they were. She turned around and pushed herself up the steep incline to freedom.

Timmy was the first one to reach the doors. He was messing with the control panel to see if he could hinder the command to close the doors. Sundance ran up to him and smacked his hands.

“Leave it alone!” Sundance commanded. “Let’s just get out of here!” He grabbed Timmy and pushed him out of the tunnel. They turned around and waited for Colonel Graves and Astralyn. The doors continued to slide closed. “Come on, you guys!”

“Shut up, Captain! I’m old.” shouted Colonel Graves. He finally climbed out of the tunnel. Out of breath, he haunched over and tried to catch his breath. “Man, I really need to start working out more.”

Timmy and Sundance watched the shrinking passage and waited for Astralyn. With each passing second that Astralyn didn’t appear, the more panicked Timmy and Sundance became. They looked at each other at the same time and wondered if the same thought was going through the other’s mind: They should have let her go first.

“You think?” Timmy asked.

Sundance and Timmy ran over to the doors, ready to jump in if Astralyn was in trouble. At the very last second, Astralyn emerged from the underground tunnel as the doors slid shut. She fell into Sundance and Timmy and all three of them toppled to the ground. When they were all settled, they laughed hard. They sat up and saw that the doors were closed.
“Is it over?” Astralyn asked.

“They should be trapped in there,” Timmy replied. “I programmed the door to lock…” No sooner had the word ‘locked’ passed Timmy’s lips, the doors shuddered and creaked as they began to open.


Posted August 18, 2014 by Xanto P. Jones in Flash Fiction

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