Sid paced around the room, cursing under his breath. “Let’s do it again,” he finally decided. “Murphy, access security data and open stored documents,” he ordered in an authoritative tone. They stood around the scanner, wrists over it for the third time.
“Unable to access security data and open stored documents,” Murphy said in its digital voice.
“Damn!” yelled Sid. “Why not? Murphy? Why?” The computer was quiet, as why was not a part of its comprehension. It did not have reasoning ability.
“Jerry!” Sid barked. “What is going on here?”
“I don’t know, Sly,” he began. “I could sit and troubleshoot some more.” They’d been in the computer room of Central Headquarters for over five hours now, trying to unlock the security codes.
“Maybe we should call it a day,” Shelby suggested. “We’ll come back tomorrow, rested, and try again.”
“We have no time!!” Sid yelled loudly. His face was red and his wrinkles tight. Shelby and Ed bickered.
Cynthia looked at Jerry, half hoping he would figure out the problem, while a part of her wished he wouldn’t. “Try again, Jerr,” she told him, trying to placate Sid.
“I’ve been trying my damndest to bypass the security screens, but we were too careful when we set it up. Even I can’t get past it,” said Jerry.
“I hired you for your expertise. You’re stupid and worthless!” Sid told Jerry. “And the rest of you–good for nothings, what good are you?!” He sneered at each of them in turn. Nobody dared to look Sid in the eye. They were silent.
“Be here at 6 a.m. sharp,” Sid finally said after two more hours of Jerry on the computer and the rest of them nervously sitting around waiting. Being dismissed, they left the room.
Arriving home, Jerry and Cynthia sat down on the green couch and swallowed their pellets. Jerry stared at the picture on the wall of Alexis as a newborn and the group of them gathered around.
“Did you ever think she’d betray us like this Cyn?” Jerry asked his wife.
“Lexy!” Cynthia exclaimed. At that moment she knew, her daughter was the reason the security program would not open. “Jerry,” she began, against her will. “If Alexis was there the day we sealed the security programs, does she need to be there to open them?”
The morning sun rose in the air, though Sid, Jerry, Cynthia, Shelby, and Ed had no idea how beautiful it was. They were in the computer room in Central Headquarters again. It was 7 a.m. The group picture from the Roberts’ wall was lying on the table near the computer.
“011520307,” Sid announced.
Seconds later, Alexis’ face and information appeared on the big monitor in front of them. “Modify CHIP status,” Sid told Murphy.
“CHIP status currently disengaged,” responded Murphy.
“Reactivate CHIP 011520307,” said Sid. The room was silent except for the humming of the computer.
“CHIP reactivated. 11520307 activated,” said Murphy.
“Good,” said Sid. “Terminate status modification program,” he ordered. “Locate CHIP 11520307,” Sid directed. “Now, we wait.”
“Sly, I’ve got the choppers fueled and waiting–we’ll get her as soon as she’s detected by the CHIP,” Gus told him in a nasally voice.
They all sat in front of the huge screen looking at a map of the world. “Any second now,” Jerry said. With bated breath, the five sat and stared at the screen. At 9 a.m., they were still there.
“I don’t understand it,” said Jerry.
“This has never happened,” Sid said impatiently. “Usually it just takes a few minutes.”
“We just need to be patient,” Ed said.
“Don’t talk to me like a Sunday School teacher!” Sid yelled at him. They argued heatedly.
“Look!” Shelby interrupted the men. “There.” She pointed to the map.
“Where in the…” Jerry began. A red blinking light in the middle of the ocean flashed on and off, revealing Alexis’ location.
“She’s somewhere in the South Pacific. How did she end up out there?” Sid asked.
“Something crazy’s going on and I bet that ole man was in on it. He didn’t tell us anything, but I bet he knew,” Ed said.
The wives looked on. They were all aware of the fate of the poor man. “What can we do? He was in the way. An obstacle,” shrugged Shelby, trying to reassure herself and Cynthia.