Code Breakers: Alpha by Colin F. Barnes
In 2153 the lottery didn’t just change lives, it ended them. And Gerry Cardle’s numbers were up.
Saturday morning and Gerry should have been at home with his family. Instead, in a mood that cast its own shadow, he walked through the ten-metre-high archway to Cemprom, the largest company in City Earth.
Being at work on the weekend never seemed right. It still had a low-level hum of productivity as hundreds of drone men and women rode glass escalators and busied themselves with etiquette, but the ferocious capitalism of a weekday was stymied by the ephemeral qualities of a Saturday. They weren’t really trying. It was as if the day on the calendar signalled a different mindset. Gave them a reason to divert from their usual routine, albeit in minuscule ways. One couldn’t divert too far from routine in City Earth.
The calmness appealed to him. He tried to cling to it in a vain attempt at quelling the anxiety that slithered through his nerve centre.
He approached the reception desk as usual, his suit neatly pressed by his wife, a fabric bangle around his left wrist that Marcy, his youngest daughter, made for him. Only today he was on edge. Those damned Death Lottery numbers haunted him. He shouldn’t be a winner. It was impossible.
They were waiting for him in his inbox earlier that morning, flashing away in his internal mind-interface as if they were mocking him. The term ‘winner’ held a cruel irony that he could never get over. Still, it was just a mistake. It’d get fixed. He knew there would be some logical explanation. He just had to see his boss and sort it all out.
It wasn’t right that someone like Gerry, one of the first on the exemption list, should be eligible for the D-Lottery. It must be something simple like a glitch or a bug in the system. That thought, however, was of little consolation. Gerry was the architect of the algorithm that was used to determine the ‘winners’, after all. If there was something wrong with the system, it was his responsibility.
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