“Soon, the world will be mine.”
He said it plainly, matter-of-factly, but there was a hint of conceit in his voice.
“You’re mad!” was the reply, “It’ll never work!” said the boy, desperately. He had experienced this kind of thing before – in his video games – but this was different. This was reality.
Dan Benton was a computer genius. Many people generalised about him and many disliked him, but he was, in fact, a nice boy. He worked hard at school and was never arrogant or smug. Excepting all those who were jealous about his technological talents – for that was the truth behind the bullying – he was very popular. But Dan had one fault. He was completely addicted to computer games. He played them, he wrote them, he swapped them, he won them…and yet he never tired of them.
At school, he was known for carrying a spare battery in his pocket. Always. He was also something of a celebrity of the gaming world. He never bragged, but many of his friends had written about him over the internet and he had become quite famous. He was often sent requests for advice and cheats and he had even set up his own website where fellow gamers posted questions for him.
He had been reading through these comments when a particular post caught his attention. It said:
My name is Indur Kand. You may have heard of me – I own a successful technology company called Abstract Reality. I have seen your excellent website and realise what exceptional potential you have. I would like to invite you personally to our headquarters, because we had recently had a problem with one of our video games, which I understand you have a great interest in. I believe you may be able to help us, in making and testing this game. If you are interested, please contact me with the details below.
I would be delighted if you could come,
When he woke up, Dan felt stiff. His vision was blurred, but he soon focused. In front of him, he saw a huge tank of water and he seemed to be in a small chamber. Then a voice crackled around the room:
“Benton! I have sent the message.” It was Kand. “My plan will succeed, unless they discover where I am. But there’s no chance of that! I will give them five minutes to decide. Their decision will be quick I am sure, as I have added a twist. If they decide to refuse me, that tank of water will overturn. It will freeze you. There is only one way you can save yourself. You must crack the codes on that computer. Very unlikely. Goodbye, Dan.”
His infamous laugh echoed around the room. A digital timer flickered onto the wall.
A burst of energy flowed through his veins, dispelling his drowsiness. He rushed to the computer. In front of him he saw a thousand, maybe even a million calculations. Kand was right – he would never decipher them in time. Dan slumped to the floor. It was hopeless. Then, a voice came to life in his head.
“No! You can’t solve it…but a programme can!”
His heart was beating twice as fast. He knew just what to do.
His hands set to work, frantically typing commands into the computer.
The programme was half written.
He had nearly finished. His hands ached.
He slammed his finger down on the return key. In a second, all of the calculations were done. Dan smiled. His fingers were buzzing, his eyes strained. But he had done it. Relief flushed over him.
His eyes flicked to the timer. One minute left. Then a thought flashed through his mind in a panic. What if Kand was lying? It seemed likely. No one would know where he was, they couldn’t stop Kand’s plan, they couldn’t stop the water tank… He had to let someone know.
Hopelessly, he tapped the keys and clicked the mouse. His eyes flew over the display, looking for a way to contact someone. But of course, that would be too easy! Then, the answer jumped out at him. Kand had believed he had thought of everything, but he was wrong. In his desire to trick Dan, Kand had not even searched him. Dan reached into his pocket. He always always carried a spare battery. Just in case.
His hands shaking, he wrenched the wire from the back of the computer. He connected the battery to the wires, hoping to short circuit the system. Nothing happened. He ran over to the tank of water, cupped some water in his hands and threw it over the computer. He rushed for cover as the computer surged with energy. The lights went out, along with the timer on the wall. Kand’s whole system was shut down in an instant. His trick had backfired.
Dan knew he had done it. He slumped on the floor, overcome with relief and exhaustion. He hardly heard the police sirens outside a few minutes later, or the men crashing the door down.
“Blimey, kid, you just saved the world!”
A faced-paced short story drenched in suspense right up until the end.