Zero Tenacity

“Thanks again for the flowers, Mick. I’ll see you Tuesday,” The warden replied with a smile. The diamondback naga escorted his close friend to the employee gate to let him out. Before the fairy could properly say his goodbye, a blaring alarm interrupted their conversation. The warden stiffened and lifted himself slightly using his bottom half.

“Ah, Hell,” the warden mumbled. The large rattle at the end of his tail began buzzing. “Wait here, don’t let anyone through! I’ll be back in a sec.”  The Naga bolted off toward the main building.

Micky hovered by the unlocked gate for a few minutes to wait. The siren continued to blare and he heard a ton of commotion from inside the courtyard walls. He decided it was best to leave right then. He pushed the gate open slightly, then paused. When nothing happened Micky got bolder and fluttered through.

The moment he hovered through over the threshold into the sunny parking lot the sun, sky, and parking lot vanished. He whirled around to find himself standing on his own two human-sized legs. The fairy form was nowhere to be seen and he could not feel his wings anymore. The only other thing in what appeared to be an endless white void was a woman. She was tall and pale and wore a crisp white suit.

“Congratulations, you’ve escaped,” she said. “Now what?”

By his own count, Michael spent 26,500 days in prison. He had a lot of time to think. A lot of that time was spent wondering what he would do when he escaped, or even if he could. He was aware of his virtual prison and guessed it wouldn’t be as simple as walking out of the gate. In the end, he decided it wasn’t going to be up to him. He did not know what to expect; but, he hoped it would be something like this strange woman appearing after everything else disappeared.

“What are my options?” he replied quickly. “Something that doesn’t involve me going back.” The woman gave a curt nod.

“Unfortunately, returning to your body is not one,” she said. Mick nodded, he didn’t expect to.

“Yeah. After 70-plus years, I’m sure I’m a tree by now,” he said glumly.

“I admire your tenacity in gifting the warden a flower every day for 72 and a half years,” she said. “The exploit you discovered was an intentional oversight; a test of sorts. You were creative enough to befriend the guard and request the small favor of letting you step out for a few days. The test was intended to be a qualification too for employment at Sharp Development. However, my company is doing quite well at the moment. I don’t necessarily need any more employees. Your choices are to either come work for me, or don’t.”

“And if I don’t?” Michael asked. The woman shrugged and gestured at the air with her hand. A black portal opened.

“You’ve escaped, you’re no longer categorized as a prisoner. The AlterNet, and its thousands of servers, is now your home. My name is Dana Sharp, come find me if you change your mind.”  After her words, Dana disintegrated into white powder that disappeared before it landed. The black portal remained open and Michael dashed through it.

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