Program 29-us89n4xMark Tullius / Science Fiction
A short story from 5 More Perfect Days by
An excerpt from
5 More Perfect Days
Copyright © 2014 by Mark Tullius
Published by Vincere Press
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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters and events portrayed in this book are either fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Cover by Brian Esquivel
Table of Contents
A Note to the Reader
About the Author
Five Minutes Alone
Fourteen Angry Marchers
Excerpt from Try Not to Die: At Grandma’s House
A Note to the Reader
“29-US89N4X” is the first story in 5 More Perfect Days, the companion novella to 25 Perfect Days. While I have attempted to make “29” and the other stories in 5 More strong enough to stand on their own, their main purpose is to enhance the original novel, answering some questions, creating others. This story takes place in 2039, after “5 Minutes Alone” and “14 Angry Marchers” which I have included after “29.” I recommend you read those stories first to get a better feel for the world. Here’s a look how the new 5 stories fit in.
Five Minutes Alone August 19, 2036
Fourteen Angry Marchers October 11, 2037
29-US89N4X (5 More) June 21, 2039
Thirteenth on the List September 11, 2041
Nine Months Later December 18, 2042
Four Percent June 2, 2043
Twenty-One Seats June 20, 2044
Fifteen May 20, 2045
Nineteen in a Row April 24, 2046
Ten Drops of Bleach May 4, 2047
30 Day Program (5 More) March 23, 2048
Eleven Times More Likely August 16, 2049
Six Hail Mary’s June 26, 2050
Twenty-Four Hour Bullshit November 1, 2052
Three Sacred Truths August 12, 2053
Seven to Go August 31, 2054
28 Blocks (5 More) September 30, 2055
Eight Out of Nine December 17, 2056
Eighteen is Enough May 8, 2057
Twenty-Twenty November 4, 2058
26 Pills (5 More) January 21, 2059
Two Minutes to Midnight November 14, 2061
One Last Bedtime Story February 1, 2063
Twelve O’Clock High November 14, 2066
Twenty-Two Pine Avenue March 6, 2067
Sixteen Acres December 24, 2068
Seventeen Soldiers August 1, 2072
Twenty-Third District March 31, 2074
25th of December December 25, 2076
27 Generals (5 More) December 31, 2076
June 21, 2039
Walt Jaworski pulled up to the gate and lowered the cruiser’s window. He slipped off the recog glasses recently banned inside HQ and faced the mirrored guard shack. When had he gotten so old? Fifty-one and still in the field, his dyed brown hair not fooling anyone. He gave his name and agent number to the small silver box, waited for the retinal scan. The gate rolled open. Walt drove through to the final security checkpoint, none of them manned by humans – Dreschner’s latest efficiency reform. Walt wondered how long before he would be replaced by a machine.
The sun reflected off the massive, gunmetal gray building. Walt parked three rows from the entrance. It’d been six months since he’d been called into HQ, and that had only been to escort an analyst to the Retraining Center. This morning, dispatch said Dreschner needed to see him. Walt knew this couldn’t be good. Rumor was that Dreschner no longer saw anyone.
Walt checked his smile in the rearview. “It’ll be fine,” he said. He got out and closed the door, the clenched fist of the Controllers’ logo emblazoned on the side. He straightened his black uniform, reminded himself he was one of the best agents in the field. Maybe this was about his oldest son, Brian, who’d been submitting applications for almost a year. Maybe they were going to finally offer him a position.
The steel door slid open and snapped shut behind him. Walt stepped into the pristine, white lobby. Huggins, Dreschner’s weasel of an assistant, was waiting, arms crossed. Talking as if he were the heavily muscled guard standing behind him, Huggins said, “Your guns. Both of them.”
Walt watched Huggins’ beady eyes. “Never had to before.”
Huggins wasn’t amused. “New policy.”
Walt handed over the .45 at his waist and the snub nose .40 strapped to his ankle.
Huggins gave the .40 to the guard, kept his eyes on Walt. “You know you’ll have to make the switch.”
Walt nodded at the Huggins’ particle pistol. “I don’t trust those things.”
Huggins headed down the hallway, finger on the .45’s trigger. “Follow me.”
Walt looked at the guard, “You a new policy too?”
The guard motioned with the .40’s barrel for Walt to get moving.
Huggins said, “You talk too much.”
Walt bit his lip. He wasn’t about to throw this job away because of some power-hungry little prick.
Walt followed Huggins into the glass tube suspended a hundred feet over the building’s Data Collection hub. Analysts in silver suits and matching headphones sat at their consoles, fingers scrolling through lines of encryption.
Becoming an analyst was even more grueling than the process for becoming a field agent. The agency couldn’t afford to hire the wrong candidate. If a field agent went rogue, he could be tracked and eliminated. An analyst could spread a million secrets. Analysts had to be meticulous, loyal, and, above all, cold. If the information called for action, they had to follow protocol. They had to be above reproach. Even though Walt had handled some things he’d rather forget, he always had the assurance that it had been thoroughly researched and based on facts.
In front of the analysts below was a giant screen playing a two-year-old clip of the President behind his desk, his words piped through speakers and scrolling across his chest. Walt didn’t have to read them or listen. He’d heard the speech a thousand times. He concentrated on his breath, tried not to think of how Huggins was walking, back straight, long strides. Walt had escorted enough people to know this wasn’t a friendly visit. He tried to think if there was anything he might have recently done,