Hour 23: Out of Memory (By Michael Cassera)

“Are you leaving soon?”

“I’ll be getting out of here shortly,” Jack replied on the phone. “I’m just trying to figure out this one little programming issue.”

“Alice sounded exasperated. “Well, don’t be too long, you know how you get when you’re trying to solve a programming problem…”

“Don’t worry,” Jack replied. “I won’t be long.”

1062 8E E1 10 STX INCX2
1065 A2 C8 LDX #$C8
1067 A9 00 LDA #X2
1069 8D B2 10 STA TOX+1

Jack knew the issue was somewhere in those four lines of code, but he was struggling to figure it out. Normally, the solutions popped into his head and he tapped things out on the keyboard. He assembled, linked, and loaded the resulting machine code into the computer and the solution presented itself.

That was not the case this time. He stared at the code for longer than he expected. His eyes were red with weariness. He stretched his arms and fought off the hunger that was gnawing at his belly.

“One last look,” he thought to himself, “and then I’ll head home.” He rubbed at a new ache in his neck and cracked his knuckles.

1062 8E E1 10 STX INCX2
1065 A2 C8 LDX #$C8
1067 A9 00 LDA #X2
1069 8D B2 10 STA TOX+1

Still nothing. Jack was done. He’d figure it out after a good night’s sleep. He closed his eyes and picked up the cordless phone. He dialed Alice.

A sleepy voice picked up. “Hello?”

“Hey, honey. I’m on my way home. I’ll see you shortly.”

The voice responded. “Who is this?”

“It’s Jack, who else would be calling you this early in the morning. I know I took a little longer than I said, but come on…” Jack replied. he was tired and a little irritated. There was silence on the other end of the line.

Finally, Alice spoke. “Jack? You disappeared 22 years ago…”

Jack was bugged. “Quit it Alice. I’m tired and I’m…”

Jack turned around to face an abandoned office space. The reflection of an older version of himself stared back from a cracked computer screen. He looked at the blank screen, but he knew the dead offer no answers.

 

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