The Long Road Book

Sample Chapter. . .

To Error is Human

The computer had been spitting out garbage for the last half hour. The computer operator noted that to really screw things up requires a computer. They used to keep track of people on paper with checkboxes and roman numerals. Nowadays the computers were keeping track of everything and only printing reports as needed. However, the last few weeks it seemed every report was just a garbage mess; they didn’t make any sense. The man who operated the computer called tech support and asked someone to come in and tune the reports again so they could make sense of the last month’s reports.

Alex isn’t the computer operator; he isn’t even the tech support. Alex is Amber’s boyfriend, unofficially and off the record. They meet in random places and ask each other for a name and find some excuse to go off and have fun when they’re not riding motorcycles together. You see, both Alex and Amber live in a time when dating is not permitted. They are both to be married to different people, by a pre-arranged system that is way outdated. They do, however, love each other, so it’s all good as far as they are concerned.

The computers that keep track of who and where people are work off twenty-seven-digit PINs in the mobile phones everyone now carries. People are tracked based upon proximity to each other’s phones, and the reporting detects people that spend too much time together. What most people don’t know is that Amber is a computer hacker and Alex built a box that scrambles the twenty-seven-digit PIN code into a different number every time their phones enter a hundred-foot proximity.

Alex figures they can see each other a few thousand times before they must either get new IDs or figure out a way to get married. Amber keeps track of patterns to make sure things stay random and chaotic; Alex makes sure the bikes are tuned and in tip-top shape. The computer operator doesn’t know it. The data being spit out of the computer system in number nine southwest is accurate, but no one in their right mind would believe it. Amber’s program makes sure that the reports always show her leaving just five minutes before Alex ever enters the area. Sometimes it’s true, if you count where Alex was a week ago and where Amber is now.

Alex is headed north by northwest; Amber is headed west and fast. At over 130 miles an hour, she’s the fastest thing on the road; maybe except for Alex, who is doing 198.

Alex, in his spare time, works as a water garden sculptor. His clients pay premium prices for his service of knowing how to create the most Zen garden with koi imaginable. His current project has been on the clock for some three thousand hours. He spends his time putting the perfect finish on the black rock that makes the waterfalls look like black ice. Before he’s finished, he will have used a half ton of black rock and about two tons of rock and pebbles in a ten-thousand-square-foot area with a large koi pond at the bottom.

Amber’s family is independently wealthy. Old money, so they say. Amber spends her time in books, writing letters to friends, and dreading her upcoming marriage in just two years. She has no idea who they have her paired with, and she doesn’t want to think about it. All she cares about is seeing Alex again, and riding on her motorcycle. Alex hasn’t received his notice of marriage, however, he’s due for it any day now.

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