“Are you trying to make them explode?” Tracy had asked him when he showed her the work. She wasn’t a technical girl, but, she was a girl. A girl that actually talked to him, paid attention him, didn’t treat him like the other girls and, frankly, the guys at school did. He was a geek but, not a sheik geek. Just a head down, always thinking, always working, crazy father who had offed himself, genius with computers, kind of a geek. He didn’t understand fashion or social norms. He understood computers. Tracy seemed to understand him and that was good enough.
“No,” Josiah laughed, they were sitting in his bedroom, he was showing her the work, telling her his idea, exposing the plan to her. Trusting her. Trusting a person that wasn’t his mother. “No, the idea is that the program sends the signal, the signal corrupts the system. When the system is corrupted, in theory, the auto-drive should malfunction.”
“But, not blow up,” she asked, smiling, her eyes sparkling.
“Actually,” he said, thinking about it for a moment, “I don’t know. Maybe.” She whistled.
“I don’t know, Josey,” she said, “that sounds kind of risky.” He agreed but, he also knew that anything worth doing, came with risk.
“You know, when the scientists at Los Alamos set out to test the first nuclear explosions, they thought that there was a chance the explosion would ignite the nitrogen in the air and blow up the entire planet. One big explosion.” He told her and her eyes got wide.
“No way,” she said and slapped his arm. Something she did when he tried to pull her leg. Something that he liked. Both the leg pulling and the slap. The contact.
“Way,” he said and she laughed, “but, they did it anyway.” She thought about this and still, she wasn’t sure he was telling her the truth. “anyway,” he went on, “if they do explode, they won’t take the world with them and, they’re just … Robots so, who gives a shit.” He shocked himself by swearing. He wasn’t a kid who swore a lot and, he was always careful, if he did swear, not to do it around girls. His mother had told him that wasn’t polite. Told him nice boys didn’t use foul language around nice girls. Tracy was a nice girl. “Sorry,” he said, truly embarrassed.
“It’s ok, Josey,” she said, and took his hand, “I really understand what you’ve been through. I admire how you’ve handled it.” He felt a sudden rush of emotion that he had never felt before. He pulled his hand away and started pacing his room, talking quickly,
frantically about the program. She smiled, enjoying his shyness. She liked him. She thought she should tell him that. Soon.