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The Business of Second Chances

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He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, and that does not sit well with Alan.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to make this whole sorry mess not happen. He doesn’t much like the idea of prison, but there’s no telling what the treatment might do to him – and either way, he’s been effectively cut out of his life’s work. At least they had the good grace to let him decide which is the lesser evil in peace.

“Really,” he can’t help thinking aloud, “I help save the world and this is how they thank me?”

“Perhaps it’s how they thank you, Mr. Turing, but there are those of us who have something different in mind.”

The new voice startles Alan out of his thoughts; he has to wonder when the colored woman sitting across from him came into the room. He’s sure he didn’t hear the door open, or any footsteps. And yet, there she is, hands folded in her lap and looking like she’s waiting for him to say something.

So Alan asks the first question he can force out of his mouth. “What do you mean?”

“The people I represent could use someone with your expertise.” The woman pulls a business card out of her pocket and passes it to him; Alan reads it, and frowns.

“South Dakota? What in the world could possibly require my services in South Dakota?”

The ghost of a smile flickers across the woman’s face. “A world of endless wonder, Mr. Turing. More importantly, one that doesn’t care how you spend your private time, so long as you’re not hurting anyone.”

That’s more than enough to give Alan pause. This can’t be a government thing, even though the business card nearly looks government-issue (but not quite; he’s never heard of any part of the American government embossing the Eye of Horus on their documents). ‘Endless wonder’ doesn’t tell him what it is, but it sounds more interesting than whatever’s going to be open to him after this bloody stupid trial.

“When you say you could use my expertise,” he says slowly, already considering this more than he’d like to be given how little he knows, “do you mean the cryptography or the computing?”

“Both,” the woman says – and in that moment, Alan makes up his mind.

“You’ve got my attention. When would you like me to start?”