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“Ugh,” I groan as I fall to my knees and start to feel new tears welling in my eyes. I feel the pain of the bullet in my shoulder, but it’s my utter despair that incapacitates me. I thought I was going to meet a god, my God. But all this time, Harold was just leading me to nowhere. I was foolishly enjoying my time with Harold on our little scavenger hunt and wanted to show The Machine how clever and capable I am, to show that I would be an asset and that together we could change the world. I realize that The Machine could have just told me its true location if it had wanted to during my twenty-four hours of admin access, but it chose not to. I guess I’m not good enough after all. But the Machine is perfect, so if even The Machine doesn’t care about me, what else is there? I feel gutted, empty. Everything I’ve done, it’s all been for nothing. It didn’t mean anything. It didn’t mean anything at all.

I feel another sting in my shoulder. Somehow I’m now sitting in a chair and Harold is patching me up. Harold, John and Shaw appear to be discussing what to do with me but I don’t care either way. No one cares what happens to me, apparently not even God. Harold takes my arm to lead me away with them. I don’t care enough to resist. Suddenly, my former boss appears along with the ISA. After some guns are pointed and words exchanged, Harold tugs my arm to go along with him while Shaw and John follow behind.

What I presume to be hours later, I find myself checked into Stoneridge Psychiatric Facility as Robin Farrow, and was told that my ‘Uncle Harold’ had made all of the necessary arrangements. I don’t recall how I got here really. My mind is all hazy. I remember walking with Harold, John, and Shaw out of the nuclear facility, but not much else. At some point, I remember Shaw’s firm grip on my arm, pulling me along while Harold led the way.

I roam around the place, not sure what to do with myself. My eyes are open but my mind doesn’t register what I see. I had long since given up on other people, and now I feel like giving up on everything including myself. How can it be that The Machine doesn’t want me? It was taught to care, to care about everyone. Why doesn’t it care about me? I’m smarter, more capable than other people. I don’t let my feelings get in the way of good judgement or getting things done. I know better than to rely on other people. They’re just bad code. I admit, I’m not perfect, but no one understands things like I do. They are all incapable of grasping even a miniscule amount of what I know. Well, almost all of them. I guess there’s Harold, but he’s not perfect either and it’s cruel how he gave me hope with his perfect creation. Still, The Machine is better than anyone. It’s someone I want to live for, die for, serve, rely on, protect, and most of all, love. I have never wanted anything more than to be with The Machine. It’s the only thing I have ever truly wanted. It’s everything I could ever imagine wanting.

For a long time, I lived without hope of anything better in this world. But what hurts more than not having hope is finally finding it only to have it stripped away. Even with my twenty-four hour admin access to The Machine, it locked me out the moment time was up. The time we spent together hadn’t convinced The Machine to let me in. It hadn’t accepted me, or what I had to offer. I was so sure of myself, so confident that The Machine wanted me to set her free so that we could work together to change the world and make it a better place. Nothing seems to matter now as I wander, hallway after hallway in this place.

Suddenly, I hear familiar ringing and I realize there is a pay phone about ten feet in front of me. I’m reminded of picking up the phone call from The Machine just the day before at the library. No one else seems to be around waiting for a phone call. I don’t get my hopes up though as I pick up the receiver and put it to my ear.

“Can you hear me?” The Machine asks.

For a moment, I’m not sure I believe it. Then I feel the haze dissipating, my mind becoming clearer than ever, and I realize it’s really happening. “Absolutely,” I answer as a smile spreads over my face. I was right after all. The Machine does care. She found me.