by Randy Hulshizer
Type these two words to prove you are human.
“What the hell kind of test is that?” Gerald asked, spitting into the wind, his long, gray hair fluttering against his face. He stared at the glowing screen.
“Used to be,” Bert answered, chewing his lip thoughtfully, “machines weren’t real smart. They had problems with stuff like that.”
Gerald eyed Bert curiously. “Yeah? Well they sure don’t got a problem with it now, do they?” He lifted his boot and kicked at the screen, cracking it down the center and sending a cascade of sparks into the darkness.
Bert sighed audibly. “Guess we’re not getting in there tonight,” he remarked, pointing to the solid metal door built into the cliff wall next to the broken screen. “Sure would have been nice, though.”
“Nice for what?” Gerald spat again. The wind blew it back in his face. He wiped it off with his sleeve.
“Just some shelter, is all,” Bert replied, rubbing his hands together. “Probably had some heat. Maybe even some food.”
“Doubtful there’s anything left in there now,” Gerald said. “Probably just an empty cave.”
“Could’ve just typed those words, and the door would have opened,” Bert said. “Then we’d know for sure.”
Gerald turned away from the door. “No point whining about it,” he said. “Might as well keep going.”
“Yeah,” Bert replied. He turned and followed Gerald. “Might as well.” He paused and glanced back at the broken screen. “What were those two words, by the way?”
“Damned if I know,” Gerald said, spitting into the wind.
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Randy Hulshizer lives with his wife, daughter, and two dogs in beautiful, southeastern Pennsylvania. He has obtained undergraduate degrees and certificates in biology, biotechnology, computer science, and theology, also graduate degrees in medical science and English rhetoric and composition. He works for a scientific think-tank where he imagines and writes about the future of medical technology. Although he loves his job, he’s most at home hiking a mountain trail, resting beneath a tree with a cup a coffee in one hand and a book in the other, or sitting with a laptop before him and a story at his fingertips.