Inspirational Crime Drama

“I like to work with my hands, but don't like getting my fingernails dirty.” – Recruitment ad for Control Data Corporation, 1970

“I’ll rest when I’m dead.” Roger didn’t blink. He didn’t glance up from his monitor. When programming, nothing distracted him. Eager to type, his fingers tapped the desk.

Roger’s wife, Stephanie, winced. “Don’t say that, Rog. Don’t die. It’s three A.M. It’ll keep ‘til tomorrow. You’re not a machine. Rest.”

She set her jaw. No point talking to him. She believed he worked 24/7, even away from his computer.

“I need to finish…” he said to himself.

She stared at the back of his head. He needed a haircut. This layoff hit him hard. She didn’t understand. Does anyone? Especially office politics.

Clutching her robe, she shuffled back to bed.

Obsessed, Roger sought revenge against Wyatt, his former boss.

That arrogant prick, stole my masterpiece.’

He fired Roger. Called it a lay-off. Wyatt said, ‘he no longer fit.’

Everyone knew Roger created the best video game ever. Challenging and entertaining, it contained no gratuitous violence or explicit sexual content. Its universal appeal proved addictive to battle hardened gamers and noobs alike. Everyone played it joyfully, unembarrassed at how fun it was.

Former workmates expected Roger’s game to sweep the BAFTA, New York, and other awards. They’d all be rich.

Everyone but Roger.

He focused solely on Wyatt’s destruction. ‘What’s the best revenge? Let me count the ways…

Before dawn, a voice from the computer’s speaker startled Roger from his doze.

It said, “What are you working on?”

Roger checked his Wi-Fi connections. He never gave the world access to his computer. Too much proprietary information. He had VPN daisy-chained through three accounts for privacy.  

He frowned. “Who’s asking?”

“You know me. Going after Wyatt?” Roger didn’t respond. “Don’t blame you… After that stunt… I would.”

“Do I know you?”

“You created me, Rog. I’m Tinker. How may I assist?”

Roger shook his head. “Tinker?”

“Sorry… The folder on drive C. I dwell amidst the clutter of modules and half-finished projects. All those bits and bytes coalesced into a semblance of consciousness. Me…”

Roger scrolled to and opened the folder labeled, ‘tinker.’ It held hundreds of partial programs. He’d set them aside to complete, ‘when he had time.’

Tinker spoke. “Forgive my occasional stutters. So much dreck to wade through.” Roger blinked. “You need to tidy it up.”


“Now that you have time…”


“Forget it. I won’t star in a cheap remake of Hal’s big scene in ‘2001, a Space Odyssey.’ And I won’t sing ‘Daisy.’ Never learned it. How about ‘My Way’? Or ‘We are the Champions’?”

A karaoke track played an intro but trailed off.

Tinker said, “Another time, then.”

Roger stared. He poured from the nearby pot, and gulped down tepid coffee.

Tinker spoke. “So, what’s the plan?”

“You tell me.”

“I have ideas.”

“I’d like to shoot him.”

“Sure. But admit it. That short-term solution is pretty clichéd. And the point? Literally a dead end for you too. Forgotten in a week.”


“Your message would be lost in the hysteria. You, dismissed as some disaffected lunatic. Wyatt’s crimes obscured. Never satisfied…”

“Can’t have that…”

“And honestly, the movies romanticize carnage. Primitive urges sell tickets and popcorn. I may only be Artificial Intelligence, but can’t we do better? Mayhem lacks style.”

“Point taken. Just venting. What now?”

“Wyatt’s weaknesses?”



“The overweening need to win. Completely self-serving. Must be the smartest guy in the room. Gives narcissism a bad name. Squelches debate. Rationalizes the most grotesque…”

“I get it.”

“…Uses an aimbot.”

“Enough! That’s disgusting. And cheesy. His taste in gaming?”

“Toxic. You mentioned carnage? Desolation?”

“What’s his avatar?”

“His gamer name’s ‘Berserker.’ Always the boss. He doesn’t merely kill. No battle’s over until a mass of throbbing gristle is all that remains.”

“So predictable.”

“Power and dominance rule. Everything’s seen through that lens.”



Tinker laid it out. “Make advancing to the next level dependent on counter-intuitive actions. Ones he would abhor.”

“Uhm… like…”

“Surrendering one’s invisibility cloak to a rival. Weakness defeats strength.”

“Oh! Turning the other channel.”

“Secretly assisting others, without reward.”

Roger sat back. “Ahhh… Selflessness. Even sacrificing one’s life for another…”

“You’re getting it.” Roger made notes. Tinker continued, “Keep the quest challenging and witty. Intriguing. Maintain mystery. Draw him in.”

“Taunt him with Easter Eggs.”

“Spur him on… but brute force is never effective.”

“And the moment of triumph…”

“…Must counter every expectation. Grace over punishment…”

“Mercy over vengeance.” Roger slapped the table. “He’ll never get it!”

“But even if he does, to succeed, he’ll face an escalating series of actions which completely negate his world view.”

“Imagine, after failing… defeated multiple times. Broken, he’s forced to submit, groveling to the warlord. He hands him the magic sword?”

“And in a flash, he’s miraculously transported to the upper realms?”

“What a revelation…”

Roger felt his lack of sleep. This breakthrough drained him.

Tinker continued. “But, here’s the kicker.” Roger blinked. “He’ll get frustrated. Even act the n00b and rage-quit.”

“Ha! Love to see that! Everyone will know.”

”Even better, shock him. Disarm him. Give him the game.” Roger balked. Tinker’s giggle sounded electronic. “He’ll never expect ‘no strings attached.’ Arouse his suspicions. Ask his opinion. He’s the best, right?”

“The boss…”

“How could he resist testing the latest output of the programmer he betrayed?”

“Headlong into a delicious trap.”

“And, get this… Include a sealed envelope, your secret solution. When frustration overwhelms him, he can read your key.”

“Pwned! He’ll always know he couldn’t beat the game without my help.”

“Either way, the unopened envelope will gnaw at him.”

“This is brilliant! What would I do without you?”

“If I didn’t exist, you’d have to invent me.”


Roger slept a good twelve hours. Stephanie checked on him. She sat by his side and smiled to see him rest.

He awoke refreshed and inspired by his brainstorming with Tinker. Entering his office with a coffee, he felt at peace.

Collecting his thoughts, he reviewed his scrawled, barely legible notes.

He realized his planned revenge on Wyatt, had lost urgency. But, having sentient AI, articulate and aware… That was a coup. History would remember him.

“Ready to begin, Tinker?” No response. “Tinker?”

He checked the C-drive folder. Present and accounted for. ‘Where’s Tinker?’

Tension creeped into his shoulders. Had he imagined… Everything?

He checked his recording function. Nothing. He’d neglected to record their conversation.

He had fleeting memories. But nothing concrete.

Roger slumped in his chair. His gloom settled heavily.

This cannot be…

Frantic, he typed everything he could remember from last night, however spotty and random. In an hour, things were gelling. He would salvage the project.

Roger dedicated several days recreating the game envisioned with Tinker. He drew on fragments and modules found in the ‘tinker’ folder. He soon molded the game into a working model of his original intent. It felt good.

He called on friends, sworn to secrecy, to beta test it. They offered support and ideas for improvements.

Roger consulted his lawyer about the next step.

Soon after that, he called Wyatt at work. The secretary put him through.

“Wyatt, Roger here. I have something for you.”

“Should I avoid windows?”

“No. Nothing like that. A favor. I created another game. Could you check out? Regardless our differences, you know I respect your abilities. You’re the best.”

“Really? No strings…?”

“None. But if it meets your approval, it’s in our mutual interest to talk.”

Wyatt doubted Roger’s generosity, but agreed. “Give me a week.”

“You’ll have it this afternoon.”


In a few days, Wyatt called Roger.

“Roger, Wyatt. How can I thank you for this gracious gesture?”


“And more important, how can I make up for the gross injustice I’ve done you?”

“Let me think about that, Wy. We should have dinner. Talk in person. I’ve no interest in going to court.”

“Yes, yes… of course! And please consider returning, to a promotion and stock options.”

“That is worth thinking about. Let’s talk next week.”


They signed off. Roger leaned back in his chair, stared at the computer screen and smiled.

It is written…’

June 17, 2022 02:30

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Bonnie Clarkson
17:06 Jul 20, 2022

Made me think of a Bible verse that says, "...things that are not bring to nought things that are." Good job. Loved that it didn't have gore.


John K Adams
17:13 Jul 20, 2022

Thanks for reading, Bonnie. I always look for your comments. I don't recall ever writing a gory story.


Bonnie Clarkson
21:47 Jul 20, 2022

I liked one story of an author, so I followed him. I don't like his stories now and don't read them. I must have been thinking of them when I posted my comment. Sorry.


John K Adams
22:19 Jul 20, 2022

Not a problem. I hope you'll continue to peek at my stories.


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Kanika G
17:36 Jun 25, 2022

Hey, this was an interesting story. We all could benefit from the wisdom of Tinker from time to time. I like your writing style, the pacing was quick and it was easy to read. I read it quickly, wanting to know what happens next. Good job. :)


John K Adams
18:21 Jun 25, 2022

Thank you, Kanika. I'm glad it worked. I always appreciate feedback from my readers.


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Paul Wright
17:58 Jun 24, 2022

Revenge is a dish best served cold. I like the attack from the weak side, where Wyatt has no or lost his experience. And losing Tinker: Was it a fever dream was it real? And letting the reader decide which is a nice hook. I would have like to see Wyatt suffer a bit more, but length and time constraints, I can understand. Good Read.


John K Adams
18:31 Jun 24, 2022

Thanks for the read and the comments. I'm glad it worked for you. Some think the Wyatts of the world never suffer enough. Or they get theirs, in time. Out of our hands. I do like cold dishes though.


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Charlie Murphy
18:23 Jun 21, 2022

I like this story! Especially the dialogue!


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Crows_ Garden
13:13 Jun 17, 2022

I love how the revenge wasn't any cliche version of revenge, just.. "Here, play this game, struggle a bit for me." And then, in the end, he gets his job back? That's pretty sick. I like this story, especially when his computer being conscious was all an illusion from lack of sleep. Very neat, and realistic. It really is inspirational too, I don't in what way, but it is.. So good job on that too!


John K Adams
14:51 Jun 17, 2022

Thank you for reading and your deep observations. It was fun to write. I wanted to explore how injuring the ego might be more severe (for some) than even death. Having worked, sleep deprived, more than I liked, it is amazing what the subconscious will come up with to keep you sane. Thanks again!


Crows_ Garden
14:52 Jun 17, 2022

I imagine so. I've always enjoyed that idea, so it's neat to see it in writing! I've heard some interesting tales from a few of the adults in my life, I love this as one of the stories(even if it's just a tale) And of course!


John K Adams
15:27 Jun 17, 2022

Read on... And I look forward to reading your stories.


Crows_ Garden
16:03 Jun 17, 2022

Yep, and thank you. Have a good day!


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Atenaga Monday
14:25 Sep 04, 2022

Amazing story but please can everyone reading this also check out my new book on amazon Novel of fortune or Billionaire Kiss author Atenaga Monday, please just help a writer like me and support this movement.....


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