Hay in a Needle-stack.

“Mr Morris, do we really need this?”

“Uh, yes, Sir. This will only help your RAM work efficiently.”

“You know, we don’t really ‘invent’ things here, so, I don’t quite see the purpose.

“Mr. Reddy, this works just fine with unlicensed Operating System(s), too.”

Mr Reddy didn’t give a fuck about making an attempt to feel embarrassed. He knew he didn’t own the institution, and that he was just a pawn who is being used, and getting paid for it.

“I’ll send in the Key to authenticate all the software, once I get back to my office.”

Mr Morris was Cosmetic Santa’s Head of R&D. It didn’t surprise Mr Reddy that a man in his position had come all the way down to a quasi — junkyard, to install a fuckall software on outdated desktop computers. It didn’t surprise us either, later, that he didn’t find it surprising. His job was to do his job. That is the thing about ATRI: nobody gives a barbecued fuck about anybody else’s ‘job’.

Two hundered metres away:

“Move disk 4 to the III tower, and maybe then, we can use recursion to move the others.” I said gulping Coca-Cola down my throat.

“Let’s just try to balance out the two towers before we move to tower three, shall we?” Trent was always the astute. Here, he wasn’t like himself.

“Wait,” Quentin said with a spark of desolate happiness in his eyes. He was missing the love of his life, but he knew a bigger — shitter — mess was the scream of the oblivious hour.

“Let’s try to use their ASCII values, before we try sorting them.”

Though it made no sense in the moments of haste, but, in hindsight, it was an eerily prescient thread of thought.

“Won’t work!” I was about to implode with the joy of having proved him wrong.

“Why the fuck do people condescend?”

“We will have to take it three towers at a time. I have no idea how, I’m not the smart computer astrophysicist here, but I’m trying.” Taylor butted in. His loathing was obvious. He had girlfriend(s) to attend to, women to swoon away with cheesy one-liners.

I looked at Trent. He looked intense. A look I hadn’t seen him wear since he was accused of sexually assaulting me.

“Jam, give me those notes.” Nobody seemed to have any idea as to how to break it down. We were working away, tenaciously, at making history, and the world we lived in, was preparing itself for a soiree with pyrotechnics.

“This is insane. We’ve tried 33 million possible combinations, and the weighs never balance. Why are we even trying?” I craved more Coca-Cola.

Quentin, now staring into the abhorrently delightful terrain, the cafeteria was, absentmindedly answered, “Let’s chuck it!”

“N-n-O-o!” Said I and Trent, but not in unison.

Taylor was beaming away at his new found delight. Some girl had texted him, and he forgot all about the towers.

We stared at each other for a few minutes. Four years of knowing each other. We’ve never felt more naked before.

I craved Coca-Cola.

“This task is punitive!” Trent said, after a minute of gazing at ugliness, manliness and handsomeness (Me, Quentin and Taylor. Thank you.), throwing his hands in the air.

The ugly in me started feeling lonely. I pulled my phone out to make a call, when it started ringing. I never really liked ‘Prayer in C’ but stuck with it, for it made the least annoying ringtone.

“Hell-o?” I was too thirsty to answer with etiquette.

“Jaaaaaammmiiieee!” The women squealed.

“Not here.” I said, and tried to hang up.

“DUDE, LAB SIR WANTS YOU URGENT IT IS.”

I craved Coca-Cola, peace and sleep.

“Who is it?” Taylor asked, looking up.

“Who’d this be?” I asked with no morose.

“Itzz meyyy, Jolly.” The voice tried to answer.

“Some nobody.” I said, as they all continued staring at me.

“What is it, Jolly?” I was clinging onto nerves, the way leaves cling onto tress in Spring.

“Saar needs ur halp.”

“Okay. How so?”

“Actually, he need ur, Trentie, Tailor, and Qwweentin help also.” She spoke like a true Prabhas fan.

“With what, Jolly? Help with what?” I was holding back.

How come every body has my contact? I stared away. Craving. Wishing.

“Lab computer is damaged, Deu-dah, he need four you all to repair. Or else blast they will.” She hung up.

As happy as I was that she’d hung up, I took a moment to decipher what Tollywood’s third-grade Robertvaram Naidu-don had thrown at me.

“What is it?” Annoyance asked.

“Some girl Taylor would happily do, says the lab ass needs our help.”

“Let’s go.” No, it wasn’t Taylor who said that. Trent said so, getting up, in what could be regarded, ‘faster than a flash.’

We rose. Walked up to the old, despondent NEW block. The despotic owner of this chain of institution’s Audi was parked in the ‘No Parking’ zone.

Misplaced Prerogative,” I thought to myself.

We paced to the lab, to find the despotic, the charming, and the Jon Snow there.

“Sir, you called for us?” Trent asked with pleasant amity.

“Yes. Yes.” The charming was delighted at our sight.

“How can we be of any service here, Sir?” I asked, portentous as always.

“The Head of R&D from Cosmetic Santa was here, a while ago, and he’s installed some kind of an explosive virus onto our systems. Look at that screen,” he pointed towards a monitor begging to be relieved, “it will explode in five minutes.” He was still very charming.

“What the actual fuck?” No body said.

“What the actual fuck?” I spoke for all.

“Long story short: The college owes Cosmetic Santa £7 million, and the debt has now crossed a maximum waiting time limit.” Charming tried not to scoff at despotic’s current state of entropy.

“How can we help you, Sir?” Taylor asked.

“Do sumthn. The ‘motham’ building will fall. We have to prevent this.” Despotic spoke up. He was quacking.

We were all flabbergasted by the authentic grammar of that last sentence.

“Guyzzz?” The Jon Snow said.

“I’ll take a look.” Trent rushed to the moniker of a monitor.

“I grabbed a seat next to him.”

“Holy Shite!” I didn’t hold back.

“What?” Taylor asked, while still exchanging pleasantries over WhatsApp Messenger.

“It is grade A. This isn’t grey box. Check the source code. Untraceable. Multi layered masquerading. It is forcing the Operating System to shred all files, and simultaneously executing all the binary files stored on the HDD, thereby making the CPU heat up like a bazooka!”

“Wow!” We said in Unison.

“Jam!” Trent smiled with that spark in his eye!

“Yes. Fuck yes. The Towers!”

Everyone acted surprised. They sucked.

The dark had given in.

“The what?” The Jon Snow asked.

“Step back, bald mister.” I said, as I got up to fetch my laptop.

“What is it, Jamm-ee?” The despotic asked.

“Sir, we could explain, but you don’t have the liberal ability to fathom it.” Quentin spoke.

I rushed to the desktop, passed Trent a 3.0 USB , and he began to work.

The CPU cabinet was now an incinerator.

Two minutes left..

The message on the monitor read.

“Trent, no time.” I pointed out.

Quentin, Taylor grabbed The JS, The C, and The D, by their arms, and pulled them out. They ran towards the road. Ran for their life.

“Cut off the power inverter supply?” I asked Trent.

“Too late. It is grid based, we don’t believe in Cloud Computing, evidently!” He scoffed.

“I’m trying to run override, the class is private, and might be abstract.” I said without looking up.

“Are you in?” He asked.

“Fuck, no!” I said.

“Are you?” I asked.

“Fuck, no!” He said.

We exchanged glances. Four years of life stated at us, warmest of air ballooning up in between us.

He had a girlfriend. I had a girl to propose to, ten years later.

“What?” He asked.

“R — Fucking — U- Fucking — N!” I howled.

For the next fifteen seconds, we ran like we had no paunch. We could see Q, The JS, T, The C, The D, running for their lives.

It hit me,

How the fuck can he leave his Audi behind.

“Jam, run, faster. Run.”

The next day:

“Cllg remaimzz spended bcoz or cllg bilding gt fire nd d cp lab nd d lp got burned.”

After reading the text over my phone, from the class rep, I called Trent up,

“Shall we call IEEE?”

“Are you kidding me? I already did.”

“And?”

“We are flying to LA, bloke!”

“Congratulations, we’ve cracked the Towers of Hanoi, and did it with some help from our college.”

“You think I should call Cosmetic Santa up and thank them?” I could hear him beaming.

“Don’t.” I said. Hung up. I went back to sleeping again.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.