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Chapter 6 – Part 2
Martin picked up the juggling balls as Lisa stuck her tongue out at Sam. ‘Daft?’ she said.
Sam shrugged. ‘Sorry.’
‘Do you think it matters which ball goes in which hole?’ Martin inspected the balls.
Sam shrugged again. ’They all look the same.’
Martin put one ball in each hole. There was a whirring noise from the cube. A few moments later the coverings of the balls were spat back out of the holes.
‘Well, that’s buggered those balls, then,’ Sam said, prodding the fragments with his fingers. He looked up at Martin. ‘Good job you didn’t want to juggle with them.’
‘Hang on a minute, darlings,’ the computer said, in a slow, sultry female voice.
‘What the hell is going on here?’ Lisa squeezed Martin’s arm as she stared at the computer. She turned and glared intently into Martin’s face. ‘This isn’t some weird joke you two have cooked up between you, is it?’
‘No, honestly. I’m just as confused as you.’
‘Ahhhh,’ the computer sighed languidly. ‘That’s much better. Still, it is a bit cramped in here, but I suppose it will have to do for now. Lisa, my darling, don’t worry all will be explained as soon as possible, I promise. I’ll just say that again: do not worry, and by the way, my dear, Martin loves you.’
After a few moments of silence, the computer started to hum a little tune under what would have been its breath, if it had any. ‘Oh, silly me, nearly forgot…. I’ve a reminder here saying Annabelle will be in touch very soon. Bye for now, my darlings. Kiss, kiss.’
Less than a second later, the email icon flashed on the screen and the computer sighed ‘Oh, hang on, darlings. Looks like you’ve got an email, Martin, my love. Would you like me to show it to you?’
‘Y… yes…. Yes. Please.’ Martin wondered if the computer could hear him.
‘I knew you would,’ the computer purred. ‘By the way, there’s no need to be so formal, my angel,’ the computer chided him. ‘After all, we’ve known each other for sooo looong, haven’t we?’
Martin, Sam and Lisa look at each other, puzzled. Martin just shrugged and shook his head.
‘Anyway….’ the computer breathed.’ The email says: Parts ordered details to follow. Credit card of Mr M. Laws, number 4434 5678123 debited. Express delivery confirmed.’
‘It looks like I’ve just paid for receiving these parcels, which is odd,’ Martin said.
‘Why,’ Lisa said.
‘Because I don’t have a credit card any more. It was cancelled over nine months ago.’
‘This is getting very weird. Too weird.’ Lisa sat down on Martin’s desk, staring at the computer as it began humming another little song to itself. Lisa shivered and Martin held her hand.
‘What did it mean?’ She said, ‘Who is this Annabelle?’
‘I don’t know,’ Martin said. ‘I have no idea who Annabelle is?’
‘A-hem,’ Sam coughed. ‘Have you worked out what is happening here yet, or are you too busy getting off with each other? Perhaps you ought to try asking the computer just what the fuck is going on.’
‘Hang on,’ Martin, leaning around Lisa, cleared his throat. ‘Shit,’ he said. ‘What do I say?’ Martin sat up straight, realised he was still holding Lisa’s hand, dropped it, looked into Lisa’s eyes and took her hand again. ‘Er… hmmm…. Computer?’
The computer stopped humming to itself. ‘Yes, Martin? What can I do for you, sweetheart?’
‘Er….’ Martin looked around at the other two, who both shrugged.
‘By the way, Martin?’ the computer whispered. ‘You don’t have to call me Computer, not after all we’ve been through. I would have thought you’d know that.’
‘Er… excuse me, but what is your name?’ Martin said.
‘Don’t be silly, Martin, it’s Hermione, of course,’ the computer replied. ‘After all, you of all people should know that.’
‘Er… why should I know that… Comp… er… Hermione?’ Martin said, mystified.
‘Because, obviously, my love, it was you who made me like this.’