Christmas Hiatus: PizzaLock

The blog is on hiatus for the Christmas season. New stories will return in January. Here’s one from the archives:

After a very long and very bad day at work, Clive got home so late it was already well into the next day. He let himself in through the front door as quietly as possible, tiptoeing to avoid waking his wife and children.

He went into the kitchen, turned a light on, threw his bag down on the counter top and went to the fridge, stomach rumbling and willpower long since exhausted. The bright light from the fridge blasted joyfully outwards, contrasting with the darkness outside the window. But all this empyrean glow revealed was a very sorry-looking packet of half-eaten cheese, incorrectly re-sealed by a son distracted by some video game.

Clive remembered that he had signed up for some new airborne pizza delivery service that he’d read about online. He pulled up the app on his smartphone, ordered a large supreme, and waited.

Twenty minutes later Clive winced as a loud buzzing noise could be heard in the front garden. He opened the front door to reveal a small quadrocopter floating outside. Slung underneath it was a large flat box, which it placed carefully on the front path. The quadrocopter released and flew off into the night. Clive picked the box up and returned to the kitchen.

The box was heavy, metal, sturdy and impenetrable. He pressed the button on the top.

Thank you for ordering AirPizza,” said an electronic voice. “For your security, your delivery is protected by PizzaLock. Please state your password.

Oh no.

Tension threatened to scream out from Clive’s lungs. He was so hungry, so tired. The pizza box, immune to his plight, sat unperturbed on the kitchen counter.

What was the password? He had set up the service three months ago. He couldn’t even remember if he had written it down. Oh well, try the usual.

“Twinkletoes,” he said.

Incorrect,” said the box.

He sighed, resting his head in his hands.

“Correct-horse-battery-staple?”

Incorrect.

“It’s a pizza. Why does it need a password, for heaven’s sake?”

Incorrect. Would you like to try the security questions?

He sighed, again. “Yes.”

What is your favourite colour?

Are forty-somethings supposed to still have favourite colours?

“Blue.” He’d had a blue blanket when he was six. Or had it been green?

Incorrect. What is your favourite TV show?

Like he had time to watch TV. “Thunderbirds.”

Incorrect. What was the last book you read?

Oh my, how embarrassing. Surely he hadn’t told the truth when he signed up?

“Fift… The Count of Monte Cristo.”

Incorrect. Destroying pizza.

“No wait!” he cried, too late. The box vibrated, then fell into deathly silence. Then a small vent opened on the top, and steam floated out. It smelled delicious, unfortunately.

Clive picked the box up, turned it over and shook. A few blackened crumbs fell out from the vent. He slammed the box back down on the counter.

He took the remains of the old cheese from the fridge and cried into it until the sun rose.

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