I wrote this story for a postcard competition where the limit was 300 words
Lorna pushed the tub of ice cream along the checkout, fingers crossed that she had not used up her allowance for this month. She placed her loyalty card next to the milk and vegetables, to lessen the effect, but then, she thought, computers don’t have feelings.
Beep, beep, Beeep. The sound was so loud Lorna was sure the whole shopping centre had heard her purchase being rejected.
“You have exceeded your monthly limit for ice cream,” said the associate, in a bored drawl.
Lorna wondered how many times a day she said this. People were lining up behind her, and Lorna just wanted to get out quickly, to spare the humiliation of the whole world knowing she had pigged out on ice cream.
Damn those customer cards and their hidden information. If only there were some way to fool the computer into allowing her more calories. The associate placed the ice cream in a basket with other rejected items: chips, sugared drinks, chocolate. Outside a lonely dog whined.
“Oh, I forgot something!” Lorna squeezed past the people waiting behind her and grabbed a packet of dog food. The computer accepted the purchase this time, generating a printed notice along with the receipt.
“You have not previously registered as a dog owner,” droned the associate, “you have one week to complete registration before purchases will be rejected.”
Lorna did not mind; she did not have a dog, but she intended to find someone who did; someone who would trade her dog food for some ice cream. Ha! She would fool the computer yet.
“Have a nice day,” intoned the associate, slapping a ‘sold’ sticker on the dog food packet.
Outside the store Lorna laughed.
A tiny lens inside the ‘o’ of ‘sold’ clicked open and began recording her every move.