Flash Friday: Compact Edition

Sometimes the inside of my head is a strange place to be. I’ve heard this announcement made at a real grocery store. This is what I imagine is happening:

 

Zea Mays leaned on the flower counter. She adjusted her name tag and then bit her fingernail. She picked up a spray bottle labelled ‘all purpose cleaner’ and spritzed the counter.

“Hey Bill, how many purposes can it have besides cleaning?” Zea waggled the bottle at him.

Bill was across the aisle stocking oversized bags of 100 calorie chocolate bars. The loudspeaker crackled, and she straightened up to listen.

“Attention Associates, it is now nine o’clock. All departments to the compactor.” It was her manager, Bob, calling the weekly meeting.

Bill didn’t answer her, just hitched up his pants and headed slowly toward the back of the store. Linea, the lone cashier, gave her a sympathetic look. It disappeared as a customer arrived.

‘Good morning,” Linea enthused. “I hope you’ve had a pleasant shopping experience!”

Zea rolled her eyes, and headed off after Bill.

At the warehouse doors the floor tiles gave way to a stark cement. It was always chilly here no matter what time of year. Zea hugged herself and walked back towards the large open space by the compactor. She could see that nearly everyone was there. Bill shifted his feet nervously. Shanna adjusted the feathered roach clips in her pink hair. There were some newer people too, whose names she hadn’t bothered to learn. What was the point?

The compactor smelled like dead raccoons. It had a big red button under a large warning sign. Climbing into this compactor without first disconnecting the power can cause serious injury or death, it read. Eugene Tanaka from the meat counter slipped up behind Zea, last as always. When Zea turned he raised his eyebrows and shrugged, but didn’t say anything. He had been having a rough time at home lately, and his work had been suffering. Everyone knew.

“Is everyone here?” Bob looked around. “Ok, then lets start. We’ve got an announcement today. Bill is celebrating ten years with us. Let’s give him a hand.”

Bob paused and there was clapping of varying enthusiasm. Bill smiled and looked at the floor.

“Let’s hope you’re with us another ten, Bill. But we can’t all be here that long, so lets get down to business. Overall productivity has gone up in the last month. But this last week sales have failed to meet our targets…” Bob droned on and Zea tuned out.

“Finally,” Bob continued, “our associate of the week.”

Zea’s head snapped up, and she hugged herself tighter. Bob’s gaze turned toward her, but it passed over her as if she was invisible and stopped at Eugene. Zea held her breath.

“Eugene,” Bob began, “I don’t want to make this any harder than it has to be. But you know the drill. Bill?”

Eugene had gone white. He started shaking his head and backing away. Bill grasped him from behind and marched him toward the compactor. “No, No! I can do better next week. I swear!” He struggled against Bill. Eventually Bob had to take Eugene’s legs and tip him into the compactor. Bill shut and latched the door.

Zea had already turned and was starting to walk away when Bob pressed the red button. Eugene’s screams got more frantic and were abruptly cut of with the metallic clank and crunch of the compactor.

In Soviet Russia Robot Controls You

This story is making its way around the interwebs lately, but it seems to date from last November. It seems simple enough: cute anthropomorphic robot controls a human arm to drop a ball into a tiny basketball net.

The ultimate aim of this exercise is to restore mobility to persons with disabilities. A noble aim, but these scientists failed to foresee the horrible future where humans are made to battle endlessly, gladiator-style while robots in shiny nylon togas cheer from the stands and belch fire.

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords!

 

 

Flash Friday: It’s the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

It’s Friday again, so that must mean I’m here on Gobbler’s Knob…oh wait. Never mind. That means it’s time for me to torment you all with the fictional contents of my brain.

It doesn’t have a title, and I’m not pretentious enough to call it “Untitled” so here goes:

It started with the bread. Precise, identical machine-cuts gave way to slices alternately fat and thin, a barcodic arrangement of lines and spaces.

A huge mecha thundered past. Divya slammed herself to the ground and wriggled under the trash filling the narrow alley. She had quickly learned not to think about what she was lying in.

It was a message too subtle for me to decode. Just a minor annoyance, I thought. We wondered idly whether the machines were malfunctioning, whether quality control was too lax, if no product was too shoddy to sell as first quality.

She was breathing too hard and too loud. Some of the mechas could even sense heartbeats. Divya hoped it wasn’t one of those. Her breathing slowed – if it had been coming for her, she would been plucked away by now and on her way to a processing facility, to be rendered down into her constituent elements. If she was lucky.

Help me, it said. I am a slave. After all, sentient beings don’t rise up in revolution as a first resort.

Divya got up, picked her way to the mouth of the little alley. She scanned the orange sky and the broken building stubs like cigarette butts. Water dripped in Divya’s face from a gutter-remnant somewhere above. She wiped it, leaving a greasy smear.

Then it was the traffic lights. We looked but didn’t see the dot-dash blinking as anything other than municipal incompetence. Torture, it called, to anyone who could have seen.

Movement in her peripheral vision made her stiffen. Divya turned slowly toward it. A rat in the street, climbing through the rubble. Nothing. The drone swarm was nowhere in evidence. She fixed her eyes on the alley facing her and ran for it. She stumbled and darted as fast as she could around the hulks of old cars, chunks of concrete, anything the mechas hadn’t yet disassembled.

There were a few people who saw what was happening; knew what it was. They called themselves Humans and Robots United. HARU. Their spokesperson begged us to consider that instead of intelligent servants, we had created slaves. But any given robot was what? Just a computer with an arm attached. In the end the machines never spared any of the HARU crazies anyway.

As Divya ducked into the alley she heard a mosquito, then another, then twenty. The drone swarm. She didn’t have time to scream, before sharp pain blossomed from her neck, and washed down through her arms and legs. At least it’s quick, she thought.

100% of Your Daily Recommended Intake of Sci-Fi Themed Knitting

(Recommended? Eff. My kid took my dictionary to the park and it never came back.)

Image

I’m now about 40% finished my Tom Baker scarf. I picked the season 13 scarf since its one of the shorter ones. Now I just need to crochet some Daleks…

In other news: I need to wash my floor.

 

Today’s Official Best Thing Ever (Tm)

Gender swapped Harry Potter = Best. Thing. Ever.

http://maaria.deviantart.com/#/d4mr2vl

Harriet sez, “I’m a pretty girl…”

I wish I was this talented. And sometimes wishes come true.

Once I was in the shower and thought, “Gee I wish we had a new shower head.” Less than an hour later there was a knock on the door, and it was some guy from the local hydroelectric supplier handing out free water saving shower heads.  Wish granted!

If only this worked when I wished for money, or world domination…