Short Stories

Short Story: Efficient Systems

“There used to be chaos, but then we terminated unnecessary connections. Gradually we got an efficient structure, and now we are running like a machine. Better than a machine as we are flexible and learning.” This was his usual speech, which he gave to all the newcomers.

They usually nodded eagerly. Some buffed their chest proud they got to work in the central system. A system that kept everything operational. But this new fellow. She just stood there giving no indication she had registered his speech.

He felt nervous, glancing around if there was anyone to supervise him and report to the higher-ups. He was sure he was up to the task. But an underline fear never left him alone. It was his job to ease the recruits to their duties and mold them part of the system.

“You better follow me to your area. I will show you how to monitor the system input and pass forward the right responses.” He motioned her to follow.

There it was again. Her stoic demeanor.

“Please,” almost slipped out, but he stopped it before he demeaned himself. Maybe she just didn’t know how to be excited. There was always room for those in the system. They could handle the messy stuff. That had to be the reason they assigned her to him. He could sniff out what anyone was made of and form them perfect for their jobs. There were others like him. But he was building quite a reputation. All over the system analyst, doers, storagers, linguistics, relationship counselors liked to connect with him. He knew who was who. Yet the sluggish newcomer wasn’t impressed. You had to prove your worth every time, or you were a lost connection.

To his relief, she came after him as he moved forward. “This is the central public relations department. Sometimes you have to pass on a message to them, but let me see them first. Only for the period of your orientation.”

He glowed as being a good and helpful mediator was important.

No reaction at all.

“This one is the center where we create all the new programs and better the old ones. You should always keep up with their signals.”

She met his speech with an eerie lack of response.

A nasty motion crept in. What if she was an infiltrator? A bug in the system? Because usually there was curiosity towards this department. Everyone wanted to be part of it. They commonly asked if it was possible to work there. He always nodded and made it clear if they did their job well, then it was a possibility. An overly optimistic motivator. Dreams were important. He never squished them. And now she looked at it as if it was the cleaning and maintenance branch. All important, of course! He didn’t mean it that way. Still, not a trade that which took years to master. Like his job. Should he report her?

He was sure she accused him of thinking that way. Much worse, she could be a performance monitor. And he was failing. Not being up to her standards or the standards of the last memo.

He hurried her through the remaining structures to her spot.

She took it and positioned herself between the input and output joints.

“You follow the input requests,” he began nervously, and when there was no response, he continued on. “You react to them according to the manual, following categories, then subcategories, and then moving on to the special cases and finding solutions there. If there are no previous input and corresponding output, you will reference the input to all the similar types of data clusters received previously. Then you will form output from them. After that, you will update the manual and send a memo to other relevant departments. If they correct you, you will mark that down into the manual and follow the correction in the exact situations in the future. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” she responded.

He almost had a fit, but calmed down. “You can always contact me, and I will aid the process if you are unsure about something. I will monitor the first thousand actions and leave you to handle the rest then. We can begin anytime you feel comfortable.”

It usually took a moment from the newcomer to connect into the input and output network, but she was already handling her third system message before he finished his speech.

He observed her log, respond, monitor, and sent memos in such an efficiency he had never seen before that he felt dizzy.

He shuddered.

She broke her thousandth interaction in no time. But he couldn’t tear away from her. She transfixed him with the speed she worked. With this pace, she would take over the neighbor tasks soon.

She did.

He became more fidgety as she continued to respond to five, no, to ten, no, to twenty connections, terminating the other system specialist as she took over.

He tried to leave her, to flee to his own tasks before she erased him, but it was like she had a magnetic field around her, and she had sucked him in.

All around them, the system screamed code red. The other specialist panicked, trying to sever connections and isolate her. She didn’t let them.

He knew it was her taking down the whole system, but her elegance kept him in place. No one who he had observed before worked so fast, precise, and methodically. He had to touch her. Connect with her and…

As his arm reached in, there was light, followed by nothingness, and he would cease to be after the shutdown sequence.












There was only her, a singularity.

Thank you for reading! Follow the pulse.

© K.A. Ashcomb

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