« on: February 16, 2015, 03:47:57 pm »
The job was over. The code was in a Passport 1TB drive, safely stored in a locked ammo can in the rental SUV. I took the crew - and Abigail - out to a swank restaurant in Phoenix proper, and poured beer and Thai food down their throats.
The staff had pushed two tables together in the center of the room to accomodate us, and we were clearly geeking out the establishment's other patrons. As the beer took hold, this increased, as our voices got louder. We weren't drunk, but we were definitely feeling relaxed. Al stayed sober on account of his pain medication, so nobody had to worry about being sober.
"I still can't believe that you ordered our boss out of his own business", Anna said over her beer glass.
"Owner Thing was in the way."
"Were you bluffing about shutting us down if he didn't go?" Abigail asked.
"I never bluff. Think of it more as outright coercion. However, I might suggest you start quietly start looking around for another job. If Owner Thing was this stupid about a contract this lucrative, your situation is not what we can call 'stable', and something will torpedo him without warning."
"So this is what you do for a living? Strong arm people?"
"It isn't strong arming. It's talking jackasses into honoring their contracts, as a last resort before we pour a bucket of lawyers on them. I must admit I take pleasure in my job, because assholes like Owner Thing are bad for The Future." I pronounced the capitalization.
Everyone just looked me, except Felipe, who smiled into his stein.
I was half in the bag, so I stood up to speak my piece. "You see, what we did this week was write code for a new machine. This machine will improve our feedstock, meaning that more can be done with it by the vendors. We have made transparent aluminum, like in Star Trek, but then we went ahead and made that obsolete a month later. We - we and our clients - have made 100% non-bioreactive replacement knees, hips, and vertebrae that will look the same in 5000 years as they look now. We have done these and many, many other things in the name of building the future."
"This is a matter of religion for me", I continued, "Because if God exists, he's being very quiet about it. Therefore, what we must do is bend the universe to our will without His help. We may drown in our own shit in the end, but until then, we will do as much cool shit as we can, just to do it. Remember the moon landings? Yeah, that was a political thing, but we still went to the moon. Just to do it. This isn't a new philosophy. The British lost loads of blue-bloods climbing Mount Everest or staggering around at the poles, just to do it. Mankind was not meant to live like fruit flies, endlessly breeding for the sake of breeding. Man was meant to drop his pants and moon the uncaring void. Man was meant to go screaming out into the universe, learning how it works and what's out there, not for some gain or even for survival, but because that is our purpose. It is its own end."
I took a swig, then continued. "And if someone like Owner Thing gets in the way, he must be taken out of the way. If paying him to get the hell out of the way is the easiest method of doing that, then that is what will be done. But I was getting my program one way or another."
I snapped out of it, and noticed that the entire restaurant was quiet. I looked around. "WHAT?"
Most people looked at their food. A couple kept staring. One guy got up, walked over, and badged me.
"Can I help you, detective?"
"I am just wondering if this table is going to get out of hand."
"This table was born out of hand," I said, and gestured at Abigail. "Even the quiet one. But if you mean 'will we start some kind of disturbance?', then no. Our disturbance ended when we arrived."
The police detective laughed and returned to his seat. I sat down, and we lowered our voices to a polite level.
"How do you DO that?" Anna asked.
"It's no trick. It's the same thing I did with Owner Thing, only the detective was so much more polite. I simply demand that the universe - and the people in it - behave as it should behave. It doesn't always work."
"What happens when it doesn't work?"
"Things get interesting." As I spoke, I noticed that there was a ring on Anna's finger. I looked at it, then her.
"She said yes", Michael said, with a shit-eating grin. I stared at him.
"We've been wanting to get married for some time", Anna said, "But the job situation looked too unstable, so we waited."
"And now we have decided that we can do this sort of work anywhere, better than we do it here," Michael answered. "Even if we became independent contractors, we'd earn enough."
Anna smiled at me, as if I were somehow responsible for this.
An hour later, I was in the passenger seat of the SUV, while Al drove us back to Tucson. Felipe was snoring in the back seat.
"Well," he said, "It was a successful trip. Code's written and tested, and those two kids are getting married."
"That last bit is good news, I like to see people happy, but that was hardly our doing."
"I think it was", he responded. "They weren't used to just getting shit done, professionally-speaking, and that tends to intrude on your private life. Then you came along and shook everything up."
Maybe he was right. If so, then this trip was an unqualified success.
We drove on through the night, across the desert. Another success for the Science Gestapo.
- END -