I’m going to post this flash fiction piece, written by Joel, even though it’s technically poetry Thursday. I believe that Joel is going to write a series of science fiction shorts based off the idea he develops in this piece.
Tomorrow, I will post the Battle of the Sexes female response to Swift’s A Lady’s Dressing Room. It will be funny–I promise. For tonight, enjoy Joel’s story.
Time Appliance Hacking 1.0:
Wearing faded coveralls, I slide off the cracked vinyl seat of the borrowed utility van until my boots hit cracked pavement. I pull my ball cap low to conceal my face. I am just another worker hired to mow the lawn, fix the dishwasher, or paint the shed.
I am clutching the carryall which contains the tools of my trade as I cross the street and approach the house. Under dark glasses, I scan all directions.
I take the stairs to the front door in a business-like manner. The door opens as if by magic, and I enter. The door closes. My occupation has taken me behind some of the most opulent doors in five states, and this is not one of them.
A bit worried, I stick to the script; either they have the money to procure my services or they do not. I have my exit strategy should that be the case, and I have my secret weapon should something go wrong. I pat the taser concealed beneath my coveralls.
As I allow my eyes and glasses to adjust to the interior I turn and greet the owner of the house. “Hello, Ma’am, I’m here to fix your toaster.”
“Hi, follow me; it’s right back here.” She leads me down the darkened hall; she looks about forty-two and has managed to keep her figure. She takes me to the kitchen which is lit by a large window looking out onto a fenced backyard.
There is a large unopened cardboard box in the center of the kitchen table. It is too big to contain a toaster, but this is all by design. “Fix the toaster” is code for my real work.
She has followed my instructions exactly, so this should go well. It’s much easier to operate on something that has never been plugged into the smart grid before. I can manage those, too, but it is a big hassle.
“Care for a cup of coffee?”
I study her more closely. Her hair is honey blonde, not unattractive, really. She seems breathless, however; maybe excitement or nervousness, or both. “No, thanks.”
She pauses. “Well, then, should I just leave you to it…”
I clear my throat. “About payment…”
“Oh, yes.” She hands over an envelope.
I open it and count it in front of her. It is the correct amount. I place it an inner pocket of my coveralls. I am ready to go to work.
“Well, I guess I’ll leave you to it and go do some shopping…”
“You will do nothing of the sort. I was very clear in my communication. You will sit right here in plain sight and touch no electronic or communication device until I am done.”
She sulks over to a chair takes a seat. I produce a small object and scan the room for monitoring devices. All is clear.
I look at the box. It has the “Chronos” logo that all time appliances display. I liberate the microwave from its Styrofoam and bubble wrap. Next, I open my carryall and carefully arrange my tools.
As I remove the appliance’s housing I see the familiar government warning: “1st degree Felony under international and Federal law, minimum $500,000 fine, and 50 years in prison”, etc. When I am done, it will be undetectable that anyone has opened the microwave or tampered with its delicate innards.
The shadows have grown as I finish and replace the tools in my bag. The new microwave is sitting on the counter, looking as though it had just come out of the box.
“Can we try it?”
“Hold on, let me explain a few things and then we’ll give it a spin.”
“This is a regular old-fashioned microwave with the addition of a time travel module. The module contains a circuit that runs off of 220v. That’s what sends the food back through time, so that it appears to only take three seconds to cook it. Now the circuit contains an EPROM that contains the X+3 subroutine. X is the amount of time that it takes to cook the food and three is the three second buffer that the government has mandated that all time appliances must conform to. This is to avoid the situation that you are paying me to create, namely a food replicator which creates food out of thin air. What I did was to alter the subroutine to be X minus 30. That means that the time circuit will beam the food back in time thirty seconds before you actually started cooking it.”
I pause. “The bell should go off when the process is complete, so you know it’s done, as it will be finished before you even get up to cook it in the first place!”
“Wow! That’s amazing!”
“So, what do you want to try first?”
She extracts a frozen pizza. “Do you like pizza?”
“… That means that the time circuit will beam the food back into time thirty seconds before you actually started cooking it.”
The bell goes off. I always loosely time my little monologue to work this way. “See what I mean?”
I open the door. The smell of hot pizza fills the kitchen. “Open the freezer.”
She opens it and there is the frozen pizza in its unopened box.
Her jaw drops. “It works!”
“You will never have to buy another pizza other than that one right there.”
As I leave I tell her, “Remember, you could spend the next fifty years of your life in Federal prison should you discuss this with anyone.”
I don’t need her to recommend my services. I have my own ways of getting referrals.
She doesn’t know who I am, so there is really no way I can be implicated if she does decide to brag about it to the wrong person.
Another job well done, another satisfied customer, I think, as I pat the envelope inside my coveralls.