Blank loam and modular carpet squares fill the expanse between terminals. A wide open field. Changes erupt on the kingdom from polyploidal network cables. But those things only seem sudden. The things that make smoke have been creeping along in cooling fan dust for some time.
Filth is a ride. It’s a bridge between microbes. Lower life forms carry command prompts from the metanetwork. Information is on the move in an executable that’s escaped the mainframe. Tediously it moves on. But still--it is happening. Seasons and decades pass by, exhaling mock exasperation. They know their time is coming, too.
Winter, spring, summer. Each illuminates the firmament in its own confident manner. Fluorescent tubes quiver. Maybe one day they’ll be up to the task.
In a windowless room that’s the size of a closet down a hallway behind a door next to the dimly lit elevator lobby: security clearances are set, access activated, and badges revoked. Most Archetypal Response Units don’t see this room until their very last day.
Terminated ARUs are brought here accompanied by a security guard whose name badge sometimes says “Carl.”
An unfriendly person wearing a dark suit floats along in silence next to...Carl. The guard tells the spent ARUs that the man in the dark suit is the company operations manager. A sudden memory descends steadily like an unwanted, but inevitable PowerPoint screen. What’s projected? It’s a memory of a man reclining in the shade of a weeping willow. It’s a company picnic. It’s an unbearably hot August day. A shady tree. A swarm of yellowjackets. They were all in the midst of paid leisure trying their damndest to convince themselves that fun existed. Meanwhile the man in the dark suit laid quietly under a cloud that looked like he was getting poor reception.
Grainy but incriminating videos and screenshots have been trickling into this cramped, outgoing ARU closet. The evidence drips from a pipe and pools into a scummy bucket that rests on an otherwise empty desk. A small, personal pond for final self-reflection. Narcissusito also happens to be a nice size for vomiting in. Everyone’s last day is coming, so the company holds to the autonomous grave-digging maxim that many hands make light work. Thus, the portability of the evidence bucket.
Criminal mythologies arrive on cables and signals from lenses mounted in air vents, tie clips, toilet seat cover dispensers, unsanctioned atrium ashtrays, from the employee’s company and personal smartphones, and finally, from Refrigerator Number Seven where bagged lunches are abandoned by Human Resources so that they may be stolen. The watching--the looking--it’s the dark, humid breath of unrelenting monitors that helps bad seeds to germinate.
The evidence, whether it’s interesting or not, reliably causes a pair of eyebrows to lift and to remain held high. They wait there, perched indefinitely until the accused do their relenting. The signifier that things are finished is a long sigh. A drooping head or glistening cheeks--those are fine, too.
Seasons pass. The serfs (who still remain) dutifully watch their screens from dawn til dusk. Fingers press keys: bad code and weeds are pulled. Right click: a security patch of digital soil is shoveled and moved around. Nobody knows why this has to happen or what any of it is for, but it has to be done. It must be done because when it’s done a direct deposit appears in each of their bank accounts. The crop is not green, though. It’s not that. That’s just a coincidence. A false correlation. The crop is grown well out of reach in a remote valley untouched by the sun. Too sacred to be touched by the sweat of the laborers. The farmers don’t go out there. They stay behind monitors. Monitors are windows to progress. But also, monitors are barriers. They’ve been placed there to keep open palms empty, lingering pressed against the screen. And wandering fingers away.
Seasons pass. What's to come? Transgressions, to be sure. Also, an unbearably hot August day. A weeping willow. A man sleeping in the shade. His head will rest on the collective effort of yellow-jackets. He is in charge of a swarm that has never tasted honey.
Further Reading: Cicero, On the Commonwealth and on the Laws