Plugs

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Archive for the ‘Human Management’ Category

In Human Management

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Summer was over.  Ripe melons on the yetrop trees occasionally burst in the sun, scattering dollops of sticky juice across the ground to the pleasure of the ants and flung its feather seeds on the wind.  Pairs of harburt birds flapped lazily over the orchard, in search of cattle that Takashi let amble too far from the stinging reach of his air-pellet gun.  He hated harming life.

Apart from one person, Takashi’s life was idyllic and calm.  While the world toiled in automated towers scratching the upper atmosphere, Takashi absorbed the soft chirr of insects and rustle of tree limbs, watching over cattle grazing.  That one person was his laser-packing boss, Brunhilda, whom he half-admired, half-despised and who stopped by daily to say that the cattle had grazed the wrong pasture, or that he ought to kill the harburts.

Often she wore an invisibility shield to creep up on Takashi and catch him idle.  Although she rarely did, she demanded action on postponed chores:  Prune back the yetrops in the southwest; thin the northwest thickets; cull the nonproductive silk-milk goats wasting resources–a chore he often neglected until she’d done it herself, dinging his life rating to upper management.  He’d never looked at his life rating but suspected he’d fallen to eighty percent of his allotted two hundred years.  He could have knocked some off hers, but it would have hurt him more than her in terms of guilt.

One afternoon, lounging under a yetrop, a ripe melon burst on his head.  Takashi spluttered, wiped the sticky juice stinging his eyes.  Brunhilda stood over him, not smiling.  “You have unfinished work.”

“I’m on break.”

“It’s overdue.  Your dog–”

“Nana.”

“–was to be recycled last week.”

“I put in for a stay.”

“Denied.”

Takashi stood.  “She’s my companion.”

Brunhilda stepped into his space.  “Your companion is deaf, lame, half-blind, not even human.  Help me out here.  I’m trying to get into human management.”

“What do I get?”

“I won’t ding you.”

Takashi glared.  He grabbed the laser out of her holster, briefly pointed it at her, then off to the side.  A harburt squawked and tumbled.  Its companion dove after.

“Great.  How about the dog?”

“Recalculate resource distribution, and get back to me.”

Resource distribution buoyed for the area, allowing Nana’s stay of execution, but she died shortly thereafter.  Takashi took sick leave.  That Brunhilda was displeased about the entire affair was the only comfort Takashi had.

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