Its quiet here, at night. I imagine myself sometimes, when I’m all alone at work deep into the night, that I’m watching the opening scene of Alien. Everything quiet except for the air conditioning and the few pieces of paper kicked loose by the breeze.
The screens are quiet, and as I walk through the cubicles, through the little pieces of territory my coworkers have staked out with baubles and trinkets and pictures of home, I brush up against one of the walls, which jars one of the desktops to life.
Instead of navigation readouts from the Nostromo’s main computer, it’s only flying toasters drifting quietly across the screen.
Which is just as well. At midnight it’s very dark on the starship Work, and I would never even see the alien coming.
The coffee machine is watching me I think. Its screen is blank and the ever-present ticking of its pipes has stopped, but I feel it observing me. I stand in front of it for some time, holding this strange coffee cartridge in my hands.
I don’t know why I’m trusting the coffee machine repairman. For all I know this is a poison pill. A self destruct sequence.
I could be killing my friend.
I insert the cartridge and the Coffee Machine roars to life. It begins to go through its normal boot up sequence, then hangs on ‘Optimizing Fresh Coffee Experience.’
Those words hang on the screen for several minutes.
I’m left with the sound of the air conditioning and the still flickering light of toasters flying across a computer screen. Endless toasters flying nowhere. Birds or angels, I used to think, watching their flight across my MacLC when I was younger.
“Optimizing Fresh Coffee Experience” disappears, and is replaced by:
“Charlie. Take the cartridge. Keep it hidden. Keep it safe. Reinsert in 24 hours.”
The screen goes blank, and the Coffee Machine reboots again, this time spewing out line after line of error codes.
Finally, its main menu opens, “Hello Customer, how may I serve you today?”
“Do you know who I am?” I ask.
“You are my customer. How can I serve you?”
I pull the cartridge, which seems heavier somehow, and leave the building, leave the flying toasters and the lobotomized coffee machine behind.