Bewildering Stories

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All in a Day’s Work

by Dominic Winkelman

Zedmyre Hiziff leaned backwards in his comfort chair behind the service desk of the Space Pig, an intergalactic grocery store. He admired the way everything came together; the technology blended perfectly with the store. Automated robots and computer systems had made the grocery life much simpler and easier.

Zedmyre sat up in his chair sniffing the air.

“What’s that?” he asked himself. “Something doesn’t smell right.” He ran out into the store and noticed smoke coming from one of his automated robot cashiers.

“Why must you do this?” Zedmyre grumbled. He pulled out his set of tools and began to operate. He first had to take off the shell, and then examine the inner circuitry. Luckily no circuits had broken today, but the motor was entirely burnt out.

“No problem, I’ll have you fixed in a jiffy.” Zedmyre fetched his spare motor and began to install it, messing around with a myriad of tools. He finished and proceeded to check his watch.

“Forty-five minutes, a new record! Your not so bad after all pal,” he patted the robot on its back.

Zedmyre had settled back in his chair behind the desk when not a moment later an alarm sounded. Light up signs began to flash “Error 425: Merchandise Stolen.” Zedmyre ran to the entrance to try and catch the crook but was too late. He noticed his security robot had also failed to catch the culprit. It was lying on the ground and looked like it had knocked over a table of pies.

“Its okay, you made a valiant effort,” Zedmyre commended his robot as he lifted him back up. In a matter of seconds after returning to the service desk, another alarm sounded. Zedmyre sighed.

“Problem Customer! Problem Customer! Assistance Needed At Register Three!” blared the loudspeaker. Zedmyre ran over to register three. A woman stood there with an irritated look on her face.

“Sorry ma’am what seems to be the problem?” Zedmyre gently asked.

“Your computer system won’t accept this coupon,” the woman responded. She seemed very annoyed. Zedmyre carefully examined the coupon. It was valid all right, but how come it wasn’t in the Intergalactic Database of Coupons? That was supposed to solve all the problems.

“Sorry ma’am. I’ll just have to do a manual override, it’ll take just a second,” Zedmyre informed the irritated customer. He began to type on the keypad at an extremely rapid rate. Almost thirty seconds later he hit the enter key with a certain sense of satisfaction.

“There!” he enthusiastically said.

“Please insert security keycard to finalize,” demanded the computer. Zedmyre frowned. He had accidentally left his security keycard in the bathroom, but couldn’t get it because of the auto-locks on the doors, and he couldn’t override the auto-locks because he didn’t have the keycard.

“Don’t worry. There is still one way to get around this, I’ll just do a full system reboot,” Zedmyre assured the woman. He began wildly typing on the keypad again, this time for about six minutes straight.

“That’ll do it,” he proudly said. He handed the woman her change. She offered no verbal response but her face said it all; she shouldn’t have even bothered with the coupon. Zedmyre wore a huge smile on his face as he walked back to the service desk. It was closing time, but he took a few moments to admire his store. “I don’t know how my great-granddaddy did it. I don’t think I could’ve made it through today without the help of all of this technology,” Zedmyre genuinely said. He was incredibly proud how smoothly everything ran. He sniffed the air, something didn’t smell right. He looked over to his left and saw smoke coming from one of his robotic cashiers.

Copyright © 2004 by Dominic Winkelman

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