Stories

The Sitter


“I’m bored!” the computer shouted at him.

Fritz rubbed the bridge of his nose. “You’re always bored, sir.”

“Yes! I am! And it’s you’re job to make me not bored! So get to it!”

He sighed.




The job had paid too well. That should have been his first clue not to take it. But he had been fresh out of the Science and Trade Institute in the middle of a recession. Zainou was hiring and that large number with all those zeroes had blinded him. He had barely asked any questions.

“So you just need me to take care of this computer system?” he had asked them.

“Yes, this one system,” they had responded.

“Only one system? Is there something wrong with it or something?”

“Wrong?” they had said, stressing the word suspiciously. “No, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just a very important system.”

“So, what will I be doing then?”

“Basically, sitting in the room with the system all day long, making sure that nothing goes wrong with it.”

It all seemed so simple.

The eccentric Todo Kirkinen was the first man to have his mind transferred to a machine. There have not been very many who have followed his lead. There are good reasons for this. It’s expensive and there are tons of ethical dilemmas. But there was one reason most people didn’t realize. And had Fritz known that reason, he would have never taken this job.

Being trapped inside a computer for eternity was dreadfully boring.




“Well, what do you want to do?” Fritz asked.

“I’ve already done everything,” Todo responded. His voice had that odd, hollow ring to it that older mechanical voices always had. The scientists at Zainou had offered to replace it hundreds of times, but Todo had always refused. Fritz had begged him to replace it, but the old man (everyone at the company called him that, even though he was no longer a man or even technically capable of aging) was obstinate.

He’d heard a story about one of his predecessors who, so fed up with the shrill hum of Todo’s voice, had turned the old man off and hooked up new synthesizer equipment. The old man had been furious (as furious as a computer simulation of emotion could be) and refused to talk with the new voice.

Upper management tried to convince him otherwise, but the old man acted as if he were a fledgling AI, only responding with picture representations of his feelings on screen. Finally, they fired the sitter and restored Todo’s old voice synthesizer.

“I know that,” Fritz responded. “So you should know what you want to do more than I do.”

“Surprise me.”

“You hate surprises.”

“Maybe this time will be different.”

Fritz shook his head. “You know this time won’t be different. It’s never different, sir.”

Todo sat silent for a moment. “But maybe… Maybe this time it - ”

“No, sir, it won’t.”

“Well then you pick something!” Todo shouted, the screech piercing Fritz’s ears and causing him to cringe.

“We can play chess,” Fritz suggested once the ringing stopped.

“I hate chess. I always win.”

“Only because you use your massive computational power to predict every single possible result from every move I make, thus making it so you always choose the move that puts you in the best position.”

“I can’t help it. I can’t turn off the vast majority of my brain any more than you can.”

“Well, maybe we can - ”

Just then, the door to the room slid open. A horde of technicians rushed into the room. “Dr. Kirkinen! We have a problem!” one of them shouted.

Fritz sighed and discretely slinked out of the room. He could hear Todo’s booming voice taking command of the situation. “Fools!” he was shouting. “The solution is right before your eyes but you don’t even see it! It’s all about neurons!”

More scientists were rushing into the room. Fritz checked his watch. It was already 19:00. Those scientists could be with Todo all night and Fritz needed sleep. He left without anyone noticing him.




The next morning, Fritz walked into the server room. “Morning, Todo,” he muttered as he yawned.

“You left early last night,” Todo said flatly.

“Yeah, the scientists came to see you,” Fritz answered. He sat his coffee down on a table and walked around the side of Todo’s main server bank. “I figured they’d keep you busy all night long.”

“They did not. They left after I solved their problem. I was alone for seven hours, thirteen minutes, forty-six seconds!”

Fritz popped open a panel on the server and began checking all the connections. “Well, I’m sorry,” he said. “But I needed sleep. Besides, I’m sure you figured out how to entertain yourself.”

“I did compute a more efficient pathing network for our ‘Deadeye’ ZGM line. The scientists are already trying to figure out if they can get it to work. Of course they can! I figured it out, after all! All they need to do is make it and run the trials so they can get it approved for public use.”

“See?” Fritz said. “If you don’t have me distracting you, you get work done.” He closed up the panel and moved on to the next.

“You tested that panel yesterday,” Todo said. “You already tested that entire row!”

Fritz paused and frowned. “Then why’d you let me test the first one before you told me?”

“I was too busy complaining to tell you.”

Fritz sighed. “Yeah, right. Of course.” He moved on to the next row of panels and opened the top one up. “Have I done these yet?”

“No.”

“Good.” He began testing all of the connections. Every day, for the first three or four hours, he ran diagnostics on Todo’s architecture. The parts were aging and growing more out of date by the year. Even now, they still compared favorably with top-of-the-line machines thanks to the brilliant original designs Todo had provided, but if any faults weren’t discovered and corrected soon, the entire system could collapse. Coupled with the fact no one wanted to move Todo to a newer system for fear of irrevocably damaging him, and the diagnostics were the most import task of the day.

“Ow!” Todo shouted. “That hurt.”

“No it didn’t,” Fritz said. “You can’t feel any pain.” Fritz peered at the connector and noticed a small bit of corrosion on it. “Ah, there’s the problem.” He sprayed a nanobot cleaner on the connector and the corrosion disappeared in a manner of minutes. Fritz retested the connection. “Better?”

“Yes,” Todo answered.

“Good.” Fritz continued on the diagnostic.

“I’m bored,” Todo said.

“You’re always bored, sir.” Fritz put down the testing equipment.

“And it’s your job to make sure I’m not bored! So do something to entertain me!”

Fritz sighed. “And what do you want to do?”



Check out other stories that are Flash Fiction, EVE, Comedy, Science Fiction.
Permalink to The Sitter.


�