Fiction Friday: Daren, Chapter 4

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Welcome to the ongoing saga of whatever story we are telling right now  It’s Friday.  Let’s do something else for a few minutes…

The fan set up on the ever-so-intelligent stack-o-boxes had careened into the wall when the cardboard submitted it’s final resignation to the job of “shelf” for which it was clearly not qualified.  These things happen on cardboard’s schedule, and cardboard hates 2:00 AM.  To be fair, if Daren had been suddenly required to do a job above his pay-grade for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, he would have quit on day one, and if for some reason he had been compelled to try, 2:00 AM is exactly when the will is weakest.  To all the boxes struggling to support a family of objects balanced atop them in this humid economy, we salute you.

Humidity.  That made sense.  The room was too hot, someone set up the fan to try to cool it down but was unable to do any more than slow the gradual rise in temperature, and with nowhere to go the unventilated condensation became swamp-air.  Once the temperature and relative humidity penetrated the cardboard’s plies, structural integrity surrendered and the box quit its shelf-job with a bang.  Crash-bang.  Many crash-bangs.

The fan had died a terrible, terrible death, but like Daren always asked of lullabies, what was the baby doing up in the tree in the first place?  Placing the fan atop Mount Box was a hasty decision made by someone who hadn’t thought past, “this will help and we’ll deal with it later.”  It was Friday night, which was why Daren was alone in the office—any other night of the week and someone else might be working late, too, but on Fridays people tended to either have plans or pretend to have plans so they could get out a little early.  That meant no one would be in until Monday morning, and judging by the rise in temperature since he entered the room, math said all living things and electronics in that room would eventually be cooked.  Monday was too late.  

Daren didn’t know much about the system other than the vague notion that the equipment room was the physical location of the hardware that made it possible for him to access his team’s files and his project files from anywhere.  If it died, everything saved on any drive using the same hardware or other hardware in the room would be no more.  Which meant that saving to both the shared drive and his personal file were in the same physical place in the world—right here in the same oven.  Groovy.  Week’s worth of work, just tonight, that was not backed up to the off-site archives, just like everything everyone had worked on since the first of the month.  It was now the 26th.  

Save early, save often, save to a safe place.  Daren didn’t realize that last part was the unsung final line to the motto, but just like only perfect practice makes perfect, it made a difference. If someone kept their money in a shoebox inside a vault, they’re weird, but that’s safe.  Take that same shoebox full of money and hide it under the logs in the fireplace—not safe.  Potentially hilarious to everyone but the shoebox owner, but not safe, and neither the earliness nor the frequency of deposits into the fireplace improves the situation.  Daren’s early and often saved files, saved to two locations in the same proverbial shoebox, were both in the fireplace.

Daren liked to play video games on his time off, because he believed humans as a species had instincts with nowhere to go, and sometimes they just need to kill something.  It’s far better if that something is digital.  His opinion often received less than favorable responses as people insisted that they never had the desire to kill anyone, but those same people shouted obscenities at other drivers on a regular basis—he had seen it first hand in carpools—and Daren just tapped the breaks and rolled his eyes.  Humans are mammals living in a construct that has zero tolerance for a huge part of the survival instinct, and all entertainment is based on satisfying those instincts that aren’t satisfied in life, whether that’s being allowed to laugh at the prat-fall rather than feeling insensitive for choking back a smile when laughter is natural, or sitting on the edge of your seat as an FBI agent of questionable character, cornered and surrounded, to emulate escaping predators.  Romance is most often read by those who are not currently in a satisfying relationship.  Everyone is feeding their inner primate, it’s just those who admit they’re doing so that have a balance diet, so to speak, thus not yelling at other drivers that can’t hear them.

Cleaning his console at home did not make him an Engineer any more than playing Batman made him, well, Batman, but Daren knew this: when the machine gets noisy, it’s the fan working too hard to try to cool the system, which gets hot, because it does.  That part was an element of the mystery inside the shiny housings and he was even less likely to touch that than the buttons, but for some reason electronics get hot inside and that’s why they all come with a fan.  If you don’t clean the vents when the console starts to whine, it overheats and you might be facing BSOD—Blue Screen Of Death—the final death rattle that declares, in techno-babble, that the brains of your console have been fried and are no more, which happens to be blue.  Fini.  Game over, man.  Recycle and repurchase.  

Daren was standing inside a console, of sorts.  All around him were the brains of his company’s operation and all the work everyone had accomplished for the life of the system, and the fan just gave out.  If this was the home console, he’d unplug and let it cool down right now, clean it out tomorrow, and then try to plug it in again.  He wouldn’t just keep playing.  This wasn’t that simple.

Having come full circle, Daren sighed and found Briana in his cell.  This wasn’t an equipment issue—yet—it was a building maintenance issue, and one that couldn’t wait.

Well, at least I have a story to tell and actual information when I call, Daren thought.

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