Category Archives: Fiction

Thin and Narrow

She was thin and narrow. Her siblings called her ugly. I thought she was beautiful.

When the two-legged ones came they threw her to the ground. One of them even stepped on her, squashing her open.

I watched her for days, halfway buried there in the dirt. She started decaying. I feared she was gone for this world. And for what? Being thin and narrow?

After a week she sprang roots, digging into the ground, and not soon after she reached for the azure skies.

At first, she was just a twig with two leaves on top. She did not even reach above the high grass. I teased her and called her Sprout. She bent in the wind and I think she laughed.

The storms came, pushed her almost flat to the ground. Some of the others broke, one was uprooted. I called to her to hold on to her leaves and cling to the ground. Her roots, dug deep, held her in place and her leaves trashing in the gale persisted.

The tempests subsided and she stood once more, a twig with two leaves on top that laughed in the wind when I called her Sprout.

By the first summer, she was already taller than her siblings. But she was thin and narrow, and the others called her ugly. If she even heard she cared less for them and more for the sun and the singing breeze in her leaves.

That winter the rains came stronger than ever before, and the floods rinsed some of the others away. The water stood so high only her top leaves reached above the surface. All of her siblings were submerged completely.

I told her to hold on but the strongest torrent dragged her under, only a flicker of dark leaves showing now and then through the milky brown stream. It lasted for hours. I was sure she was uprooted, gone from this world, but when the waters finally subsided she rose once more.

By the second spring, she stood taller and prouder than all the others, still thin and narrow, her branches reached farther, and her roots dug deeper.

She sang in the wind and by late spring she bloomed, and her blooms were just like she had once been, thin and narrow. Her siblings called them ugly. I thought they were beautiful.

The bees and the butterflies came. They stopped at her flowers, but soon flew on, and after a while, they flew past her completely. She stood in silent confusion, reaching her branches higher, but they remained unnoticed, rejected.

By sundown, her silent leaves hung from her sloping branches. I think I heard her sigh in the dark of night, but I told her to hold on and she seemed to straighten some.

The moon rose, full and pale, and a shrill, piercing sound came through the night. Something clung to one of her branches, then something else. Then many others. One flew across the moon drawing the silhouette of a bat.

The others called them ugly, closing the petals of their flowers. She reached out offering them hers. And when the others were visited by bees and butterflies in the sunlight, she was visited by bats under a silvery moon.

By late summer she bore fruit, and they were just like she had once been, thin and narrow. Her siblings called them ugly. I thought they were beautiful.

When the two-legged ones came she stretched out, eagerly presenting her hard-earned fruits, but they looked at them, scoffed and turned away. Her bark darkened, her leaves trembled, but there wasn’t much she could do.

By the time the sun sat perched on the horizon, she was the only one whose offerings had not yet been sampled, not even considered. She stood stunned, subdued.

Suddenly a bluejay landed in her foliage, picked at one of her fruits. It felt as if she held her breath as to not scare it away, but it still flew after only one quick taste.

Her siblings said the bats had poisoned her. She shouldn’t have given her flowers to them.

I kept watch over her through the night. Her trunk turned ashen, her leaves silently shivering on her sagging boughs. I think she wept.

The next day two birds came. They only stayed for a moment, only tasted a few of her fruits before departing again. It seemed her efforts as to no avail, doomed to fall untouched, unappreciated to the ground.

I told her to hold on and in spite of defeat, she stretched for the skies once more, tall, silent and proud.

On the third day, the monkeys came. They squealed and chased each other along her branches throwing as much of her fruit on the ground as they ate, but they did eat. And her foliage murmured once more.

A week later she held a chirping, shrieking market of monkeys and birds in her arms, all squabbling with one another, all fighting over her offerings.

The others watched, dark and silent but for their creaking, clean-picked limbs. They called her ugly, but I couldn’t say if it was in contempt or envy.

And through it all, I could hear the breeze in her leaves and this time I knew she was laughing.

Important question

Day 1

A: I have a very important question for you.

B: Shoot.

A stares intensely at B. After an uncomfortably long period of silence:

B: So what’s the question?

A: Thanks.

B: Eh? What just happened?

A: I was wondering if you could read minds.

Day 2

A: I have a very important question for you.

B: What? If I can read minds?

A: Ah-hah! I knew you were lying yesterday!

Don’t turn the Customer Avoidance Setting to max

Important notice regarding CAF in ACE4:

Please note. When configuring Automated Customer Experience 4.0.4 (ACE4) do not set the Customer Avoidance Factor to 100%!

Unfortunately, as of this writing, with a CAF-setting of 100%, ACE4 will scare customers away, in severe cases resulting in massive customer loss and possible termination of business.

Please rest assured we’re working on solving this issue as soon and as efficiently as possible.

Proper Configuration

A correct level of the CAF-setting for ACE4 depends on how vital your product is to the customer. For nonvital products (such as lawnmowers, hair shampoo, and higher education) you have to be careful not to set the level above 50% or the customer might just give up on it entirely.

On the other hand, for vital products (such as shoes and mobile phones) you can safely crank that customer repellant setting to 90% or even 95% and enjoy a glorious day at work with next to no hassle from all those pesky customers, and know that if the system does let a customer through, you and everyone nearby are probably best off if you take that call before something blows up*…

* Please see our separate guide for proper CAF-settings depending on the type of product and likely volatility of the customer.

Insurance and Legal Coverage

If you have our expanded support package hate speech, misogynism, and death threats are all covered by the insurance policy. Unfortunately, bankruptcy and certain types of fraud** are not.

See the legal attachment for a full brief on the legal coverage and all insurance policy questions.

** As of this writing, we do not know if the fraudulent behavior of some installations of the system is due to this setting, interactions with other systems or improper configuration or handling. Further investigations are underway. In the meantime, please make sure to inform all your customers that “Captain Ahab” is not an employee of your company*** neither is he a Nigerian prince.

*** If captain Ahab is one of your employees, please contact us immediately!

Other Incidents and Interactions

There have been reported incidents where ACE4 and the Automated Spouse Service versions 1.1 to 1.2 have interacted in such a manner as to cause undue distress and mental harm to customers.

Since this is a central feature of ASS1 and only likely to have happened if these two systems were inappropriately installed, these incidents are unfortunately not covered by the expanded support package insurance policy.

To avoid this problem, please do not install ASS1 and ACE4 on the same server, and make sure to configure firewalls properly to prevent ASS from gaining undue and inappropriate influence over ACE.

Chainsaw Murderer

“112, how may I be of assistance?”

“Yes, Hello? Is this 112?”

“This is 112, how can I help you?”

“Yes. I am sorry to disturb you this wonderful afternoon, however, we seem to have gotten a chainsaw murderer in our living room. We managed to lock ourselves in the bathroom but I fear he might start sawing the door any moment…”

“I think you’re a bit dramatic now. Chainsawers aren’t that dangerous.”

“He is sawing the furniture, and I’m pretty sure, if my nephew hadn’t been so quick on his feet he would have sawed him too.”

“That may be the case, but you shouldn’t be calling us for these problems.”

“I’m sorry, who should I be calling?”

“An exterminator. You’re taking up the line for life-threatening situations.”

“But, it’s a chainsaw murderer!”

“Yes, they are becoming more and more common. The exterminator knows how to deal with them. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“No. Ah… Yes! Perhaps, a number for an exterminator?”

“This is not the yellow pages!”

Diary of a Twelve-Year-Old, 2036

Sometimes I bring out my crystal ball and look into the future, this time it’s the diary of a twelve-year-old girl in 2036:

Monday. Back in school. Another school shooting! Third this year. Jeeeez!

Dick (and I mean that in both senses) didn’t get an “A” and decided to “do something about it.” Such a total loser!!!

Tom & Bob got him alright. They were just like, no you’re not gonna eff-ing shoot up our history class! OMG! They nailed his a** to the wall with their AK-47’s!

Continue reading Diary of a Twelve-Year-Old, 2036