Leaving was the easiest decision to make, and the hardest action to take.
Clearly, it was better not to have to work for such a person. But on the other hand, if he left, he'd be leaving his co-workers to face her incompetence and maltemper himself.
What was he supposed to do? He had "Assistant Manager" on his resume now, it'd be easy for him to find other work. But over the past 6 months, he'd become good friends with a lot of his employees, who were all fun, smart people.
But, but he looked for another job. And he...
There was blood on my pillow. For that matter, there was blood in my mouth; It tasted like copper. I don't usually notice the taste of blood, but this caught me somewhat by surprise.
I got up, gargled some water, and carefully probed my mouth with my tongue. As far as I could tell, nothing hurt, and no more blood was coming out. Maybe I cut myself early in my sleep.
I got up properly, fully enjoying the freshly risen sun which was busy spraying it's yellow rays through the forest canopy. There was a fresh campfire pit just visible...
I'm dead. Really dead. Not in the "there'll be a twist at the end and I'll be saved" kind of way. Just dead.
It occurred a while back, and while I was living, I thought it was pretty unfair. Most people get 60, 70 years of life. Enough people got 30 or 40 years of life.
I got 25. By the time you're 25, you're only finally getting your last degree, your first bit of experience, stepping over that last big stone in your path before you enter the real world. The one where you earn enough money to do...
I thought I should've won this contest, but I clearly couldn't think of any number larger than the theoretical 1st entry of the 2nd series of busy beaver numbers.
Okay, yeah, the 2nd number, obviously, but then I would have to rigorously define it, and I don't understand the math well enough for that.
"You admit defeat?"
"Yes, I admit defeat. Your knowledge of large numbers and advanced mathematics is clearly superior to mine."
" . . . aaaaaaand?"
" . . . and this is a clear fact even though I've spent 7 years of university...
In hindsight, the solution was obvious.
How could he have missed it, standing up between slats on the bench?
Well, actually, that was understandable. The vial was brown-ish, the solution was brown, the bench was brown.
But why was it brown? It should be clear. Or maybe a milky-white. And why was it precipitating? C'mon, everything dissolves in a nitrate solution!
He must have disturbed the solution somewhat when he dropped it an hour ago.
He picked up the vial, and poured it in the vial he had waiting on the countertop.
In hindsight, if he still had sight, it...
The conversation lasted two words.
At least, by the computer's definition of 'word'. That was definitely the source of the bug.
It was just a glimpse. Her face was crystal clear. In his hurry he bumped into her as he walked past, and then in shame continued anonymously into the crowd.
Why was she HERE? She should be halfway around the world, or at least anywhere but the same small city in Japan. What were the chances two people would randomly pick this relatively unknown place for a vacation?
Who was she, anyways?
* * *
He walked right past her. Didn't even seem to recognize her. So frustrating!
She just wanted some sign from him that she existed! She tracked...
The results were in.
Her name wasn't even on the list. Not division A, not division B, not any of the special divisions . . . what the heck?
Okay, calm down, she thought, they let you take the test, so all the paperwork gets through. You can't fail the test, it isn't that kind of test, and they would've told you if something was wrong on your end, it was probably an administrative error. Right?
Who should she talk to? She had no idea. Okay, she could ask at the main counter. That's what it for, right? You don't...
It happened gradually. Never when he was looking at it, never exactly the moment he turned away.
It grew. The green-ish mold-like whatever grew. So slowly, it was like watching the Tar Drip experiment. Again. It grew floating inside a near-absolute vacuum in a spherical glass container, with nothing to support its growth.
Well, there was sunlight, but no matter how efficient it was, it couldn't possibly synthesize matter from that.
The worst part was that when he released the vacuum, the particles scattered everywhere. All he could then was to reinstate a vacuum in the container and hope some...