Friday, 22 July 2011

Friday Flash Fiction - The Efficiency Engine

I dreamed of a machine like a big stationary tricycle that could "summarise" anything from books to physical objects. Place a large book inside, pedal for a while, and out the other end comes the slim paperback version. It wasn't restricted to those kinds of things, either. It could take any object - say, a printer - and give back just the "important" bits in a still-functional, more space-efficient version. It took me years to build the thing, using a little ingenuity, several prototypes and a lot of magic. It's like a reality sieve for functionality and information. I called it The Efficiency Engine and travelled the country with it, like a carnival act.

People loved it. Drop in War and Peace and you get the Cliff's Notes version. Drop in The Lord of the Rings DVD box set and you get a single two-hour action-packed fantasy war movie. Put in a big, clunky wheel and it gives you the streamlined, efficient version. Breakfast cereal becomes a power bar. Coffee turns into flavoured caffeine lozenges. I was saving all kinds of people all kinds of time and energy for a few dollars a turn. I even let the kids do the pedalling, when they wanted to.

One day, though, a man stepped up in turn and said "I'm next."

"Right you are, sir, right this way, and what do you have for us today?"


"What? What do you mean?"

"I mean me. I want to go through the machine myself. Make me more efficient."

"Uh ... I don't think that's such a good idea."

"I brought my lawyer with me, and some liability waivers to sign. This is all on me. But I know it will work."

"Who are you?"

"Dominic Kramer, CEO of Kramer Inc."

I'd heard of him - everyone had. I figured I had nothing to lose. With all eyes on me and the waivers signed, I hesitantly placed him into the hopper and started pedalling.

It usually takes a few seconds. After two minutes of hard pedalling, I started to worry. Then I heard the little "ding!" behind me at last and turned around to see the results of Mr Kramer's unusual trip. All that was left in the output box was a cheque book and a rubber stamp of Dominic Kramer's signature. We should probably have just done his calendar instead.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I really did dream about this machine.
PPS - So far, however, my prototypes are non-functional.

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