Friday, June 10, 2011

EZ Happy Donut

[This was a writing exercise I did when I lived in SF and had a writing group.  Wave guys, I miss you.  Thought it is an interesting adventure hook.  Playing Paranoia at NTRPG Con made me remember this ;) Oh, lots of cussing below, if you're bothered by that, go away.]

EZ Happy Donut

Alphon was hungry.  He'd been picking neolopes out of hydroponic bays all shift long.  Ten hours, no break, only pick, no food, only pick.

The EZ Happy Donut sign pulsed green then orange as he stumbled up and slumped onto a plastic tool discolored by the asses of countless pickers before him. The sugary smell of freshed baked donuts that was pumped out of the circulation ducts all along this section made him sick, but he was too hungry to care.

"Gimme an old-fashioned and a..."

"Please restate order in 'product desired' - 'product quantity' form."  The supposedly soothing voice of the automat interrupted.

"Fucked up lame software."

"Order confirmed, insert Universal, PCA or Orbital3 debit card, now."

"What order? I haven't finished!"

"Insert debit card now, please"

"Tell me what you think I ordered."  Alphon knew this was way too complex of an inquiry for the version 3.x automats they installed in WorkerZone.

"Insert debit card or be in violation of Orbital3 code Title 372 Section G 'Ordering products or services from an automated device with no intent to pay or fraudulent intent'"

"Fuck this, cancel order & gimme a god damn old..."

"Order has been confirmed unable to comply with cancel request.  New order function not available until current order complete.  Please insert debit card."

Alphon looked at the only other automat at this EZ Happy Donut.  Someone had put what looked like a glide rail strut through its screen.  It didn't look very operational.  The girl who had been waiting behind him gave a sort of "thanks for breaking it, asshole" look and headed off towards the Qwicky Licky BBQ automats further down the corridor.

"Please insert debit card within the next 60 seconds or be in violation of Orbital3 code Title 372 Section G.  This is the official notification required by Orbital3 code Title 380 Sections A & C."

"Blow me!"  Alphon started checking the numerous pockets they put on Orbital3 duty jumpsuits for an old debit card.  One he hoped only had enough for a donut or two.  He had heard that some other picker was delivered 118 pairs of foul weather gloves from a fucked up automat.  Why foul weather gloves are even on the menu in climate controlled station was of no concern to the arbitration panel, they denied his debit reversal appeal.  That kind of shit Alphon didn't need.

"30 seconds until violation, please insert debit card."

"Yeah, yeah."  Alphon found the card that had been floating amongst the neolope roots just a few hours earlier.  Local Orbital3 issue, looked beat to hell, maybe it had a few creds left.  He stuck it in.  At least it wasn't in his name.

"Thank you, Chief Director Johnson.  One pink sparkles, $4.78 total debit."

Alphon stared at the name on the graphical display, not sure whether to push the card return or to bolt.  Sudden movements like that tended to get the camera systems to alert station security.  Instead he glanced around, he was relatively alone.  Then a thought occurred to him.

"Account balance" he asked?

"Current balance is three-hundred seventyfive-thousand eight-hundred sixteen point seventy-two credits."

He grabbed the card and left the donut.  Alphon's life had either gotten a whole lot better or a whole lot worse.  He wasn't sure which.

You can continue this tale at

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