I wrote a complete short story in less than 1000 words. Quiet an achievement for me, both the less than 1000 words and the complete part.
Joseph liked to call himself a Librarian, but that was not his official title. Digital Transmutation Subject Greeter was his official title. The way he looked at it, if he worked in a library and no one had the title librarian than he might as well call himself a librarian.
Not that the place he worked was a library. Digital Transmutation Boarding Center was the official name of his work place. He worked there with ten thousand other “librarians” and there were twenty thousand other “libraries” around the world. Two hundred million other Greeters and as far as Joseph was concerned he was the only real librarian of the lot of them.
Not that his name was really Joseph, but he had never bothered to memorize the length of 1’s and 0’s emblazoned on the thin outer layer of his brain. Most people did, but Joseph considered himself old fashioned. A right proper name for him even if he never told anyone his self christened nom de plume.
In the context of the job description of the time, Joseph was a terrible librarian.
“Just step in her, dear,” Joseph said as the metal door swung.
A nervous woman with no hair and burned skin stood just outside the door.
Still not looking up, Joseph waved her towards.
The woman entered the small ten by ten dirty metal chamber with one slow drawn out footstep. Just as her left foot, clad only in a torn paper slipper, the chamber door crashed down preventing any boardee from the tug of second thoughts.
Not that this one needed any second thoughts, Joseph thought, as he eyed her burned and disfigured naked body.
“Been on the surface I see,” he said.
The poor wretched woman nodded her almost completely melted face.
“They sent me there when I stole someone’s food credits,” her lipless mouth sputtered out. “But after a few days they said I could come down her.”
“Certainly, I think you’re payment to society is due. All people regardless of rank or crime will get a second chance.”
Joseph mouthed the standard text without even thinking as he toggled the small view screen before him. A reader installed in the ceiling scanned the woman’s barcode and her personal information came up. Joseph snickered as he read that she had been convicted of murdering three other women for their food credits. He let out a small sigh as an image of the woman before her time on the surface appeared. Beautiful, he thought. Red haired, fair skinned, a body worth murdering for.
Joseph stood and approached her, trying to find something left of her humanity in the cool green eyes that glimmered out like a rare jewel hidden in ground beef.
“It’ll be all right,” he said switching to Standard Text Flow Routine Nine as defined in the Digitization and Interstellar Relocation Omnibus Act of 2223.
“They’ll be able to fix everything when I get there?”
Joseph motioned her to stand inside a white circle in the middle of the barren metal floor.
“Certainly they will my poor wretched girl. As I said everyone will get a second chance amongst the stars. That’s what our President promised us.”
Not that his official title was President. Not that anyone knew if the president was a he, or a she or an it. Not that anyone knew anything anymore.
“When I was up there,” she said stepping into the circle. “I kept thinking if it’s so hot here, how can they be building ships in space to take us away. It must be hot up there too.”
Joseph felt his stomach recoil as she sputtered these words out like an insane person who had just seen God.
“They have their ways.”
“It’s going to be wonderful isn’t it?”
Seeing the woman placed properly within the circle, Joseph turned back to his view screen.
“Yes it is,” he said without looking up.
Most of the time Joseph selected “Compile” from the view screen which would deconstruct the person’s cellular structure and embed it on a thin sheet of living membrane located in the Main Library miles more underground, but in cases like this he selected “Decompile” and within several nanoseconds the woman’s atomic structure dissolved and scattered leaving a whiff of ozone in the air.
Within seconds, the door to the chamber opened and Joseph, that not being his real name, motioned for the person to enter without looking up from his view screen.