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Transdimensional Blues

Raymond Coulombe
Outrunning the Storm

Michele Dutcher
A Felony of Birds

Harris Tobias
Time Wars & other SciFi Tales

Gordon Rowlinson

Human Resources

by Tristan Roybal

“Do you have the report ready, darling?” Baby Jessica sashayed into Baby Jake’s work cube, twirling the ends of her curls between her little fingers and smirking.


Baby Jake entered a few more strokes into his keypad, feeling important. “I should have it ready for you by this afternoon, sweetheart.” He gave his Other a thumbs up and a wink, then went back to staring at his monitor, babbling softly to himself.


It was 3 PM on a Wednesday at SoulWise Solutions. Phone calls were coming in, important emails were being sent, and the afternoon PsycheUp! Energy Soda was brewing in the kitch-dome. The worker babes were filing out of the Fresh Zone one by one—three times a day they went in to have their diapers changed by the Mech Nurse before returning to their work stations. All throughout the office sounds of clicking, ringing, and gurgling could be heard.


Baby Jake gathered up his report and toddled, then crawled the rest of the way to Baby Jessica’s work cube. “Here’s that report you wanted.” He handed it over. “So, what do you want to do tonight?”


Baby Jessica picked up the report, cooing contentedly at the symbols and pie charts. “There’s a new Wine Bar and Tapas place that just opened up on Lincoln. Ryan and Rachel are going there tonight; they want to know if we’d like to join them.”


From his adjacent work cube, Baby Ryan poked his head over and peered down at them through his designer specs with no prescription. “You should come, you’ll love it! It has a five-star rating. Ben and Bethany went last week and had a blast, all the Pairs have started going lately and have only good things to say.” He giggled and blew a spit bubble.


“Well, I can’t argue with that, can I?” Baby Jake agreed, nodding his head. “Can we listen to that new sound, Spoken Words, Steady Beats, that all the Pairs have been talking about? And go in your Hover car? Mine’s the same of course but it’s blue, yours is red, and the latest stats show that reds get better parking spots.”


“Oh, what should I wear? The pink dress or the purple one?” Baby Jessica wondered aloud. “I want to wear the purple one but I got strained peas on it last week,” she pouted.


A ping! noise came from Baby Jessica’s work machine. An instant message from Baby Rachel.


“You can wear mine if you want. I was going to wear the pink one anyway.”


“Thanks!! =P” Baby Jessica responded.


Baby Jake had returned to his work station. Another ping! noise for Baby Jessica.


“Do you want to come with me to see my parents this weekend?” Baby Jake asked. “Father J.J. is picking up MotherMech J2 from the repairs shop this Friday. She had a slight malfunction, but he says all the necessary reparations have been made and she should be as good as new.”


“Oh, I’d love to, but I can’t,” Baby Jessica replied, sucking on her thumb. “I promised my MotherMech I’d go to ShopCentral with her…she needs an upgrade and promised me a new Mobile Soundless Sleep System for my crib.”


A high-pitched buzzer rang. Mr. Robinson, the C.E.O. of SoulWise Solutions, had entered the employee work area. Mr. Robinson stood over 6 ½ feet tall, his shoes were always perfectly shined and he never had a hair out of place. He strolled up and down the aisles of work cubes, receiving silent gestures of approval from his workers—a thumbs up, a smile, a wink, an excited coo. He halted at Baby Jessica’s work cube, stooping to fit partially inside.


“Jessica, do you have a minute?” He leaned forward, tapping the side of her work machine rhythmically.


“Of course, Mr. Robinson, don’t I always make time for you?” she chortled.


“Why don’t we step into my office then?” He picked her up and leaned her against his shoulder, patting her back lightly as they left the cubes. The other worker babes gazed up at them, many of them sticking their bottom lips out in jealousy.


When they got to Mr. Robinson’s spacious corner office, he placed Baby Jessica inside the Mobile Soundless Laser Light Comfort Swing: The Bella Edition. Jessica watched in awe as the colored lights danced across the ceiling while the swing rocked her slowly back and forth.


Mr. Robinson seated himself behind his desk, touching the screen of his work system to access his notes, then folded his hands and leaned forward. “Now Jessica, some big changes are about to take place around here. I wanted to talk to you first before I tell the others because you’re the most productive member of this batch. And my personal favorite.”


Baby Jessica joyfully gurgled at the lights. She beamed at Mr. Robinson.


Mr. Robinson sighed heavily. “Jess, I have to let you go. All of you, in fact.”


Jessica stopped staring at the ceiling and cooing. She fixed her gaze on Mr. Robinson, eyes wide.


“I’m sorry, Jessica. The manufacturers of MotherMech just came out with a newer model. Twice as fast. Half as costly.”


Baby Jessica began to cry.


“I’m terribly sorry to have to break it to you, but this is the way business goes. There’s always someone younger, more eager. Someone who knows and can perform the latest technology. Someone who is the latest technology. Out with the old, in with the new. It’s a tough time to be a 2-year-old in the working world I’m afraid. The Mechs keep coming out with newer models, more and more rapidly it seems. We can’t afford to be out of date.”


Jessica’s sobs reduced to sniffling as she fought to control her feelings. She got up out of the Mobile Soundless Laser Light Comfort Swing and crawled towards the door, pulling herself to a standing position against the doorframe. Her head hung low, she gazed up at Mr. Robinson from beneath wet eyelashes.


“Where will I go?” She asked.


“That’s not up for me to decide,” said Mr. Robinson.


Defeated, Baby Jessica returned to her work cube. Minutes later, the announcement that the current stock would be replaced by a newer version popped up on everyone’s instant message screens.


Baby Jake crawled over to Baby Jessica’s work cube, wild-eyed and confused. “Where will we go, Jessica? SoulWise Solutions is the only place I know.”


Another ping! noise on the work machines.


“All current employees version 4.0.4 are to report to the company’s recycling plant at promptly 9:00 AM tomorrow morning. Please bring your identification and the keycard you were given on the second day of your first week. Thank you for your cooperation.”


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