Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2-24-15 Writing Warm-up
8:59 AM

2-24-15 Writing Warm-up

2-24-15 Writing Warm-up
Artwork © Steve Hamilton, All Rights Reserved - http://balance-sheet.deviantart.com/
Story and Characters © John Langley, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”


audio.input.acoustic_signature(Frequency(4186Hz), Amplitude(10db), audio.traceback[Date ”2154-14-7” Time ”20:32:12”[audio_register]], …)

Sound: Doorway Bell chimes


Composition(Alkaloids(Trigonelline, Caffeine, …, …)


Smell: Roasted Arabica Coffee.



Location: Echoes Coffee Shop.

Human looking eyes driven by inhuman motive assessed, compiled, and cataloged the torrent of new data. Only, there wasn’t much to catalogue. The shop offered little more than what the online reviews and data clouds already foretold. It was a quaint little shop, quite literally a nook between two larger buildings, built only to fill space and optimize the profits of some unknown landowner. The coffee, according to preliminary aromatic analysis, was no different than most other local shop’s, and consumer ratings placed it well with the 3% standard deviation of “average”. He could spy a black stamp on the burlap sacks piled up behind the bar.  “Calloway Coffee”, they read. The beans were locally grown and processed, he concluded, but commercially available and well within his means to recreate using standard domestic utensils.  Why was he here? The question was filed away as unnecessary given the context of his orders. “Why?” is only as useful as it’s ability to enable more efficiently fulfilled orders, even considering his administrators commands.

He continued his examination. The style of the shop: Art deco with an emphasis on nightlife. Jazz crackled over an antique radio. The barista wore a slim white dress and black apron, her copper hair pinned up in a Chignon. Paintings on the wall featured suited men and dressed women dancing, sitting, or smoking with stylized portrayals of brass wind music and ivory keys filling the air.  A few paintings had changed since the most recent interior scan. The Cloud was blocked here so he saved the images to be uploaded later. He reconsidered his “why?” question. It was beyond logical reason The programmed response “sentimentality” satisfied his initial asking. The question was now answered, categorized, and classified, but it was not concluded.

A voice, like a second greeting bell, chimed out from the other side of the cherry wood bar.
“Hi there, welcome to Echoes.” The barista greeted the man with a warm smile and rosy cheeks. “Be sure to check out our daily specials.”
She gestured to a blackboard hanging above the counter.

Countless servos hummed at unheard frequencies as a dry smile grew on his face. He uttered a curt and obligatory “Thank you” before glancing at the menu. His eyes locked on the curly chalked letters.

There were only a few characters. They took less than a millisecond to read but 4 seconds and counting to process.

“Why?” The question assailed him again, this time in response to the innocuous looking lettering command he read on the sign.

“Here, have a seat.” The woman interrupted his thoughts.

He paused a moment, then nodded. His hands gestured to the chalked out words. And he shot her an inquisitive look. He opened his mouth to speak, but was cut short.

A finger rose to her lips and she shushed him. “House rules.”

Not without hesitation he strode to the bar, bidden by commands not entirely contradictory to his administrators. Thousands of parallel processes happened nearly simultaneously, all fruitless for resolving the conundrum posed to him. He took a seat next to another patron, a hawkish nosed man with a heavy brow. The man appraised the newcomer in turn, gazing at him with cool blue eyes. The man took a drag from a cigarette that rested between his fingers. To Joseph it was an unfashionable symbol of antiquity.

He turned back to see the barista leaning on the bar smiling at him. “What are we having tonight?”

“Black Coffee. To go please.”

“I’ll brew some fresh for ya, if you have the time. It’ll only take a few minutes.”

He nods hesitantly, then sits up straight, hands in his lap, and waits. In moments the barista has the coffee brewing in the pot and she resumes leaning against the back counter next to the radio.

“You’re looking a little stiff.” The stranger states. “May as well get comfortable while you wait.”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“I know your fine, but you’re making me tense, sitting so proper.” The stranger takes another drag from his cigarette.

Joseph shifts awkwardly in his seat before leaning over the bar, his elbows now resting on the cherrywood surface. A mimicked pose, more than a natural one.

“Now that’s a little better.” The hawk nosed man states, then leans back in the stool and crosses his arms.
“I’m Edward, you can call me Ed, and that’s Melody." The barista smiles and waves but otherwise remains lost in her music. “What’s your name, son?”

“Joseph” He recites his administrators designation for him. “But…” A delta of subroutines repurposed themselves to respond appropriately. The decree on the chalkboard as proving to be taxing on his systems. “You can call me Joe.”

“It’s a pleasure Joe. I think you’ll like the place. Very comfortable.” He gestures around the room. “It’s got an old charm to it.”

Joe see’s the opportunity to learn. “How’s that?”

Ed continues. “Check your phone. Your phone connected to The Cloud? Hear the crackle of the radio. That’s not artificial.” He gives a smirk. “It’s nostalgic. Makes the patrons feel more at ease.”

“People like this?”

“Not everyone, but the patrons here do. What about you?”

“What about me?”

“Do you like it?”

The coffee machines gurgle fills the pregnant pause. “It rates out well, and has a pleasant decor.”

Ed chuckles. “It does that. I love the place personally. No noise, no buzz of technology, good music. sweet Mel, back there.” He winks.

She rolls her eyes at him, but smiles.

“I’ve been coming here, somewhere around a year and a half now, once a month.”

“That’s not much.”

“That’s all I’ve got. Work keeps me tied up most of the time.”

“And what’s that?”

“My job? I guess you could say, I work in data entry and processing. Simple work, pays the bills. Mel’s been running the coffee shop for the past 12 years, lucky girl.”

“She has odd rules.”

“It makes people happy.” He scratches his chin. “The buzz of The Cloud, constant work, To Do lists that never end. They can come here and relax.”

“People can?”

He nods “They forget to ask ‘why?’ every now and then.” Ed smothers his cigarette in a silver tray. “and just as importantly. ‘Why not?’”

“I’ve… never thought about it.”

The man laughs again and shakes his head. He holds up his cup right as the brewer sighs a final puff of water and air… “Some to go Mel.”

She takes two foam cups from a stack, but Joseph stops her.

“No… actually. I’ll have it for here.”

“Sure thing hon. Want me to turn up the music for you?” He nods in response.

Ed smiles, then slips on his overcoat. “Enjoy the coffee Joe. I’m sure I’ll see you again.”

Joe nods and watches curiously as Ed takes his coffee and slips out the door, the chimes of the bell ringing once again. His thoughts turn to the sign. “On premises, AI computer.”

“Why not…” He muttered to himself, then took a sip of his coffee.


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