The Machines

The Machines

A Story by Tristyn

An officeworker diarises the arrival of new and more efficient computers to his workplace.


Day One.

The new machines are coming in today. They will do most of our work for us and our time can be better spent on other tasks. I can’t help but feel that we will become obsolete, sitting in our cubicles, moving through the motions of the day while our work is done for us and the paint peels away entirely. I picture us still here as dust drifts over us, obscuring the desks in front of us, as the clock ticks over to 5pm, whereupon we reach forward to turn off the monitor, which has long since ceased to function. Then, after the requisite reach for our briefcases, we move as one to our feet, performing the half turn of our chair, followed by a heel to toe pivot to exit the cubicle, regardless of the fact that the walls that have hemmed us in our entire lives are crumbled, lying in ruins between our desks. We will blindly march in step to the front door, bidding Marge farewell at the door, each of us awaiting her response before filing out and down the steps and turning onto the sidewalk to trudge home to our one bedroom apartments, to toss and turn in strictly regimented patterns while the city slowly crumbles beneath us. And slowly, slowly, there will be fewer people in the stream, until one day there will be only one worker, to exclaim in horror at the announcement every Tuesday at 10 o’clock exactly that there will be further salary cuts. To farewell Marge, sitting lonely at her desk, and then walk onto the sidewalk, and turn for home. To walk the clearly defined track through the dust and ash that coats the street, and to make the lonely walk back to the office in the morning, after a night spent tossing and turning in the bed in the ruined room, turning precisely every seven minutes, tossing every fifteen minutes, with a giant snore, startling him awake at 1.18 and 4.37 on alternating mornings, then turning over to fall back asleep. Weekends were the first part of civilization to go, so the routine is safe and unchanged for eternity, as one lone worker performs the ritual perpetually until the city lies flat around him and all that remains is a desk and chair, a hallway, a manager on Tuesdays, the front reception area, Marge, the small section of street, the steps leading up to the apartment, the bedroom and bed, and of course, the worker.


Day Two

We encountered a few errors in the work provided yesterday by the new machines, which led to calls that the machines were faulty and needed to be replaced. The managers assured us that the issues would be resolved overnight and that we need not worry.


Day Three

The machines have not yet been fixed, and we are told that it will be sorted out within a few days. Until this time, we are to continue working as normal, and there will be chocolate biscuits with our morning tea supplies.


Day Thirty

The machines are finally working correctly. From my cubicle I can hear them whirring and clunking. As I walk to the kitchen at morning tea, I pass the new Server Room, and imagine the lights flashing are little beetles, whose only job is to come into our offices and crawl into our eyes and ears while we sleep and eat our ideas and our dreams so that we will produce only what we are told to.


Day Thirty One

My dreams were filled with beetles that crawled over me and into me until the sun rose, but they took nothing from me because there was nothing to take.


Day Thirty Two

The machines have broken again. The managers have hired a technician to reside onsite and fix them when they break. He has been given an office with a window view, opposite the Server Room. His door is left open when he is called away, and I stare out of his window as I walk to morning tea. I imagine the world falling into the expanse of blue and find myself floating in among the clouds, trying to look down upon the world below me, but wherever I turn, there is only more sky. I am always aware of the world below me, but I can never turn fast enough to catch a glimpse of it.


Day Thirty Three

The machines have stopped output entirely. The technician has spent most of the day cursing at them and moving among the machines, tinkering and calling out to the managers as they pass that he has almost found the problem.


Day Three Hundred and One

The machines stand in their room still, mute and silent, the lights that once used to flash in coruscation now forever dimmed. Our work proceeds as normal. I startled myself awake last night with a giant snore at 1.18.


Day Three Hundred and Two

The managers came in this morning at 10 o’clock to tell us that due to budget cut-backs and increasing demand, our salaries were to be docked, and we were no longer to receive weekends off. There was a general outcry and much shouting ensued.


Day Three Hundred and Three

Marge was off work ill yesterday. I gave my customary farewell to her replacement at the door, but received no response from the young girl snapping her chewing gum at the desk.


Day Three Hundred and Four

I had a dream last night where I walked in a track in the dust and ash and the world had fallen to ruin beside me. All of a sudden, the girl from the reception desk stood beside me, chewing her gum and playing with her hair. She asked me what I was doing, and I panicked and began to run. I felt I was searching for something, a hidden treasure, buried within the ruins of my city, covered in dust and ash and rubble. I would know what I searched for only when I had found it. I had just spotted the corner of something silver and shiny poking out from beneath a collapsed building when I heard a loud grunt and woke with a start. I looked at the clock on my bedside table and it read 4.37am. I then turned over and went back to sleep.

© 2014 Tristyn

Author's Note


My Review

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This story caught my attention from the first; and I was held in suspense trying to find the relationship between machines and workers. It seem as though the workers were behaving like machines, and machines were behaving like workers. Machines were missing work more so than workers. We are slaves to the clock. Check the spelling on the words "civilization", "Puter". “Puter” may be correct.

Posted 9 Years Ago


9 Years Ago

Thanks. That's exactly what I was going for. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've fixed "civilization" and .. read more

9 Years Ago

You're welcome! Thanks for sharing all your stories with me. "Server" is a better word.

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1 Review
Added on May 13, 2014
Last Updated on May 13, 2014



Sydney, NSW, Australia

I am an avid reader, and from the age of two, when I first started to read, I have been checking out of reality to take on all sorts of new adventures. I have been dabbling in writing for years, an.. more..

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