Short Story on the Spot #1 – Day 5
First things first. Both my cell and the DC phone were ringing off the hook now. I wasn’t going to be able to focus with that racket, so I cancelled the forward to my cell and muted the ringer on the phone. I sat down and refreshed my inbox and, sure as shit, there were no less than fifty email alerts for failed processes. One of those had to be on the mail server, because I sure didn’t get anything on my phone. I was stuck.
I looked at my phone again, thinking about calling Marty anyway. No, I wasn’t going to do that. I knew what would happen. I’d call. He’d come in. Magically, things would all be running correctly and there would be no record of any problem whatsoever, just like every other time. I was not going to look like a dumbass again. I could have just sat there and let things stay broke to prove my point, but that would’ve given them cause to can me on the spot. I had to work on the problem.
The list of things that broke was still on my screen. I looked it over again, did some mental arithmetic, and realized the situation could be salvagable…again. You see, I had learned a long time ago that most of what the programmers said were so-called ‘time sensitive’ processes were scheduled in such a way to lighten their work load. The actual hard deadline was some other time during the day, so I knew I had a cushion to work with.
First I sent an email to all of the remote sites, saying I had found the problem and would have it resolved soon. Part of that was a load of BS. I didn’t have a cause yet. I wasn’t sure what to fix. I went back to the first email alert; connection to database yada-yada failed at 02:45.
To hell with that, I thought. I had still been in at my console at that time and I sure didn’t see that alert. I logged in to that server and checked that database connection. Imagine that, it tested successfully. I had to be on the verge of a coronary episode, that’s how mad I was. If those servers were people, I would’ve jack-slapped ’em silly. I could’ve done that anyway, and not felt anything in my hand from hitting those steel racks because hands were numb from the cold. I realized I hadn’t heard back from the maintenance tech, either. It looked like I wasn’t going to be able to depend on anyone for help, man or machine.
Resetting all the failed processes and everything connected to them took some worked, about another half-hour. I had to nurse some of them along, manually, but things were working…again. Omaha was happy…again. And I was happy…again. Twice in the same night, fate had tried to make a mockery of me and twice, I had thumbed my nose in the face of fate and won.
Beep – ‘Ping test timed out at…’
I jumped out of my chair and went on a verbal tirade that would have made a thirty-year sailor blush. I absolutely could not believe it. I had half-a-mind to just let it go, and that’s what I should’ve done. Instead, in true Andy fashion, I went back to address the problem.
“What in the fiery pits of hades is the damn problem?” The sentiment seemed to go unnoticed by The Granddaddy and his minions. I walked down that last row of racks, hitting each rack door with my fist as I went. Not hard, just a little something to take the edge off. And I was right, couldn’t really feel a thing.
At that the last door, though, I paused. I peered through the perforated steel, and stared at that same Cat5 I had messed with all night the same way Cameron stared at the painting in the museum in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Only, instead of wallowing in my own insignificance, like Cameron did, I was playing out scenarios, in my mind, about how I could make that thing feel every ounce of pain it had caused me that night.
In my mind, it had to pay…some how.
But that would be a score to settle another time. I calmly opened the rack door, plugged the cable in firmly – maybe more firmly than required – and went on my way.
I had almost cleared the corner, at the end of the row when I heard a little clank and then something sliding against steel. I went back down the row, inspecting each server. When I got to the last server, I was beside myself.
Beep. ‘Ping test timed out at…’
My phone went flying. It hit the wall with authority and tested the limits of the hundred-dollar case I bought for it. I flung the rack door open and saw that same Cat5 draped on the floor. It had come completely out of the port What the fuck!
I just slammed the rack door closed. It clanged against the rack, and shook the rack next to it, and bounced back open. I was done. Time to let it ride.
I walk over to my phone in the back corner. The phone was in the corner. The case had busted open into a couple of pieces and scattered elsewhere. Again, I didn’t care.
My phone was now a paper weight. Oh well. Time to finish up and just get the hell out of there.
Feeling what could best be described as defeated, I walked past the racks to go back up front. Then I noticed one on the end. It housed about eighty terabytes of storage spread across dozens of drives. The activity lights on those drives usually flickered randomly. Now they flickering in a rapid sequence like christmas lights. I looked for a minute. It was puzzling. The lights on a rack in the next row were also doing strange things; a definite pattern that looked lively and cheerful. As I look further, I found that all of the servers were doing it. I could even hear rhythmic beeps and other sounds coming from them. Even the readout on the thermostat was blinking. It was the damnedest thing.
Happy sounds and rippling lights. It could be said that they seemed happy. Or was it something else?
Beep-beep-beep-beep with happy lights to match. I don’t know what made me think of it, but it was almost like servers were all …laughing. Laughing – at me!
“Oh, I get it now. You fuckers think this is funny. Make me jump through your hoops like a rat in your little maze. Well, you fuckers are going to find out just how funny it is.” I walked – no, I strutted – out the door, putting a box in the jam to keep the door from closing and locking me back out. I was gonna fix their little red wagon.
I strutted down the hall, toward the break room, “Oh yes, you guys are some funny fuckers.”
A minute later, I returned with something behind my back. I had totally forgotten that these were just machines. They had pushed me over the edge and I wasn’t taking it anymore.
I meandered back to the last row, and faced the racks. They were still laughing. I pictured a bunch of good ol’ boys at the bar laughing, and slapping each other on back, watching another guy spray is beer all over himself after taking a big chug and finding they had dumped salt in it. Real funny guys.
“Now ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to have a good time…my way.” From behind my back, I produced the firemen’s axe that was stowed down the hall. It had a twelve-inch steel axe head that had a five-inch pick on one side, and polished flat blade on the other that sat, securely, on a red fiberglass handle that felt oh so right in my grip. I brandished the axe in front of them and said, “Yessiree, we’re gonna have some fun now.”
All at once, their lights went solid. I heard alarms tones that meant server power supplies had failed. I even got a reaction from The Granddaddy. His tired old fans revved up to a roar, I hadn’t ever heard. But he was ok. He had been the only thing that went right all night.
I held the axe out with one hand and step, slowly, over to the last server – the one with the loose Cat5. “You there. We are have fun first.” I went on to explain just what I thought of it, and what I thought should happen to it. I was going let loose six months of frustration.
I wish I could have seen the smile on my face as I took that axe in both hands, wound up, and said, “Let me quote one of my favorite movies with a twist. HEEEEEERESSSS ANDY!!!”
What I didn’t see was the shadow to my right that rush me and tackled me before I could swing. I fell down hard. Someone was on top of me and yanked the axe from my hand.
“Jesus! Andy, what the hell are you doing?”
It took a couple seconds for me to get my bearings. I looked up. Dammit. It was Bill who had knocked me down and Marty wasn’t far behind him. “Is there a betting pool on this one?”
Marty reached out a hand to pull me up. When I got to me feet he started in on me.
“Andy, what the hell was that crap? I would say you’ve got some explaining to do, but you won’t be here long enough for that.”
“No way you’re pinning this one on me.”
“Pinning it on you? What is your malfunction? You call the service tech about the cooling system and two in the morning. He calls me to let me know there’s nothing wrong with the damn thing. Then–“
“Oh, hell no. It was fricken forty-five degrees in here most of the night and that jackass never called me back.”
Marty was red-faced pissed. “Forty-five?”
“Look for yourself,” I said pointing to the thermostat.
Wild Bill walked over and shook his head. “Sixty-five, boss.”
I wanted to pull my hair out. “I’m telling you, it was cold as shit in here all night.”
“And how does it feel now?”
I paused and waved my hand in the air. I cupped my hand in front of my face and breathed. Nothing. It felt fricken normal. “That shit’s impossible…What a minute…Why are you here?”
“The Omaha site called me after they couldn’t reach you.”
“They wouldn’t leave me alone! I was working on getting things back on schedule, but they wouldn’t shut up so I turned off the ringer…but I sent them an email. Go look!”
I’ll say one thing for Marty. He’s a patient son of a bitch. We went over to my console and I brought up my mail history.
My email wasn’t there. I’ll be damned if it wasn’t there. As a matter of fact, all of the email alerts were gone. Just not there!
I opened my mouth to protest, but Marty stopped me. “Just…Just shut up.”
I composed myself again. “Look I know you think I’m crazy, but those things back there are alive and they screw with me on a nightly basis. they have it in for me or something. I don’t know. Those things back there were laughing at me!”
Marty rolled his eyes. Wild Bill buried his face in his hand.
“The servers…’laughed’…at you,” Marty said.
“Absolutely. And you know what else, after everything that’s happened tonight, it wouldn’t surprise me if all those science fiction movies about machines being alive were true.”
“Well you were about to destroyed about $85,000 worth of server equipment when we walked in. How do you explain that one? And believe me, you have my undivided attention. Why were you going to axe that server rack?”
Well, there was no salvaging the situation this time. I don’t think there was anything I could do to make things any worse so I had to answer honestly. “There was a Cat5 that wouldn’t stay connected.”
Marty looked like he was trying to rub away a headache. “I thought you were past this. Let me break it down for you…again. All of those racks back there are like little kids–“
“Heard this one before.”
“They’re little kids that each have assigned jobs and they do what they’re told and you have to remember that.”
There was a long, silent moment that felt like an hour.
Finally, Marty said, “Bill, help him get is crap and get him out of here. Andy, if I were anyone else you’d be walking out of her in handcuffs.”
Without a word, I did just that. Wild Bill grabbed me by the arm and motioned me ou the door and down the hall. We walked by the long row of windows that faced into the DC. I could see Marty by The Granddaddy pacing in front of the server racks like a sergeant standing in front of a formation.
I thought he might have been talking to himself, but he turned and faced my way and I read his lips perfectly, Why do you guys keep doing this?
“Whoa, Bill, did you see that? He ask them a quest–“
Bill shook his head. “Just keep walking, Andy. Just keep walking.”
I got home without any further incident. And the first thing I did when I got there?
…Threw my dryer out to the curb.
WOW!!! Short Story on The Spot #1 is DONE. I powered through to the end, and I feel great. Complete stats for this challenge story are below.
Day 5 – Writing time – Approx. 3 hours Word Count – 2225!!!
Totals for story #1 : writing time – 5 days (dont have hours figured, sorry) Total Word Count – 5438
That’s good enough for a 1000 word a day average and that’s what I like to accomplish as a minimum. I’m great shape compared to this time last year. SSTS #2 will probably be coming soon. I want to channel this momentum into another project that’s stil outstanding. This one went straight down as it came out of my brain, with only a spell check and a couple small tweaks on the fly, so its probably pretty rough. I haven’t even gone back to read it all from start to finish. You can go back to the beginning HERE. Comments are always welcome.