Unthinkable Cramps | Mac & Nova

A large cubicle sits inside another cubicle and inside this sits an office of many cubicles. Misery sits at each desk staring at their faded dreams in dark computer screens. They type, but words don’t appear on the monitor. Letters? Yes. But words? No. 

It’s a sight to behold. These workers in their natural habitat like this. They’re known as the last of the office workers. Is it in art exhibit or the actual thing? No one is quite sure. But people line up anyway for daily guided tours. There’s one coming through now. A crowd of onlookers flood into the interior cubicle, and one wonders if the red velvet rope containing them is enough to hold them back if things get out of control again. If Mac Mann seems concerned you wouldn’t know it as he’s lost in thought highlighting a block of letters on his screen with a marker. 

Elizabeth The Tour Guide: Here’s one of the more productive workers on display. His name is Mac Mann. Can anyone guess what his nickname is? 

Onlooker 1: Ummm…Pac Man, maybe?

Elizabeth: Aw shucks! So close. Mac Mann’s coworkers call him Pac Mac. Makes sense when you think about it. Mac. Pac. They rhyme. 

Nova Olsen snorts a line of something off her keyboard. Probably dishwashing detergent. She swipes everything off her desk in one swift motion of her arm and leans over into the cubicle in front of her.  

Nova Olsen: Hey. Psst. Mac Mann. Macky Mac. Macster, babe. Macalicious, Macmeister, Mac Money, Mac, Mann, Nac Mann, Oac Mann,  Pa…what else could I call you? I guess that’s it. 

Mac Mann is on the phone with someone important.

Mac Mann: I’m really busy.

Nova Olsen: Wanna switch for lunch? Come on. We’re switching at lunch. I haven’t sat with you in forever. I’m tired of getting stuck with Lyle. How could they both be so lifeless, ya know? It doesn’t matter if you don’t know. I gotta get back to work if you’re all done here. Thanks for switching with me. You’re the best. 

Mac Mann hangs up the receiver. 

Mac Mann: Dammit. I have a deadly virus.

Elizabeth The Tour Guide: Oh, this is great. Everyone pay attention! This is one of the more interesting scenes. Mac Mann has a deadly virus. This will surely affect his performance. Will he get it fixed in time? Will it spread to his coworkers? Will he have to reboot? 

A siren rings. Lunch. 

Mac and Nova switch seats. Nova reaches under the desk and presses a button. A hologram appears beside her. 

Elizabeth The Tour Guide: Yes. Oh what fun watching them enjoy this brief moment of reprieve from their daily tasks. You will notice each employee has a hologram in their likeness portraying them when they first began this job. Fresh. Full of life. Fully human. Notice the contrast between their holograms and their current selves. What a disaster they’ve become. Isn’t it fascinating? How beaten down and withered the bodies have become. How rotten and pathetic their souls. It really is a work of art like no other. 

Nova bites into a ham sandwich and sits closer to Mac’s hologram. Her shoulders drop. Her face relaxes. Loneliness is swept away for just this moment. 

Onlooker 2: (Shouts to Nova) What are you doing?! 

Elizabeth The Tour Guide: Please. No shouting at the exhibits. 

Nova Olsen: We’re trying to feel something! 

Elizabeth The Tour Guide: I can answer that. They’re trying to feel something. Company like we feel now with each other. The presence of other human beings. The feeling of not being alone. The holograms are a closer representation of that than their physical counterparts. And so this is primarily the only thing keeping them docile and preventing them from escaping their exhibits. Really cool stuff! Be sure to get a 12 inch plush of your favorite worker’s hologram in our gift shop.

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For table of contents or to start from the beginning of Unthinkable Cramps click here, right here and nowhere else.

5 responses to “Unthinkable Cramps | Mac & Nova”

  1. This is really the harsh truth and reality. Tony, this is such a creative take on burn outs and their devastating effects. Little resembling anything human anymore. 🙂

    1. Why thank you. It’s so true about companies burning out employees. I can’t even imagine how bad the burnout will be when we’re all competing with out AI coworkers.

      1. Seriously! It’ll be a real race for survival. First, the humans, then the computers, and now a mix of both.

  2. Also, the reality of computers taking over is so painfully true that it’s funny.

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