Wherein I take a band name from Scalzi’s Next Band Name list, and spend no more than 20 minutes writing the story with the band name as a title. Current one is Deus Sex Machina and the full story archive.
"What did you just do?" The short, pudgy man sat up quickly, and asked the taller, thin man next to him.
"I didn't do anything," replied the tall man.
"Well, you did something," the short man responded, looking around at all the dials, knobs, screens, and lights on the oversized dash in front of him. His eyes skimmed over the blinking lights, a panic starting to creep into his eyes as he looked around.
"No, I didn't," insisted the taller man, as he moved closer to his side of the dash. He leaned in, looking closely at a small screen. Neither appeared to know what they were looking for on the dash.
"What did you do!" Another man ran into the small room where the two other men were leaning close to the dashboards. Both men turned to the new man, who appeared to be in a full panic. "Do you hear that?" he screamed at the two men.
"I don't hear anything," the taller man responded.
"EXACTLY!" the panicked man answered. "I don't either, and the gods are never quiet!"
"You're loud enough for all of them," the short man muttered, as he turned back to his screens.
"WHAT?" the new man, yelled louder. "What did you say?"
The short man turned to him. "I said, I'm not opening the tank. That's your job."
"Your job," the short man continued. "As supervisor."
The man standing at the door slumped, dropping both of his hands to his sides and dropping all the paperwork he had in them. He looked defeated. The two men at the dash looked at each other, then back at their supervisor, who was shaking.
"The last time," he said, barely audible. "The last time," he said louder, "this happened, the god killed the man who opened his tank." The two men nodded to the doomed man, who looked up at them. His eyes were pleading. "The god. Killed. Him."
Both men nodded again.
The supervisor looked at both men quietly. Neither man sitting spoke.
"I guess this is why I'm paid the big bucks."
Still, neither man sitting spoke.
"And have such great life insurance."
Both men looked away from the doomed man at the door.
"Good luck, Jared," the short man offered. "Gods bless."
Jared stared at the two men for a bit longer, then turned and left the room. The two men watched as he walked around the glassed room, through the secure door only he could access, and walked into the enormous white room. The room was three hundred meters long, a hundred meters wide and easily eighty meters high. In it, sat a giant tank that filled up just under half the height, but much of the floor space. Jared didn't have far to walk to reach the communications pod of the tank. Though he slowed as he approached, he didn't stop moving forward. He stared at the screen on the front of the pod.
As he arrived at the side of the tank, he heard a tapping noise. He stood up straighter, asking out loud, "Did it restart?" He looked around for the source of the sound, and saw the taller man in the control center waving frantically at him. Looking puzzled, he looked at the man, then turned back to the tank. No delay was the rule. No delay in any news, good or bad. He reached for the button to talk with the god.
The pounding on the office windows became frantic. Jared turned to look at the men, he hand hovering on the button. Puzzled, he watched them as they gestured wildly for him to return to the glassed room. An internal debate seemed to rage in Jared, before he turned and walked back the way he had just come.
As he re-entered the control room, the two men were frantically gesturing at the dash. "Look, it spiked right before it stopped. Right there," the small man was pointing at a readout on his secondary screen. The tall man was tugging on his hair with one hand as he looked at the screen.
Jared looked at the screen, then asked, "What is it?"
"Nothing," the short man said.
The three men stood looking at each other.
"Then WHY did you get me to come back?" Jared finally asked.
"Because nothing is showing on the sensors," the tall man continued.
"Nothing?" Jared asked.
"Nothing." The short man confirmed.
"Nothing." Jared repeated.
The three men continued to look at each other.
"So, uh, what do we do?" The tall man broke the silence first.
"With a god who likely just died from the biggest orgasm ever produced by man?" Jared asked.
The two control room men nodded. "Yep," answered the taller man.
"I have no idea," Jared responded.