As the sound of vacuum cleaners drowned out most of the sound in the cubicle grid that comprised Azure Planet Software’s R&D department, Janet Blue sat at her desk, tapping away at a jumble of computer code that the layman would find incomprehensible. Her large mechanical keyboard made a loud, pronounced click with every keystroke.
After some time, Leslie, the worker in the cubicle to Janet’s right, stuck her head into Janet’s cubicle to see her hard at work.
“The cleaning crew is coming to our row next.” Leslie said.
“I’ll be done soon.” Janet said
Leslie looked at Janet’s computer, which was displaying an odd programming language.
“That isn’t our new app code.” Leslie said.
“Nope.” Janet said without looking away from her monitor.
“That doesn’t even look like real code.” Leslie asked.
“It’s something proprietary. It’s for something I’m working on at home.” Janet said.
Leslie walked into Janet’s cubicle completely.
“You’re using company time to work on a personal project?” Leslie asked.
“Of course not. Michael gave me permission to come in today to work on this.” Janet said.
Satisfied with the explanation, Leslie made her way back to her own cubicle. Janet kept working. After another five minutes, Leslie spoke up over the noise of the vacuum from her own cubicle:
“What are you making, anyway?” Leslie asked.
“I didn’t make this. Well, not all of it, anyway. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Janet replied, straining her voice over the volume.
Janet typed out the final lines of her program and saved multiple copies to multiple USB drives. Leslie walked over to Janet’s cubicle to see her cramming five drives in her pocket.
“I think you may have a problem, Jan.” Leslie said.
“I like to be thorough.”
“Still? Five backups?”
“You know how much of a pain it is to lose your only copy of something.”
“Still, though. Five?
“We get the drives for free, Leslie. I can take home a box of them if I really wanted to.”
“I suppose. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Leslie made her way toward the door as Janet shut down her workstation.
Outside, the two co-workers walked to their cars. Coincidentally, they parked within two spaces of each other.
“You hungry at all?” Leslie asked as Janet was unlocking her car.
“Nope. I need rest.”
“Suit yourself. After a day like this, I need to relax. I’m off to the Viridian Room.”
Leslie jumped into her car and sped off.
Janet entered her apartment after enduring a 45-minute commute home. Traffic was still nightmarish, even at the late hour of 9 PM. Janet walked into her living room to see her recent house guest, which happened to be an Arcast Technologies Model-1 Android.
The android sat still on the living room couch, but came to life as Janet walked into the room.
“Ms. Blue!” The android jumped off of the couch and proceeded to embrace Janet as she was putting her belongings down on the floor near the couch.
“I hope you kept yourself busy while I was at work.” Janet said.
“I did!” the android said.
“What did you do?”
“I looked out the window, mostly.”
“Really? For ten hours straight?”
“The skyline is quite lovely.”
“Oh, and your smoke detector in your kitchen gave a low-battery signal. I fixed it.”
“You fixed it?”
“I saw that you had spare 9-volt batteries in your pantry, so I replaced the one in the device.”
“Huh. Great. Thanks for that.”
The android stood in one place as Janet walked into her bedroom to change out of her Azure Planet work clothes. Janet spoke from across the apartment.
“I wasn’t planning on staying so late at work.” Janet said.
“I understand.” The android said, unmoving.
“I think I’ve put something together that can help you out, though.” Janet said.
“Oh? What could that be, Ms. Blue?”
“I’ll let you know in a few minutes, once I get out of the shower.”
The next sound that the android heard was running water going through the aging pipes of the apartment’s plumbing system.
The android continued to stand in place.
After five minutes, Janet emerged from her bedroom, dressed in her evening attire, which consisted of a large black t-shirt and cyan pajama bottoms.
The android stared at the design on Janet’s t-shirt.
“They’re a band. This is actually my boyfriend’s t-shirt.”
“That is interesting.”
“Yeah. Nada Surf wasn’t my thing originally, but Colin showed me that their recent albums are really nice. Their sound’s bright and optimistic. I like that.”
Janet walked up to the android and showed her one of the small USB drives from work.
“Do you have a USB port?” Janet asked. She thought for a second afterward of what she had just said.
“There should be one near the vocal replicator port.” The android said.
Janet turned the android around and opened the expansion bay at the back of her neck. She inserted the USB drive into a vacant USB port inside the bay, then closed the bay off, leaving a barely-noticeable break in the skin at the back of the android’s neck.
“It should kick in after a minute or so.” Janet said.
“What did you install?” The android asked, turning to face Janet.
“A fairly small file that was emailed to me by the head of Arcast Technologies’ engineering department.” Janet said.
“What sort of file?”
Janet smiled and put her hands on the android’s shoulders.
“A firmware upgrade.”