“Hi this is Lydia at PrintzFirst Tech Support. What seems to be the problem?”
“What’s the problem?” shrieked the man at the other end of the line. “I’ll tell you the problem. My printer won’t stop making goddamned brunch.”
“You mean it just keeps printing in an infinite loop?”
“The muffins, the frittatas, they’re everywhere! They’re taking over my entire house room by room. They’re getting crumbs all over my beautiful marble floor. And my cats, they’re freaking out. I can’t even see the poor dears anymore. Earlier I heard them crying out from a pile of lemon crepes, but now I don’t even know if they are there, or if they’ve migrated to the albacore tuna salad piled up in the closet. And the spinach quiche – don’t even get me started on the quiche!”
“Sir, go unplug your printer right now,” Lydia commanded.
“Oh, that’s right… I could have done that….”
Lydia waited in silence for several moments before her caller said, “Okay, so I unplugged the damned thing, but now what do I do?”
“Sir, what website did you purchase your brunch meal from?”
“I torrented it. The entire menu. I couldn’t read who it was from; the symbols looked Chinese.”
“Wait…so you’re telling me that you illegally downloaded brunch?”
“That’s illegal?” he gasped.
“Yes, sir, it is illegal to download copyrighted meals without paying for them. Do you have a reliable firewall or virus scanner on your computer?”
“It is very possible that you downloaded a corrupt file – a file that damaged your printer.”
“Do you have printer insurance?”
A deep and somehow even emptier silence passed, producing a chasm of tacit dread.
Lydia was beginning to wonder if the man was still there at all when he replied with the triple smack down of customer grievances.
“This is your fault,” he said with a cement brick certainty. “For selling me a faulty product. Your company owes me a new printer.” She could almost see the look of smug determination on the man’s face, as he paced back and forth before a stack of blueberry muffins piled neck high in his living room.
Lydia decided to give him the company line that was supposed to sound helpful without actually being helpful at all. That’ll show him.
“We’re sorry about the inconvenience, sir. Perhaps you can make an appointment to have a customer service agent come to your home. But unfortunately we cannot reimburse you for the damage since you don’t have insurance.”
Then to stick the knife an extra inch deeper, she added, “I’m sorry about your technical difficulties and hope you have a wonderful day.”
“You people owe me a brand new printer!” he insisted. “You’ll be hearing from me again real soon – but next time, I’m going to let my lawyer do the talking.” A rather anticlimactic beep signaled the end of the call. Lydia thought it would have been more fitting if he had a rotary phone like in the classic movies so he could have slammed the receiver down with a dramatic SMACK.
Lydia shook her head. What a putz. Some people just didn’t know how to illegally download brunch, but she did.
The first step of course involved doing it on a computer with a reliable virus scanner and firewall. Getting involved in that kind of activity without proper precautions was like running dick first into a gas station glory hole. Fortunately, all the computers at the PrintzFirst office were protected.
The second step was trickier: not getting caught. The key to this part was doing it in someone else’s cubicle, so in the event the illicit activity was being tracked, some other chump would catch the heat from the fuzz.
Nate’s cubicle was perfect. He usually came in late or went home early. How he kept his job at all was a mystery. Rumor had it he was fucking the boss. With those low-cut shirts of his that showed off his chest hairs, he was totally asking for it.
Lydia sidled down the hall and then slinked into Nate’s immaculately clean work area.Probably so clean because no actual ‘work’ was happening. She sighed with relief to see that it was empty.
Soon she was firing up the torrent client and a world of afternoon delights became available at the click of a button: fruit crepes, muffins and cinnamon buns big enough to sit on. This was not to mention the mimosas galore.
She decided to live dangerously and print out a BLT fried egg-and-cheese sandwich.
After a chk chk eeerrrrr and a frm, frm, eeeeeee, she grabbed the sandwich hot off the press and started shoving it into her mouth. She had to be quick, lest she get caught cheesy handed.
Her gag reflex activated immediately. The bread had the texture of wax and the taste of a burnt black marshmallow, the lettuce reeked like a gym teacher’s used jock strap and the tomato – oddly enough, the tomato reminded her of a bar of aqua blossom body soap. But the strangest thing of all was the bacon. It writhed in her mouth.
She pulled the sandwich away from her face to see a pair of tentacles wiggling between the buns. In no time at all, she was defiling Nate’s formerly pristine waste basket.
“Like my new printer modification?” At the sound of that familiar, mocking tone her stomach churned in a Gordian knot.
Lydia wiped vomit and spittle from her lips and looked up to see a mane of glorious black chest hair sprouting forth from the low-cut v-neck of a bright, fuck-me-red shirt.What a devious little temptress.
“Your mod?” Lydia asked in some embarrassment, as a trail of crumbs fell from her lips.
“Oh yes, I call it ‘tentacle surprise.'” With narrowed eyebrows and a smirk he added, “But some people just don’t know how to download brunch.”
This short story is also featured in the magazine Space Squid
About the image: In sunny Barcelona, a group of girl geeks at a startup called Natural Machines are mastering the art of printing food.