Thursday, August 2, 2012


It was too hot in the office. Abe couldn't think. He loosened his collar and squinted at the photo in his hand for the hundredth time. The photo was a giant steel statue that was supposed to represent an iron crystal, although to Abe it just looked like a pile of junk with weird knobs hanging off it. The massive sculpture was supposed to serve as the central focal point of the Brussels World Fair, and it was Abe's job to give the sculpture a suitably epic name.

Well, technically his job had a wider scope than that, but he had narrowed his duties so he could focus on the iron sculpture naming.

A lot of people said the only reason Abe had been named Deputy Representative of the Brussels World Fair was because he was married to the daughter of the Prime Minister. He heard their whispers. A lot of people thought that, as Deputy Representative, he should supervise and manage the entire World's Fair, but he had told them that he was too busy naming the Iron Crystal.

He had seen their sideways glances. He knew they thought he wasn’t qualified.

Why was it so damn hot in this office? Abe tried to open the window, but it was stuck. He strained and the sill’s handle broke off in his hand.

Abe had been given three years to name the Iron Crystal—three long years during which over 15,000 workers had built the Chinese Pavilion, the world's largest artificial swan lake, a five story scale model of a whale heart, and more and more and more—the largest world's fair in the history of mankind. And he still hadn't come up with a name for the sculpture.

It was midnight, and the World Fair commencement ceremony was tomorrow morning.

Unexpectedly Abe found himself tearing the photo in half. He watched his arms knock over the sculpture’s quarter scale model and scatter the papers from his desk. Then he was running down the hallway, blind with panic.

He turned the corner and ran into the first room he saw. It was dark. A single spotlight illuminated a shrouded figure on a platform. Abe didn't know where he was. He didn't care. He couldn’t go back to his stuffy office and clean up the mess just yet. Out of idle curiosity he pulled the sheet off the figure, revealing a robot.

"I am the Dance-o-Tron 5000," the robot told him.

"I'm Abe Rosen," Abe replied. "I'm the Deputy Representative for the Fair, why haven't I heard about you?

"Because I don't work," the robot said. "I can't dance. I'll be de-commissioned in the morning, after the fair's opening ceremonies."

"Aren't you smart enough to figure out how to dance?" Abe asked.

"I am smarter than over 5000 horses," Dance-o-Tron replied. "But I can't dance."

"Gee, that's too bad," Abe said absently. Suddenly he realized something. "Hey, if you're so smart, can you tell me the perfect name to give to a giant sculpture of an iron atom?"

"Yes," the robot said, "The Atomium."

Abe thought about it—it wasn't easy, he had a small hard headache and thinking aggravated it, so he just gave up and said, "That's the perfect name!"

"Of course," the robot said. "I'm perfect."

"Look, I feel bad for you. Would you like me to teach you to dance?"

"No thanks," the robot said. "I don't fear the abyss. I have no emotions."

"Must be nice," Abe said, turning the lights off as he left the room.

No comments:

Post a Comment