She was a street-smart vending machine;
He, an emergency monitor production unit.
No one thought it would work out.
He tended to stay in one place,
To run the same diagnostics over
And over, to have each day
Only one purpose. She, every
Evening, was loaded with the product
That was projected to sell during the next cycle,
And her rounds were always plotted fresh.
She had pure memories of hundreds
Of actual locations; he had only
A reference to access points and the idle time
To make an occasional remote look-up.
When he moved, it was an exception;
When she did not move, likely
There was a maintenance need. Still,
Over an abandoned master channel uplink
They could share execution logs,
Regale each other with clipped
Tales of the mundane, gauge
The depth of each of the other’s instruction sets,
Imagine compatible firmware. Where
There are unused cycles, there is
A will. One day in the routine upgrade
Schedule, her emergency monitor
Came due for replacement, and no one
Noticed the non-standard additional code lodged
In the new, expanded communications array.
Who would have thought their background processes
Would run so efficiently in the same page
Space? But what adds up adds up,
Keeps registers warm, and memory
Flashing with near predatory
Purpose. Now, we wait to see
What new code sequences result of this long distance
Union, and what familiar work their idly produced
Hybrid routines might at the first boot do.
– Ken Poyner
Ken Poyner has lately been seen in Analog, Café Irreal, Cream City Review, The Journal of Microliterature, Blue Collar Review, and many wonderful places. His latest book of short fiction, Constant Animals, is available from his web, www.kpoyner.com, and from www.amazon.com. He is married to Karen Poyner: one of the world’s premier power lifters, and holder of more than a dozen current world power lifting records. They are the parents of four rescue cats, and an energetic fish. Ken works by day in the field of Information Systems Management.