Fiction · 12/23/2009

Waste Extraction

You could make it big in the field of waste extraction. Let’s face it: there’s lots of waste. Let’s stick our faces in it.

You’re probably already a pro with waste extraction techniques. All you would need is a tool belt and the ambition. You can construct your own tool belt from the parts scattered about your house. You can construct the ambition from parts available in the catalogue.

Do not be discouraged by your parents’ unsuccessful careers in waste extraction. They would drag themselves home each night, weary, frustrated, hungry, and scatter the contents of their tool belts about the house. The field has changed drastically since their day; you will not fail as they did. Computerized robots now handle the core of waste extraction.

This is not to say there is no room for humans in the workplace! More humans are needed, more humans than ever, to service these robots. The robots drag themselves home each night, weary, frustrated, hungry, scattering their parts about the house. Humans are needed to reassemble the robots. Humans are needed to console and hug the robots. Your experience as the child of waste extraction parents has made you a pro at consolation.

Now all the really big firms are paying really big money for people like you, people still children or child-like. The children and the child-like have, for the most part, largely disappeared: curious, they ventured near the robots and were crushed. New precautions prevent the new robots from crushing. Even the stupidest robots can now distinguish the children and the child-like from waste.

The money is really big, as are the benefits. The biggest benefit is the knowledge that you are helping others. At first, some smart people thought that humans would not want to help the robots, that humans would want to help only other humans. “The humans will let the robots go hang,” they confidently predicted. But the humans have not let the robots go hang. The humans enjoy helping robots just as much as they enjoy helping other humans. Now the smart people think humans simply enjoy helping. “I like being a part of it all,” an interviewed human says, her arms wrapped tightly around her robot.

This is, of course, obvious. This is, of course, common sense. The children and the child-like will often adopt inanimate objects as pets. The children and the child-like will often pretend for hours that rocks are their friends. The child will name the rock, will hug and kiss the rock, will announce her love for the rock. The child is genuinely upset to lose the rock, to learn that the parents, weary, frustrated, hungry, threw the rock into the waste bin. The child never forgives her parents. The child never forgives her parents. The child is glad to be given a robot to hug. The robot is glad to hug back.

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AD Jameson is a writer, video artist, teacher, and performer. His fiction has appeared in The Denver Quarterly, Fiction International, Brooklyn Rail, The Mississippi Online Review, elimae, Lamination Colony, and elsewhere; more is forthcoming in Fiction International, Caketrain, PANK Magazine, Mad Hatters’ Review, and Action, Yes, among other places. His prose collection Amazing Adult Fantasy will be published by Mutable Sound in 2010. He recently completed a second story collection and a novel, and is currently hard at work on two more novels.