Another day, another litte story for the Ether Book Flash Fiction 8 day challenge. Today’s theme is Family, and today’s story is The Hobbits, about some IT folk whose nest I once unintentionally uncovered:
They liked to be crammed together in the very smallest room. The more of them there are and the tinier the room, the happier they are. It’s even better if there isn’t a window. They are talking all the time, and try their best to never leave the room. When one finally can’t hold it any longer, and has to go out, the others talk even louder to make up for him. They know each and every detail about one another. Nothing can be hidden. Since they also control every little thing about the company they work for, they know everything about everybody else there as well.
You don’t even know they exist, down there on the ground floor, hidden behind the far too attractive receptionist. The door bears no sign. You thought it was maybe shipping and receiving, if you even noticed it was there. Cleverly disguised, the thumping heart of systems administration beats on, concealed from prying eyes. Peel back the heavy metal door, and there they are, swarming together like termites in a long-dead stump. They look up with beady glistening eyes. Fresh meat! A new guy. They tell you all about your password (it’s not secure enough), your cubicle (don’t get too cozy, we’ll be moving you again soon), your bicycle in the basement (did you find that thing in a dumpster or what?).
Standing there and nodding, you get a glimpse behind the scenes. An ever-shifting mysterious map on a massive screen along the wall reveals all the company’s activities, everybody everywhere and everything they do. It scrolls and moves incessantly, a tapestry of life, in this case GPS devices. They know exactly where you are. It’s mostly superficial data, but they can mine and sort. They detect the tendencies, the exceptions, the unusual patterns occurring oddly in the night. A red spot twinkles on the wall. One of them makes a note of that and jots it down. Another winks and tells you they’re on top of it, no worries. The noise is deafening, a clattering of keys and songs and voices, always voices, always chattering.
You turn away, your business done, you leave the room and close the lid on that. Better not to think too much. Tomorrow they will still be there, and even when someday they tear the building down, the hobbits, as you call them, will be the last ones out, clinging to the wreckage, scampering like roaches among the ruins and the bricks.