Silicon(e) Cover by Eric Huber

Chapter 1 | Pantone 484

Jerry lay face down on his keyboard in a pool of blood. His finger stuck on the delete key and the computer making an annoying ticking sound as the cursor flashed on the blank screen.

The police and coroner had made their arrival at the small design company that focused on product design in all areas for living. Like many cutting-edge companies, they followed the business model much larger companies had set giving the employees 20% of their time to create whatever they wanted to create. Jerry had a fascination with Artificial Intelligence, learning systems and neuro-pathways.

His office space was a little apart from everyone, with a small divider for privacy, but still in a common area.

It had been his 20% day and he had ended up staying late. One of the staff, Sarah, had found him at his desk when she went searching for the annoying ticking sound. At first she thought he was sleeping. When her shrill scream got everyone’s pre-double-shot espresso hearts beating, everyone knew the day was off to a different start.

The coroner on-site stated that Jerry somehow had fluid in his lungs, like pneumonia, and had eventually started coughing up blood (as there was also blood spatters on his hand and tissues in the trash). However, they were confused at how rapidly he had succumbed.

After police and detectives had finished and the ambulance took him away, the owner, Ben Ashmore, gave the staff the day off and personally cleaned up the area so as not to upset the other employees.

As he cleaned, he noticed a cable with blood on it that must have been disconnected before Jerry died. It led to a small closed case with the name “JANICE” on it. Ben opened the case and discovered Jerry’s pet project. It was filled with circuit boards and vials of liquid and some other material and which had wires connected to them. There was a power cord going to it, but it was unplugged, but a battery pack mounted in the case provided power as a few indicator lights had flickered on.

He cleaned off the wires, wrapped the cables up tucking them carefully inside the case, and nearly closing it all up, though the wires blocked it from closing completely.

With the desk area basically cleaned, Ben logged into Jerry’s computer and got ready to back up the files to the main server. On the desktop, however, he noticed a folder named “JANICE.” Ben decided to move the files to a jump-drive he always carried and check them out later. With that completed, he packed up all Jerry’s personal belongings, picked up all of the company information and contacted Steve the office manager.

Steve went ahead and had the computer wiped, furniture removed, and space re-decorated with plants and a water feature by the end of the day. While they didn’t want to be insensitive and remove any trace of him from they office, the idea that any other employee would ever use Jerry’s desk again would be asking too much.

After making sure the police had contacted Jerry’s family, Ben called them himself and gave his condolences.

Continued…
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© 2013 Eric Huber. Silicon(e) is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.