I wrote this short science-fiction story in 2014. At the time, I was writing for a website that has since gone under and disappeared. The website’s owner made it clear that all writers owned whatever work they posted.
I read “System Malfunction” in episode 003 of my Words of Jen podcast.
She slowly held out her hand to the technician behind the desk. It had been a long, frustrating, work day and she was ready to go home and relax. Instead, she had to wait in line for a while just to be able to speak with a technician who might be able to help her.
“It’s malfunctioning”, Janessa complained. “I just bought it a few days ago. You need to fix this right now or give me a new one!”
“Can you explain the problem?” the technician asked while putting on her high powered glasses and reaching for her tool kit. “What isn’t working for you?”
Janessa let out a frustrated sigh. “Everything! If it was just one little thing I wouldn’t have taken time out of my busy day to come here.”
“Oh-kay.”, the technician said in what she hoped was a calming manner. “Let me take a closer look at it”. She reached out and held Janessa’s hand, simultaneously pressed the “bones” on the side of her wrist, and quickly turned the hand to the right. It popped off the docking mechanism at the end of Janessa’s arm exactly as it was supposed to.
The technician turned it over and blew across the wrist. “Hmm.. there isn’t any dust blocking things…” She put the hand on the table so she could grab some tools. The hand immediately made a rude gesture.
“See! I told you it was malfunctioning!”, Janessa said, gesturing towards the hand with the stump of her arm.
“That definitely is an atypical response to stimuli”, the technician explained. “Perhaps there is a bad sensor in that finger. Let me see….” Janessa impatiently tapped her feet and pointedly checked the time that showed on the underside of the docking mechanism on the end of her arm.
“Why are these nails red? That’s not how this model arrives out of the box.” The technician pointed out.
“Well, duh! I painted them!” Janessa explained.
The technician put the hand back down on the table and pushed it toward Janessa. “That’s the problem. The diodes on this model don’t react well with nail polish. All it takes is for a tiny bit of nail polish to slip under the nail panel for problems to occur.”
“You can fix that, though.” Janessa stated.
“Sorry, but you’ve voided the warranty. There’s nothing I can do now.”
“Fine!” Janessa growled, while stomping her foot in rage. She grabbed the hand and slammed it back on the docking mechanism. The hand immediately made the same rude gesture as before.
Janessa looked up to see the technician squinting at her, suspiciously.
“Malfunctioning!” Janessa said, shrugging.