Author : Pyai (aka Megan Hoffman)
â€œMs. Anderson,â€ the bot said as he leaned forward, his fingers steepling and making little chinking noises of metal against metal, â€œtell me once again why you are requesting such a drastic career change?â€
Lori shifted uncomfortably in her seat. â€œIâ€™m missing my children grow up. I canâ€™t put in more 80-hour work weeks and see them as much as I want. I need this eight to four job as a file clerk so I can focus on my family.â€
The botâ€™s eyes gleamed from beneath burnished chrome. The pattern was disturbing. File 6198742 had been the 216th this month requesting a file clerk transfer, from every profession from teacher, mechanic, actor, and now to the leading cola companyâ€™s CEO. Algorithms sifted through the botâ€™s head matrix, trying to place the pieces together.
â€œThe Inquiry has no objection to this career change. You will receive your new assignment Sunday evening.â€
A look of relief that even the Inquiry bot couldnâ€™t miss flashed across the womanâ€™s face as she quickly exited.
It was quite by accident that this Inquiry bot PN-42 discovered the answer to the question every Inquiry bot had been running through their systems. The botâ€™s mechanic was reading an antique book one day. The bot, always practicing its Inquiry skills, learning to improvise and detect lies, started asking questions.
It wasnâ€™t until the mechanic spoke about a global nuclear war, much like the impending one slated for early next month, that the bot realized the old man had stumbled across an answer.
â€œThatâ€™s right,â€ the mechanic had huffed a little, â€œconvicts and file clerks. The only groups surrounded by enough walls, paper and red tape to withstand even a nuclear winter.â€