The distinction between day and night became meaningless in the perpetual artificial noon of the office. Instead, he measured the passing of time by the presence of his coworkers. If he could hear the voices of other people, their footsteps, see them around him, he assumed it was day. If he were utterly alone, it was night. If the number of people were such that he couldn’t draw a firm conclusion, he assumed it was either very early or very late in the day.
Sandra Jacobs would have told him to go home. She would have told him that he was working too hard, that he should take a day off and recharge, then come back. With a laugh and a smile, she’d have told him that he wasn’t any use to the company if he was too tired to function.
Trina Kurtz had just given a sniff and a nod and told him to keep up the good work. That must have been night. He remembered hearing her as she’d walked away from his cubicle, down the hall towards the lobby with the security guard. He heard her yelling at the older man, telling him to do his job right or they’d fire him and replace someone else.
That was when he’d decided that he was going to make some changes to EAR’s design. SMILE would have been for everyone. EAR would be for the CEOs of the world, the politicians, the captains of industry. The kind of people that didn’t bat an eye when their employees worked themselves to death, that threatened them with being terminated for having the audacity to be tired on the job. The kind of people that found ways to justify torture without batting an eye. The kind of people that screamed at service industry workers for improperly preparing macadamia nuts.
Unbeknownst to them, EAR was going to change the way they looked at the world. Hell, EAR was going to change the way their brains processed the world. EAR was going to change them, physically, chemically, mentally, emotionally.
Quietly he’d become a master of chemistry, of biology, of psychology. He’d had to learn these things on his own time, which meant that he didn’t see his home or his bed very often, but that was fine. It wasn’t like he had a wife to come home to anymore, a house with children, and in those thing’s absence, he’d found that he didn’t have much use for sleep anymore either. He coded and designed and studied until he passed out at his desk, and when he awoke, he rubbed his eyes, stretched the kinks from his back and his shoulders and his neck, and went right back to work.