Duncan was in full flow, talking Angie and Scott through a demo of the Anything Catalogue System (ACS) that basically he, by himself, had designed, built, tested and delivered. There were two dozen men and women on the team, but Duncan was the visionary. All that fluffy crap – checking for spelling mistakes or making the text larger for the poorly sighted? – nah. The heart of the system was his engine, and it was flexible enough to capture information about any object on the entire mother loving planet.
He did not look like a visionary, this Duncan, a withered scrap of a man inside a white shirt flapping loosely around his skinny frame like a sagging tent. And the way he shook your hand, the way his paper dry fingers traced their tips against the inside of your wrist. A handshake from a horrifying goblin.
The real name of the system was the Automotive Cataloguing System. That’s what their company did, wrote software for the automotive industry. But his system was so clever you could configure it to be used for anything you wanted, say…medical applications?
Duncan was looking at Angie. He showed her some more of his yellowing teeth. ‘Suppose…you wanted to capture a physical attribute, say…penis size?’
Scott blinked rapidly. Angie felt the spiral binding of her notebook bite into her hand.
Duncan continued: ‘The naïve approach would be a single drop down, and you might have an option Long and Thick, if you’re lucky ladies, or perhaps Long and Thin, or Short and Thin. But the beauty of ACS is we can split it to capture individual pieces of information. We’ll capture length, we’ll capture girth, we can capture staying power, and we can add a way to capture if he’s a grower or a shower.’ He grinned slyly, and nodded to Scott– ‘Hat tip to little Scottie for that one – less of the schnapps at the next company party buddy.’
After the meeting Scott could not stop apologising to Angie.
‘He’s prehistoric,’ Scott said. ‘But it’s his system, and without him the company is screwed.’
But Angie wasn’t mad. Her job was to write the training materials. To write the training materials from Duncan’s demo.
Two days later, and she practically danced to the projector screen as the liver spotted face of Duncan sneaked itself in and took a seat by the door.
Angie said, ‘Folks. Welcome to the mother loving future. Forget the automotive industry, let’s have a little fun, shall we? ACS is a bloody powerful piece of kit. Who wants to be cataloguing spark plugs and fan belts? For this demo, let’s pretend we’re a Harley Street surgery and we are capturing the physical attributes of our patients.
‘I’m just going to dive straight into it. Name…let’s call him Big Dunc. See how we can enter his height, his weight, his age. All bog standard stuff. And now…’
Angie switched to the table labelled Genitourinary.
‘Look at the power of this system!’
‘For penis length, how about we go with “Pinkie”.’
‘Girth…let’s have “no chance”.’
‘Ooh, then there’s a drop down for staying power.’
She clicked into it.
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Not even any options for staying power.’
She surveyed the room, this sea of grinning faces and Duncan’s empty seat by the door.