I: “Binary”

Fictional piece related to last week's article.

The old café’s weathered sign hung above its entrance. People flowed in and out throughout the morning. Most days, the stream of traffic would subside by the late afternoon. The café had been around for decades, and while the stores in its vicinity evolved every couple of years, it became more of a relic of the community’s past. While the café was considered a popular location for the smartest minds of the era, its inner atmosphere worked as a laxative for Sturtevant’s tired mind. He had set out a stack of files in front of him, the assorted papers tucked neatly within. Taking his glasses off, he set them on the pile. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he settled into deeper thought.

A stack of books dropped in front of him, snapping him out of his reverie.
“Printer’s on the fritz,” said Francis as he sat down. “Third time this week.” Francis was a few years younger than him and still had much to learn about the research field office.
“Again?” Sturtevant replied, slowly. “Use the one on the second floor. Always works for me.”
“Second floor?” Francis sounded flustered.
“Yeah, uh, by the East Wing”
“Never heard of it.”
“Which is why it’s perfect,” Sturtevant replied. The café had been filled with a sort of warmth. Another block of overworked college students had joined the fold. Most were weary while a scarce few babbled excitedly as they’d left the worst of final examinations behind them.
“Your results come in?” asked Francis. Sturtevant motioned to the stack of files on his desk.
“In here somewhere. Looks cleaner but it’s still a mess.”
“Hmm. Sounds a lot like my desk. Jenny gives me hell for it, but I’ve got a perfect batting average when it comes to finding what I need.” He checked his watch. “Oh, I gotta run but I’ll see you around Stert.” Sturtevant merely nodded as Francis walked out the café door, sending a cool breeze into the warmth of the packed café.

Sturtevant reassessed the files in front of him and fished out the clean folder from the middle of the pile. The papers within were crisp and orderly, unlike the crumpled lumps of papers in the other folders. Taking a deep breath, he opened the file. All that was on the sheets were lines and rows of seemingly random 1s and 0s. Funny, he thought to himself, the printer may have malfunctioned.

However, the time stamps on the paper were accurate. Everything was as it were. That’s what he was looking at, jaw agape. His universe was composed of binary.

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