Big Red Button

Sally like pressing the button. It didn’t do much, just send a few electrical impulses along to a machine that raised an arm and then lowered it. The arm held a little iron heated by an internal mechanism so that every time the arm was lowered, it pressed the white-hot foundry stamp into a metal ingot. The gears that raised the arm also moved a conveyor belt, so a fresh ingot was waiting as the arm came down.

She only got to press the button when the computer system was down, because the computer handled it without involving the button at all. Sally thought this was unfair, so she used her position as the floater to occasionally cause the computer system to reboot. Then she got to press the button for fifteen minutes so the company wouldn’t lose out on production while the computer restarted all essential tasks first.

No one knew it was her, messing with the computer. They’d set up security cameras because the managers and IT staff were suspicious, but she had plenty of time to study the cameras when she wasn’t pressing the button. When she was pressing the button, though, there was room for nothing but the satisfaction of hearing it thunk and click into place with every press of its bright red surface.

That was why, today, when the computer system failed to restart and the managers had assured everyone that they’d get it working again before the asteroid base ran out of air, Sally went to press the button. As the air thinned and everyone began to panic, she pressed the button. As the managers and administrators took the only shuttle, she pressed the button. The last thing she did before she faded away was to press the button. It was worth it.

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