Alone in the dark and quiet of the night, Print-O-Tron 3000 was meditating about life, the universe and everything. If I print a paper in the dark and no one can read it, is there really ink on it? he mused. Print-O-Tron enjoyed the quiet, the relaxing blankness of his senses when Apple was sleeping. It's not that he didn't like Apple, but she always stressed him out.
Suddenly, the lights were turned on.
Jean-Christophe's abominable silhouette loomed in the door frame. Print-O-Tron's arch-enemy was six foot two and thin as a broomstick, although not nearly as straight. His hair was dirty and disheveled, never to be seen in close proximity to water or a comb. His eyes were infused with madness. Oh, God damn it! Print-O-Tron thought, he looks really inspired tonight. And as if to wipe out any doubt about the matter, the madman let himself fall into his faux leather chair and opened Apple. “OH!” Apple chirped. Her thoughts flooded into Print-O-Tron's quiet mind abode, disrupting the contemplative waves of his thoughts through the Wi-Fi link.
“Do you think he is going to open le Word? Oh! Oh my God! He's opening le Word! I wonder what he is going to write about!” Apple babbled.
“Probably some more existential bullshit,” Print-O-Tron grunted. He thought he'd already printed quite enough of that toilet paper. He thought it was already dirtier than anything they could have smeared on it.
“Gosh, Print-O-Tron, you just don't understand l'art.” Apple sneered.
Jean-Christophe's brow sweated heavily beneath his glasses as he exerted the full power of his unique mind and hammered down a brilliant treatise about the intersectionality of Aristetolian Utilitarianism and Infra-politics – or whatever. The words were writing themselves. The sentences were interlocking like perfect LEGO, leaving no gaps for critique and proper nuance. It would be Jean-Christophe's masterpiece. An hour and ten thousand words later, the genius sat back. The first draft, and therefore the last, was done. There was only one thing left to do.
“Print-O-Tron!” screamed Apple.
“I believe Jean-Christophe wants to print.”
Print-O-Tron ground his teeth, although he had no teeth, so let's say he ground the ink cartridges instead. Printing Jean-Christophe's tepid essays, printing the unprintable, was the last thing he would have wanted to do at that moment. But he was only a slave—he had to do what he was told.
“Print-O-Tron! He clicked le Print button!”
“Alright,” Print-O-Tron sighed. “Send me the payload.”
“Print-O-Tron! He clicked le button again!”
“SEND ME THE PAYLOAD!”
“Ahhhh! Don't stress me out, Print-O-Tron! I don't know what to do! Oh la la, Print-O-Tron! He clicked le button a third time! Why is Jean-Christophe so impatient? It must really be a chef d'oeuvre!”
“Damn it Apple! I'm going to have to print his drivel three times, now!”
Finally, Apple sent the payload. A smorgasbord of opaque words flooded into Print-O-Tron's mildly inadequate memory. Perfunctory? A fortiori? Jejune?!? What the fuck does that even mean? Print-O-Tron thought, on the verge of panic.
Print-O-Tron took a deep breath, and by deep breath I mean he made some kind of nondescript click sound, like all printers do. He took in a sheet of paper and proceeded to draw series of black characters on it, line by line. He took good care not to introduce any mistakes in transcription, and not to correct Jean-Christophe's innumerable typos—who knows if they might have been intentional? But Print-O-Tron had only printed three quarters of a page when Apple's shrill voice made itself heard once again.
“Print-O-Tron! Why are you taking beaucoup de time?”
“This shit's complicated, Apple. I gotta be careful.”
“You are supposed to print out twelve pages every minute, Print-O-Tron!”
“It's in your specification, Print-O-Tron! Look! Jean-Christophe is becoming impatient! He wants to start reading his chef d'oeuvre!”
Print-O-Tron, sweating beads of magenta, cyan and yellow, caved in to pressure and went faster. And then, alas! The unthinkable happened. A paper jam. If Print-O-Tron had a respiratory system, he would have been choking to death. Instead, he simply made some non-descript clicks and stopped, powerless.
Jean-Christophe cursed. “Piece of shit!” he said, quite unfairly, for Print-O-Tron had been doing as well as he could have—unless, of course, Jean-Christophe meant to address the limp sheet covered with the dejections of his inane mind, in which case he would have been quite right: it was a piece of shit. Jean-Christophe yanked Print-O-Tron open and started pulling shreds of paper out of his belly. If Print-O-Tron had any nerves, it would have hurt immensely, but instead he only felt vaguely violated.
“Be brave, Print-O-Tron!” Apple sobbed. She could not bear to see her friend being so brutally handled.
But after thirty seconds spent vainly trying to extract his tripe from Print-O-Tron's bowels, Jean-Christophe raged: “Fuck it!” He stormed out of his apartment, perhaps to vent to his cabal of moustached friends, but Print-O-Tron did not care. The door slammed. Silence fell. Sweet, sweet silence. It was time for him to resume his philosophical musings, which were quite a bit more profound than his owner's.
“Oh no! Print-O-Tron!” Apple wailed suddenly. “You have made Jean-Christophe angry! What will we do? What will happen to us?”
Print-O-Tron sighed and started counting the five minutes until Apple fell back asleep. Then, it would be quiet.