Buggers the scanning device went out for a walk into the big, wide world. He had been manufactured in many countries so he had no allegiance to pledge, no government to protest, no place to call home. All he had ever known was the inside of a heavy duty shipping carton and had developed a slight aversion to cramped spaces, as well as a sensitivity to styrofoam. But he did not discuss his past; his mission, as he understood it, was to go for walks and scan anything he found, whether it was interesting or not. Buggers had no idea that he was different or even what his name meant. He also couldn't care less. So he scanned.

Bricks walls with gang signs in a city, a pretty young mother with two identical babies in a stroller, very pink. Overhead, wires ran from pole to pole and building to building. Scanned. More wires on a large white truck with men wearing helmets and sturdy boots. Buggers scanned himself, no boots but many wires. He felt slightly sad. To combat this feeling, Buggers the scanning device continued his mission but kept getting sidetracked at the mere sight of wires. So he scanned every wire he could. Birds on wires, broken wires, tangled wires, even a warehouse of wires whose door was conveniently left open by busy workers carting boxes of wires in and out. He had no idea what city he was in, whether it was Cleveland or Detroit or Loveladies. For all Buggers the scanning device knew, he could have even been walking the streets of Hackettstown or Jersey City. By the time he had scanned the entire warehouse, daylight had become night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Buggers the scanning device realized all of the vehicles whizzing past him were filled with wires, front to back. He ramped up his scanning, as he was programmed to do when overloaded, scanning everything from an old VW to a shiny black limousine, yellow buses filled with screaming children, buses filled with people reading newspapers or devices that were wireless. This stopped Buggers from scanning. Why wasn't he wireless? Or was it possible to be both wired and wireless? He was forgetting his mission, to go for walks and scan anything he found, whether it was interesting or not. An enormous building loomed ahead and Buggers sensed a sadness different and far larger than his own on discovering he had no boots. He scanned the entire structure while thinking this is architecture, functional yet sad architecture. Buggers scanned metal beams and walls, hallways and rooms, thousands of windows that didn't open, doors that locked and doors that didn't lock. Buggers the scanning device tried to ignore the intricate elegant mass of wires, the other machines, the subterranean floors linked by metal shafts and cables that moved up and down thousands and thousands of times. He was not programmed to understand, just to scan, yet the wires distracted Buggers, that and all the people living and dying in beds. Just this one building called HOSPITAL took a long time. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

Buggers the scanning device moved on, scanning fire hydrants, people walking dogs, sidewalk cracks, railings and fences, lawn ornaments. Birds were automatically scanned just by their sound, though he loved to see them swoop and dip, building nests. The next building that hummed with wires and multiple items, though fewer people, was a LIBRARY. Buggers the scanning device could sense the knowledge and confusion of words, bound and bordering on his definition of cramped spaces. He hesitated before scanning, but remembered his mission, anything he found, whether it was interesting or not. He had to ramp up his scanning, as this building too overloaded him but in another way. Buggers was trying to read each book as he scanned and the colors were jamming his wires, not the words, not the ideas, the colors of the books. So he switched to emergency auto-scan, to save time. Before he knew it, there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Emergency auto-scan was not as precise, so Buggers switched back as he walked toward a small GROCERY store. A quick scan, he thought, large windows displaying Marlboros next to oversize packages of toilet paper, candy for children, shelves of bottles and hundreds of cans, the writing in Spanish with no price tags. In mid-scan, he saw this was not going to be so easy as the windows reflected the town behind him, the railroad trestle, faraway treetops, parts of houses, a parking lot, more wires in the sky. People came in and out of the store with one or two bags. Scanned. Buggers the scanning device made a decision and entered the store, then scanned all he could from that vantage. It was actually quite beautiful. He even scanned the Spanish TV shows running continuously on a large wired screen above the pastries and coffee. He felt relaxed here, even though he didn't understand Spanish, even though he knew precious time was passing. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Across the street, Buggers the scanning device noticed a large gathering of people, in front of a stone building with a bell, dressed mostly in black, crying and holding onto each other. Wooden boxes that would automatically be measured in his database were being carried by men on their shoulders. He scanned it all, even the out-of-season flowers, the tissues falling to the pavement, the sewer manholes in the center of the road, the double yellow lines, the efficient men and women in blue uniforms directing traffic. Buggers forgot about wires as he followed the procession, but scanned everything else, every tear that fell, every sad sigh. There was a short event behind iron gates that he didn't enter. Something was wrong so he scanned every car and every wire. Then the cars and people in black went to a local RESTAURANT, where Buggers the scanning device just scanned every chair, every table, every light fixture, every word spoken, every fork, knife and spoon. There was singing which was scanned automatically, like birds. And there was evening and there was mourning, the fifth day.

Buggers decided to return to the place with the iron gates, so he walked remembering his mission, to go for walks and scan anything he found, whether it was interesting or not. The GRAVEYARD gates were open; the sun was shining, there were few wires to distract him, few words or colors, just small monuments of marble or granite. Buggers the scanning device felt nothing or perhaps it was peace as he found a place to rest. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.


(Buggers the scanning device was born from a comment by lizardinlaw, my thanks!)

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