Leaning back in his ergonomic chair, he allowed a whistle of air out from between his teeth as he peered at the display screen one more time.
Error # 5205700: Unmanagable Evil
"I can't take this anymore," he said to no one in particular. Standing up, he stretched awkwardly before stepping out to the break room for a cup of much-needed coffee. He'd need two or three before he was done here, but at least it was free.
Another developer was there, from a different project. He wasn't in the mood to talk to her; it always gave him an inferiority complex. She never had errors like this in her products. Of course, she didn't have everything in all Creation to try and organize at once.
"Hey!" she said in her all-too-perky voice as he rounded the corner. Her perfectly-ironed business suits, her perfectly-styled hair, all of it just rode on the wrong nerve when he was having a day like this. But he feigned interest, because anything was better than having to go back to that display screen right now.
"Hiya. How's the java today?" he asked with as much interest as he could muster.
"It's no cappuccino, but it'll do. How's your Creation coming along?"
Well, he thought, she did bring it up first. "It's maddening. No, that's not right. It's psychological torture. It's impossible to the umpteenth power. I don't know how we're ever going to release this by Saturday, it's just...." He gave up on words and instead began foraging aggressively for a coffee mug in the cabinet.
"Well, it is the biggest job we've ever produced. You should be proud to be a part of it." Two mugs banged loudly, and she thought she heard one crack. She tried a different tack. "What's the problem you're having to...."
"It's the free will, that's what the problem is! I don't know what numbskull stuck that requirement in the project outline, but it's throwing the forecasts all to Hell. 'Create intelligent life by Friday, and give it free will to explore new avenues which we haven't been able to predict.' New avenues my rosy white ass. Every time we run a model it blows up on us with 'Error # 5205700: Unmanagable Evil'. Most of the time we have one of them murdering another by the third generation. And sometimes it's the originals doing it! And even at best, we have false idols within a dozen generations, slave nations, and near-total chaos not long after. I've tried modeling introduction of the male before the female, the female before the male, both at once, both in one, one out of the other, and it's all the same. I've been able to stave off the errors by making their lifespan longer at the beginning and shortening it as the population increases, but it's the same end result."
He took a deep breath. He hadn't even noticed that he'd slammed the cabinet shut on two or three mugs loudly enough to attract attention from across the office. She shuffled her feet quietly until the background noise returned to normal.
"Look, you're just going to have to work with it as best as you can. They know the free will is going to cause more problems than it'll solve, they're expecting that. You're only being asked to keep it to a minumum." She took a step closer and dropped her voice until she was almost cooing at him. "It's too bad that everything has 5205700 errors. But it does. And I do mean everything. Do you think I'd be able to push a single Creation out the door here if I didn't let those errors slide?"
He'd been too angry to make eye contact up until now. He did. She smiled sweetly at him. Not just politely or encouragingly, but sweetly. He suddenly didn't know what to make of it.
"C'mon," she said as she abruptly took the still-empty coffee mug out of his hand and took ahold of his arm. The mug was laid in the sink as they walked away. "I'm in the mood for a real cappuccino right now, and I think you are, too. There's this great place just a couple of blocks down the street."