...sat there, waiting. A round-mouthed "ooo!" of anticipation directed at me. At me!

"Goddammit," I thought. "This is what I get for procrastinating."

I was stuck, screwed, up the proverbial creek. All the other machines were in use. I looked again, for the third time, just to make sure.

No one would meet my eyes. I understood. I would do the same. Sympathy can only go so far; to actually invite the possibility of trading machines was madness. It was raw Darwinism. The unlucky get culled.

I opened its waiting mouth with my free hand, and the chrome passing under the fluorescent lights glittered and strobed sickeningly. I shuddered. The solid metal felt like slime under my fingers.

The offering passed into the gaping maw from my bag. Obviously it was me doing it, but I swear I had no control. I watched my favorites disappear into the Machine and wept, silently.

The quarters rattled into the slot, the thing growled, and the horrible ordeal began.

This fucking machine always eats everyone's socks.

And that, baby, is why I'm wearing one argyle and one tube.

one more nodeshell claimed in the name of the King

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