moloch17 "visited" my station today.

"May I help you?" I said. He walked around my station, tapping at the dials and peering at the levers, examining my bench and the tools hanging on the walls. We do not have facial expressions, of course, but body language is sufficient to express one's feelings. moloch17 was (as always) radiating a mixture of disapproval and self-satisfaction.

"No, no," he replied. "Please continue. I don't want to intrude, and you no doubt have much work to do." He was looking at my tools as he said this. I was painfully conscious of their haphazard arrangement. I wouldn't think anything of it--after all it is my station, my work, my tools to hang as I wish--but moloch17 always keeps his tools perfectly aligned and sensibly organized by size and function.

He has a talent for inducing shame in others. It is a pity someone at the higher levels hasn't noticed this and promoted him to some appropriate position that takes him far, far, far away from me.

"Tomorrow is wages day," he said. I didn't reply, but kept my eyes fixed on the dials and made several minute and unnecessary adjustments. "What will you do with your five octagons?"

"Six. Six octagons. I received an increase two months ago." I closed a switch. "I haven't yet decided." This was a lie. I know what I am going to do with tomorrow's pay. Finally I will have enough to buy the red cape at the Exchange on Level Seventy-Three, the one I have been longing for since I saw it nearly six months ago. But I did not want him to know that.

"Ah. Well, I don't want to make you even further behind in your work." I made a noncommittal sound. "These new directives--of course you've been reading them--the higher levels want us to communicate more, to broaden our horizons, get a sense of the larger picture. It's hard for me to turn my attention away from my station for even a moment, but I can see the wisdom in this. Don't you agree?"

"Yes, of course." The bronze cylinders he referred to were at the moment part of a waist-high pyramidal structure I had built against one wall, entirely out of received directives.

"I hear there is a new moloch three stations away. I am off to welcome him to the Shaft. Good shift to you."

"Good shift." He waved and walked away down the tunnel.

Bastard. I prefer the company of my crawlie.

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