I arrived at work at eight o’clock. After laying out the whole mess of cables, power supplies and elements of the project I was trying to push forward a bit at home, I sat down with a coffee. In a moment, an employee candidate should appear, a potential programmer. In his CV, he presented little experience, but as we know, the job market is starved in this area, and there is no need to exaggerate the requirements.
I heard rustling from behind the wall. Our engineer’s room is in the attic. It has a heavily soundproofed door with two extra steps leading to the threshold. Almost nobody guesses a need to knock on the handle at forehead height to be heard on the other side. We squeezed the maximum space out of our premises. There are no marbles and no reception desks common for big corporations. I agreed with the secretary ladies that they would take him to my office when he came. He’s probably coming – I thought, so I got up quickly and opened the door. He was actually there. He was looking at our handy stash of cables and connectors located on the mezzanine. I pointed out the empty chair of the colleague expected to come to work at nine o’clock, saying:
“Please come in and sit here.”
I took a look at the incoming person. He did not resemble a serious candidate for a programmer, with his slight stature, wearing the long sleeves of a very stretched out grey jumper and pale complexion. If only he had a beard… Actually, he didn’t remind me of anyone known.
He came in and sat down, hunched over, on the chair I had indicated, some two metres away. I gathered my thoughts and addressing the programmer candidate I started in a typical way for job interviews:
“So, what language do you program best in and have you dealt with embedded projects before?”
“Copper. Give me copper…” – he whispered.
Oh yes, how stupid I was. I was fundamentally wrong – must be a bum, not a programmer. I was in a hurry and invited him to my premises, causing him to have a better look around to see what could be stolen.
“We have no copper, no scrap metal. I can give you two dollars” – I finally choked angrily in his direction.
“I don’t want them. This copper is impure. Give some copper, a little copper, please. Here, you have cables, after all.”
“A little means how much?” – I asked.
“A few grams is enough…”
“Here and now you want a gram of copper, like a wire inside a cable?”
“Yes, the cable, please, here and now…”
After a moment of reflection, I shifted a sealed bag with tips for a transformer soldering iron in his direction. They are made of pure copper, after all. He took them, open the bag, and put a few in his mouth (God, what a wide mouth he had) and literally started chewing them. I sat petrified, and after a while, he visibly became animated. He looked around, raised his head, and I saw his huge, completely black eyes. The strange feeling that flooded me I wouldn’t call fear, but I felt something like serious doubt as to whether I would survive this encounter.
I began cautiously:
“You know, mister, I was supposed to have a meeting with a job candidate, a programming engineer.”
He looked at me and, in a calm voice, replied:
“He ran away. I don’t think he’s coming back because all humans run away instead of talking with me. Most of them do not come back. Surprisingly you have not escaped. What are you programming in here?”
“In terms of language? C++, something and sometimes also in C Sharp. Does that tell you anything?”
“It does” – he nodded, twisting his face. – “Show me the code, some lines of your code.”
I hesitated – after all, the code of our programs is a company secret. I decided:
“OK, I can show you what I’m working on now – a car charger. You’ll have to wait a while if it’s going to work. I’ll put the pieces of the prototype together.”
“Just turn on the Bluetooth.”
“How do you know this stuff? I can see you’re not human. Even thirty plus years in a corporation cannot change you this way.”
“I know this because I’ve read the internet. Not all of it, of course, because you have a lot of web pages in it, and they are not always cool, but I focused on what interested me most.”
“In terms of where you read it, that internet? Are there still any internet cafes around town? Did their staff let you in, considering with that strange appearance?”
“No. I read the bookshop first, but not all of it, because I was asked out. I only managed a little bit. And the rest with Wi-Fi, once I understood how it worked and found how to connect to it mentally. OK, now I can see your Bluetooth enabled.”
I calmed down a bit. Curiosity was starting to take over fear. I asked:
“What for was the copper? Do you feed on it?”
“You guessed that correctly.”
“And why did you come here, up the stairs to me?”
“Preliminary corrected guess, but you are unintelligent. Because I smelled copper. So, can I program now?”
With hesitation, I gave way to him. At last, I could look at his whole figure. He was maybe one and a half metres tall. Before he sat down on my chair, he scratched his back. He did this with a seven-fingered hand without an opposable thumb. It looked both scary and funny simultaneously, a bit like the haunted house in a travelling amusement park.
His jumper was branded and indeed made on Earth. It was conspicuous because he wore it inside out, and the label was on his back. I even knew the brand.
“Where did you get the jumper?”
“I stole it. I mean, at the time I stole it, I didn’t yet know I had stolen it because I found the Wi-Fi access later to find that out, among other things. But now I know, and I’m sorry. Oh, look – you made a mistake here. This is an incorrect use of a pointer; see that? So I’m correcting it.”
I pressed a button to compile that program update. It worked.
“All right” – I asked – “what’s your name, and where did you come from? How long have you been here?”
“I don’t have a name in your language because we don’t have familiar names at all. We communicate non-acoustically, soundlessly, but here they usually call me Jesus, but they don’t make contact and run away. Sometimes they also call me something else, but these words are vulgar. I know this from the dictionary of swear words and vulgarisms of your national publication. I am here your two weeks, and I am rather hiding. As I have done everything well in my programme, I am back to myself today. And I have appeared here because I have been condemned to death, particularly by being transported to a random place in the local Universe.”
“Then maybe I’ll say “Hesus” because I associate Jesus unequivocally with another person.”
I shook hands with him, which he embraced with his cold hand.
“My pleasure, Hesus, I’m Thomas, and I’m a programmer too. You have a cold hand – are you sick? Or are you cold-blooded?”
“That second one, but out of respect for you, as I know how to greet you physically, I kept it down below my jumper because that’s where I’m warmest” – he showed where exactly. “I wanted you not to be uncomfortable squeezing such a cold body.”
I suddenly wanted to wash my hands. So I went to the bathroom for a while.
“Would you die in a vacuum, Hesus?”
“Of course” – Hesus showed divided attention capability. While answering, he was simultaneously sorting out my program code and adding new lines. He was doing it at a frantic pace.
“And you ended up here and not in a vacuum?”
“Because you have to help your luck” – he looked at me with black eyes again. “I wrote the firmware of the teleportation system that we use to move, and I hid the backdoor in the death penalty procedure. But I didn’t get it perfect, and something in the dimensional rounding procedure is wrong. I landed slightly underground. Fortunately, my hands were sticking out above the surface of the ground, and I crawled out. By then, I had already learned from the locals what they called me here. However, they weren’t sure whether Hesus, Ohmygod, Ohshit, or alternatively – Zombie. And, of course, they ran away. These methods you have of contacting newcomers are strange and disappointing.”
“Well, you must have screwed something up pretty bad over there at your place” I concluded. “How did you get sentenced to death?”
“Similar way, as it is also in local moving pictures called here movies – all because of the female of my species. I messed up a little bit in the teleportation code to impress the one I wanted to connect with in the future. I did it in such a way as to be where I needed and when I needed it, but what came out of it was a regular armageddon.”
I remained silent for a while without commenting. Hesus spoke:
“Let’s do not return to this. What else is this car charger of yours supposed to do?”
I started telling him about the assumptions and showing him sketches of the user interface. Hesus programmed all that by updating and adding vast chunks of program code right away. He registered himself on my computer as a Bluetooth keyboard and scurrilously typed straight from his head. It was literally magic. After a short time, he compiled the program, and everything worked as it should. I looked at it dumbfounded.
“I’ll read up after you? Can you add some descriptions and comments?” – I choked out at last. I preferred to make that sure.
“OK, I’m already commenting on the code” – he agreed, nodding and immediately flooded the screen with green coloured comments. That took a while.
“Listen, Hesus, why do you need seven fingers and such claws?”
“Evolution, just like with you here. On our planet, we have solved virtually all social problems, except one. The issue of scratching under the shoulder blade remained. And we acted genetically, improving our bodies structures so that this problem disappeared. Look how beautifully it works now.”
To prove that, he scratched under both shoulder blades simultaneously, with his arms crossed.
Suddenly he started to shake.
“Is something wrong with you?” – I asked.
“My time is up. I’ve already got the signal that I will be resected in a moment.”
“Like in the movies, in a beam of light through the ceiling?”
“No, I’ll simply disappear in ten seconds.”
I thought to myself, how I wish I had an employee like that. But now that it’s over, I think there’s one most important question to ask:
“Hesus, please tell me some wisdom. Just something that you think will have the most significant impact on humanity. After all, your civilization is far more advanced than ours. Push ours forward too!”
He looked at me with those big black sad eyes of his and said emphatically:
“Object-oriented programming sucks”.
And he disappeared.
The electric car charger went into production. It sells well and works flawlessly. As I noted, it is even equipped with artificial intelligence. The Hesus code I have not yet grasped. To understand it would damn well require some help from heaven.