The Engine

“My genius literally knows no bounds.”

Louis looked up from the paper he was reading.

“Yes,” he said irritably, “what is it now?”

William stood before his desk looking very please with himself.

“I have fixed it – Engine XI works,” he announced.

“Really?” asked Louis.  “You know they have been working on that Engine for years.”

“Oh, yes, I am quite aware of that,” said William.

“And you’ve been four months and you think you’ve managed to get the Engine to work?”

“It’s five months actually,” corrected William.  “But yes, I have made it work.  I am just that good.”

“Let me see,” said Louis holding out his hand.

William pulled from this waistcoat with some flourish a stack of papers.

“My genius,” he said and handed it over.

Louis paged through the document, pausing here and there to take a closer look at the diagrams.

“This is quite… something,” said Louis.

“I know,” beamed William.

“You have tested it?” asked Louis.

“Yes, and you will note on the last page that the test was observed by the Head,” said William leaning forward pointing.

“The Head of Botany,” said Louis paging forward.

“He is a faculty member,” sniffed William.

“We are engineers, we make things we do not grow things,” said Louis.  But he had to admit, the young man was right and he knew it.

William struck a pose giving Louis his profile, hands on his hips.

“Praise me,” he said.

“Well done,” said Louis.

“Thank you very much,” said William with a bow.

“Engine XI,” said Louis as William was about to leave.  “You know numbers start from one and move up?”

William’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“Engine XI,” smiled Louis, “is one of three engines we’ve managed to get working.  I’m sure you can spread your genius to the others.”

3 thoughts on “The Engine”

  1. I really enjoyed this – living in the arrogant techie world that I do it was spot on my everyday experience.
    The arrogance and especially the calm intentional way it is used by management is lovely.
    I liked the style – not exactly realistic, more in the Dilbert direction – and how it carried the idea of this interaction.

  2. I enjoy Louis’s drollness at William’s OTTness. For example, when William comes in crowing about himself, and Louis merely says, “What is it now?” as though William does this often.

    I did think that William was very OTT — more of a caricature than anything else; it does highlight “vainglory” very well.

    I thought that each sentence and piece of dialogue being in its own paragraph sometimes made me have to think for a moment about who was speaking. For instance:

    > Louis looked up from the paper he was reading.
    >
    > “Yes,” he said irritably, “what is it now?”
    In this case, Louis, who was acting, is now also speaking (but in a new paragraph). It’s a minor nit, though.

    > We are engineers, we make things[,] we do not grow things
    Thought it could use another comma.

    Was fun!

  3. This is fun and a good foray into dialogue. I enjoyed the two scientists, ant their personalities came through nicely. My imagined setting was something slightly fantastic (some sort of FF scenario, probably – like 17th century with engines!)

    I have suggestions as to how to make the dialogue flow better:

    – Agree with Rudy about keeping words and actions together to show who is talking.

    >> William stood before his desk looking very please[d] with himself.

    >> “Really?” asked Louis. “You know[,] they have been working on that Engine for years.”
    – I would leave off “that Engine here”, it repeats from previous. “it” would have been more natural.

    >> “And you’ve been [here] four months and you think you’ve managed to get the Engine to work?”
    – and again, “it to work” would have been smoother.

    >> “It’s five months[,] actually,” corrected William. “But yes, I have made it work. I am just that good.” – this is great and made me giggle.

    >> “Let me see,” said Louis[,] holding out his hand.
    – You can avoid some of the “saids” by attaching an action to a dialogue line.
    “Let me see,” Louis held out his hand.

    >> William pulled from this waistcoat with some flourish a stack of papers.
    – This sentence is a bit garbled. “William pulled a stack of papers from his waistcoat with a flourish?”

    >> “Yes, and you will note on the last page that the test was observed by the Head,” said William[,] leaning forward[,] pointing.

    >> “The Head of Botany,” said Louis paging forward.
    – This was really funny and quirky, added a lot to the story for me!

    >> “We are engineers, we make things[,] we do not grow things,” said Louis. But he had to admit, the young man was right and he knew it.
    – I would take out the “and he knew it” – not sure if it’s William knowing he’s right or Louis knowing he knows William is right.

    The only other comment is to use William/Louis less often, and think of other words. “he” can work in context, or other terms “the supervisor” “the youngster” – stuff like that. Just to break up the flow of William-Louis-William occasionally.

    Fun story, I enjoyed it!

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