“Right Bicep, extend the entire arm so that the Right Hand Division can get around the back of the pipe,” he said into a speaker.
“Aye, aye, sir,” called back Right Bicep as Brain watched his instructions followed to the letter on the monitor.
Brain hit the Right Arm button again and the lights extinguished. Right Bicep, Tricep, Forearm, Hand and each of the Fingers worked in unison to loosen the nut from around the drainpipe. They struggled and strained for a few minutes as Brain watched the water seep from around the gasket.
“This isn’t working,” he mumbled to himself. Then he snatched the microphone from its stand and made an announcement. “Attention all body parts. This is Brain speaking. We are aborting this project effective immediately. I will need the assistance of Right and Left Hands and both Eyes in order to conduct some Internet research. All personnel are hereby instructed to execute the getting up from the floor protocol. And please be careful. This ship’s not as young as it used to be.”
Brain placed the all-systems microphone back on its cradle and turned back to the control panel. He pressed the Right Leg and Left Leg buttons causing another series of buttons to illuminate.
“Both Leg Divisions, this is Brain. How do you read me?”
“Loud and clear.”
“Good,” Brain said and leaned back in his chair. “Once the body is upright, we need to navigate to the computer. Copy?”
“Yes, sir,” several voices called back over the intercom and Brain deactivated the lit buttons immediately afterward.
Suddenly, the entire body lurched. Brain held onto the armrests of his chair and looked around curiously. It lurched again. When Brain looked to the monitor, he was surprised to see the view was still from the floor.
“What the Hell?” muttered Brain and struck the left arm button. “Are you getting us up off the floor or what?” he asked angrily into the intercom.
“Um, yes sir,” answered Left Forearm. “The problem is not in our division, sir.”
“Then where is the problem?” asked Brain, short on patience.
Just then the intercom buzzed and the button labeled CNS Admin flashed. Brain shut down the connection with the Left Arm and acknowledged the CNS Admin button. “What’s going on?” he asked as soon as the line was open.
“Good evening, sir, this is the Central Nervous System manager speaking,” came a voice.
“I know that!” interrupted Brain. “Just tell me where the problem is coming from.
“The back, sir,” answered the voice sheepishly before it was hung up on.
Brain was about to hit the Back button, but first he paused. He sighed. “What have you done this time, Back,” he whispered to himself. Finally, he dropped an appendage heavily onto the Back button.
“Back?” he called patronizingly. “Back, it’s Brain. Tell me what’s wrong this time.”
“This time?” Back’s voice crackled back. “This time? Wow, starting right out with the sarcasm, aren’t we?”
“Come on, Back. Just tell me what’s wrong.”
“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.”
Brain sighed again. “If nothing is wrong, then why are we still on the floor, Back?”
“Oh, that,” quipped Back. “I didn’t think you needed me for that.”
“How could you think that we didn’t…”
This time it was Brain being interrupted.
“Everyone around here seems to think I’m not important. Nobody ever asks Ol’ Back for anything. He’s just expected to do his job and stay quiet. Who cares that nearly every other system either runs through or next to me? Everyone takes Back for granted. I’m sick of it.”
“Back, please, there is so much to do. Can we get up from the floor and talk about this later?”
“Always later,” said Back. “Well, this time, I say later. I’ll help get us off the floor later. How does that sound?”
“Back, I…” another buzz came from the control panel and the Bladder light flashed. “Back, hold on just a moment,” said Brain as he hit the hold button then answered the Bladder. “Brain speaking.”
“Sir, the pressure is building due to the body’s pain levels,” Bladder shouted as Brain could hear an alarm blaring in the background. “The CNS Administrator is all over me to clear house. I need to make a release soon.”
“You’ve got to hold on for a few minutes,” Brain shouted back.
“I’m not sure how long I can hold it!”
“Hang in there,” Brain assured him, “I’m working on it.”
"CNS keeps sending alerts sir. I'm afraid they might kick in the involuntary controls and make the flush themselves if I don't give them an answer soon."
"Look, I'm dealing with something else right now and I can't get us off the floor to do anything about it until this is taken care of," hurried Brain. "If CNS calls you again, tell them I said to hold off on the involuntary thing."
"I'll do my best, sir, but it won't be the same not coming from you."
"I understand," said Brain. He hung up with Bladder and took Back off hold. “Back, I have a lot of other divisions to attend to. Can we settle this?”
“A lot of divisions, eh? That reminds me. How the hell am I just one division? Back. Just Back. Not Lower Back and Upper Back, just Back. The whole thing is mine to maintain and everyone thinks it’s so easy.”
“Nobody thinks it’s…”
“You know that picture of Atlas? Everyone says he has the world on his Shoulders. His freaking Shoulders. Sure, it’s technically resting on his Shoulders, but you want to know who is doing all the work there? His Back, that’s who! It’s his Back. His Legs deserve some credit as well, to be honest, but I can’t speak for them.”
Brain let the line fall silent for a while. As the Bladder light buzzed and flashed again, Brain spoke. “Back? You still there?”
“Yes,” Back answered curtly.
“What do you want, Back? Just tell me and we can try to work something out.”
It was silent for a while longer. The Bladder light continued to flash.
“I get paid the same as the Pinkie Fingers,” Back complaned. “I could see maybe the Thumbs. A lot of gripping going on there. But the Pinkie Fingers? Really?”
“You want more pay?” asked Brain, worn. He glanced over to the Bladder button and noticed it stopped flashing. That’s not a good sign, Brain thought to himself.
“I want respect,” Back answered finally. “I just want a little freaking recognition of all the freaking work I do. Maybe I could be included in a freaking meeting once and a while to see how we could get things running a little more efficiently on my end. And how about some stretching. You stretch out the Legs all the freaking time, but never me. I’m busting my ass down here. And speaking of the Ass, boy do we need to have a talk about that guy.”
“Okay, enough,” Brain pleaded. “You’re included on the board as of today. That puts you in every meeting. And you and I can talk, let’s say weekly, about how we can make things lighter on you. I’m open to working with you on ways to make things run more efficiently. Sound good?”
After a slight pause, Back replied, “It’s a start.”
“Great,” said Brain, “then let’s get off the floor.”
“Welllll,” started Back.
“What now?” asked Brain.
“I was pretty mad,” said Back, quietly now, “and I sort of seized up the controls. I’ll be running at ten percent capacity for about four days.”
Brain groaned. “You have got to be kidding me. Why would you do that?”
“I said I was mad,” Back answered.
Brain was furious. He punched at the air before collecting himself enough to growl, “Fine,” into the intercom. “Use whatever you have left to get us up and mobile. I’ll get the other divisions working on sending you some ibuprofen.”
“Yes, sir,” Back responded.
Brain hung up on him then pressed the Bladder button. “Am I too late?” he simply asked.