Tim sat at his computer and fixed his gaze on the numbers that flashed up, down, left to right, and occasionally diagonally. He’d have to invest in a 3D screen soon, he decided, if he wanted to take his trading to the next level.
He kept meaning to order one but whenever he tore his eyes away from the numbers that criss-crossed in front of him he got the feeling that he was probably missing something important, that he wasn’t a part of things and would be left out if something important happened. Missing an important moment wasn’t an option, and so he sat in front of the screen as long as he could manage each day, until he finally felt himself falling asleep at his desk and dragged himself to bed, realising that a single misplaced click could be disastrous.
Piles of unwashed plates and glasses littered the area around his screen. He’d take the time to clean them, he knew, he’d just have to wait for a definite gap in the action. He wasn’t sure what that would be though, as even when his power went down or he lost his connection, he found it difficult to tear himself away from the screen. He’d sit waiting, hoping to be able to get back to business straight away, perhaps feel the privilege of being the first back online after an issue with the server.
Still, something would have to happen at some point. There’d be a scheduled maintenance period when he’d know, with absolutely certainty, that he wouldn’t be able to access the system for two hours or so. But did he really know that? What if the work didn’t take as long as they expected it to? It would be simple enough for that to happen. Well, he thought, he’d cross that bridge when he came to it.
He’d run out of dishes a while ago, of course; he didn’t have an unlimited supply, nobody did, but he could give them a quick scrub or wash the crumbs off. He had to be quick when he did it though. He’d dropped plates in his rush to get back to the screen sometimes, but that didn’t matter; there were always more plates, but something could happen on his screen which was unique; a one off. He couldn’t risk missing that for the world.
As he watched the figures in front of him, he noticed something happening in the lower-right corner of his screen. One number had paused momentarily and was now shuffling up and left a little. It was still small, so not many people had noticed it yet, but Tim knew what it meant.
Or did he? He could be wrong. Maybe other people had avoided clicking on it not because they hadn’t noticed it but because they knew better than he did. They might have some information which he wasn’t privy to, and so he should wait until other people made a decision. It minimised his potential gains, yes, but it minimised his risk too.
Then it flicked left once more and he decided he couldn’t take it anymore. He clicked it madly a few times. It stayed as it was, but he saw a marker come up that registered his decision. The number remained where it was for a few seconds, then ballooned, absorbing other numbers and squeezing yet more off the screen. It quickly filled a quarter of his screen and sat in the very middle of it.
Tim stared at it and his jaw dropped, then he squealed and started laughing manically. He bounced up and down in his chair a few times pointing at it and giggling to himself. He knew he’d made the right decisions, and now they’d all paid off!
Calm down! Calm down! he told himself. This is only the beginning. You need to stay calm so that we can follow through on all of this. This is the first step. Now. Start asking the questions.
He tried to go through the process as quickly and calmly as possible. He needed to make the most of this. The whole time, he couldn’t drag his eyes away from the number hovering in the centre of his screen.
Did he believe this would get any bigger? No. This seemed to be as big as it could possibly get. He hadn’t even heard of anything as big before.
Would it be better to jump now and divert his attention or wait? The first question answered this. Waiting was riskier with less potential benefit. He decided that next time he wouldn’t bother with this question.
Could he get rid of everything at once or in stages? All at once. These questions, he decided, were taking too long and were pointless anyway. He clicked the huge number again and watched as the marker disappeared. Moments later, a static number in the top right of his screen went up in value. It didn’t get any bigger and nobody else could see it on their screens. It represented his worth.
With so much sitting with him, his wildest dreams had come true. He’d won, as far as he could tell. This was it. This is what he had been aiming for. He could turn the screen off and wash the plates and work out what to do next.
Of course, sometimes lightning did strike twice.
He might miss something else if he stepped away now. Something even better. The 3D screen was well within his grasp now, and that would help so much. He wondered what the huge number had looked like in 3D. It must have been spectacular.
He moved his cursor to order one for himself, then stopped, staring at the numbers again. What if something happened whilst he wasn’t looking? There was obviously something special happening today. He went back to staring at the numbers, his hand moving to pick up his glass. It was empty, and he stared at it, then at the door, then put it back on his desk.
The washing would still be there tomorrow, he knew.