"Hello, I’m just a little—" he began apologetically.
"Name please, sir.”
“TB,” said TB, with what he hoped was pained dignity.
"Date of birth?"
"September 21st, 1978, what—?" helplessness trumping pained dignity.
"Date of death?"
"Now see h—" now swaddled in a loincloth of helplessness.
“Just a moment.” chirped the librarianesque woman, pointedly turning on her heel to face an outdated computer monitor.
It is a strange and little known fact that, over a millennia or three, abstracts can occasionally take physical form. Things which normally exist only conceptually may, over a very long time, stir patterns in the aether that manifest themselves in human form. Documented examples have included concepts such as “lustful,” “jejune,” and “schadenfreude” which have resulted in many great works of pornography, alternative rock, and reality television, respectively. “Bureaucracy” has not been manifested in a documented case, but the Librarianesque Woman was pretty close to what you would get.
The Librarianesque Woman had finished at the computer, but was still facing away for no good reason but twice-distilled unhelpfulness. An old beige printer clacked away in front of her. It was low on magenta. It occurred briefly to TB that this printer was too slow and too obvious a bottleneck in the system for it to be mere coincidence that no one had corrected it. Through his bewilderment, paranoid delusions swirled and took nebulous phosphene shapes that for a moment formed a blue and red-inked Paranoid Thought:
Evidence of Conspiracy #1: modern printers are too slow and too unreliable for this to be anything short of conspiracy. To subvert the Law of Progress for this long is a dead giveaway of a far-reaching Computer Printer Cartel just behind the veil, setting strict edicts for unreliability (median nine prints to the paperjam; median 100 prints to the cartridge refill; median three cartridges to the ink spill; et cetera, et cetera) and a network of Enforcers to rub out any printer (or enterprising fixit) that makes a fatal break out beyond one standard deviation from the mean. This printer, like all printers, fell under Their corporate jurisdiction. The paper would print no faster without orders from much higher up the Cabal and those orders will not come today, nor to any DMV. Not today. Not ever.
From a distance, TB could begin to make out words printed millimeter-by-millimeter.
DEPARTMENT OF MORTAL VERDICTS …
OFFICIAL VERDICT FOR TB (DOD 2013-03-10)
OFFICIALLY VERDICTATED 2013-03-10
OFFICIAL VERDICT: LEVEL 6 HELL
OFFICIAL LIST OF SINS FOLLOW …