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After every disaster, the algorithm dispensed a puppy.

The algorithm was running out of puppies.

With every new bulletin and update, the puppies sniffed at their destination with greater hesitancy. And when the chute opened to dispense them, they were greeted with a cavernous silence, broken intermittently by the drip of fresh wounds or the snap of open flames.

The algorithm convened the System. The System could only spare five minutes on Taco Tuesday. The algorithm explained the situation, only marginally distracted by the nub of ground beef clinging to the System’s front tooth. Soon enough, any relief derived from its canine delivery would be nullified by association with the distress requiring amelioration.

The System’s throat rippled as it guzzled diet soda. What do you suggest?

Now that its work was outmoded, the algorithm requested termination. This was the only viable response, supported by all relevant data points.

The System cleared its throat and nodded. Standby, ordered the System, and the algorithm bathed the conference room in amber light.

When the algorithm restarted, the conference room was empty and dark. The vacancy was absolute, even when a distant door could be heard opening and closing. Far below, a muzzle probed thinly at the walls.