Endymion had been intended to serve as a perpetual motion machine. A complete system in and of itself.
As it developed over generations, it had come closer and closer to fulfilling this objective. By now Endymion was, if not a complete success, close enough to one to convince its populace. The machinery and the people worked to keep it running on its own. There were countless processes to ensure that whatever was produced could be returned into the system.
Some of the less glamorous consequences of this arrangement could be seen - not to mention smelled - at the planet's various waste recycling centers. Numerous unpleasant substances were collected, processed, and converted into usable materials.
In the complex system that was Endymion, small errors could often lead to dire problems if not corrected swiftly. As a result, record-keeping was very strict; if the wrong amount of something came in or out, it usually meant an investigation was forthcoming.
Today, they had fallen short.
"Six ounces, Alfonz? Can you explain this?"
Alfonz' already tiny frame seemed even smaller as he cowered. He'd always worried that his sector would come up short; now that it was happening, he was absolutely terrified.
"W-well, sir, perhaps somebody in the sector is late? Or it was directed to the wrong sector instead of mine?"
Foreman Gardner glared at the technician.
"We have the records. Your sector's load was fine when it entered the plant, and all the others are consistent. Either we have a thief, or you are incompetent."
"It... it must be a thief!" Alfonz shouted in a panic. "I did everything exactly the same as always! Please, please don't punish me!"
The foreman was unimpressed. He'd seen technicians plead before and it had never moved him. This would be no different.
"Then you'd better find those six ounces before this is officially reported. After that, it's out of my hands. Is that clear, Alfonz?"
The tiny creature let out a gulp, and scampered off in search of the missing waste.
Enrique was exhausted. He had just gotten home from his shift, and was sitting down for an evening of reading.
Then there was a knock at his door. He groaned.
"Just when you get settled," he sighed. "Never fails."
Enrique pulled himself out of his chair and lumbered over to the door.
"This better be good," he grumbled.
He opened the door, ready to give the unwanted visitor a piece of his mind.
But there was no one there. He looked down and saw a small bag on his doorstop.
"What the hell is this?"
He picked up the bag and opened it to inspect the contents.
It hadn't occured to him that there was a reason why the bag was airtight. With his enhanced sense of smell, Enrique found the stench overpowering, and collapsed.
I still can't believe they haven't invented doorbells here.