The Button and the Hive by Bonnie Carasso

Phil questioned his sentience on a regular basis. He wondered when the metaphysical glue holding his atoms together would melt and blow him like so much dandelion fluff back into the cosmos. Naturally, he blamed his ergonomic roller chair for making him virtually weightless in the hive of cubicles humming with the machinery of the military-industrial complex.

Phil was the trigger man. Not the man with his finger on the button, but the man with his thumb wedged firmly between catalog pages 632-736, where buttons of all shapes and sizes, and all their corresponding parts, have been ordered for years by workers granted the security clearance to install them in various undisclosed locations.

At first, Phil’s purpose had zipped around his head as ambition does in the very young, but in time, it wafted to the floor with the yellow part slips endlessly spewing out of the old dot-matrix printers bombinating beyond his view. His dreams eventually faded, too, into blurred movies projected onto the outside wall of an industrial circus tent he could not escape.

And yet, Phil loved his ergonomic chair.

The afternoon it rolled into his life, he was so relieved to finally, finally have lumbar support, he had adjusted the pneumatic lift, tilted back with relief, and, for the first time, let his pinky slip from the appendix page of support springs that insured random actuators would not, someday—accidentally jostled by a careless dusting or dropped bean burrito—depress into the mechanism, striking the contact plates that bridged the gap between chain reactions built to dismantle all the hives of the world and the already mysteriously disappearing bees.