[YC 125 NEWCWC] - Emergency Confession Booth

The story below first appeared on my blog on August 14, 2022. It’s slightly adapted here to give a bit more context and be a self-contained story. As background, you should know that I am LUMEN’s librarian. I submit it in the category Prose and Amarr Culture.

Today again I found no confessor. Archbishop Baracca is away on some secret mission - the Societas’ peaceful reclaiming runs in mysterious ways. Father Macauley has to rest after being overworked from taking over 200 confessions already. I do not trust any other baseliner priest to listen objectively to a capsuleer as myself, they do not think of us as humans.

So, my need for confession being high, I tried an ECB. The Emergency Confession Booths are cabins with a fully automated, computer-run confessor program, offered for nearly free by the Ministry of Internal Order. Merely 1 credit token per minute, and the confessor beeps when you have to add tokens. They usually line an outside wall of your local MIO station, which has led foul mouths to claim that the Seal of Confession is not guaranteed by these booths.

I sat down, inserted a token, and wanted to start. I was interrupted by a voice that listed a menu, as a keyboard was displayed on the wall next to me. “Press L for sins of lust, B for blasphemy, A for anger, J for jealousy, …”.

It went on and on and on. I think that it is telling that the list starts with lust, probably they use statistics to see what is most common. After fifty seconds, it had barely started the list, and it beeped already for another token. I inserted five tokens and waited.

I was confused as to what category I would have to choose for allowing heretical works sexualizing fellow capsuleers into our library. It’s not one of the canonical sins. I wanted badly to complete the collection of New Eden Writing Contest prize winners, and this year Nauplius’ movie “The Scent of Faith” won a prize. So, perhaps it’s the sin of Pure Thought, placing purely intellectual goals, like completing a collection, above the well-being of fellow corporation members.

After a few minutes, finally the sin of Pure Thought was mentioned, I had to press PT. However, as soon as I pressed the first letter, P, the voice said, “You have selected the sin of [PRIDE]. Please state your confession.” So, I started saying “No, go back. Revert. Escape. Cancel.”

The booth answered, “Since when have you started to experience [No, go back. Revert. Escape. Cancel.] ?”

“It’s the wrong sin. Menu, please.”

The booth answered “Wrong format. Please state a date.”, and beeped to signal that I should insert another token.

I inserted another token, and, desperate, mentioned the date on which the automatic purchase of the New Eden Writer’s contest books and holoreels was placed. Then I tried, “Restart.”

The booth didn’t react to my request, but said, “Do you feel contrition for [No, go back. Revert. Escape. Cancel.]? Please indicate your level of contrition between 0 and 9 with 0 being no contrition and 9 being absolute contrition.”

This was wholly unsatisfactory. I tried to exit the booth, but found that it was locked. I was locked inside a small confession booth! “Booth in use, do not exit before absolution.”, the booth said. I tried “Open door. Emergency.”

The booth answered “Wrong format. Please state or type a number between 0 and 9.” Defeated, I pressed 9. I do feel very contrite for having hurt ms. Griffiths and exposed our baseliners to heretical pornography.

The booth continued “How strong is your resolve not to perform [No, go back. Revert. Escape. Cancel.] again? Press a number between 0 and 9 with 0 being unresolved and 9 being most strongly resolved.” And it beeped for a token again.

I inserted a token and pressed 9. I am very strongly resolved never to make this mistake again.

The booth beeped again. “For absolution of the sin of [PRIDE], insert [19 TOKENS].” That seems wrong to me, I didn’t feel listened to at all, and it just wants money? But, the door was locked, and I wanted out. I’d brought enough tokens with me, thinking that I would have to explain myself in detail. I paid and used up the last few tokens I had on me. From a slot that I hadn’t noticed before, a printed ticket appeared. “Absolution granted for the sin of [PRIDE], more specifically [No, go back. Revert. Escape. Cancel.].”

I was glad it was over. Then, the booth asked, “Do you want to confess another sin?”

I answered “No.”

The booth said “You selected ‘Yes’. Press L for sins of lust, B for blasphemy, A for anger, J for jealousy, …”

I panicked and started rattling the door. The booth bleeped again. I shouted for help, but no passer-by would stop and talk to me.

Ten seconds later the booth said, “Insufficient funds.” and the door lock clicked open.

This is the last time I try an ECB. I have to admit it is efficient though. I never want to sin again.


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