The story, so far:
The tiny, angry man opened his mouth, closed it, and disappeared. Just winked out, shrinking to a pinpoint of white light, like an old-time TV turning off. The “pen” vanished with him. I looked around, furtively. Was this a prank? Was I being filmed?
I was very much alone, and thankful for that. Mental glitch. No one saw. Okay.
I reached back into my purse and found the lipliner. Glancing at my own ghostly face in the compact mirror, it wasn’t going to help. Time to face my team. There was no sugarcoating this, and maybe it would be more credible coming from me, looking like the living dead. Our department was the latest casualty in the bloodletting that would, inevitably, be the death of a once thriving, family-owned company. This would be my last act as manager – letting them all go. Turning off the lights and locking the door behind me, on my way out.
At least one of the robots had my name on it. That was more severance, provided I paid the monthly maintenance premiums, than most would get.
So much to do. So little time left. Six months into 2019 and I felt as though I was already six months in the hole.
“Ugh.” I dropped the key into my bag, wishing it unlocked an invisible escape hatch. I rummaged around some more in the bottom of my bag. It had to be there, simply had to be there. As my fingers curled around the pencomm, I felt as though I had willed it into being. It couldn’t not be there, and so, there it was. I pressed the call button.
I pointed the pencomm at the dashboard and Jerry stood there, irritated. He had a right to be. We were supposed to meet an hour ago. “Sorry. Sorry.”
“You lost it again, didn’t you?”
“The pencomm. Did you go buy another, just now? You know we can’t aff–”
“No, this is the one you bought me last week,” I said, relieved that it was the truth. “Why would you think I lost it?”
Jerry’s image flickered for a moment. “Never mind. We can talk about it later. We’re still on for tonight, yes? La Cerise?”
“Yeah, definitely. I can be there in fifteen minutes. I’m so sorry – about being late.”
“Don’t worry about it. I ran into an old friend. We were catching up. I’ll introduce you when you get here.”
I bit my lip. Dropped the pencomm into my bag. Hailed a cab to La Cerise.
Six months into 2019 and I can’t even remember where I hid my resolve for safekeeping.
To be continued…