- By Corey Brown - By Corey Brown

Severed the book

© 2017 Corey Brown

The NDA

There was a commotion by the main entrance this morning. People were everywhere. I flashed my credentials to the security guards then jostled my way through the crowd toward a bank of elevators.

By the way, my name is Spinner, Rick Spinner. I wear an ID badge. I’m a consultant. I try to consult --you know, offer advice or share my condolences. But no one listens to me. Not ever.

 

I clambered into an upward bound elevator and inquired of my fellow passengers what the ruckus was all about. My question was met with excited responses. There was a buzz of conversation and I was bombarded with information. Unfortunately, they were all Swedes, from Sweden, none of whom spoke a lick of English. But then, who would want to?

 

Waving goodbye to my newfound friends, I stepped out of the elevator and bumped into someone as they ran passed.

“Hey, Rick,” the guy said. “You just gonna leave Nacho out there on his own?”

“Sir? I don’t follow.”

The man grabbed a fistful of my shirt and pulled me close.

“For godsakes Rick, I deliver photocopy paper you don’t have to call me sir.”

“No, Sir.”

 

The paper guy sighed and said, “Go to the sixth floor. I think Nacho is in trouble.”

It sounded like Nacho Flaherty, my partner, was in trouble. I took to the stairs then realized I was on the sixth floor. Dang. Mr. Delivery Man was always doing that. I felt like Charlie Brown with Lucy holding the football.

 

I hurried toward a large group huddled outside a cubicle. Looking for Nacho I pulled my ID badge and said, “Excuse me. I’m a consultant, let me through. The show’s over, everyone step back please.”

The crowd parted and I caught sight of my partner. Down on one knee, eyes level with the desktop, Nacho was deep in concentration. I could tell he was evaluating the situation.

 

The object of his attention, of everyone’s attention, was an odd piece of technology. Actually, there were two odd pieces of technology. There was something oddly familiar about these devices. But as an over-paid consultant, it was odd that I couldn’t identify them. Oddly enough, it was Nacho who spoke first.

“Glad you made it,” Nacho said, under his breath. “I wasn’t sure what to do.”

I knelt down next to him. “Where’d they come from?”

“Don’t know. They just showed up this morning. Like someone left them here.”

“Maybe someone or somebody,” I said. “You talk to the person who sits in this cube?”

Nacho shook his head. “No one sits here, the place is empty.”

“I see,” I said. “So we expand the list of possible suspects from someone or somebody to anyone and everybody.”

 

My partner gave me a grim look and slowly nodded.

“What do you make of these things?” Nacho asked.

“I don’t know. But they must be wireless.”

“Agreed, but no power source? How is that possible?”

Puzzled, I drew a hand across my chin.

 

Youch!

 

I forgot about the razor burn. It was like a miniature air force had come in low and napalmed my face. I just had to get new blades. I pondered Nacho’s question. The devices were dissimilar; one was longish, kind of cylindrical. The other boxy and flat. I felt certain I had read about these things once, but what were they? And why were they here? And who decided men should run the world? I mean, that’s okay with me, given the XY combination of my chromosomes, but just how had that decision come about?

 

Then it came to me. I stood up and adjusted the waistband of my sans-a-belt pants. Nacho stood, too.

 

“Fear not, Nacho,” I said. “I know what these things are.”

His eyes went wide. “You do?”

I snatched up the cylindrical device and held it out. The crowd gasped in unison and shrunk away. I pressed a button at one end and a small metallic tip extended out the opposite end. Then I picked up the other object, the move was accompanied by another collective gasp. I dragged the metal tip of the cylindrical object across the flat, boxy device. A thin, blue line appeared behind the metal tip.

 

“Behold,” I said. “An NDA. This is a Non-Digital Assistant.” I looked at the crowd. Nothing happened. I blinked. No one spoke, no one moved—one guy did yawn, but telling you that serves no purpose here. I sighed. These monkeys had no idea they were in the midst of a prophet, a seer. So I tried again.

“This,” I said. “Is a pen and paper.”

 

With that, the masses fell to their knees and bowed before me, their faces pressed to the floor. Now we were getting somewhere.

 

Looking at the prostrate crowd I said, “I’ll be taking orders for this equipment later today. Line up at noon if you want first pick.”

A collective ‘Ooh’ followed by a collective ‘Ahh’ arose from the crowd. Then a summer intern leapt to his feet and cried, “Pick me! Pick me!”

I took him by the lapels and pulled him close—not that he actually had lapels, I mean, who does anymore?

“Don’t make a fool of yourself, kid,” I said. “The other interns are watching.” Then in a hushed voice I said, “Be there at 11:45 with an extra twenty bucks, I’ll fix you up.”

 

I slipped the pen and paper into my pocket, looked at Nacho and said, “Our work here is done.”

Carefully, we moved passed the still prone bunch of pen worshipers, stepping on only a few of them.

 

Back at our desks I noticed Nacho was unusually quiet, almost sullen.

“What’s the matter?” I said.

Nacho shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s just that…well, are you going to cut me in on this pen and paper deal? I could use the cash.”