Summers 2I

Without looking down, Jane Summers lifted the device she had grasped from the inside of her backpack, and held it forward for Gary and Scott to see. It was a flat rectangular object made of plastic and metal, nearly two feet wide and a little over a foot high. One side, more metal than plastic, bore a sticker with the Crasob Engineering logo — that sticker, along with the fact that this side had been face up when she found this device on her coffee table that morning, made her think it was the front, or top side.

Scott chuckled, looked up at Jane. “Since you say you don’t recognize your iPhone anymore, I’m guessing you don’t recognize your laptop either.”

Jane lowered the device (it was heavier than it looked), letting it lie on top of her backpack. She looked plaintively at Gary, who stared back at her from behind his desk with eyes radiating concern. She opened her mouth to speak, but could not think of what to say.

Outside the window, the steady low rumble of car traffic was interrupted by the demonstrative scream of an approaching semi. The windows in Gary’s office rattled as it passed, it’s roar fading as it sped down Milwaukee Avenue.

Gary’s phone rang. He glanced quickly at the phone, punched a button, turned back to Jane. “What . . . what can we do to help?”

Jane Summers exhaled, her cheeks puffing. “This is going to sound strange, but — ” she ran her hands over the top of her head — “I think I need to work. Jump on the board, focus, get my mind off — ” she waved her hands at the two devices, what her friends had called a phone and laptop, whatever that meant — “all this.”

Scott sucked in air through his teeth. “Based on what you’ve said the last few minutes, I’ve gotta feeling you’re not going to like what you’re about to see.”

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