Jane looked away quickly, stood and resumed pacing around Gary’s office. “All right. Guess the stuff that matters, none of that’s changed.” She looked out the window of Gary’s office, at the traffic passing along the rumbling street outside Crasob Engineering. “But there’s all this other stuff — ” she pointed out the window, scowled — “all these cars, for one thing. And that device I found this morning, what you called a phone. And — ” she turned quickly, looked down, located then raced towards the backpack lying on the floor. “Right after you called me this morning, after I found that thing, and you said I had a car.” She picked up the backpack, placed it on her chair, opened a zippered compartment. “Started running around the apartment, looked for anything else that was different, and like you said, everything was pretty much the same.” She rummaged through the backpack, grabbed something, looked up at Gary and Arjie.
“But then I found this, on the coffee table.”
Without looking down, Jane Summers lifted the device she had grasped from the inside of her backpack, and held it forward for Gary and Arjie to see. It was a flat rectangular object made of plastic and metal, nearly two feet wide and a little over a foot high, no more than an inch thick. 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.
Arjie 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 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, its roar fading as it sped down the road.
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 might 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.”
Arjie sucked in air through his teeth. “Based on what you’ve said the last few minutes, gotta feeling you’re not going to like what you’re about to see.”