By: Kelly McDonald
Editor's Note: We continue our exploration of the sub-genre of flash-fiction, complete fictional stories captured within a general range of 500-1500 words.
“James, our attendant is walking too fast toward the rendezvous point. See what you can do to slow him down for about two minutes. At this rate, he’ll be leaving the taco truck before our subject has even arrived.”
“Roger that, Dispatch.”
“Mira, anything you can do to hurry our subject along? He needs to arrive pretty soon if we’re going to make this happen.”
Okay, rookie. I’ve got a minute now. I understand that you’ve just arrived. They told me to show you around, to see if you want to be assigned to work here with us in Dispatch. Well, I’m the dispatcher.
“Dispatch, we’ve got back the two minutes. I spooked a dog, which bumped into a woman carrying groceries. Our attendant stopped to assist the woman with her disaster.”
“Dispatch, the subject is moving well along, towards the taco truck. I averted a fender-bender at the corner of Main and 3rd Street, before our subject arrived. ‘Step on the Brake’ was all I needed to whisper in her ear to get one driver to stop.”
“Well done, Mira.”
To help orient you to our work, rookie, a little information might help you understand our current project. This background research on our subjects and attendants is one of the initial assignments we’ll give you if you’re assigned to work with us. Bill, today’s subject, is a family man with a supportive wife, and a new set of twin daughters. He works in software development, but has recently been laid-off. Mark, our attendant, is the Chief Technology Officer for a relatively new company located near Bill’s place of work. Good, you’re taking notes. That habit will help a lot when you’re trying to figure things out with mortals.
Mark is a believer in the Divine. He’s been one of our best attendants. If we can get him to see a subject, he pretty much discovers his own path for assisting them without a lot of mutual aid from us. He’s had a lot of experiences where he felt guided to help someone in need. I guess we must be doing our job.
“Dispatcher, subject has just arrived at the taco truck. He’s standing at the end of the line. We need to get our attendant here soon, if we’re going to make this happen.”
“Copy that, Mira.”
“James, what’s our attendant status?”
“Mark just arrived at the truck and moved to the end of the line. However, there’s another person who got in line in front of him, between the attendant and the subject. Let me see what I can do . . . Okay, that took care of it. I was able to flash an image into the mind of that interim individual. He stepped out of line and stumbled down the street, gagging and holding his stomach.”
“Good work, James. What image did you show him?”
“What they’re making the tacos out of.”
Ok, rookie; as Mark, our attendant, is walking up to the end of the line for the taco truck, he’s already noticing the young man ahead of him in line. Here, we can listen in on their conversation, thanks to James.
“Hi. Do you work around here?”
“Yeah, I’m just over in the next block. But. . . today is my last day at work.”
“Oh. I hope that’s a good thing. Maybe moving to another job?”
“No, I’m being laid off. My company lost an important contract, so they’re cutting back.”
As you heard, rookie, Mark’s one of our best…he reaches out to others. No doubt his attendant sensitivities went on high alert as soon as he noticed the quaver in Bill’s voice.
“Keep the audio patched in, James”
“I’m sorry. What kind of work do you do?”
“I’m a software developer. I build voice-activated systems. But I guess that doesn’t matter now, if my company no longer needs that skill.”
“Dispatch, James here. Our subject Bill is now at the front of the line, and he’s giving the taco vendor his order. Mark just reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card, and slipped it between his fingers. As Bill grabbed his sack of tacos, Mark stepped out of line with him.”
“Affirmative, James. Leave the audio on.”
“I’m Mark. and you are?”
“Bill, I’m the CTO for my company, just down the street, and here’s my card.”
“We’re always looking for good software developers, especially if they have the unique skills that we need. If you’re interested, come by my office tomorrow at 11 am. I’ll introduce you to my Chief Engineer. Bring a portfolio of your past work.”
“Dispatch, subject is now returning to his office. I saw a fist pump as he turned the corner.”
“Roger that, Mira.”
Well, that’s what we do here, rookie. Let me know if Angel Dispatch is where you want to be assigned and I’ll put in a good word for you. If you like it here and do well, maybe we’ll put you out in the field, working with our subjects and attendants.