Author : Brian McDermott

When Bob crawled out of his shelter the stick was gone. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of bio-material left to scavenge, especially wood.

“That was a wonderful stick!”

As straight as a spine on the watcher bots from the Emotional Fairness Authority that telescoped up the skyscrapers. Back when everyone lived in skyscrapers. Before “The Inconvenience.”

As far as Bob knew, there were only a few survivors from “The Inconvenience”. No one could live in the cities after “The Inconvenience”. They took to the hills and the caves, anywhere they could find natural refuge and sustenance. They banded together at first. They were a larger group then. Jane – The Feelings Potential Coach, Vijay – The Group Dynamics Referee, Bruce – The Socio-Relationship Buildologist, Helen – The Digital Happiness Consultant, Doug – The Pleasantries Administrator. Those were the only ones he ever encountered now. Figuring out who took his stick shouldn’t be difficult.

It was two meters long and three millimeters thick with a naturally hard, pointy end. 100% organic.

Ever since “the Inconvenience”, even the slightest touch of a manufactured material could lead to a compromising illness. Most perished that way in the early going. But right now Bob was thinking of something else.

“I would like my stick back!”

If anyone knew who took it, it was Doug from the other side of the hill. Doug had exceeded expectations in his role as Pleasantries Administrator.

“Excuse me, Doug!” Bob shouted.

It didn’t take long before Doug appeared in the distance. They looked at each other for a while. Doug bent over, grabbed something and waved it high.

“I believe this is what you’re looking for” yelled the former Pleasantries Admin.

Bob sprang forward, sprinting and shouting “Doug, Jane, Bruce, I would like my stick back.” But Doug ran the other way.

“I included Jane and Bruce in my request Doug!” Bob insisted. “Jane is not from a relevant department” replied Doug while still running. Bob thought that inappropriate. Then Bob caught Doug.

They grappled momentarily until Bob was on top. Instinctively, Bob reached out. His hand grabbed something off the ground. He raised it high and brought it down hard. Doug requested that Bob stop. Bob ignored him, bringing it down harder with each formal request. Soon the requests stopped.

When it was over, Bob rose and took a moment to reflect on the constructive moments he once shared with the now lifeless Pleasantries Admin. That was the right thing to do when a social connection passed on.

Then he looked at his own hand, covered in warm, wet crimson. But it was the cold that got his attention. The cold, smooth weight. It felt remarkably similar to the Portable Agreement Enhancer he wielded to solidify group consensus at his old organization. His fingers wrapped around it seamlessly.

“Wonderful rock.” thought Bob, the former Corporate Positivity Leader.

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