Author: David Henson

I tell the check-in bot I’m here to renew my driver’s license.

“Counter A, sir.”

I join the queue at Counter A and text Lilly, promising I won’t be late again. Hope I don’t get bogged down. All I need to do is pass the token vision test and get a new photo. But what if they make me fill out a bunch of forms because of the mistake? Bureaucrats. Can’t even get my name right. What if — my phone dings. Lilly warning me to not keep her waiting.

Thank goodness the line moves quickly. I step to the counter. “Hi, my name is —”

“Letter,” the android says in a female voice. It wears black, horn-rimmed glasses to make it appear more human, but there’s something about the eyes that —


I hold out my expiration notice.

“Jms Trrmn?”

“They got my name wrong. I’m James Truman.”

It cocks its head.

“I’d like to buy a vowel, please,” I say, laughing. “Four, actually.”

The android frowns. “This letter is for Jms Trrmn.”

“You made a mistake … Not you personally.”

It hands me the letter. “Take a seat while we look into this … Next.”

Some guy wearing a red bowtie strides past me.

I check the time. Shouldn’t have cut it so close. Lilly’s going to kill me. Wait … I have proof. I remove my expiring driver’s license from my wallet.

After horn-rimmed android finishes with bowtie guy, I cut in. “Look.” I hold up the letter and my driver’s license. “See? The same numbers are on both. I’m James Truman, damn it.”

“No need for that language, Sir.” The android holds the letter up to the light. “Could be a forgery. Please be seated while we look into this.”

“You robots have no flexibility? Can’t —”

“I’m an android, sir. Kindly step aside.”

I know when I’m licked. I have another week before my current license goes belly-up. Right now, my priority is Lilly. I hurry for the exit.

Outside, I step off the curb and hear tires screech.


I awaken seated in the front row of what appears to be a waiting room. Music wafting around me smells like roses and tastes like honey. Sitting behind me, a boy tosses a baseball from hand to hand and a man holds a bent steering wheel.

We’re all facing a counter where there’s a figure silhouetted by a bright light. Definitely not the driver’s license facility. An emergency room? I rub my thighs and twist my neck side to side. Everything seems intact. I feel no pain.

The silhouette moves, and a gentleman with a cane comes into focus as he approaches me. I squint from the glare behind the counter “Excuse me,” I ask the fellow. “Where are we?”

Ignoring me, he glows, tosses his cane and sprints to the exit. “I made it, Martha.” When he opens the door, the music swells, its scent and flavor intensifying.

“Next.” The voice comes from the glare. I look around. “You there in front. Up here.”

Shielding my eyes, I hustle to the counter. “What —”


I hesitate.

“Sir, if you wish to continue, please show me your ID.”

I fumble at my hip pocket. No wallet. “Sorry, I don’t —”

“Show me your right palm.”

I look at my hand and a hologram of the words James Truman rises from it. Squinting, I push my hand toward the light and see a swirling vortex of numbers where a face should be.

There’s a pause. “Sorry, Mr. Truman. There’s been a mistake. We were expecting Jms Trrmn … Next.”