Dear reader, what you are about to experience in the adventures of coworking future is (as will soon be made evident) a work of fiction. Any resemblance to pre-existing people, shared work space, or technologies, real or imagined, can be chalked up to a failure of imagination on the author’s part. Sorry about that.

Richard “Rick” Meyers had just finished a conversation with what he was certain had to be the world’s biggest idiot or its worst liar. Maybe both. How, he wondered, could Dave O’Malley be so phenomenally stupid as to not see what the government would do the moment they got the technology to put someone in a programmable dream? What did he expect, buttercups and free puppies for everyone? No, no one could be that stupid, that blind. O’Malley had to know what he was doing, and he wanted Rick to be in on it too. Well, he had another thing coming. Or was it another “think”? It didn’t matter, Rick decided. Come tomorrow, he was going to The Lodge and he was going to tell everyone at the coworking space about Dave’s mad science experiment. However he roped Harold in to this, he needed to be warned. Everyone needed to be warned.

Rick lifted his face from his laptop, and gazed around at the interior of Café Vernon, one of the few non-chain coffee shops left in the city of New Dover. He wondered for a moment where all the other inhabitants had gone. He then felt something very hard and uncomfortably cold press into the back of his T-shirt, and suddenly had a reasonable guess. A monotone, emotionless male voice gave him a command. It sounded like whoever was behind him was using a computer to talk to him. “Do not turn around, Mr. Meyers. You will comply with my requests. You will acquiesce to my demands.”

Acquiesce? Really? Who even says that? Rick was still going to do what he said, of course. What he assumed was a gun was serving admirably as a motivational tool. Rick briefly considered begging for his life, but it wasn’t worth the trouble. If this person intended to kill him, he likely would already have done it. However this went down, Rick certainly wasn’t getting coffee here ever again. The owners must have been in on it. That’s why the place is empty. He wasn’t going to get further answers just by jumping to conclusions, of course. He needed something to jump from.

“Who are you working for, man?” asked Rick. “CIA? NSA? You can tell me, I’m real good with secrets.” The person behind him was evidently unamused.

“Put your laptop away in its case. Put your jacket on, slowly, and do not turn to look at me when you do so. We are going for a walk.” Rick complied, slowly rising to his feet as he slid on his parka. He moved his fingers along buttons and switches hidden in the sleeve of the coat, activating the listening device he had installed. Whoever this was, he likely didn’t expect Rick to bug his own jacket. His coat’s lapel didn’t have a speaker to make the conversation two-way, but Rick and the stranger wouldn’t be the only ones to know what went on here. He only hoped the man he called wouldn’t hear a gunshot.

“You will walk out through the café’s backdoor. I will tell you when to turn left or right. Do not make a scene. Do not draw attention to yourself.”

Rick slipped the strap of his laptop’s case over his shoulder. He breathed deeply in, then out. “Whatever you say, just don’t shoot.” This was going to be a heck of a day.

 

To be continued…

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