Thursday, March 6, 2014

Story 23: Fax From the Past?


             Ring, ring: 718-555-7342.
            “It’s that number again!”
            “What number?”
            “Listen.”  She hit “speaker” and picked up.  “Accounting, this is Sheryl, how may I – ”  Booooop – buzzzz – crackle-crackle-crackle – “It’s that fax machine calling here again!”
            “So call it back.”
            “No one’ll answer.”
            “Sometimes it’s also a phone.”
            “Oh, OK.”  She hit “speaker” again and dialed.  After a few rings: “Click.  This is an unregistered number in --- Company.  If you know your party’s extension, please dial it – ”  She disconnected.
            “You heard that?”
            “I did.  That’s weird.”
            “Weird?  We’re getting phone calls from a phantom fax machine!”
            “Just try faxing a notice to it telling them the right number.”
            “Good idea.”  She did that.
            From the fax machine’s speaker: “Click.  This is an unregistered number – ”
            “It’s a phantom fax machine!”
          “Calm down.  Just let I.T. know and maybe they can track down the number for you.  For Pete’s sake, do I have to think of everything?”
            “Yes.”  She spoke with I.T. for a few minutes and slowly hung up.  “That number was disconnected and hasn’t been used in years.”
            “What number?”
            “The phantom fax number!”
            “Oh, you’re still going on about that?  Just let go – it’s stopped calling.”
           "Don’t you understand the implications of all this?  A number that’s not in service is calling here now.  Someone from the past is trying to send us a message and dialed the wrong number!”
            “Um-hm.”
            “Are you listening to me?”
            “No, I’m typing my report.  Would you please go back to work?”
            “How can I work when we’re experiencing a temporal phenomenon?”
            “Concentrate harder and block out distractions.”
            “If only they had dialed the right number.  What lessons could that past figure have taught us that we can’t already learn through history?”
TWO YEARS LATER
            “I can’t believe we all got fired!”
            “Not ‘fired’, ‘let go’.  ‘Fired’ means it’s your fault, ‘let go’ means it’s their fault.”
            “I’m already locked out of my computer!”
            “I’m surprised Security isn’t here yet to gently throw us out the door.  They must be busy with the rest of the floor.”
            “I should’ve taken that job I told you about last month.  Now my life is ruined!”
            “Why not fax your past self and warn her about all this?”  Snickers.
            “You’re right!  The new fax machine got assigned the phantom fax number and that means it actually transmits to the past, not from it!  This is my only chance to save myself!”
            “Save me too while you’re at it, would ya?”
           “Sure!”  She scribbles frantically as two security personnel approach their area.  “I only have one shot at this – keep them busy!”
            “No.”
           “Just knock your stuff on the floor!  Minimum effort!”  She jabs the message to her past self into the fax machine, dials, and hits “Send”.  “Yes!”
            The security personnel arrive.  “Time to go.”
            “I don’t think so, my good men, for in five seconds I will have vanished into thin air before your very – no!”
            “Our very what?”
            “What is it, Sheryl?”
            “I dialed the wrong number!”
            The causality loop is now closed for business.

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