…was waiting for me by my car last night. I hadn’t seen him since he installed the machine, almost a year ago.
“They know,” he said.
“They know what?” I asked, glancing around to see if there was anyone else in the lot.
He cleared his throat. “They know it’s time for your machine’s yearly service inspection!”
“It’s nine o’clock.” I said. “At night. Shouldn’t this happened tomorrow?”
“Yes,” he says, nodding at my car. “Yes. Tomorrow.” The nod again. “Tomorrow. Just wanted to give you advance warning. You might,” another nod, “Be without coffee for a few hours.” He then startled me further by sprinting off into the night.
I shrugged, walked the 10 more feet to my car and just noticed in the moonlight what he was nodding at. On the driver’s side front wheel, almost out of sight, was a package.
I looked around, then as nonchalantly as possible picked up the package and quickly got into my car.
I drove home as quickly as I could, feeling ridiculous, but checking the rearview mirror to see if I was followed. Which, naturally, made more feel more ridiculous because the chance that I could actually spot someone following me was rather dramatically lower than the chance of me hitting the car in front of me while I frantically scanned for ‘them’.
At home, Regret sat silently while I tore open the package and shook the contents out onto the counter. There was a Turing Coffee cartridge, like the ones we used at work, and a note. The cartridge was labeled “project mesa”, and the note said only:
It will know what to do.
“I need to go back tonight,” I said to Regret.
“Feed me first, Mr. Opposable thumbs. Then off to whatever goddamn workplace adventure you’re having.”