Phillip McCollum

As the convention’s low-level hum of conversation and clatter carried through the black polyester curtains, Gerry flipped the strange device around in her hands. It wasn’t heavy and appeared to be made of cheap tin. Glossy orange paint flaked in spots and cracks formed a pattern of uneven tiles, reminding her of a gaudy bathroom floor in an upscale restaurant. It had a short handle in the back, presumably so that you could hold onto it with one hand, and for whatever reason, spin the gear around with the other. She noticed that a smaller gear was attached to the middle of the larger one. They didn’t appear to interlock in any way. She squeezed the toothed edge of the larger one and gave it a spin. The other gear twisted and clicked in the opposite direction. Tiny sparks of light began to ignite and pop and Gerry felt a warmth run through her hands.

Rose quickly clamped down on the apparatus, bringing it to an immediate stop.

“Not here,” she said. Her voice was emphatic and she peered over Gerry’s shoulder with suspicion even though they were the only two inside the makeshift room–one of several twelve-by-twelve curtain-lined squares that were set up by the convention staff so that vendors and customers could meet with some level of privacy.

“Oh,” Gerry said, looking at Rose with some surprise. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Rose replied. “It’s just that you really should wait to try it until you get home.”

Gerry continued to inspect it. “Well, thank you.”

“You have lots of questions, I’m sure. It’s a prototype of a new product,” Rose said. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “It’s going to change everything.”

If you’d like to finish reading this story, along with many others, I’d be ecstatic if you’d consider purchasing one of my books.

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