Ben Gentry
Ben Gentry

Sonya Witherspoon poked her head into the moderately-sized room, expecting the office of a member of the Macedon Central Council to be some grandiose spectacle of opulence. She was only half disappointed. Ben Gentry sat behind the expensive wooden desk in his elaborate-yet-understated office.  A transparent hologram floated above its projector pad on top of the desk. From her perspective standing in the doorway, Sonya could only see the back of a floating head and its attached shoulders, not nearly enough to identify who the Consul was talking with.

“I understand Magistrate. I am also deeply concerned. Probably more so than you.” Glancing up, the Consul spotted Sonya, his face giving a quick flash of curiosity and confusion before melting back into his perfectly charming facade. With a finger to his lips, he waved his other hand for her to enter. The holographic Magistrate must have said something alarming as Mr. Gentry sat upright. “No, Magistrate, I most certainly did not give you the finger. I merely indicated for my aid to remain quiet as you have my undivided attention at the moment.”

Halfway across the room, Sonya could finally hear the slightly crackling voice of the Magistrate. “Oh! How is Clarice doing?” He statically croaked. “I have not been in the office to see her recently.”

The young Consul glanced at Sonya with a slight smile, Clarice is doing fine. Won’t you say ‘Hi’ Clarice?” He made eye contact with Sonya and nodded.

“Uh.” She cleared her throat. “Yeah, hello Magistrate…”

“Won’t you step into the camera, it’s been too long.”

“You know, I just caught the time. I have an appointment in an hour with Mr. Cochrane which I simply can’t miss. I’m sure you’ll be by the office soon enough and you can catch up with Clarice then. Good day to you Magistrate, I’ll take care of your concerns as soon as I possible.” He clicked off the projector before the floating head could respond.

Rising from his seat, he circled around the desk to present himself with a handshake. “Hello, Miss…” He nodded for her name.

“Witherspoon. Sonya Witherspoon.” She shook his hand softly.

“Witherspoon. Got it. Thank you for stopping by, quite unexpectedly I may add. How can I be of assistance to you?” He offered a slightly strained smile. His eyes never left hers.

Clearing her throat again, she managed a response. “Right, I am Sonya Witherspoon. Oh, I just said that.” She paused to relax her nerves. “I work for Ms. Backens at the Gazette. She asked if I would stop by and set up a time for her to speak with you. I was told that you have not returned her calls.”

He smiled and looked to the door. “Oh, I see.” He softly clapped his hands. “Since the phone doesn’t work, send a pretty face. I’ll have to remember to fire my attendant.” Gentry laughed in an apparent attempt to relieve a bit of tension. “I’d love to sit down with Ms. Backens. Let me check my calendar.”

Gentry lifted his right hand and spun his wrist, revealing a gray wristband from beneath his white sleeve. Snapping his wrist upward, he paused a moment, then spun his wrist again… nothing happened. “Clarity technology,” he lamented. “It creates all the solutions to my problems, while introducing a host of new problems.” He tapped the wrist band impatiently and flipped it again.

This time it produced a holographic calendar about the size of his hand above the wrist band. Using the index finger of his left hand, he toggled through screens until he found the upcoming appointments page. “I have an opening next Tuesday at lunch time, I’ll buy.” He offered with a quick smile. “If that doesn’t work, how about Thursday morning at 10:00?”

The Consul turned his wrist slightly and the screen disappeared. Relief danced across his face, seemingly pleased to turn off the faulty calendar.

“I’ll let Ms. Backens know the times and she can decided which works for her.” Sonya finished scribbling the times on her notepad.

“Perfect. Allow me to walk you out?”

“Uhm, Mr. Gentry, do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”

He had lifted a hand toward the door to guide her way, but froze in place. “As you heard me tell the Magistrate, I have an appointment with Dr. Cochrane…”

“In an hour.” She added quickly.

“Indeed.” He paused, taking her in. Resolve crossed his face. “Absolutely, please have a seat.” Circling around his desk, the Consul returned to his chair and straightened his clothing. Nodding, he prompted her to begin.

Sonya settled herself into the seat and set her pad on her crossed legs. “Mr. Gentry, I am curious. You won the election to the Council only a short time ago, yet you’ve risen in political power very quickly. How did you do it?”

Gentry looked to the ceiling in thought. After a moment, “Are you going to turn the recorder on? I didn’t see you press the button.”

“No. I am asking as a citizen of Docksdown, not a reporter. I understand what it takes to climb out of that slum. The highest I could climb was an aid at the Gazette. I’m not even a reporter… How did you do it?”

He gave a silent chuckle, “Ms. Witherspoon. May I?” Extending his hand to her.

After a second of hesitation, she offered him her notepad. Gentry took the pad and tossed ito into the trash can with a dull ‘thump’. Sitting back in his chair, he crossed his hands and returned his gaze to meet hers.

“Should I understand something?”

“Absolutely. Those were rules.” He casually pointed in the direction of the trash. “Those rules were created for you so that you can achieve someone else’s goals and agenda. The question is, when do you get to accomplish yours?”

“After work?” Sonya dropped her head in thought.

A long pause, overwhelming silence pervading the room.

“Ms. Witherspoon. How would you like a new career?” He glanced out the door to his office, burning a hole in the back of his attendant’s head. “It just so happens that I have a new position available. I’m sure a person with your qualifications won’t be so easily influenced by a woman with a pretty face.” He smiled slightly.

The Attendant

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