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“I don’t see why you feel the need to do this at all,” complained Stuart Reed as his wife stood in front of him. He had his arms folded and was looking rather cross and intractable indeed. 

“I just want to do my part for the war effort,” replied Mary. 

War effort? You’re not some bloody latter-day Rosie the Riveter, you know.” 

“It won’t be anything physically taxing.” 

“It won’t be much of anything,” he harrumphed. “You haven’t worked a day in your life!” A scowl from her and he added, “I mean, not outside the home, that is.” 

“I know what I am doing. I am not a child, you know.” 

“Seventy-four at your last birthday! Really, Mary, I don’t, I don’t wish for you to be disappointed, love.” His demeanor softened just a touch. But only a little. 

“Then it’s my disappointment to bear.” She departed, bound for the next transport to Rabat. 


Rabat was an intriguing city, but Mary Reed had but one destination in mind – the Employment Office. She sat and waited her turn with everyone. They were mostly all humans, although there were a few Vulcans mixed in there. The wall chronometer slid past the date – April the sixth of 2158 – to the time – oh nine hundred hours and then beyond as she waited. “Mary Reed?” called out a counselor. 

“Oh! Yes, that’s me.” She was ushered inside. 

“It says here,” said the counselor, a man who was young enough to be her son, “that you have child care experience and your preference is for a job where there is a great deal of reading.” 

“Yes, that’s right. I was hoping, perhaps, for a role where I could read to children or the like.” 

“Actually,” he peered at his desktop computer’s screen, “there’s very little of that right now. But I’ll do a regular search and we’ll see what comes up.” He tapped on the keys a bit as she looked around the room and realized her foulard-print dress might not have been formal enough for a job interview. But she didn’t own an actual suit. She had never had the need for one before. “Oh, this is most intriguing,” he said, “this one involves reading but it might not be quite what you expected. Can you interview today?” 

“Of, of course.” 

“Very well. Take the next transport to Berlin and go to see a Mister Ejiogu. Here, I’ll give you the information on your PADD if I might see it for a moment.” Mary had a hopelessly old-fashioned PADD from early in the century but she presented it anyway. The counselor clicked it to his desktop and the information was effortlessly transferred. “There now,” he said, “they’ll be expecting you.” 

“Thank you,” she said and hurried out, wondering what she could be getting herself into. 


She arrived in Berlin with a little time to spare. Ehigha Ejiogu’s office was plush and huge, with a view of the monument to the people who’d died when the city had been walled and had attempted to escape from the eastern side to the west. “Come in! Come in!” he enthused. He was a pleasant man of Nigerian extraction, with an enormous smile and a manner that effortlessly put her at ease. She walked in and he pulled out a chair for her. “Oh, do sit down. How was your trip?” 

“Oh, it was all right.” 

“You’re coming in from Kota Bharu? How interesting! I have never been to Malaysia before.” 

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