The End of Mrs. Kurtz. (I'm going to go back, pick through things, and put up the whole thing later. Promise.)

"What would it take to rectify this situation for you, Mrs. Kurtz? The employee who spoke to you earlier--"


"Yes, Scott, is going to undergo disciplinary action."

"How does that make up for my wasted time and--"

"How does six months of credit for internet access sound, Mrs. Kurtz? Our only concern at this point is keeping you as a customer. We'd like to rebuild our relationship with you, Mrs. Kurtz. We know how word of mouth can hurt our business."

"Oh, really?" Mrs. Kurtz said.

"Yes, Mrs. Kurtz. Would that be acceptable?"

"Yeah, if you get me a repair guy out here ay-ess-ay-pee. What good is six free months of internet if I can't get online in the first place?"

"Done, Mrs. Kurtz. Will you be home later today between three and five p.m? I'll move you to the top of our list."

"Sure," she said, and within fifteen seconds, she was off the phone. Click.

She hit the redial button and dialed her way through the menus to the customer service que.

"Would you like to know more about our Internet service plans? Please stay on the line, and the next available customer service representative will assist you."

Elevator music.

"Your call is very valuable to us. Please stay on the line, and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received."

Elevator music.

"Are you paying too much for your combined internet and cable TV packages? Why not get a discount? Ask about our great combo packages from your customer service representative."

Elevator music.

No such thing as aliens. More likely just a combination of a nutcase and an asshole. That's the story she'd give Marcus, anyway.

Except she felt like she'd been paid off. Instead of placated.




Three o'clock. Nothing. Three-oh-eight, a man in a workman's uniform and nylon web-belts hung with tools and cases stepped up to the door of Mrs. Kurtz' apartment. He knocked. The door opened, admitted him, and shut. After half an hour, the door opened again, emitted the man in the workman's uniform. The door closed. Five minutes later (after checking a small box on the outside of the building), the man knocked at the door again. The door opened. The man walked in. The door shut.

From the open window (it was a beautiful day), Mrs. Kurtz' voice screeched, "Operator error? What do you mean, operator error? How are you going to fix that?"

There was a flash of light.

The door opened. The man walked out, looked back, and walked away. The door shut. Three forty-seven.

A week later, Marcus was out. He didn't mind. She just wasn't the same woman.

That autumn, she signed up for physics at the local college.