Writing Prompt Wednesday is a concept kindly borrowed from Honestly Austen.
“Sorry, did you say a dozen boxes of pens?”
“Oh no.” She sounded serious over the phone, more serious than when I’d run into her at the coffee shop. “Straight pins, please. You know, like sewing pins?”
“See you at eight!” Then she hung up.
I glanced around my dorm room. I had some basic freshman furnishings: mohair pillow, bean bag chair, poster of Starry Night taped over the bed. I also had a second-hand iron given to me by the friend of my friend’s mom, who insisted that you never knew when you might be going on a job interview and needed to iron your clothes.
As if I had the kind of clothes you’d wear to a job interview.
What I didn’t see were any boxes of pins. I’d never picked up a pin in my life. According to the girl in the campus coffee shop, who’d shoved a slightly sweaty flyer into my hand, we’d be meeting to discuss the possibility of founding a Students for Democracy group. I took it, mostly because I wasn’t doing anything else that night and because you could usually meet cute boys at a place like that, or so the girls across the hall had assured me.
So why had they asked me to bring a dozen boxes of pins?
I managed to scrounge a bus schedule, and after accidentally letting myself off at the mall and having to wander around for an hour until the next bus came by, I made it to WalMart and bought a dozen boxes of pins. They were straight and had little round yellow heads. I’d debated, for nearly an hour, over whether to get the yellow ones or the ones with flat metal heads. The yellow pins were more expensive, but I didn’t want them to think I was cheap. These pins were for democracy.
I made it back to campus in time to shower, and wandered over to the library. It was 7:50 pm when I found the reserved room and knocked on the door. I heard low voices inside, but I couldn’t see anybody–someone had taped a piece of black construction paper over the little window.
The voices went silent when I knocked, and it was a full thirty seconds before the door slowly opened.
“Hi!” It was the girl from the coffee shop. She stuck her head out, looked up and down the hall, then opened the door exactly wide enough for me to squeeze in. “Hurry,” she hissed. “Did you bring the pins?”
I stepped into the room and stopped. Because now, I had an idea of what the pins were for.
There was a very large corkboard propped up on a table against the wall. On the table were folders, files, photos, papers, stacks and stacks of them, and a couple half-full bottles of Mountain Dew. There were also two rolls of Scotch tape and a ball of red twine, and seated around all this were two nerds in glasses, one okay-looking guy, and a skinny blonde whose hair was pulled back so tight it made her eyes look anime-big.
“I wasn’t sure I could trust you,” the girl who let me in said as she scooted around me and turned the lock on the door. “But I read your file, and I think you’re legit.”
I had a file? “Uh…okay…so…” I paused. “What’s going on?”
“This,” said one of the nerds–looking deadly serious, actually folded his hands and leaned across the table–“is about a conspiracy.”
“You’re a freshman,” said the okay-looking guy, “so we figured we could trust you.”
“Trust me?” I tried not to, but I kept glancing back at the door.
“We have reason to believe,” said the nerd, “that the dean, the faculty, and the staff…” Long pause here. “…are robots.”