The Cell Phones - by R. B. LeMoyne
© September 9, 2010 * firstname.lastname@example.org
“Are you kidding me? There’s no way I’ll be her cell phone again!”
Sal blinked as B.B. Tana threw the new assignment folder back onto his desk, shocked at the conviction behind her retort when he told her which mortal was to rejoin her divine client list. For a tense moment, the two gods of the cell phone domain stared at each other, Sal sitting behind his office desk in a crisp dark suit and the lithe goddess Tana standing with her arms folded across her sporty attire, until Sal finally gave in.
“Uh, come again?” he asked.
Tana shook her head, pointing at the discarded folder. “I’m not going to be her cell phone again. No way, no how. Not now, not ever.”
Sal gathered up the file, replacing the papers that had spilled out of the manila folder. “You’ve served hundreds of thousands of mortals since joining us here in the Division of Cellular Communication. Why the flat refusal to serve this one?” He held up the photo of the mortal in question, a young girl of exotic beauty pictured laughing with her friends.
“Why? Because she’s a cruel, heartless, careless witch with a vendetta against cell phones. I’d sooner walk into the heart of the Great Void than go back to serving her.”
“Wow.” Sal looked at the picture before putting it back into the folder. “That’s… extreme. You’d rather be unmade than serve this one mortal?”
“It’s the difference between years of abuse and a single catastrophic moment,” Tana answered with a shrug.
Sal’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Abuse? Now you’re the one kidding me.”
“Do you even read these files before you hand them out? Give it here.” Tana snatched the assignment folder out of her boss’ hands to read off her crimes. “Okay, let’s start with her first phone, Flip. He sure lived up to his name – she flipped his top half clean off.”
“So you have one incident that-“
Tana shushed him and continued. “Her next phone was Talnax, who got infected by a fatal virus. Kablooey, another one bites the dust.”
“It was completely unintentional, a stroke of bad luck,” Sal countered. “And as I recall, he was more than a little absent-minded. I always got complaints that he failed to put calls through.”
“Yeah, so that makes it okay.” Tana gave him a withering look as she forged ahead. “And I guess it’s okay that she tossed her next phone, Vernon, into a pool? Seriously, Sal. SHE THREW HIM INTO A POOL!”
Sal squirmed in his seat, at a loss to offer an explanation.
Tana glowered at the file as she reached the end of the document. “Here we go: my cousin, B.B. Monique. Your mortal didn’t staff Monique with a memory card so she could serve her properly – totally not my cousin’s fault – but it didn’t matter. She ditched her for my sister, Alicia. Not six months into serving as her cell phone, she broke Alicia’s ability to take a charge. She dumped her and went for her twin, Amelia, and the same thing happened. The same thing! So what did she do? She ditched Amelia for me, and ended up abandoning me in a cab in Santa Monica. And then, if that wasn’t enough, my twin sister Tamara picked up where I left off, and…”
“…And her domain was destroyed, too. No one’s sure where the pressure cracks came from, or how they spread so fast. It’s likely we’ll never know.”
“Yeah, well, maybe now you understand why I want nothing to do with this mortal.”
“I do,” Sal nodded, rising to circle around his desk. “And believe me, if it were my call, I’d reassign her to someone else. It’s not up to me, though. You know how these things work, Tana.”
“The system is broken,” Tana shot back, closing the folder with a sharp snap. “Everyone’s so concerned about pleasing the precious mortals. What about us? Who looks after us? The Animates? The Ephemerals? I doubt it. So answer me, Sal, who cares about us?”
He wanted to comfort her. He really did. And years ago, when the mortal champions of the inanimate gods were still active, he could. But those days were long gone, and there was no one left in the world to look out for them. Rather than expose that painful truth, Sal changed the subject. “I can try to pass it back upstairs and get it reassigned to another divinity. It might take some time, though, and someone will need to-”
“Oh, shut up,” Tana grumbled. “I’ll do it. I’m not going to like it, but I’ll do it.”
Sal touched her arm and smiled. “You’re one in a million, Tana.”
“Yeah, well, she’s damn lucky I like you so much,” Tana quipped, poking him in the chest with the assignment folder. “And if she so much as tosses me onto a table, I will curse her so hard, her great-grandchildren will have problems with phones.”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” Sal laughed. “Now go on, do what you have to do. If you need me for anything at all, you know where to find me.”
“Thanks, boss.” Tana gave Sal a brief hug before leaving his office. She opened up the folder on the way out of the building, chuckling. O little mortal, it’s time for some payback…