Aaron stared at the flat, glass bracelet on his wrist. Blue glowing numbers, “01” appeared in the center, and he shook his head again.
“Damnit,” he grunted. He reached into a wooden bowl on his desk and grabbed a stress ball. Aaron glanced at the fruit filled bowl, grabbed an apple and squeezed it to vent his frustration. All “fruits” in the bowl were stress relievers. While he pumped the apple in one hand he used his other hand to press the intercom button.
“Chris I need a favor,” he said. Seconds later a shoe-less man in blue jeans and a faded green t-shirt walked into Aaron’s office.
“What’s up?” he asked. Chris sat down in the rolling chair in front of Aaron’s desk. Aaron pulled off his bracelet and tossed it at Chris.
“It’s defective. I factory reset it three times, but it still says I only have one moment of sadness left.”
“Oh.” Chris tossed it back to Aaron. “Not broken, it’s a known glitch. Just wear it until you get sad so it can attune to you,” he explained. Aaron put the bracelet back on and saw the “01” appear again.
“Man, I can’t wait,” He stood from the desk and walked around to stand by Chris. “Kick me in the shins as hard as you can,” he said. Chris laughed.
“You tryin’ to break my toes? It doesn’t work that way. You have to be sad not just crying. What’s the rush?”
“I’ve got a date tonight and she’s really into these,” Aaron lifted his wrist to shake the bracelet. “I wanted to have something to talk about.” Aaron sighed and turned to walk back to his desk. Chris stood and reached into his pocket for his phone.
“If you’re in a hurry, I know a guy. 200$ up front.” Chris smiled at him as his thumb hovered over the “call” button.
“Fine, but only if he’s here in half an hour.” Aaron pulled cash from his wallet and handed it over. Chris pressed the button and walked out of the room. Aaron sat at his desk and thought sad thoughts while squeezing his apple. Half an hour later Chris walked back into his office next to a tall bald man dressed like Chris, bare feet and all. The stranger carried a small black briefcase.
“This is my buddy, Lucas,” Chris introduced him. “Lucas, Aaron wants you to make him sad.” The bald man nodded.
“May I?” he asked and gestured at the chair.
“Please,” Aaron nodded. The man sat down and placed the briefcase on Aaron’s desk. He opened the top and reached a hand in. Aaron watched a shiny, pink metal spider crawl out of the briefcase and up Lucas’ arm. A white heart decorated its large abdomen.
“What. Is. That?” Aaron asked trying to keep his cool. He wanted to bolt from his chair and run for the door, but he was afraid any sudden movement might provoke an attack.
“Don’t worry, it’s a robot. My invention,” Lucas explained. The spider did not move once it reached Lucas’ shoulder.
“What does it do?” Aaron noticed Chris give him a “thumbs up” gesture behind Lucas and relaxed. If Chris trusted him, that was good enough for Aaron. Lucas shrugged.
“I could go into detail about everything she does, but Chris said you were in a hurry. The short version is: you want to be sad? This will make you sad. Instant, short term. Enough to sync your bracelet.”
“Will it hurt?”
“Have you ever had a tattoo?” Lucas asked. Aaron shook his head.
“No. I’ve heard they hurt” Lucas nodded.
“Yeah, they do. This is gonna hurt more,” he chuckled. Aaron looked at Chris.
“You said it doesn’t work like that!”
“It doesn’t, but I haven’t figured out a way to dull the pain that’s part of the process. Lift your shirt,” Lucas said. Aaron glanced at the clock on his desk and realized he was already running later than he’d like.
“Fine.” He lifted his black t-shirt and exposed his pale beer belly.
“Higher.” Aaron pulled the shirt all the way up to his neck.
“Hey Aaron,” Chris asked from behind Lucas. Aaron shifted his attention, and
“How long?” Aaron asked through gritted teeth.
“Just a sec,” Lucas said. He lifted his hand and Aaron noticed a thin blue threat in his hand. He followed it and found it originated from the spider’s spinnerets. “Take a deep breath and hold it,” Lucas said. Aaron sucked in as much air as he could and nodded. Lucas yanked on the thread. The spider came off Aaron and landed on the desk. It skittered back into the open briefcase. Aaron exhaled and a wave of pure sorrow washed out of him with the breath. His body shook from heaving sobs as the last of the air left his lungs. His eyes watered, but the sadness passed quickly. The moment he took in a new breath he felt better.
“Whoa…” Aaron sighed. “What the hell was that?” Lucas closed the briefcase and stood with a smile. “Tugging at your heart-strings.” A beep sounded from Aaron’s wrist. His hand flew up to check the display. Blue numbers glowed around the circumference of the band.
“It’s still broken,” he said. He tossed it to Chris. He looked at it, shook his head, and tossed it back.
“Not broken. You’re just unlucky.”