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The Paper

The bus rolled into the mall at school. A line of people waited to board, but Roman leapt out before they could move. There was hardly a book-sized slit between the rickety doors before he pushed his way through. With blazing speed, he raced through the mall, pushed through meandering pedestrians, and scurried into the library. He had ten minutes to print his thesis before it was due.

Down in the labs, mice clicked away on row after row of computers. Lines of students waited patiently for an open computer. Roman rummaged around. There had to be someone ready to leave, but alas he didn’t find anyone. He got in line and waited it out. With crossed arms, he scanned the room, his fingers nervously tapping his sides.

“Come on buddy,” he thought. “You have no new friend requests. Get off!”

Why did his printer pick today to run out of ink? That light flashed low for a month, and today it couldn’t print out one final paper?

As he was steaming at the Myspace boy when he felt a tap on his shoulder. “It’s all yours buddy,” the guy said.

Roman bolted to the computer, pushed aside the chair, and pulled up his report. With the click of a button, the job “Dustin Thesis 1” was sent to the printer. He yanked the USB drive out of the port and ran to the print station.

“Please insert your Cat Card,” the screen flashed.

He flipped open his wallet. His heart stopped. Next to his driver’s license and ATM card was an empty slot where the card should have been. His mind raced. Where could it be? Not on his dresser, nor the kitchen counter. His girlfriend gave it back to him this morning after she borrowed it to print her reports. He didn’t take it out at the gas station when he went for a leisurely drive. Not at the restaurant he had lunch at with his roommate. Not when he spent a half hour at the bookstore staring the cute blond, from down the street, as she worked her afternoon shift. Oh wait; he put it in his left pocket where he wouldn’t forget it. He inserted the card and printed his paper. Now where did he put his stapler?

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