The pylon sits erect between the train station and the walkways of the neighborhood in a light fog, or as backlit through an eerie veil. In spite of the cover, the sun shines just above the the buildings, shedding a white-yellow light in distinct rays onto the smooth ground of the square. Golden buildings of expressive forms create an intimate enclosure around the square. Although the city sprawls out almost infinitely beyond the square and across the whole planet, the proportions are cozy and manageable, like they were built with people in mind: the average height, the average hand size, the average stride.

Standing next to the pylon, taking in the view, I hear crying. The crying gets louder, growing more and more desperate. Eventually I can distinguish words through the weeping. It’s a man’s voice.

“Bje! Bje! Bje...! Why doesn’t it work... I miss you terribly...!” the man cries out.

I’ve definitely picked up someone’s private conversation, it seems. This transmitter, the pylon, is in need of a technician, which is why I am here. I send a query to the nearest active computer terminal. The nearest terminal is surely a mile or so from here, but if I project my message telepathically, then it will just manage the distance. I ask whether it can identify what is wrong with its sister in front of me. It retrieves my query, processes it, and sends back a response without a second’s pause; it’s why we call it a faster-than-light (FTL) communication system.

“Error: unknown. Please contact manufacturer or proprietor,” the computer broadcasts into my brain.

So odd. This has never happened to me before. I’ve been fixing and repairing these pylons for years, memorizing the code; I know these terminals inside out.

I laugh at the thought of arriving at the some person’s house, unannounced, frustrated that after five years of learning the trade I get stumped on one pylon which asks me to go find the proprietor. I knock and a drowsy man answers; of course he has no idea how to fix pylon whatever-its-designation, he’s got better things to do. Then a woman’s voice jolts me back to place:

“Oh this is frustrating. I can hear you, darling! Gila? I can hear you—” she says.

The two conversations seem connected for sure, but it is so odd that they are having issues hearing each other. And to be blunt, I am more concerned with their connection failure than I am of the computer’s unknown error response. Their voices are broadcasting on public feed: telepathy, aural, semiotic, semantic. Everyone in the area is hearing their private conversation, and, worse, know that the system is imperfect.

I reach into the terminal’s main memory and patch the conversation to my personal cache for further review. I might be able to discover its origin, and use it as evidence that this job was not my fault. Maybe I’m making too much of a fuss; I take my work very seriously, I guess.​