The Second-Thought Machine

by Richard Lau

From the Desk of Shelby Desmond

Vice-President of Customer Loans, Harcourt Credit Union

September 4, 2023

Dear Mr. Osaka:

It is with deep regret that I must reject your application for a loan of $3 million.

I understand the importance of research and development for the continual advancement of technology and the great cost in time, effort, and financial outlay involved in such endeavors.

However, while your idea for, as you choose to call it, a “second-thought machine” sounds intriguing, you have not provided sufficiently compelling evidence that such a potential device is indeed possible.

Again, I understand the need for proprietary secrecy, especially with new, unpatented designs, and the honorable history of many influential companies that had their origins in humble garages and home labs.

However, our financial institution cannot risk such substantial funding on merely your word as collateral that you have produced a working prototype and are only seeking additional funding to produce an updated version with more range and permanence.

We wish you the best in acquiring a loan elsewhere and continued success in your efforts.

Sincerely,

Shelby Desmond

Vice-President of Customer Loans

Harcourt Credit Union

#

From the Desk of Shelby Desmond

Vice-President of Customer Loans, Harcourt Credit Union

September 12, 2023

Dear Dr. Osaka:

Recently, I wrote to you, rejecting your application for a loan.

My response may have been a bit premature. Over the weekend, I had second thoughts about your application. While enjoying my regular round at the Eastwood Golf Course, I was hit by a flash of inspiration. Literally a flash, as if I had been struck by lightning and left with every cell in my body charged and changed.

I now see the intrinsic value and great potential for such a device as you describe. As for you having a working prototype, one would expect no less from someone of your fine pedigree, great intellect, eminent qualifications, and spotless reputation.

So, if you are still interested, and I truly hope you are, I would like to extend to you approval for a loan of $1 million. I realize this is far less than you originally applied for, but due to internal regulations, this is the maximum I can approve on my own volition without additional confirmation from members of the Board. I have approached them with more vigor and excitement than I have mustered or exhibited in quite a while.

Unfortunately, they do not see things the same way I do and rejected my proposal for a loan in the full amount that you requested.

To make up for this shortcoming and to further show my unwavering belief in your work, I would like to personally offer an investment of $5 million of my own money. Or you can just accept the funds as a charitable donation.

I leave the decision up to you.

Again, my apologies for my original hasty and short-sighted decision.

Sincerely,

Shelby Desmond

Vice-President of Customer Loans

Harcourt Credit Union

#

December 28, 2023

Dear Journal Editor:

I am presently employed as an intern at a small start-up company founded by Dr. Kevin Osaka.

One of my duties is disposing of sensitive documents. I came across the enclosed two letters designated for disposal, but I couldn’t bring myself to shred them.

There is something strange going on in my place of employment. While the letters explain why the company is flush with cash, they fail to account for the odd behavior of many of my co-workers.

Some of them get so disgruntled, they threaten to quit only to become extremely content and loyal the following day. Others demand a raise and then decide to accept a pay cut or demotion or even both!

While these incidents can be simply explained away as normal fluctuations in people’s moods and situations, I have learned through office gossip and discrete inquiry that they have all experienced what the loan officer describes in his letter: the burst of light inside one’s head and the resulting tingling.

I, too, have had this experience.

I had initially planned to become a whistle-blower and send the enclosed letters to the local newspaper and television media.

Such an action would violate the confidentiality agreement I signed when I joined the company, but I felt the letters contain information too important to be kept secret or destroyed.

Then there was that flash. My entire body still feels like my nerves are slowly reawakening.

I also have changed my mind. Instead of my original plan of dispersing the letters to news outlets, I’m sending the credit union’s correspondence to a journal that publishes fiction.

For some reason, I now feel this is the better choice.

Yours,

Emile Rodriguez

~

Bio:

Richard Lau is an award-winning writer who has been published in newspapers, magazines, anthologies, the high-tech industry, and online.

Philosophy Note:

Everyone makes decisions every day. And often, we have second thoughts about those decisions. What if someone had a device that could implement and influence such second thoughts? And would the builders of such a device realize or care that such a device could be used on themselves as well?

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