There was a sound, small at first but now rising in volume and jabbing jagged into her temples where before there was only the dull smear of headache pain. It was a buzz, wasn’t it? As of bees. But they were flying backward, she thought, their wings clipped but somehow moving faster for this, cradling space inward and shoveling it in front of them with the paddles of their trimmed gossamer membranes like scullers heaving their way across an endless expanse of—

“Clara Planck?” said a voice, through the swarm.

“Yes,” she droned, her voice thick and honey-slow.

“We’d like to take you back.” He cleared his throat. It was a he, yes? Yes. “Er, that’s forward. We’d like to take you forward.”

“Oh?” she wondered. It was almost a rhetorical question, so empty of inflection or opinion she almost didn’t need to say it.

“You’re being wasted in this dead-end phonecall business. We can offer you something that’ll get you out of the office. With a pay hike, and benefits you can’t quite imagine.”

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