They used to say “learn from your mistakes!” but what if you never made any?
Because Nathan surely couldn’t recall a single time he had. Perhaps that was for the best!

Although, as he sipped his pleasantly warm coffee, with the pleasantly warm sunlight, streaming past a bulky building labelled “Mental Well-being Maintenance Clinic”, and onto the dashboard before him, he also found it hard to remember the last time life had thrown anything interesting at him.

Someone was tapping furiously on the car’s back window. The first client of the day! As per routine, Nathan uttered a soft “come in”, and the door lifted in response with a hiss. The Device on his arm emitted a little warning bleep, but now wasn’t the time, there was a passenger to service!

“Oh, tell that thing to shut up! 52 Beecher Street. Fast.”

Nathan let his foot down gently, easing the vehicle into motion, eyes drifting occasionally towards the rear mirror. Today’s client was an elderly man sporting quite a hideous-looking hospital gown, its left sleeve almost pasted to his wrist by an oozing sanguine fluid that gave a horrible metallic stench.

The old man’s attitude had been a bit presumptuous, but it was the disconcertingly undeniable absence of The Device from a bloody pit in the old man’s arm that made Nathan gag. Several faint bleeps agreed with him, as it would have been a good time to turn The Knob, and forget he ever saw that, but passenger safety always came first!

“Turn right! I need the shortcut. Got no time for you happy-chappy young people. Bloody useless.”

Though Nathan was known for exceptional customer service, he also prided himself on being a law-abiding citizen. Had the man not seen the sign flashing “right turns prohibited”? Maybe since he’d been too busy muttering things under his breath. Stupid device. Corrupting the minds of these already brainless brats. Lost causes.

“Didn’ya hear me?”

The old man didn’t wait for a responseand had clambered between the front seats, battling Nathan’s arms out of the way to grab at the steering wheel. The car veered violently to the right. The headlights of a 22-tonne freight truck speeding down the highway towards them blazed like a pair of threatening eyes.

Through squinted eyes, Nathan’s hands grasped the wheel, regaining control, and in a single reactive motion he hurled it to the left. The sudden swerve made the two bodies jolt to one side. The car stopped. The truck’s horn responded with an angry blare as it zoomed past a rattled Nathan.

His pupils were frozen, but Nathan’s mind was ticking furiously. He thought of his wife. She was probably out walking the dog they’d adopted together as teenagers. She would’ve just sent their daughter skipping off to her first day of fifth grade, after scoffing down a plate of her favourite blueberry pancakes. He could’ve just lost it all. Everything that had ever made life worth living, everything he should’ve paid more attention to.

“Guessing you’re gonna turn The Knob right about now, huh?” The old man was still in the car, still muttering away, as if there hadn’t just been a near-death experience.

Almost instinctively, Nathan’s hand hovered over The Device — now would have been a good time to turn The Knob, and forget this ever happened. But he paused. He looked over at the pit in the old man’s arm.

Suddenly it made sense why the man had felt it necessary to remove The Device. Picking up this odd client had certainly been a mistake, but an important one. One he needed to remember. Nathan returned his hands to the steering wheel.

The Device emitted several warning bleeps. Nathan glanced down, and to his absolute disbelief, The Knob had begun to turn.