NASA, shortstorysunday

Building Eight: The Terms and Conditions

Jack stares at the last line of the terms and conditions. He surprised himself when he actually decided to read it. But the last line has him hesitating to sign the line below.

Failure to comply will be a matter of national security and will result in death.

Some of the rules were crazy. One of them stated that he couldn’t tell anybody about this internship. He hadn’t yet but what was he going to tell his family when he disappeared for the summer? And another rule said he wasn’t to have any contact with the outside world during the internship either. His mom would most definitely want to talk to him about his progress.

Now he had to think of a lie. And his mother was the best to detect lies. Maybe she won’t over the phone. But was he really going to sign on the line? Should he? Too bad he can’t talk about this with anyone.

Jack rereads the last line again.

Failure to comply will be a matter of national security and will result in death.

He signs his name.

“Hey Mom,” Jack says.

“Jacky, I’m so excited. Did you get it?”

Jack grimaces. He had told his mother that he was taking a big step in following his dreams. But he didn’t tell her anything about it just in case he got her hopes up and didn’t get accepted into NASA.

He paces his small kitchen. “Yeah, um, I did. But-”

“Yay!” She calls for Jack’s father.

“But Mom, I can’t tell you what it’s for.” She falls silent. “It’s really confidential.”

“You’re not working for the government are you?” She scolds. “You know what we think of the government.”

Jack holds in his sigh. “Yeah I know. It’s not for the government. But I won’t have any option to call you during the summer. It’s like a dead zone or something.”

“Stay safe, Jacky.”

“I will, Mom. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Jack hangs up the phone and leans on the kitchen counter. He releases his sigh.

Jack picks up the document with his signature. He doesn’t have to send it. He doesn’t have to go. He shakes his head. I’m not going to leak anything. He folds the document and slides it into an envelope.

Grabbing his keys off the counter, he leaves his apartment and heads for the post office.

Jack’s father calls him when he pulls into a parking spot. “Dad?”

“Jacky, Son, your mother told me you’re working for the government.”

Jack pinches the bridge of his nose. “I’m not, Dad. She misunderstood.” He pulls his key from the ignition. “I don’t want to jinx it.”

“You know what we think about the government, Jacky.”

“You’re so pa—”

“I’m not paranoid. I’m just informed.”

Jack sighs. “I’m not working for the government, Dad. I just don’t want to put anyone’s hopes up.”

“Promise me.”

Jack stares at the envelope in his hands. He turns over to look at the mailing address. “I promise.”


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