Today. Five minutes ago. We received a complaint from Morse, Bell & Marconi, attorneys-at-law, reporting the theft of documents. They were involved in drafting a new bill for the state legislature. It would have cut the tariff for corporate users of high-speed communications equipment.

The newspapers gave it a name: the fax tax.

My name is Friday. I used to carry a badge. Now we just send it ahead by facsimile transmission. It’s simpler.

A lot of people were against the bill. I could see why. It would have been just another fax break for the wealthy.

We had a lead: the attorneys had traced the call in which the documents were sent. My partner and I drove over to the address on Southport and knocked on the door.

The woman who answered was calm and well-dressed. The house was busy, filled with doodads, gewgaws, and knickfax. In the corner I saw the telltale machine. “Sergeant Fr–” I began, when she put her finger to my lips. She looked me up and down and purred, “As a matter of fax, Sergeant, I’ve been expecting you.”

That surprised me: I hadn’t called; my partner hadn’t called. Someone from HQ must have alerted her. The fax was in.

She invited us into the living room and started to talk about coffee while she ran her index finger along my tie. But my partner cut her off.

“Just the fax, ma’am,” he barked. She looked at me with an odd expression on her face. Maybe she thought she’d heard it before.

She was a good-looking woman, with perfect blond hair, and the light jumped off her faxen locks as she glided smoothly across the room. Then she started jerking her arms a little, and moaning a strange sort of tune. She tried to look like someone who couldn’t remember what she’d just been doing.

“Jeez, she’s crazy, Joe,” said my partner.

“Sure,” I said. “Crazy like a fax.”

That’s when I saw she had the papers and was heading for the window. My refaxes were quicker than hers. I met her halfway and apprehended the documents. They were all there.

“Sorry, sister,” I said.

That’s when she turned surly. “You dirty motherfaxers,” she cooed. “Send me away you will not.”

I didn’t care much for her synfax. But where she was going, it wouldn’t matter much. It never does in faximum security. She’d be off the phone lines for 10 to 15, easy. And by then, I knew, some other communications protocol would have changed her world forever.