The city owned property abutting on Quinn Logistics LLC and had used it to erect a faux park with a few picnic benches for the benefit of the cyclists and hikers who went by on the nearby trail, the one which had once carried trains. QL employees often went there to eat lunch during the nicer days of spring and fall, and occasionally they would pick up detritus that had been left behind by the well-heeled health nuts that were the trail’s most prolific users.

Alan Daugherty, senior procurement clerk at QL, went out to the picnic tables one afternoon to try and spice up his usual ham sandwich and yogurt. He had a notion that he might replicate the most spectacular find anyone at QL had made, the iPod that some college brat had left and Jones in Shipping had claimed as her own. Instead, the tables were very clean save for one item: a pencil.

It was much nicer than the pencils that QL bought for its employees, admittedly, with a fine heavy weight. It was also unsharpened, but curiously the eraser seemed to have seen some use (or perhaps someone had been gnashing nervously on it); the pencil was undecorated except for embossed script that read ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ. Surreptitiously, at his work computer, Daugherty worked out the glyphs’ meaning: Greek for “truth.”

Not long afterwards, Daugherty believed that he had made an error in adding together two handwritten expense reports. He took ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ and attempted to erase his scribbles, only to find that the figures simply would not erase. They yielded easily to another desktop eraser, but were indelible to ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ. Changing the figures by one digit, though, meant that they easily disappeared. After checking his arithmetic, Daugherty came to a remarkable conclusion: his math had been correct, and ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ had refused to erase correct figures.

Sharpening ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ, Daugherty made another discovery: the pencil would refuse to write incorrect figures, or, in fact, any statement which had a verifiable truth value (it appeared to demur on questions of philosophy, writing them in very light strokes but also erasing them easily). The usefulness of ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ was quickly apparent: QL LLC was in the business of dealing with suppliers and middlemen, making and taking bids. If a piece of business was filtered through ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ, it would quickly reveal the truths or falsehoods involved.

Six months later, Alan Daugherty was Vice President and Acting Manager at QL LLC, with an unbroken streak of success in dealing with notoriously slippery and elusive customers. His career seemed to be in the middle of a meteoric ascent that would soon take him to the presidency of QL and beyond. But every so often, his gaze would settle uneasily on ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ, now barely larger than a golf pencil with an eraser nearly worn down to a nub.

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