Ken York rubbed his spectacles as he tried to travail the sand dunes with one hand and keep the sand from the blustering sandstorm from clouding his vision. Sly Donaldson and Flynn Evans were not far behind. All in all, they were making good progress as they marched like three lazy robots across the Gobi Desert.

They’d been walking for the best part of three hours after getting readings from the camp that there was something electronic nearby that was giving out radio waves. An unidentified signal.

It’s doubtful they would have bothered at all had it not been that it was generating an irritating feedback loop of static and stopping three of the world’s chief leading scientists on global warming from taking accurate temperature measurements, reporting to the base some 50 clicks northeast, and also jamming their intercom and walkie-talkies.

A fresh gust of wind sent a heavy flickering of sand into Flynn’s face. He spluttered. “I thought you said we were close?”

“Well, we’re getting closer, Flynn. That’s all I can tell you,” was the only response Ken could give, trying to keep his mouth closed as much as he could to minimise any sand-swallowing. The desert storm was not letting up.

They trudged on, wordlessly, until they came to the top of the large dune they’d spent the best part of ten minutes trying to traverse. The wind died down, and the group noticed a rock in the distance.

Something was leaning against it. Something white.

Flynn radioed in, holding the flimsy Bakelite walkie-talkie in his hand and punching some numbers. He left a message to the camp’s battered phone before shelving the mic back into the plastic casing that dangled from his belt. They were going to be bringing back another person.

The skeleton was propped up against the rock and it couldn’t have looked any more alien. For a start, it was wearing a tattered and long-faded suit-and-tie combination with a few bones shimmering through the tatters. The skeleton was also wearing some prescription glasses and had two objects sitting neatly in its skeletal fingers. In its right was a block around three inches by three inches that looked as if it were made of white perspex. In its left, a long black slate.

As the crew got nearer to the corpse, it was clear that the electronic signals were coming from the black slate. The white block seemed to be nothing. It had no engravings, markings, no catches, and no mechanism to open it. It was simply a block.

“An ordinary plastic cube?” Sly muttered to nobody in particular. “Seems to make as much sense as a screen door in a submarine.” He motioned for the others to get a closer look at the suit. It was faded and seemed to have worn down over many, many years. Flynn found a designer label on the lapel, but not a single member of the trio recognised the name.

It was a long and tiring trek back to base, and each member of the party took turns carrying what Donaldson had affectionately dubbed “Mr. Bones.”

When they got back to the camp, the large Day-Glo orange tent flaps swaying in the evening winds, the group examined the black glassy-slate with some trepidation. In fact, Flynn and Sly turned in very quickly. They couldn’t see any way to activate the strange metal/plastic block with a large glass front facing, and, if they were honest, they were almost thankful of that.

But Ken York wouldn’t give in. He spent two hours examining it thoroughly, even snapping at Flynn when he tentatively poked his head out of his own tent flap to ask him what time he was turning in.

Eventually, Ken was about to give up when he depressed a very small button, almost hidden on the side of the device. The screen exploded with a brilliant light and colours and images flashed past the screen.

His voice caught in his throat as he tried to scream to his fellow explorers. He eventually found his voice and soon Sly and Flynn were bent over, craning their necks over Ken’s shoulders and puzzling over the odd device.

It appeared to be a walkie-talkie, much like the ones that they were using themselves. Only much more…sleeker. And what was it connected to?

The exhibition was stopped right then and there and the group packed up and headed home. Once they made it to the airstrip, they were bound for Heathrow, not 36 hours from finding the bizarre and quite alien device.

Back in London, the three men tracked down every scientist, tech whizz, mechanic, and engineer within the city. Nobody had a clue exactly what the device was, what it did, or exactly how it was manufactured.

It wasn’t until the National Technology Fair of 1983 that a leading expert in communication technology had a closer look at the device. He opened it up and noted a small, super-thin rectangle that seemed to have an electric charge stored inside and a smaller chip the size of a baby’s nail that seemed to work in a similar way to computer storage banks used in large corporate buildings for recordkeeping and electronic file work.

The man posited that the slab was a cross between a walkie-talkie and a household telephone. Essentially, it was a walkie-talkie that you could use to call anyone. A “mobile telephone.”

It was a pity there was only one mobile.

Sly, Flynn, and Ken struck a deal with the man, who was a man of high repute in the telecommunications industry and, once established that he was not a racketeer, the three men agreed to sell the phone for a high price. The man would then attempt to reverse-engineer the device in order to make multiple copies that, whilst being potentially more primitive, would serve the purpose of the original “mobile.”

The three men were rich, and spent the next two years whittling away their huge finances.

Flynn Evans spent his philanthropically, donating to many charities across the UK.

Sly Donaldson bought a house before the rest of the funds fell away on food, gas, and general expenses.

Ken York bought cars, drugs, flashy clothes, flashy watches, alcohol, and even women. He gambled a hefty portion away alongside his other pursuits.

Meanwhile, all was going smoothly for the new owner of the world’s first “mobile,” and the first batch of “mobile phones” were about to roll out around the same time that Ken decided that he wanted more money.

On a cold and blustery night in January 1985, he snuck into the home of the man who now owned the phone and stole it. On his way out, Ken tripped the burglar alarm and the police came running.

The cars, with their flashing blue and red sirens, sped after him down the wet streets of London in the drizzling rain. Eventually, Ken was cornered in an alley by two squadron cars. The officers got out and pointed their semi-automatics at Ken.

To this day, they still give testament that these exact events happened next.

As they raised their weapons, a small white cuboid in Ken’s pocket began to shine a radiant and blinding light. Before they had a chance to utter another word or open fire, Ken York disappeared off the face of the planet.

His two friends, Sly and Flynn, lost all of their investment in the “mobile phones” after his stunt, but the man who got his stolen property back went on to make millions as the CEO of a multinational corporation that went by the name of “Apple.” He died at home, a very wealthy man, in October 2011.

As for Ken, nobody quite knows where he went. But I have a suspicion that it was somewhere rural, sandy, and very hot. I can even imagine that he wandered around for some time before collapsing against a rock and dying of heat exhaustion or dehydration before spending many years decomposing.

He was probably then discovered by three intrepid explorers, one of them wondering why the glasses worn by the skeleton looked so similar to his own.