Thursday, July 20, 2006

49: Storyline 1.14

The isolation booths were one of the many curious features of the Complex. They were simply small rooms, about five foot on a side, with motorized sliding pocket doors. The rooms were light beige inside and out and furnished with two chairs and a small table. They were soundproof and surveillance-proof, and were designed for self-time or small meetings that needed to be private.

When I got to the booths, all three were occupied. I sat down to wait on one of the benches that lined the wall opposite the booths. I was in luck, for one of the booth doors slid open after only a few minutes. Two women walked out. I waited for them to be a respectable distance away before getting up, crossing the hall, and entering the now vacant booth. I pressed the button and waited for the door to slide closed. When I turned around to face the booth's interior again, Barbara was sitting on the table.

How Barbara could have gotten inside without my noticing, I had no idea. When I saw her there, it made me jump. "Where did you come from?" I demanded.

Barbara looked pleased with herself, but refused to reveal how she had eluded me. "My methods of going from point A to point B are not available to your scrutiny," she explained.

"You're going to do this all the time, aren't you? Pop in and out wherever I go, I mean." I sat down resignedly.

"I do what's necessary."

"Necessary according to who? The God of Toast?"

"I am acting at his behest, it is true. But it is neither my place nor yours to speculate as to his motives in asking me to help you. In point of fact, I have no idea what his motives are. I only know that the matter of the fish in the sky is of some importance to the God of Toast. As are you."

"If I'm so important to him, why can't I remember anything about him?"

Barbara frowned in puzzlement. I briefly explained what had happened in the toaster factory. When I had finished, she shook her head. "I have no answer to this riddle. You must simply trust that there is a reason for your amnesia, and that you will know the reason when you need to."

"Great."

Barbara laid a paw on my arm reassuringly. "Do not be perturbed. Remember that you have allies."

I nodded. "Thanks," I murmured. It did make me feel better to know that I wasn't alone. I also noticed that Barbara's touch was profoundly soothing. I wondered if this was one of her powers, but knew better than to ask. Instead, I asked, "So what happens now?"

Barbara removed her paw. "You have much work to do," she said. "I think now it would be best if I left you to get started as you see fit."

"When will I see you again?"

"Soon enough."

"Are you always going to be cryptic like this?"

"No," she replied.

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