dimanche 2 décembre 2018

An Excerpt From Incoherent Gods


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CIRCLES AND ROUNDABOUTS



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Athena and John listened to the new directions, and the abuse, attentively. When the bureaucrat reached an end to both, she thanked him/her profusely and shut the door.
“I told you that water fountain was the –” He hated the quote gesture, but sometimes it was necessary, ““drinks station”.”
Their search for the Burelaine was not going well. First, they had encountered a fork, which had made it impossible to “walk straight down”. With his compass, John had determined that one of the passages was less divergent than the other, making it the obvious choice. Of course, it had also been the wrong one. A fact made abundantly clear by the bureaucrat they had surprised in the shower (a disturbing sight to say the least). Apparently, they needed to learn how to read the corridor nomenclature; this would have told them which was the first one’s continuation. John was more than ready to do this; problem was, he couldn’t figure out where they hid said names. He’d found one so far, when he’d tripped on a loose floor tile: underneath the tile.
He’d tried looking for other loose tiles elsewhere, with no success.
They had turned around, but hadn’t been able to find their way back to the fork. In desperation, they had followed a short blond mustachioed man and his enormous redheaded sidekick looking for an A-37 permit, which eventually led them back to their starting point.
Then the “third corridor on the left” had turned out to be the fourth. There had not been any “drinks station” of any kind. The corridor just led straight into a funky smelling hangar that contained a river, a bridge, a troll, and a goat, all four busy arguing the best method to collect excise taxes. When at last Athena had managed to knock out the troll and grab the goat’s beard,they had found out that the second passageway on the left was sometimes walled off because it led to the wing outsourced to the Teleport Inc. reward miles’ industry, and even bureaucrats find some things repulsive.
They had finally taken the right corridor, but had walked along its bendy ways for a good half-hour without seeing a “drinks station”. Then, once they’d given up, they had gotten lost trying to retrace their steps, in defiance of John’s deeply held conviction that it was impossible to get lost following a corridor that didn’t branch out.
It was now well after five, at which time the bureaucrats, while tolerating people who had gotten in before four, did not see why they should be helpful in any way whatsoever. The lights were dim, and the entire place felt empty. When by some incredible chance they ran into a rare straggler, their pleas for help were met with vague excuses before the bureaucrat would scuttle away and disappear in an elbow of the corridor.
Finally, despite their apprehension, they had decided to knock on an office door where they could hear the clacking of computer keys.
It hadn’t been computer keys. It had been the creaking sounds of a swing’s chains. They had walked into a strange photo shoot. The bureaucrat had been holding a long stick from which dangled a new kind of camera and taking (sultry? seductive? macho?) poses on the swing. While apparently this was very important, as the obvious annoyance of the bureaucrat had made clear, s/he had agreed to help them find their way to the Reception and Dispatch Burelaine, because to quote him/her: “The least that promotion stealer deserves is being annoyed after hours by bumbling idiots such as you.”
And now, at last, they found the “water fountain”.
John stopped. “Wait, did the bureaucrat tell us it was the
office to the right before reaching the water fountain?” “Yes.”
“But didn’t the Information Attendant tell us it would be the office to the right after the drinks station?”
“Yes.”
“Then it should be the office to the left before we reach the water fountain, no?”
Athena shrugged. “Let’s just knock on both doors.”
They did. Or, at least, they tried to. Their fists hit the doors, but no knock could be heard, no vibration felt.
They tried again. They switched doors. 
“I get it,” said John. It’s like a computer application form. You can’t get to the next step before completing the previous one. Apparently, we need to make a choice.”
If Athena had had the fiery eyes in her divine abilities package, the door in front of her would surely have been reduced to a pile of ash. Instead, the goddess narrowed her eyes and her fists, then took a deep breath and slowly released the tension.
“Fine. How? Which right is the right right? Clergy! I wish these doors had numbers.”
“Wouldn’t help, the Attendant didn’t give us one. I do think you might be on to something, right is probably the important factor here. Let’s go to the next elbow in the corridor, come back, and knock on the door to the right.”
He was about to join action to word, but Athena held him in place.
“Wait. Toward which should we go? To the elbow where the office would be on the right after the ‘drinks station’, or the one where it would be on the right before the ‘water fountain’? And which way is which?”

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