Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Bard Queen - Part 3

The doors opened to a dank hallway that smelled strongly of moldy socks. One of the dingy yellow florescent lights flickered from a bad connection. A tilted direction sign in front of the elevator showed a faded left arrow and the words "Incantation Technology."

Office Wench raced through the halls. The air seemed lighter in the dungeons, but she was still panting when she reached the Helpdesk. Reception Witch didn't look up when Office Wench gripped the edge of the desk and asked, "I need to see the Sage."

"The who?"

"The Sage. He's from Truth. I need his help to..." Office Wench stopped when Reception Witch glared at her over purple-rimmed reading glasses. "To look at my Mail Merge Magic. It's not working right."

"The Sage, huh?" She tapped a button on her phone, "Brown Noser, you know of any IT Guy called the Sage?"

"That's the crack pot in D875. He's a real piece of work! Always got his head in the clouds!"

Office Wench didn't stop to listen to the platitudes Brown Noser was venting. She knocked an IT Guy and his stack of laptops into the wall as she passed. Finally she reached the door to D875. She pushed open the door.

Office Wench expected the Sage's office to be filled with a glowing green haze and flashes of purple light. But instead, she found a clean, well-lit room with the lightest scent of vanilla latte.

"Hello." The Sage sat upright in his chair. "May I help you?"

Office Wench stared at her shoes. "Um, I need some help getting my Mail Merge right."

He backed away from his desk and stood."Sure, what's the problem?"

Office Wench looked up as he walked toward her. His deep brown eyes held her gaze firmly.

"I want to go to Truth."

He smiled. "You are already in it."

Office Wench glanced around the room. It was true that the air felt a little fresher, a little lighter, in the room, but she couldn't see how this could be Truth.

"Not just here. We are all in Truth." Office Wench furrowed her brow and he continued, "Reality is only a country, Truth is the world. You need to get your head out of the clouds."

Office Wench moved for the door. "I should have known."

He grabbed her arm. "Wait. Listen to me. The clouds in Reality are what keep you here. The air is thick with enchantments. Wicked spells that keep you trapped inside your slavery, trapped inside your own head. Getting your head out of the clouds is exactly what you need to do. Then you will see Truth all around you."

Office Wench stared at his hand gripping her elbow. "How?"

"You have to remember." He looked wildly around the room. "You have to remember who you are. Let me see..." He walked over to a wall of bookshelves. "Have a seat. I need to find the right spell."

Office Wench positioned herself on the edge of the Sage's vinyl couch. He rifled through several books before carrying one as thick as a dictionary back to the couch. He sat next to her, their knees almost touching.

"All right. Close your eyes."

Office Wench obeyed. But as soon as she did a feeling came over her that Brown Noser or Reception Witch would burst through the open door at any moment and send her back to her cube. Why was she here? Why humiliate herself in front of this crazy dude with the deep eyes? She should go back.

"Repeat after me, 'Once upon a time...'"

Office Wench stood and moved toward the door. Her heart pulsed rapidly against her lungs.

"You have to fight it!" The Sage stood with her. "Reality is still in your lungs. You have to resist it."

"I'm not like you. I'm not strong!"

"Do you think that I don't feel it? That I don't gasp as my lungs close with the heaviness and despair. I'm as much a slave to Reality as you are. But I fight with everything that is in me to remember who I am."

Office Wench stood very still, her head hung low.

"You have to fight it, or you will never find freedom."

She lifted her eyes to his. "Once..." The haze before her seemed to melt in curling wisps before her breath. "Upon a time." She could see his clear, bright smile before her. No fog separated them now. "I was royalty. I was a story-weaver. My life was lived to speak counter-spells into the haze. My life was lived to free the slaves of Reality. I am a Bard Queen. "


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Bard Queen - Part 2

Office Wench stopped by Keyer of Edits's cube on her way to her own. "It was just like you said. She didn't leave the office."

He squinted at her. "Huh?"

"Data Entry. She never made it to Truth."

"What's all this about?" A booming voice called through the haze behind her.

Office Wench stiffened. She hadn't noticed Boss Man coming their way.

"So, how is everything?" He put strong emphasis on the last word and made a half wink with his left eye. Boss Man positioned himself well within Office Wench's personal space. The scent of his pastrami sandwich hung in the air, staining the haze with a tinge of puce. "Is everything all right?"

Office Wench held up her mug. "I was just getting coffee before I..."

"Good, good, good." Boss man slapped his left hand with a thick stack of papers. "You know, our office brings out the best in its slaves. All our employees are loyal and dedicated to the company. They may have discontented slaves in other divisions, but I know for a fact, there aren't any here. Slaves here take their jobs seriously because the company takes their jobs seriously." He glared at her through another half-wink. "I know you're going to be with us for a long time."

Office Wench nodded. " Sir, I was just going to..."

"Good, good, good. I want you to type this." He slapped her full mug with a stack of yellow legal paper, spilling scalding coffee down her leg. "And when you're done with that I want you to find the addresses for all these slaves." He slapped it again with a stack of white computer paper, pouring the rest on her chest. "And when you're done with that I want you to mix it all together," He swirled the air in front of her nose with a stubby forefinger. "And do that Mail Merge Magic you're so well known for." He winked for real this time and stalked off, leaving the soggy papers on Keyer of Edits desk.

Office Wench turned on the spot and walked the other direction.

Keyer of Edits called after her, "Hey, I'm not going to do the Mail Merge for you! That's not my magic!"

Office Wench almost ran to the bank of elevators. Her lungs burned with the effort just to drag the semi-solid oxygen into her lungs.

She slapped the down button. Several slaves trudged past while she waited, but no one looked up. Finally, the elevator halted on her floor and opened. Data Entry Maiden stood in the doorway.

"Where is the Sage?" Office Wench asked.

"What?" She blinked several times as if to clear the fog from her eyes. "Oh, he's in the dungeons. That's all I know."

"Where in the dungeons?"

She shrugged her shoulders.

"I thought you talked to him about Truth."

"Get your head out of the clouds."

Office Wench pushed her way into the elevator. She remembered hearing that the IT guys were kept in one of the lowest levels of the dungeon, so she slapped D8 with her palm and watched the doors close.

Data Entry Maiden still spouted platitudes. "Reality is all there is. Suck it up and deal."


To be continued....