My Trip To Middletown

Well, I've had an interesting day. I went to the PFC HQ, like I said I would. I took a taxi... Milford's got this cool little taxi service called... um... Milford Taxi. I used Frank's credit card. I figured it probably wouldn't have gotten back to the credit card company that he was dead yet. If it comes back to me later, then whatever. I'll deal with it then.

So, I got to the PFC HQ at about 12:00. I thanked the cab driver and asked him to pick me up outside the building in an hour, and he said he would. So I went inside.

Almost everything was the same as when I was there the other day. The same plants, the same color walls, the same couches. I noticed two things different right away, though. First, there was someone sitting on one of the couches. I'll get to him in a minute. Next, Erik was gone, and there was a girl in his place.

I walked up to the desk and I read the girl's nametag. Other than the nametag, and the fact that her hair was longer than Erik's, I probably wouldn't have known they were two different people. They were wearing the same clothes, had the same facial features, and were reading the same book. Anyway, the girl's nametag said SHIRL AWEROOKE. (Immediately, I thought of Rook/Raven/Crow).

"Hi, Shirl, I was here the other day and I talked to someone named Erik." She nodded, without looking up from Miss Corinn's book. "He said you guys have a job opening for an event coordinator?"

Now she looked up, and I could see her trying to figure out if she recognized me. For a minute I was scared, and then I thought, insanely, "Ceiling cat will save me!" :) And then I could see her let go of the possibility. "Yes, we did have an opening."


"Yes. We filled it."

Uh oh. There goes my "in" at the company. "Well, that's a shame," I said. "I was looking forward to working here. I've heard so much about the PhoenixFire Corporation."

Shirl brightened up. "Have you now? Would you like to talk to a customer service representative?" I nodded, and she picked up a phone I hadn't noticed. She spoke so quietly into it that I couldn't hear, and then she hung up. "We will have someone with you shortly. Please wait on one of the couches."

And she went back to reading her book.

So, I walked back to the couch. The person sitting there was a kid, maybe fifteen or sixteen years old. I sat down next to him, but didn't say anything. Before much time had passed, he turned and looked at me. "Was he close to you?" he asked.

I was shocked. "Who?"

"Whoever died. Did you know him very well?"

Now I was beyond shocked. I was creeped out. "How did you-"

"You have bags under your eyes, I can tell you've been crying, and you aren't wearing any makeup. And... I just know. Someone died. Did you know him very well?"

I nodded, trying to keep myself from crying. This kid could see right through me. I'd thought I'd gotten myself together, but I guess not. "He was a good friend of mine."

"Well, I'm sorry he's gone," the kid said. "You look like you could use a friend or seven right now." I thought of ceiling kitty again, but said nothing. "My name is Jason," the kid said. "What's yours?"

"Luisa," I said. "Luisa Ekmel. Why are you here?"

"I've been having strange dreams lately, and I heard this place offers dream interpretations. I've been waiting for a while, though, and I don't think anyone is coming."

"What kind of dreams?"

"Oh, I don't know... like, standing on the edge of a lake... everything's foggy... and I see something moving inside the lake, and then I wake up."

My skin prickled. This kid had been dreaming about the Lake of Departed Sorrows, it sounded like. This was getting weirder by the second.

Just then, someone called out, "Hello, Miss?" I looked up and saw an older man standing there. He beckoned to me, so I stood up and walked over to him. I probably should have said goodbye to Jason, or given him my email or something, but it didn't occur to me until I heard the door shut behind him.

"Hi," I said, holding out my hand. This old guy was dressed just like Shirl and Erik, but he seemed to have more personality; his cheeks were ruddy and he had crow's feet by his eyes. His nametag read "VICTOR M. STUCERESE: Customer Service Representative. I wasn't even going to try and pronounce that, so I said, "Victor, my name is Luisa. I've heard a lot of good things about the PhoenixFire Corporation, so I wanted to come see for myself."

"Have you now?" he asked. "What in particular?"

"Well, I've heard positive things about Miss Corinn's Psychic Readings website." I kicked myself. I hadn't wanted to give any clue as to why I was there.

"Yes, Miss Corinn is a personal friend of mine. Did you ask her for a reading?"

"No," I said. "I'm not really a believer in those kinds of things. I just thought, you know, for people who do subscribe to those ideas... She's supposed to be good..."

Mr. Stucerese nodded and leaned in conspiratorially. "To tell the truth, I'm not really a believer myself. But she's a really nice lady. And, well, I have to be nice to her." He stressed the word have only ever-so-slightly, but it was enough that I noticed it.

"And why is that?" I asked before I could help myself.

"Because that's my job!" He smiled, and I couldn't help but smile with him. It crossed my mind that he might have some psychic powers of persuasion himself, but I tried not to think what would happen if he was able to read my mind.

"And, Miss Corinn's quite a talented poet."

"Yes," Victor said. "That she is."

"What other programs is the PhoenixFire Corporation involved with?" I asked.

"We give free dream interpretations to locals, and we sponsor certain projects that promote awareness of the metaphysical realm. For example, the Dial-A-Psychic Talk Show. And we give tours to local schoolchildren."

"I understand there's something happening this Friday?"

"Yes," the customer service guy said. "We at the PFC are celebrating the birthday of our founder, Jakob Plessing. We're having a variety of company activities as well as a few special events online."

"Like what?"

"Well," he said. "Nothing I'm allowed to discuss."

We stood, looking at each other for a little while. Then I said, "Well, I think I'd better be going. My taxi's waiting. It's too bad I'm not able to help coordinate your events."

"Yes," he said with a faraway look in his eyes. He seemed to have been turned off suddenly, as though someone had decided that he was done talking.

So, without saying goodbye, I turned and left. I think Shirl said something to him, but I couldn't hear, so I didn't bother.

I went outside and saw the taxi was waiting for me already. Surprised, I looked at my watch and saw that it was 1:00 already. Time inside that building had gone much quicker than I had thought; at most, it felt like 15 minutes had passed.

So, that's that. I couldn't get the job, and I didn't really find out much more about Miss Corinn, Katrina, or the Silver Garden. The mysteries just keep getting deeper, though, don't they? This kid has been dreaming about the Silver Garden, even though he doesn't know it. And that's just the one I encountered. Who knows how many more people in the area have been walking the path in their sleep?

Talk to you all soon, and remember: Ceiling cat is watching you!

((Sorry this post was so long.))

1 comment:

Ruuku said...

Good to hear (Well read) from you!

The nametags are again anagrams..