I had been going to wait for a while before posting the next installment of my still-evolving story, as I’d initially thought I could have each part end on at least a minor cliffhanger.
I had been holding off until that was the case, but I think that might result in a rather contrived format, so I’ll stick to just posting whatever moves the narrative forward.
Here, then, is part three of Kreel’s adventure…
(You can read the story so far HERE.)
The official had the look of some type of bird; tall and gaunt, with slightly stooped shoulders, a long thin nose and greasy black hair.
A raven, that’s what he reminds me of thought Kreel, shivering in distaste as the man approached.
There was no warmth in his expression, no attempt at pleasantries, in fact his unnaturally black eyes barely glanced up from the link screen he was carrying.
Not until he reached the spot where Kreel was standing, nervously eyeing the control panel for the transporter, did he finally deign to look up and, after giving the merest hint of a nod in greeting, said, “Your application has been processed, if you would be good enough to come with me, we can get the interview underway.” And with that, the man stood to one side, allowing Kreel to pass ahead of him, back down the corridor to the office.
By now Kreel’s inner voice was telling him with increasing urgency that going into that room would be a very bad idea indeed.
But what could he do?
He tried stalling, his mind working quickly to come up with any excuse that would get him out of there.
“Is there some sort of literature I could take with me, so I could think about this at home?” he asked.
“I’m afraid we don’t have anything like that here sir.” said the official, gently but firmly placing his hand on Kreel’s arm and guiding him towards the door of office 6054.
Shaking his arm free of the other man’s grasp, Kreel said, “I’m sorry, I’d like more time to think about this, it’s a big decision.”
“There really is nothing for you to be worried about sir, the process is completely safe and painless.”
This statement was clearly intended to reassure him, but to Kreel, coming from this predatory looking figure, it sounded unmistakably sinister and if anything it increased his desire not to re-enter the office.
“I’d like to leave now please,” he said, turning to face the uncooperative yet obsequious official, “you have no right to keep me here against my will!”
“But you’re not here against your will are you?” smarmed the man, who Kreel was beginning to dislike and distrust in equal measure, “you came to us of your own volition, and anyway, your application has been processed, it’s too late to back out now”
“Back out? Back out of what? It hasn’t even been explained to me what this, this Enhancement process is all about, let alone getting me to sign up for anything.”
Kreel turned on his heel and began walking back down the corridor toward the lobby, just as two figures appeared up ahead of him, a citizen and a Mobius official, seemingly deep in conversation.
He realised two things at once; firstly that this must be another prospective client for the mysterious Enhancement procedure being escorted to his interview; secondly that this was also his chance to escape.
Still walking, he waited until he was almost level with the pair, then turned and shouted back over his shoulder, “Don’t think you can bully me into signing anything. Let me out of here right now, you can’t stop me leaving!”
The new arrivals looked startled by his outburst and the second Mobius man said, “Is there a problem here? A misunderstanding perhaps?”
Kreel was gratified to note that his former escort was looking decidedly uncomfortable under the baleful glare of the other, presumably senior man, so he pressed his advantage;
“Misunderstanding? I should say there has been a misunderstanding,” turning to the bewildered looking citizen, who was looking on in what appeared to be rising anxiety, he said “I’d get out while you still can my friend, and whatever you do don’t sign anything.”
“Slynn, would you care to explain what is going on here?”
This was directed at Kreel’s now visibly cowed tormentor in a withering tone that left no doubt as to his displeasure in having to deal with the oily individual.
“I’ll tell you what’s going on,” said Kreel, trying to sound more confident than he felt and adopting a self righteous, pompous tone, “this colleague of yours,” he gave the man called Slynn a look of distaste, “was attempting to coerce me into signing up for something I know nothing about. I don’t intend to be intimidated by the likes of this third rate corporate lackey with ideas above his station, I demand to be treated with respect.”
An expression of irritation darkened the senior man’s face, mixed with one of, what…panic?..and he gave Slynn a look of pure hated.
He was about to address the citizen who accompanied him – the man was looking increasingly ill at ease to have got caught up in the confrontation – when Kreel realised he wouldn’t get a better chance to extricate himself from this situation and he once more rounded on the Mobius officer;
“I wish to leave immediately. You’re not going to railroad me into anything, I came here in good faith!” and then as an afterthought, “What is your name? I assume you are this man’s supervisor,” he shot Slynn another unfriendly glance, “and I intend to make a complaint to whomever is in charge.”
After pausing for only a second, the man extended his hand and said, “My apologies, where are my manners?” he smiled, but not with his eyes, his lips stayed tightly pressed together as though not having tried the expression before and finding the experience uncomfortable, “My name is Elrek Frane, I am the Chief Registrar at this facility.”
Kreel briefly shook the offered hand, noticing for the first time something familiar in the other man’s face, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
But it wasn’t important now, all he cared about was getting as far away from this place, as quickly as he could.
The Mobius official said, “I’m sorry that you have been given the erroneous impression that your presence here is anything but voluntary sir, I’m sure Slynn was simply being over zealous in promoting our services.”
Kreel snorted derisively, “Over zealous? Heavy handed is more like it.”
“Well sir, as I say, you are perfectly within your rights not to take up our offer at the present time. But maybe you could be persuaded to return at a later date, to have the process explained to you in more detail?”
“I very much doubt that,” said Kreel abruptly, “not after the way I’ve been treated today. Now if you would be so kind as to direct me to a working transporter, I’ll be on my way.”
“A working transporter, sir?” Frane raised an eyebrow quizzically, “I’m sure all of our transporters are in perfect working order, in fact I don’t believe we’ve ever had a problem with any of them.”
Did Kreel see a glint of amusement in the man’s face at this statement? A look of satisfaction?
If so, it was gone in an instant and the man turned on his heel and beckoned Kreel to follow him back to the lobby, addressing the sullen Slynn as he went,
“Slynn, please see that our client is shown to the correct room and made to feel welcome.”
“Yes, sir!” replied the scrawny, bird-like underling with obvious sarcasm that Frane either missed or ignored and, taking the unresisting citizen by the arm, scuttled off in the opposite direction.