It had been nearly ten minutes since the two agents had returned from their first mission, and July was still banging her head against the mattress. While the mattress wasn’t especially being harmed (it was, after all, a mattress), it was still a bit worrying to Library that July was still beating her head against it.
Library sighed, and tried reason once more. “July, don‘t you think we should do something about the hole in the wall?” She said, gesturing to the hole where a door had been until a Mini-Balrog (Probably more than one, Library thought. Library didn‘t believe that the creatures that had chased her in the halls earlier could have done that much damage alone.) had thoroughly demolished the door, and part of the wall it was in, that was its obstacle from leaving their Response Center.
A muffled sound came from July.
“Can you not talk into the mattress, please?”
July turned around and leaned against the mattress. “I dunno. Get another door?”
“I don‘t think that‘s going to work. Part of the wall is gone too,” Library said, trying to be the source of common sense in the conversation.
“We can get a bigger door,” July replied. Her voice had acquired the dangerous tone of the DIYer, a tone full of confidence, which says, at the same time that they have no idea what they are actually doing. This was the tone of the delusional and lying. Incidentally, many a PPC Agent used this tone, which really should not be surprising.
Common sense was not working.
“Where are you going to get a new door, then?”
“I‘ll figure that out. I‘ll be back later,” July said, and she left the response center through what had once been a door.
A moment later a piece of plaster fell, and Library sighed. Though she had known her partner for less than a day, she already knew she was going to have to do something to mitigate whatever was going to end up happening, and it looked like it was going to be on a fairly often basis.
Outside their Response Center, July looked around the corridor. There were, technically, two ways to go. Right, or left. However, since July had first wandered into the plothole that had taken her to the PPC Headquarters, she had fast learned that going in the technically right direction didn’t necessarily get you to where you wanted to be.
Since she had never been very good at maps or even directions in the first place (which was part of the reason she had ended up in the PPC), being lost in Headquarters didn’t especially hinder her (or at least no more than she‘d have expected even in a normal building. It had taken her nearly three years to really know her way around her high school, and even then she hadn‘t always been sure of where she was.).
July went left.
About twenty minutes later, she had reached the Department of Sufficiently Advanced Technology. It took a tenth of that time for her to get shoved out through its entrance by Makes-Things, who shouted irritably that he didn’t do doors, and that even if he did, there were two Consoles, ten CADs, and four remote activators that he was currently busy with. It took about five minutes for a rumor to be started by a passing Agent, which took the quote completely out of context, in an amusing way.
At any rate, there were decidedly no doors available through DoSAT. This was probably a good thing.
July ran right. Interestingly enough, while this was roughly the direction she had came from, it was not the same corridor. July didn’t notice this at all, because she was currently busy running, just in case.
Eventually, she needed to catch her breath, and stopped. July looked around her surroundings, which, she could tell, were definitely not hallways. The Bleepka fountain was not too far away, which was the strongest indicator that it wasn‘t a hallway.
“The repetition is getting annoying,” a passing Agent said, just as July had straightened up, finished with being breathless.
“Nevermind.” The Agent left, probably to find an area less inhabited by complete rookies.
“Okay, then,” July said to herself. She looked around aimlessly. In a way, the grey colors were a bit more soothing than the dingy beige colors of the tiled walls at her school, if not more monotonous.
There was a hallway down that way, a hallway over to her right, the one she had just came out of, a hallway what had a Mini-Bal-.
Oh God, a Mini-Balrog. But, then again, there were a large number of Mini-Balrogs around the building. She knew this from her previous week’s aimless wandering before she had been set up with Library in Floaters. And, it couldn’t be the one that she had bribed into their Response Center to try and see if it could help with welding and then forgot to let it out, which resulted in the current gaping hole in their wall, could it? There were more than enough Mini-Balrogs that it could have been some other Mini-Balrog that was looking at her in a possibly vengeful way.
Unfortunately, July had forgotten that the Laws of Narrative Comedy and the Ironic Overpower were strong in HQ.
The Mini-Balrog had not forgotten anything.
It didn’t take very long for July to start running again. She was getting very good at running, today.
She ended up hiding in a women’s bathroom she had found for about two hours before she decided it was probably safe to come out. Before she did, July checked both ways of the corridor for Mini-Balrogs. There were none in sight.
It was time to go back to the Response Center now. The initial idea of finding a door and installing it had more than worn off, and July wanted to get back to the Response Center before she ended up meeting that Mini again.
She nearly passed the entry when she found it. Sometime while she was gone the wall had been rebuilt, though there was a noticeable doorless entryway.
Inside, July found Library folding a sheet. “Uh. Hi.” She watched as her partner managed to hang the sheet over some nails that stuck out from above the entry and winced when she noticed the color of the sheet.
“Welcome back,’ Library said, matter of factly. July noticed Library was looking away from the make-shift curtain. She, on the other hand, couldn’t help but look. It was a visual car-wreck that involved a few motorcycles, a small troupe of clowns in a Volkswagon bug, and a semi full of defective paintball ammo.
“So. The wall…”
“Pieces of it were falling off. I managed to find some janitors. They didn‘t seem very surprised when I told them then about the wall. I even asked if they‘d leave off the door since you seemed so keen on doing that.”
July wouldn’t have been surprised if they had laughed at the request. “Ah. So. That sheet. It‘s very… interesting.” She finished weakly.
“It was the only one I was able to get. The alternative was switching it with one of the ones we’re using.”
July was unable to speak for a few moments as the idea of sleeping under that thing attacked her mind. “No chance of finding something else to replace it?”
“Well, you could go look.”
July thought of Mini-Balrogs in the corridors. “No thanks. It’s fine.” She moved away from the mind attacking curtain and tripped over something hard and metal.
“Ow… Who the hell left a sledgehammer here?”
“Oh, they must have forgotten it. Maybe we should go and find someone to retur-”
“No, no, let‘s just leave it here.”
July moved the sledgehammer so that it rested against the wall, so that there would be a less likely chance of her tripping over it again, and then pressed her face into the mattress again.
“At least this way we‘ll be able to find our Response Center easily enough,” Library said aloud. She felt she had to try and make July feel a little bit better.
July moved around a bit. “Yeah, and so will everyone else. ‘Oh, are you looking for July’s RC?’ ’Oh, yes!’ ’All you have to do is go look for the partition that looks like it was attacked by Sue colors, you’ll know it right away,’” she minced. “At least right now we have some time to re-”
“For the love of God!”