"Oh lord have mercy, John, you've got to do something."
John had been sleeping on the couch outside Mr. Firedrake's office. It was leather and comfortable. It faced the rising sun. He had slept very soundly, exhausted from the day's labor.
Emily was in a panic. Wild eyed.
"Come on! Hurry!"
John got to his feet and followed. Emily was standing in front of the door to the loading room. The door had been knocked off its hinges, and a high spill of cubes flooded out into the office space.
"What are we going to do?"
"Let me think about it, ok?" Emily quickly moved away. Inside the loading room, John could make out The Arm, still trying to sort the overflow. The production rate must be increasing. At the very least, the Arm was sorting slower than the cubes were being made. John needed to come up with something permanent. Cubes want to be free.
It was time to get to work:
From the Cube Room, a left hand turn down the hall, left hand turn into corner office - total distance about 75 feet. Enter corner office, pull out the furniture, stack in hall. Cover one of the windows with a blanket, then smash it with a chair. Wind whips into room. Take the office door off its hinges. It won't be needed again.
Back to the cube room. Wade back in with filing cabinet drawer cube shovel. Dig out the robot and pull it into hall. Set robot sorting again. Build a long sluice of red cubes, lined with green cubes, about two feet wide, two feet deep, a long flume of cubes, for cubes. Run the sluice along the floor, out of the sorting room, left down the hall, left into the corner office. Run the sluice right out the window off the edge into space, over air and water.
The detail work. Line the sluice with teeth of blue cubes, like a ratchet. Triangular groups of cubes create a force vector that points down the sluce - repulsing action moves red cubes with invisible cube force. Start flow of cubes going by shoveling them forward into the raceway. Long self assembling strings of cubes begin moving, sliding and breaking apart, carried along by repulsion and momentum, traveling along the sluice like a blocky slurry, everything carried along by mass of redness. Connectedness of cubes pulls along yet more cubes, creating cube suction.
The cubes were feeding out of the room, down the sluice, through that final doorway, no longer to be contained by office walls, falling outside outside now. A heavy plastic snow, like a bad graphic, tumbling into the air and then down into the unknown water. Writhing strings of cubes hit moving water and flew apart.
Consign their cubeness to the deep.
John was holding two sandwiches. He had hopes of watching Matilda eat one of them right in front of him. He wants to watch that firm jaw tear a sandwich apart.
Matilda won't look up from her book. She had it flat on the table, so John couldn't see the title. This was something new.
"Don't talk to me." Matilda kept her nose in the unidentified book.
"Don't talk to you?"
"You can't talk to me. Talk to me tonight."
"I don't understand."
"You cannot be seen talking to me. Get up and walk away from me now."
He ate the second sandwich in the elevator.
Something was going on.
John went back to his office. He loaded the high-speed copier with the green paper from the bank cage. He laid a grid of food court money onto the copier glass. The copier was very helpful, explaining with cartoons how to make double sided copies. In a couple of minutes, a thick sheaf of greenbacks was stacking up in the collator. Some quality time with the bulk paper cutter and he would be done.
How was he supposed to be the Count of Monte Dinero without also being sinking rich?
Getting the pontoons on the roof was not easy. Mattie guided things from the top of the access ladder, while John and The Arm pushed from beneath. Except that they weren't called pontoons, Mattie informed him. They were called the hulls.
"I LOVE TO PUSH AND LIFT! SHOW ME HOW!"
The work began in earnest, and the Sea Dog started to take shape. The pontoons were joined to the trampoline. The rudder put into place. Step in the mast. John liked to watch Mattie work. She had clever hands, and a feel for where things should go. When they were done for the night, John got up the courage to wipe the fine prickling of sweat off her forehead with this thumb. Saltwater and oil under the tactile pad of his thumb. Hot and liquid. Time to take thumb off forehead.
"What do you think is out there?" Mattie asked.
"Water." said John
"I think there's land too." She was looking out at the horizon.
"Yeah? I guess this tower must standing on something. But it could be like a oil rig."
"Maybe we'll find an island full of aboriginal peoples."
"That we can give smallpox to." said John.
"There isn't any smallpox anymore."
"Maybe we can find an island full of dinosaurs. Or maybe nothing."
"Could just be water. A ball of water out in space. Do you think we could find our way back to the tower?"
"Navigationally?" Mattie asked.
"Yeah. I don't know a thing about sailing or navigation. You're the skipper."
"We don't really know our position. We've got no meridian, we don't know the size of this world, or... we don't know anything. Going by dead reckoning, the sun track, and the wind, once we're more than a day out, that's basically it."
"So, we could just wind up out in the middle of the ocean. The two of us trapped on the boat." John looked down the tower. It was a long way to the water, and the water went a long way off.
"It beats being trapped here, with this bunch." Matilda gave out a laugh. She had bright eyes that were a hazel color.
"Yeah, I think you've got a point."
- - -
Mattie headed back to her home floor, taking the stairs. They have planned to move down to the lower floors separately, switching stairwells and elevators, coveting their tracks. John considered spending the night in one of the pontoon berths, but decided instead to head down to the Firedrake offices and check on the cubes.
Walking off the elevator, big men in polo shirts grabbed John and threw him to the floor. Looking up from the carpet, John could see that their pants are pleated. They wore tasseled loafers.
"HAI!" The redheaded one with a short haircut and gold-rimmed glasses jumped into the air and kicked a hole in the wall. His foot went through the sheetrock and hung up in the new hole. From his perfect martial arts magazine form, leg fully extended, he began to rotate downwards, his foot trapped.
"SUH!" it was a Kung-Fu utterance, from the second pleated man. He scissored his legs apart and punched straight down onto the reception desk, exploding Emily's phone. Emily threw up her hands in silence.
"Fletcher, help me out!" The first martial artist, Floyd from Building Management, was still stuck with his foot in the wall, hanging above the carpet. Fletcher bounded over in a single leap, his right hand bleeding. John watched a "5" key fall from Fletcher's knuckle and come to rest on the floor.
"You OK, Floyd?" asked Fletcher.
"Good to go, Fletch." said Floyd.
"John, these gentlemen are from Building Management." It was Emily. She was still seated at her desk.
"At this juncture, the management wishes to inform you that you are under Administrative Confinement." It was Fletcher, destroyer of phones.
"At this juncture, the management seeks to inform you that you are no longer authorized to move through any areas of the property not directly under lease to Firedrake Consulting, LLC, or specifically covered under the 'public use' rider of your lease agreement." said Floyd.
"At this juncture, the building management seeks to inform you, the representatives of Firedrake Consulting, LLC, hereafter referred to as 'The Tenant', that recent changes to your rental agreement have been made. Pursuant to these changes, the management seeks to inform the tenant that an inquiry of loading dock manifests has revealed that material assets in your possession may be covered under the new rental agreement." said Fletcher.
"Under these additional obligations stipulated by the covenants of the rental agreement, the building management seeks to inform the tenant that any vehicle capable of travel upon, under, or above the water, including but not limited to boats, rafts, helicopters, submarines, and vehicle components that could constitute such a vehicle, or tools, plans, and any other additional intellectual property such as instructional books, videos, multimedia assets, or personal knowledge such as the ability to pilot the aforementioned conveyance are considered community property under the new agreement, and subject to management by the building administration." said Floyd.
"At this juncture, on the behalf of Mid-Continental Bankcorp, the building management informs you, John Vere, temporary employee of Firedrake Consulting, LLC, that you are to cease and desist any further contact with any and all employees of Mid-Continental Bankcorp within the confines of the property managed by Excelsior Property Ventures, a member of The Peerless Group, hereafter and previously referred to during this communication as 'Building Management' or 'The Management'" said Fletcher.
The two men turned on their heels walked into the waiting elevator.
"You've got to stay away from Mattie, John. It's trouble. Just terrible trouble. I can't even imagine what Mr. Firedrake is going to say about all this."
past Temporary: Worksday
-:::- Temporary: Freeday future
start Temporary: Monday