The Half Shaman in Space: The Keeper of the Doors
|The green world Jeb has yet to see, photo by F Guard|
The gangway oh the gangway. I walk along its third level iteration nibbling my spinach roll-up and sipping from the water balloon while I should be attending to everything under the sun, or rather the big light source up in the ceiling of the hall masquerading as the sun, that might/may/will help me choose a reality to be in.
I would like to cuss and swear but in this situation that will probably not help, too many people around me. People who I might still need to impress even though they may be Indecisives according to the electronic voice I hear. And who’d want to be an Indecisive if they could be the other sort? Like Mongoose, wherever he is.
Stop. Stop thinking about him.
Concentrate instead on the kind of people waltzing along the gangway even as I myself am. Sneak peek glances into spaces where doors slide open and shut, allowing the ingress of just one person flitting in and or out. Just passed a green room. Glowing green reflections. Not like it was vegetation green. But what do I know? I slow whenever I near a door.
Haven’t had a credit for a while, probably I’m attacking this in the wrong way. Just go in? Stand on the sensori-mat and wait for the doors to slide apart? Try that.
Nothing. Try the next one. With the prison-like reality on the lowest floor, it makes me wonder if these top levels are rewards. The people going into them certainly wear smug self-satisfied expressions. And they’re whipping in and out as though they’re trying to keep the loiterers out.
My next surprise is that I’m not the only loiterer up here. I stop by the guard rail to study that discovery a while. Across the hall, other side of the U, a couple wistful characters slow-foot past a door that just doesn’t open.
I almost hurry over there. What if they are both let in before I get there?
“What’s in there?” I ask.
“That’s what he’s trying to find out,” says the girl. “I’ve told him and I’ve told him. Can’t see from out here. He doesn’t trust me.”
The boy doesn’t look at me or the girl. He has his bottom lip between his teeth and looks as if he might bite someone’s head off. Next time the door slides open, he slips through the gap. I blink. Did I really see the girl push him? A humungous roar escapes before it slides shut.
“We can only hope the poor chap ran between its legs,” the girl says. “The entity had no time to transform him. Move on?”
I follow her to the next set of door. She drops back, comes level on my other side. Naturally I move nearer the wall and doors so she has more space between herself and the guardrail.
Two tokens and two credits. Why now a credit and not when I saw the child push her companion? I loiter and she loiters with me. The door slides open invitingly and shuts again before we have time to see anything inside.
“We need to get closer,” the girl suggests. “What I have to tell everyone,” she adds artlessly.
She comes to walk inside the perimeter of my personal space and I obligingly shift over until I am quite close to the portal we’re studying. She looks completely without guile but I suspect her anyway. While I’m trying to see through a doorway I’m turned away from her … will you credit me for noticing that?
The getting of credits, is that the game? After making sure there will be a wall beside me, I drop back. The girl stops too. “What’s the problem?” she says.
“How many have taken your suggestion?” I say.
“Probably about a dozen. See, what I do …”
“I saw what you do, make up their minds for them by pushing them. What do you get out of it?”
“Credits,” she says so promptly I know it must be true.
Huh, she gets credits for every Indecisive she helps into a reality?
"She has a fine judgment"
“And information,” the girl adds. “That roar just now. Would you want to leap through that door? Boys tend to want to.”
You hear that? Bet you didn’t know about the information. I frown for the sake of camouflaging my intentions. “You can repeat the doors you’ve already investigated?”
She indicates the row. “Just these six give me a good living. All the rows have their keepers.”