Daisy turned, and turned again, looking round Klukelunnen’s high security room. “They never should keep you in here,” she said. “It’s appalling. If it weren’t for that window I’d think it a cupboard.”
“Nay, Little Daisy,” Klukelunnen objected, and why were they wasting time talking of this? “I’m only small, I don’t need it big.”
“Are they feeding you?” she changed her focus.
“Seeds, exactly as I asked,” he assured her.
“But they keep you in bed.” Her lip curled in disgust, it didn’t make her look pretty.
He knew he ought to put her straight on the bed-thing, like he’d nipped into bed rather than have his visitor see him in his padded pants. But he couldn’t bring himself to speak of it.
They talked some more. Or rather, she rattled non-stop with her chatter while he reeled through his thoughts for how best to make use of the windfall, this gift horse, this unexpected golden ticket. His nocturnal cerebrations still lay heavy with him, and he’d still more to think of regarding atonements and sacrifices. And some would-be thoughts ducked and dived and consistently escaped him as if afraid to come into the light. Daisy sighed, shrugged, dangled her legs on the hard-seated chair, and looked at him with a gamut of emotional expressions. Though Klukelunnen didn’t sigh and shrug, he did look at her in much the same way.
A companionable silence settled between them … which then lasted overlong and morphed to almost full gaucherie. How to break it, how to broach it …? Ah! Inspiration took hold. Klukelunnen looked at the door.
“How does that work?” he asked. “Did you happen to notice as you came in?”
Daisy looked around at the door. At first, she seemed not to understand.
“Oh, the lock! Yea, sure, it’s a simple press-pad.”
He’d been in this land long enough now to know what was simple to her was nothing similar to him. “You mean it’s tied into technology? Like your magical box of Information and Games.’
She scrunched her nose. “Not quite the same, no. Though probably that lock has the same gadgetry in it.”
“You mean a chip? Everything here works on chips.”
“I know, that’s why everyone’s so fat,” she said, slapped her hands and spread them in a theatrical flourish. “Tra-la!”
He stared at her.
“Something Pops says. Soz.”
It wasn’t her fault he hadn’t laughed. And he shouldn’t have let his lack of lustre show, and her so good as to sneak and wangle a visit to him. It was just in his world magic worked everything. Now exiled to this world, without his magic he was steps removed from impotent. And what man enjoys that feeling, whether he’s big or small. Still … he pursued the thought.
“If it’s all chip-work,” he said, with another look and a nod at the door, “would you be able to open it? If you went outside, would you be able to come back in?”
Daisy was a bright child, she knew what he meant. But she didn’t smile. Her face grew long. “Klukky, I can’t get you out of here. I can’t get me out of here; I have to wait for Bessy. The door can only be opened from outside. Truly, it’s just like a cupboard.”
“But if you were outside …?”
“If I was outside and knew the code, then I could do it, easy.”
“Would Bessy and Louisa know the code?”
“I guess, but … Oh, Klukky, I want to help you—I’d do anything to help—but I don’t know what I can do. And even if I could get you out, what then? I couldn’t take you back to Oldham House. Pops would go ballistic.”
“No, no, no, that wouldn’t do anyway. In here or out there, I know my end and I don’t want you involved in it.” He’d said too much. Too late he slammed closed his lips. He didn’t want Daisy to know his ultimate fate. She’d cry; he had noticed that on the family’s magic-box: how easily human females cried. No, best that she remembered him smiling and happy.
He looked down at his hands as another awkward silence spread like a tog 10 duvet over the room.
A fine time for the full realisation to clobber him. But if he was to be sacrificed to atone for Saturn’s overthrow of Uranus that meant one way or another he had to be killed. After all, that was why the spell had brought him here. He wondered who’d do the killing. Professor Angelus Margev seemed the most likely. That was another piece that had slotted into place since his midnight revelation: the professor had had him ‘picked up’ by warrant of the Home Office and held safely out of public notice in this place of high security until he was ready to do that deed. Something in that scenario screamed for attention and he couldn’t attend it while Daisy visited. That wouldn’t be fair on her.
Daisy looked again at the featureless high sheened metallic door. “You know, that’s dangerous.”
“What is?” Klukelunnen asked.
“That door. Locking only on the outside. Or rather, opening only from the outside. What if the building caught fire? How would you get out? How would Bessy get out?”
Klukelunnen shrugged, his thoughts not really aligned with Daisy’s.
“Though I suppose during the day that’s not such a problem. Always someone in a place like this. But at night …?”
“What sort of place is it?” he asked.
“Offices, from what I’ve seen of it. It’s not a prison or a hospital. Your little room is well out of place. That’s why I thought it a cupboard.”
“Food …” Klukelunnen said, mostly to himself.
“I didn’t bring any. Sorry.”
“No, food for thought: something to ponder upon. And it’s in Cambridge?”
“Close to the Anthropology Geeks?”
“Gosh, no. They’re slap in the middle of the old town. Here, we’re out in the subs. Something-or-other Business Park.”
Klukelunnen didn’t say any more for many long ticks of the clock, deeply cogitating. He knew how to escape this place—if he could acquire a certain stone. And if he did escape, then he knew what he must do, and how to do it. It was the bits in between he didn’t know.
“Will you visit me again?” he asked his freckle-faced friend.
She nodded and smiled and hugged him. He sighed, if only she’d brought her schoolbag with her. He’d endure the smells. But no, he mustn’t involve her beyond the inescapable.
“Daisy,” he said as she pulled out of the cinch. “Do you remember those stones I showed you in your garden?”
“And then you told me, none of those was your clan.” She sadly laughed.
“They’re the ones, aye. Do you remember that grey one?”
“With the conchoidal fracture?”
“It means shell-like; that’s what wiki says.”
Klukelunnen nodded. “That will be the one. Well, could you find me one of those and bring it with you next time?”
Though how he’d hide it from ‘Night-shift Louisa’ he didn’t yet know.