I woke up groggier than usual.What was also abnormal was the conspicuous absence of classical music. Further, when I opened my eyes and they adjusted to the odd green light that seeped out of the track lighting around the room, I noticed I seemed to be in some bizarre sci-fi holding cell.
The was a green symbol etched into the wall. It looked sort of like a Buddhist wheel mixed with a compacted Union Jack. I was seated—not tied—to a chair in the middle of the room. Across from me was a large, black writing desk. On top of it was a small desk lamp, and posted to the side facing me was a picture of a kitten hanging on to a branch with the—you guessed it—phrase “Hang In There” superimposed on the bottom. A speaker mounted above the door emitted a periodic ding every few moments.
I thought back to my brief time under the Labyrinth and halted my breath for a moment. There was only the silence. Also, I noticed that I wasn’t tied to a chair, this time, which I felt was a great improvement.
The door slid open and the man from before—the man in the suit riding an Irish Wolfhound named Delphi—rode in on his dog. “Hullo,” he said.
The dog padded up to the table, and the man dismounted and sat behind the desk. “I do hope you don’t mind if I ready myself for our little interview,” he said, taking a rubber chicken and a wax apple out of one of the drawers. “There was a bit of a nasty situation in the room upstairs whilst our Organisation removed Agent Zed from our roster. Seems the poor chap was under the impression that he was going to keep his pension.”
“Yes,” he responded. He took an inkwell out of another drawer, along with a feather quill topped by a smiley face. “Poor chap had to be told the appeals process.” He sighed. “Such a difficult situation we’re in, what? Ah well. To you.” He took a flask out from his jacket pocket and took a swig. “Would you like some?” he asked, after drinking. “The finest orange juice squeezed fresh in Spain. Shipped in this morning, as a matter of fact.”
“You’re drinking orange juice from a flask?”
“Oh, but of course,” the man said, screwing the cap back on the flask. “Wouldn’t do to consume alcohol on campus when one is a man in my position.”
“What, exactly, is your position?”
The wolf hound barked. A red light on its collar blinked twice and then a computerized voice bleated, “Fucker. Fucker.”
“Delphi,” said the man, level-voiced, “what did I say about minding your language? Wouldn’t want to half your ration of bangers at mid-day, would we?”
The dog turned around in one spot and laid down.
“Good,” said the man. He cleared his throat. “Now, as for your question, I am what is known as an Important Individual Who Oversees the Running of Things. It’s on my card, if you’d like it.”
“Terribly sorry, but you cannot have it.”
“But you just offered.”
“Well yes, I wouldn’t want to seem rude, now would I? If we may begin.” He dipped the ink pen in the inkwell. “Where are you in the play?”
I told him we’d barely started.
“Yes, I see. And have any of the cast members been acting suspiciously?”
“You’re asking American.”
I thought back. What about this group wasn’t suspicious? They were drama folk, the lot of them. I’d never met someone involved in drama who was normal. Every action performed by those people, to me, had some devious, possibly insane, motive behind it. I couldn’t watch one of them drink a beer without them turning it into some insane game that defied all common sense. “Well, all of them.”
He jotted down a note in his book.
“Very good, I say. Very good. Now, how are they being suspicious?”
“They’re... well, British students.”
The man threw down his quill pen. “Shocking. I say. Expound further.”
I told him about the excessive drinking and the, well, gropey nature of everyone in the cast. All the while he tutted, jotted in his notebook, and asked odd questions like, “And the foreigners—how are the foreigners?” Occasionally he’d drop a reference to something called the Principia, I’d look at him blankly, and he’d jot something down.
After a couple hours of talking about how strange I saw every action taken by the actors in the cast, the man suddenly threw down the quill pen and said, “Right. We’re done here.”
“But I have questions.”
He laughed. “Oh, yes. I’m quite certain you do. But it is not for the leaf to question the giraffe, do you understand?” Before I could respond, he continued: “Couldn’t have all of the tools dropping down at their non-existent knees and looking up at the builder and shouting, ‘Why are you using us, we just want to exist!’ That just wouldn’t do. Would upset the order of things.”
I blinked. “I don’t think I’m following where you’re going, here.”
“Yes, I wouldn’t expect you to. Delphi!”
The dog scrambled up and walked over to the man.
He sat on the dog’s saddle and said, “Hut tut rut.”
“Wh—?” I got out before a section of the green symbol opened up, revealing an image of Marlon Brando from Apocalypse Now. Even odder, that face’s mouth then opened up and a dart flew out and embedded itself in my neck. “Mufuh,” I said, blacking out again.
 Example: Hoovering. If beer was spilled, the game called for the spiller to drop to the ground and suck up the beverage. It was disgusting in every sense of the word. More proof, in my mind, that they were all nuts.