Per instructions from the twins, Baker Bloch slept in Winfield’s old hutch nearer Mabel’s tent than Little’s. The long table within would provide enough room for his almost 6′ 8″ frame to stretch out, they rationalized. (yes, Baker is actually that tall!) Not too surprisingly, Mabel paid a visit in the middle of the night.
“Baker,” she whispered. “Psssst, Mr. Bloch?” But he was truly fast asleep. It had been a long day. Mabel sat down in the chair next to the table, watching Baker’s sleeping bag move up and down with the rhythm of his breathing. It comforted her. She stayed this way for quite a number of minutes, then tried again to rouse him.
“Baker Bloch,” she whispered slightly louder this time. Baker mumbled but remained snoozing. “I just wanted to make sure you were comfortable in your quarters here. You’re laying on several plates and 2 small bottles, by the way. That must be slightly discomforting for you.” She grinned.
Another pause. Baker finally woke up by himself. He looked at the wall in front of him, down toward his feet, and then at Mabel, who gave him a start. He wondered what was jabbing him in his rear quarters but realized about the plates, then. Relieved, he sat up.
“Sleeping cocoon okay?” Mable asked, brightening up.
“How long have you been here Mabel?” He rubbed his head.
“About 1/2 an hour I suppose. I just wanted to make sure you were comfortable here and that the arrangement was agreeable for you.”
It was until you woke me up, Baker thought but didn’t speak out loud. “Is Little with you?” He knew he probably wasn’t, but he just wanted to say something to fill the awkward space and give him a bit more time to become alert.
“No, just little old me.” She tilted her head seductively (to her).
“I’ve been wondering about that, Mabel. Why do they call you Old Mabel up in INSCO and your brother refers to you as just Mabel? You don’t look that old… atall.”
“Don’t I? You flatter me. But we’ve calculated we’re 119 years old in your Earth time. I understand that’s pretty old, then.”
“It is!” Baker sat on some kind of shelf opposite her. An aurelia marginalis, a native Martian fauna, floated outside the hutch’s small round window.
“So how are you both here and there at once?”
“INSCO and here you mean?”
“Yes,” Baker answers.
“INSCO is not where you think. You believe you traveled in your dog ship several days to reach this place. Instead it is directly above us. 3.6K above us, to be exact again. You basically just flew around in circles.”
Baker pondered this, then asked, “did you two sabotage my ship?”
Mabel was direct. “Yes. It was because you couldn’t leave Mars quite yet. Not without me. We learned that quite a long time ago…”
“From Wheeler,” Baker guessed.
“Yes. But not directly. She is able to visit us in time if not in the present.”
Thus the presence of the table in the 32 apartment, Baker understood. Thus the table’s chairs in this place, the Dawg Pound. *She* was the one who gave him his dog ship. “Do you know someone named B-4?” Baker then spoke aloud again.
“Not much time for talk now, Baker Bloch. Walk with me instead. You haven’t seen the beauty of the compound at night.”
So they walked around the compound.
“Winfield’s Isle,” Mabel said, pointing.
“Winfield’s Island,” Mabel said again after they had walked up a number of stairs, pointing down this time from a bridge. “What’s wrong with your arm, Baker Bloch?”
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Oh dear. It could be the anomaly again. We’re standing right over the spot. Well, I’m sure Little will be able to fix you up, whatever it is. May have to reboot you. We better hurry up to the temple, then.”
Mable led him up to the compound’s central temple again, the place with Wheeler’s chairs. They ascended a spiral staircase circling the temple’s walls to an upstairs balcony. Baker then spied Little in the gazebo across Drew Carey Bridge. Daylight was breaking.
“I’ll take my leave,” Mabel said plainly, and went back to wait inside.