big red machine

“Lou, be a dear and buy your old man a drink while he’s studying, would you?”

“Dad-dy,” Lou replied, arms still crossed. “We’ve been here *3* days.”

“Keep it down, keep it down,” father Osborne Well says over more in a whisper. “Other people are here too.”

Lou Well stays quiet this time.

“Weelll?” her father prompted, a typical reply and a play on their last name he loves to utter when he can. He beams a wicked smile. She still doesn’t return the smile but rises from her chair with a small huff and does what he asks. She inserts a quarter, hears a bottle drop. Or is it a can? — she can’t tell if the sound is more glassy or metallic. Queer, she realizes. And — great — she can’t get the door to open at the bottom of the thing. “It’s broke, daddy. We’ll have to go into town for your sody pop.” *Finally*, a possible way out of this prison of books for her.

“Then leave it,” he decides, learning winning over thirst and sugary desire. He’s about to uncover the deepest, darkest secrets of the great tentacled one. He confers this to his daughter.

“MOA,” she replies without thinking. “We’ve been there already. We *know* what it is.”

“Shhh,” he reprimands again about her raised voice, but then realizes she’s right. It *is* MOA he’s searching for: Most Old Ancient.

Man About Time wakes up but remembers what they said behind the wall. He’ll return another night in another dream to this spot. This portal is *key*.

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