deeper…

“The same four numbers. Over and over.” She turns after observing. “Punch them into me, Ensign. I have to know what this is about.”

“But… your condition. Ma’am.” My probable baby! he thinks.

“Never mind that just do as you’re told. Here I’ll hold the chest keypad close to you.” Just like I did last night, Lt. Clotheshanger thinks. The Deep South has a way of making higher and lower come together like that outside the harsh, dividing glare of daylight.

Behind them and at the same time perhaps:

“Is this a formal complaint, Ms. Mantell?”

“Mandell, she says to this, use to mispronunciations of her two given names. So close on either side. “Martell Mandell” she says in full.

“Yes, certainly Ms. Martell.”

“*Mandell*.”

Pause as Shirley studies one of the provided photos in her mind. “Right, Martell,” she finally acknowledges. “So Ms. Mantell (Martell rolls her eyes), tell me about this Harry slash Jerry?”

“I’ll take over here, Martell, if you don’t mind,” spoke immediate superior Abs — Abbey Abdominator — sitting beside her at this meeting with HR. “We have reason to believe this file was stolen.”

“Interesting,” HR representative Shirley Stall says to this. A ringing in her ear. “Hold on,” she requests, “I have to take this.”

6 minutes later, she returned her attention to the file. “Sorry,” she excused herself, “I had to listen to all 24 permutations before she let me go. The boss, you know.”

Abs looked over at Martell who looked back. Synchronicity of thoughts. Spider!

“There was a horse involved.” She paused, reconsidered the communication. “No: a dog.”

Horse becomes a dog! Another forewarning.

She shakes it off, second photo replaced back by the first. Then she additionally realized that the second *came* from the first. Spider was in Collagesity. Spider was (back) in the collages!

(to be continued)

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