Still day 58. 161 pages, 58,131 words.
The second thing you notice about the Myconet is, she seems to take an anomalously childish delight in turning up in places that are either surreally unsuitable for a mushroom, or hilariously apropos. She’s appeared inside our fridge at least three times, under my bed once, and on another occasion in our back garden where she manifested sitting on top of a pottery garden gnome, with a little fishing rod propped up against her head. That one, I think was Creepy’s doing – at least the fishing rod part.
This time, however, it was the surreally unsuitable option.
It’s a bit of a long story as to why I’d gone into Gunstrad, Dirkhardt, Piswick and Nagle, in the L&E tower in the middle of the city, in the first place. I don’t even know what the “L&E” stands for, and I can safely say that if the Myconet hadn’t been there, I would have been the most out-of-place entity in the entire building by a clear mile. Fortunately, however, and rather unexpectedly, she was there.
GDP&N occupy the twenty-fifth through to the thirtieth floors of the L&E, a classically soulless blue-black monstrosity in tinted glass and chrome. Above that, there’s a bunch more floors but you need an electronic doohickey to activate the elevator controls and there are no more nameplates on the button panel. Creepy is of the opinion that the uppermost fifteen floors or so belong to the mysterious L&E themselves, but I would advise you not to get him started on what that entails. There’s nothing particularly mysterious about GDP&N, however, although why I was there – as I said already – was a slightly murkier question.
GDP&N are an investment banking and insurance company specialising in something, but I’ve always completely lost the will to live every time I start even thinking about it so this is as far into the company’s brief as I have ever gotten. But they specialise in it, that’s for sure. They have a reception desk shaped like a sportswear logo, with a crystal bowl of marbles resting on it for some reason and a young woman named Trainee sitting behind it, answering phones and welcoming people to the office and telling them the marbles are not edible.
No, I know what you’re thinking because I thought it too – her name-tag didn’t say Trainee because she was a trainee receptionist. I know, because about the first thing I asked her was how long she’d been a trainee and how many people ate marbles before she got good at it. She said she got asked this a lot, at least the part about how long she’d been a trainee, but that she was in fact a fully-accredited receptionist whose name was actually Trainee. Her parents, she said in the tone of somebody saying something for at least the three hundred thousandth time, were weird. Also, she said, nobody had ever eaten a marble although I had come closer than anyone else. I took a certain pride in that.
Trainee asked me if I had an appointment. I didn’t know exactly what to say to this, because I’d wandered into the building with a half-formed notion of getting a high-up view of the nearby streets so I could detect signs of sewer overflows and drainage issues due to a sudden appearance of bodies and partial bodies blocking utilities. Look, I told you it was a long story. I told her I was there to meet Mr. Brubaker, and she asked me if I meant Mr. Hammersmith, and the two names sounded so completely dissimilar that I was surprised into saying “yes”, and she told me I could wait in Conference Room 3.
I picked my way through the maze of cubicles, getting more than my fair share of stares – or, on reflection, probably exactly the amount of stares I deserved considering I was the only person not wearing a suit and still in full possession of my complete life-force – until I arrived at Conference Room 4. I didn’t go to Conference Room 3 for several important reasons, chief among them being that Conference Room 4 had a window so I could check out the body-clog situation, Conference Room 4 had the Myconet in it, Conference Room 3 was likely to have a Mr. Hammersmith in it, and I didn’t actually find Conference Room 3. I sidled into Conference Room 4 and closed the door behind me, marvelling at the sight in front of my eyes.
Most marvellous of all, of course, was the fact that none of the suit-clad GDP&Nites outside had even noticed the Myconet sitting in the middle of the Conference Room 4 table like a really weird piece of telecommunications equipment or an industrial-sized air-freshener.