Day 68. 161 pages, 58,131 words.
Don’t misunderstand me here, there was nothing all that mystically significant or technologically amazing or commercially valuable in there, and there wasn’t much in the way of shady corporate business dealings in evidence. Not that I could understand. Most of that stuff was shredded in the machines set up in the area for just that purpose.
Still, some of the stuff they were throwing away on the top floors …
Well, how can I put it? For an office building, there were way too many realistic latex human masks and full-head-and-wig sets. Way too many of them, and way too realistic. How many realistic latex human masks – and I’m not talking about fun foam costume-shop type, because it might just be believable that the top floors of the L&E were some sort of research and development lab for an international costume or cosmetics company – does an office building need?
I’d say one is the answer to that question, wouldn’t you? One, left behind after a fancy-dress office party, and that’s it. Any more than that, and you’ve got too many realistic latex human masks. And even having the one would be a bit wacky.
L&E had a bin full of them.
I went to the next bin.
Two bins full of them. It was just possible that, rather than an R&D for a costume or cosmetics company, these guys were in the spy business, providing disguises to people for … no, I just couldn’t see it. If they were involved in espionage, they’d destroy evidence like this, wouldn’t they? But then again, basically any other reason I could think of for them to have hundreds and hundreds of realistic latex human masks … they’d destroy them too. Any alien invasion or infiltration would be far more circumspect than this. See the general rule about spies. Of course, you never really could tell. Aliens were strange.
I shook my head. This seemed like another unnecessary complication that, between me and the Prism and the resurrected salt lake full of carcasses on the street just outside, I just didn’t have the time for. Maybe Creepy would actually manage to get up to the top floors, and solve a problem himself for once, instead of just creating more complications for me.
I had just moved on to the third bin – this one was mostly post-it notes and empty photocopy paper packets – when Anton arrived in the waste pickup point.
“Hi,” I said, sparing a moment to feel genuinely sorry for Creepy. It must have been harrowing to have looked at Anton while wearing apparently-fully-functional X-ray specs. Whatever was up on the top floors of the L&E tower, Anton was definitely at least half a one of them by breed. By weight, in fact, I’d be willing to estimate he was two of them. There was a lot of stubble and flabby meat and pouchy bits with scales peeking out from underneath.
I could go on at some length about the invisible classes of people in modern society, the part-time cleaners and the maintenance crew from the neighbouring department and the delivery guys who just sort of drive around. I could tell you about the things that hide in this world, disguised as the people you just don’t notice.
But no time. Not right now. And I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea. The overwhelming majority of them really are just janitors or what have you.
Anton was not. Anton was half what have you, and half what are you.
And nobody at GDP&N had noticed.
“My friend lost some X-ray specs,” I said, “in your bin. Not fifteen minutes ago,” Anton seemed unmoved. “Seen them?” I paused. “I’d describe them, but I’ve never seen them myself. I can only assume that if you had seen them, you’d probably recognise them. They might look like glasses, with a swirly-whirly pattern on the lenses…” I sighed. “Do you understand a word I’m saying, Anton?”
Anton made a sound like “Gwundle.”
I looked down at the mass of crumpled paper in the bin next to me. Then I looked up at Anton.
“How’s the weather in Cairo?” I asked.