There is a warehouse in the clouds. It holds an unusual collection. Right by the door is Pierce the archaeologist. He is preserved under glass. His eyes follow you as you enter. If you stare at him for more than a moment he begins to furiously blink out morse code. Help… Me… His blinks are translated by the placard in front of him. There is a yellowed index card taped to the display. It reads: ‘Ignore Pierce. He is imprisoned for crimes against the empire. Go see the octopus instead.’ Most people nod and go off to see the octopus that runs the place. A cat naps on a nearby velvet couch. The octopus is in an octagonal tank. This tank is larger than most swimming pools. That is because Henry is the size of a volkswagon bug. Seven of the tank sides are touch screens that Henry is busy furiously tapping at. Strange images appear and he sorts them into a never ending cascade of folders and to do lists. The eight side is open and there is a velvet rope curtaining it off. A large placard on a pedestal reads in large letters: ‘Do NOT tap the glass.’ In tiny print below someone has scribbled: ‘violaters will be aten’. You stand patiently. The cat stretches on the nearby couch. The screens are a blur of images and folders and images and folders. A loud voice booms from the ceiling above. “How can I help you?”
You stare up at the ceiling trying to figure out where the speakers are hidden and who is speaking. The glass in front of you is tapped twice and you jump. Henry’s tentacle is suctioned to the glass.
“Are you going to stare all day or are you going to tell me why you are interrupting my work?”
You pull yourself together and nod. “I apologize Mr. Henry. Sir. I have taken the ride by rainbow to reach your location. The head office would like to know if you have finished your report on the tale of textiles.”
The water in the tank agitates subtly. The screens blur from the moving water. “I don’t have time for regulars and randoms to be coming in here and questioning the way I do my job. In the time I have been talking with you I have not catalogued at least 73 items. Ninja! Get this fool his report and then show him the door.”
You nod your head and try not to irritate the enormous octopus any further. The cat stretches leisurely and hops down in front of you. “Well. Come on then. You’ve done a terrific job of irritating Henry. You’re lucky he didn’t decide to drench you. If I’d gotten wet because of you, there would be hell to pay.”
You nod to the cat and follow him as he leads you further into the warehouse. There are marvels stacked neatly beside each other everywhere you look. A statue sings opera next to a pixie trapped in a mason jar. Around the next corner there is a black void hangs from the shelf with a velvet rope sectioning it off. Finally you reach a row of filing cabinets that goes off as far as you can see. Ninja stops and licks his paw. “It’s in the fourteenth cabinet on the left. I must warn you that the filing in this place is haphazard at best. I don’t have the thumbs required for true organization. It’s in the second drawer from the bottom marked ‘Foo.'”
“Thank you Mr. Ninja. I’ll be back shortly.”
Ninja’s only response is a meow and a flick of his tail. You walk down to the fourteenth cabinet on the left. You wonder why no one has been able to retrieve this report yet. At least three agents have been sent. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up as you bend down to open the drawer. The moment it opens you hear yelling. “Jump away! Run! Don’t look!” Of course you look to see the source of the noise and you see three tiny agents in a dollhouse built into the drawer.
“Shit.” Is the last thing out of your mouth as the spell takes hold. The pain is excruciating and everything around you grows bigger in size as you are miniaturized. You lay on the floor of hallway for a moment but then you hear the thuds as Ninja comes closer. Without thinking you duck under the drawer. There is a narrow crack between the cabinets that you are able to squeeze through. You push yourself through it while Ninja’s now giant paw continues to bat at you. It gets darker and darker but you can see light on the other side. You squeeze and fight your way through until you reach the back of the cabinet. The shelving you had passed on your way here now towers over your head. You find a spot to hunker down and begin to plan. Somehow you must escape the warehouse in the clouds and get a message back to HQ.
The prompts for today’s short story:
regulars and randoms
a tale of textiles
rides by rainbow
in the clouds
Copyright 2020 Klaudia Grady