Severn Herrley sent Veronika on her way with the corn husk doll carefully packed up, as if it were going to be shipped. She’d also sent her with a small tray of vegetables and hummus.
“Everyone seems to want to feed me,” she’d muttered, even though it had only been the two so far, not counting Sylvester, whose job it presumably was to want to feed her.
“It’s a good sign. It means we like you.” Severn had patted her on the back heavily enough to send her a few steps forward and had given her tips on her next destination.
Of course, as she trundled her little cart away from Ancient Acquisitions, Veronika was wondering what happened when an archivist didn’t like her.
She amused herself thinking of possibilities — from a very firm snubbing, to sending her in the wrong direction for the next department, to taking her things from her instead of giving her food, to making her part of a display.
Maybe, she mused darkly, that was what happened to those who didn’t make it through their first day; maybe there was a department somewhere with row upon row of “failed Bellamy archivists” behind glass, modeling wigs like Alice.
Severn had given her directions — speaking of the possibility of bad things — to her next stop, also as suggested by Severn “to avoid too much backtracking;” it was reprography, and she was after a microfiche of an article on Hammondsport, a town that Veronika had never heard of. Maybe she’d look for it when she made it back down by Local History; perhaps it was on the map there.
Reprography, as it turned out, was in the “top back right tower,” which meant either waiting again for Elevator 2 or going over to the other side of the Main Building — Severn spoke that part with capital letters — and taking the Much Smaller Elevator over there.
“It’s going to be a bit snug with you and the cart,” Severn had opined, “but at least you won’t have to duck. At least, not nearly as much as I do.”
It had been an opening — two archivists in a row had been so tall as to be slightly unbelievable — but Veronika, coward that she was, hadn’t taken it. Instead, she’d just thanked Severn and gone for the Very Small — no, Much Smaller Elevator.
“Through the back of the Walls display — don’t linger too much there, not on your first day — you’ll find the Dolls and Fetishes display. Don’t go into the department proper, but the display is all nice and family safe. Head through that, turn left at the Raggedy Ann section and then right at the Barbie shelves and you’ll be at the Much Smaller elevator, then you just have to go up a floor and you’ll be in Reprography. I don’t know who they’ve got working in there right now so just, ah, be polite and the same charming self you were with me and you should be fine. But, ah, unless it’s your ambition at the Bellamy to stay in the back right corner of the place, I wouldn’t stay longer than you have to. They’re always a little short on help there… somehow.”
Veronika wasn’t entirely certain that wasn’t a height joke, but she followed Severn’s instructions carefully, The Walls display was creepier this time than when she’d headed through on the way to Ancient Acquisitions, which might have been simply because Severn had told her to hurry through.
The Dolls and Fetishes display, however, was actually pretty, the dolls arranged in visually pleasing displays in most of the cases and, in a couple, looking like some child had just left from playing and hadn’t put their toys away. She turned left at Raggedy Anns with some doubt — it seemed to lead to a dead-end, and it seemed like she ought to be at the back wall here — but that led her down a charming hall of Sunbonnet Sue dolls and fabrics.
She found the Barbie display with no trouble, although she was surprised at how small it was, all things considered, only a couple of shelves when she knew for a fact there were stores selling more than that right now.
She turned right at the Barbies and walked down a narrow — barely big enough for her trolly — hall with windows on one side and bigger and bigger dolls on the other, until she was looking at a doll bigger than Severn and more intimidating, as well, although it was shaped like a child, with big bright cheeks and chubby arms.
She twitched a little, glad there was nobody there to see her — except, of course, the dolls — and kept moving until the hallway opened up into a small T intersection.
To the left, a door was labelled Records. In front of her, an elevator door, art-nouveau in styling, waited for her; she pressed the button. To the right, a wider hallway led off — well, somewhere, she presumed. She’d probably find out later. Maybe next, the way this day was going.
The elevator dinged and the door slid open. She was faced with a rather small elevator — it would fit her and the cart, but only with effort. She stepped forward, pushing the cart with her; the elevator door began to close.
She jammed the cart through so the door stopped, bumping against her cart, and slowly opened again. “Ha!” Experience at the Fillion would come in handy, it seemed.Want more?