It’s never really taken anyone forever. The woman across the table smiled around a nibble of pocket quiche.
“You know,” Veronika mused. The sandwiches looked delicious; they even smelled delicious. “None of this was anywhere in the job description. And the first half of the day -” She frowned. “It wasn’t, was it?”
“Well, it depends on how you look at it. It depends on some other things, as well.” Amanana put two sandwiches on her plate and gestured to the platter, then to Veronika’s plate. “How much do you want to know?”
Veronika picked two that looked the best. “I want to say everything, but I suppose the question needs to be what’s the danger in knowing too much?”
“That is a very good question. That is very good indeed.” Amanana smiled at her and paused, eating her sandwich as if savoring the suspense she was keeping Veronika is in. “So, the dangers are: knowing enough that you assume you know enough, which can get you in trouble when you reach the extent of your knowledge. Knowing enough that you find yourself panicking – perhaps not a danger for you, but perhaps for others who’ve done this. Knowing enough that you think you can go face-to-face with certain people here, who’ve been here longer than you, which at this point, is pretty much everyone. The dangers go on, but they tend to be, there is no way I can tell you everything, because it would take far too long, and because some of it requires a little bit of backstory that you just don’t have at the moment and which would take even longer to explain.”
She ducked her head and smiled ruefully. “I do go on. I hope you don’t mind.”
Veronika grinned. It was such a cute way of saying it, and yet she had a feeling Amanana didn’t mean it at all. “Please do go on.” She filled her mouth with a bite of sandwich before she could say anything foolish.
“Oh, I could go on for years. Perhaps ages. But are you sure you don’t have anything to ask me?”
The woman leaned forward, smiling. Veronika wondered how many of her visitors had tried not to ask ‘why do you have horns?’ and how long most of them had lasted. She wondered how much of a game it had become for Amanana.
As charming as she liked Amanana, she was getting a little sick of games.
“I do have,” she admitted slowly, “one burning question.” She had a lot more than one burning question; she might have lost count of how many burning questions she had. It was quite possible she should’ve been writing them all down.
But at the moment, one of them was more important than the rest.
“Okay, then?” One perfect eyebrow went up in an expression that Veronika could not, not in a million years, have managed to get so exact and so expressive. She didn’t quite feel mean, but she felt almost strange.
“This testing.” She gestured at her cart. “This ‘go find these things’ thing. Anyone can read a floor plan; anyone can learn how to handle the front desk, though some of them will be more politic than others. Sure, figuring out any given archiving system is a skill, but you can look at someone’s CV and see if they have experience with that sort of thing.
“So.” She set down her half-eaten sandwich to steeple her fingers. “What exactly is the damn thing supposed to be testing.” She aimed a smile at Amanana, trying hard for polite but wanting to clear on her mood as well. “I can, to a certain extant, accept the idea of sending a new employee to find different departments. Even if this building – complex – were completely mundane, it’s a maze.”
She gestured vaguely towards the entrance of the department, suggesting the weird elevators, the window that could kill you, the shelves of boxes, and everything else.
“Then you add in any number of Supernatural elements -” she winced. “I have to admit that, this morning, I might have felt weird saying that, even though everyone, well, everyone in archiving, knows that the Filliona has ghosts. And there was this one stairway there that you simply didn’t go up on Tuesdays-“
Even having started that sentence meaning to say that she didn’t feel silly, Veronika felt a little strange talking about the Fillion Oddities with an employee of the Bellamy, an Archivist of the Bellamy. She wondered how long it would take for that feeling to wear off, or if she might end up being here for 50 years still feeling in awe of the fact that it was indeed the Bellamy, like her Grandma had told stories about.
Amanana’s smile reassured her somehow. “-Or down on Thursdays. Nobody ever tells the new ones that that one – I think it’s so they have to buy the beer at happy hour when the stairs delay them.
“That stairway cost me so much beer money.” Veronika shook her head. “as I was saying, it still seems weird, it would, talking about the supernatural, well, stuff, that’s at the Fillion, here at the Bellamy, except-” she gestured around. “I am in the Supernatural and Occult Department.”
“Indeed. So, as you were saying, this place is a maze, and then you add in the issues, as one might say.” Amanana smiled brightly at her. “That’s a good reason to make sure that any potential employees here are capable of handling it, finding their way around, isn’t it?”
“It’s a reason . But considering everything – the places I’ve been sent, the things I’ve been sent for, I feel more like I’ve been given a pile of puzzle pieces and I’m meant to figure out that it’s a puzzle, and then put them together when they’re all sky pieces in the middle, all while hoping they don’t eat me.”
Amanana burst out laughing.Want more?