We’re sorry we kept you waiting. We ran into serious computer problems this week. This was the only render we got to complete, and it doesn’t look so good: Green and Grainy, anyone?
So, I hatched a daring plan.
I want to share it with you in lieu of our regularly scheduled adventure, but you need to do one thing first.
Promise not to tell my scribe about it!
Do you promise? Good, then here we go.
On Friday, after the fourth render died on us, I, Ran, son of Sarn, decided enough was enough. Melinda had already left for work, and her pc was stuck on some error screen. That was the last straw.
The laptop is precious. It’s how I communicate with you wonderful readers, and how our stories get told! So I stepped through the portal and tapped Papa on the shoulder.
“Hmmm?” was his sleepy reply.
I shook his shoulder again and pointed at the portal when he cracked open an eye. I’m not supposed to travel between your world and ours without parental escort. Don’t tell him I did, okay? He might get mad.
“Why do you want to go there? Melinda’s not home.”
“I want to visit her at work. She’s had a hard week since her boss is out. If we go, we could help her. Please? She’ll be so happy to see us.”
Papa mulled that over while I gave him imploring looks. He caved, of course. Once I had Papa up and moving, I searched for the portal I’d just stepped through. It liked to move around our cave for some reason and often faded until it was barely perceptible.
But I spotted a floating oval edged in violet and white light under the big drippy stalactite. We trooped over and through it into the sunlight streaming through a set of sliding glass doors in need of a good wipe down. I might have left a few handprints on them from previous visits. Shh, don’t tell Melinda.
“Okay, we’re here. She isn’t. Now what?”
I pointed to the silver branches parting the saddest pine trees I’ve ever seen. They perked up at the Queen of All Trees’ touch though. How could they not? She’s so magical and full of light.
“Did you know she’d be here?”
“No, but I hoped she would be.”
Before fetching Papa, I might have shouted through an open window in the hopes that the Queen Tree was ambling through one of the parks nearby. Might. But you won’t tell on me, right? 😉
I pulled open the door, darted up a short set of stairs, pushed through another door and rushed into the parking lot before Papa could interrogate me. He followed after shutting and locking our scribe’s door. Once outside, I raced to the Queen Tree.
“Please take us to our scribe’s job. We want to help her with stuff.”
She inclined her luminous crown, and white light swallowed Papa and I before he could object. The Queen Tree had never spoken to us, so I wasn’t surprised by her silence. She was shy like Papa, but I was his spokesperson, so she’d have to find someone else.
When the light died away, we were inside a hallway. Everything was beige—the carpet, the walls, the ceiling, the filing cabinets—everything. Before I could careen through the hallway into the open-plan office proper, Papa pulled me behind a set of file cabinets.
“Let me check out the situation. We don’t want to get Melinda into trouble.”
No, we didn’t want that, so I nodded, and we skulked from mysterious machine to bookcase to piece of office furniture of unknown function and back again.
A machine whirred to life nearby doing some mysterious thing that caused a paper to drop out of it into a waiting tray. It was taller than me, and we used it as cover as we slunk toward our scribe’s cube.
Our scribe is tiny, so when she’s hard at work, you can’t see the top of her head over the short cube wall separating her desk from her cubemate’s. So her desk always looks unoccupied.
While Papa peeked around a wall at the rows of cubicles, I dropped to hands and knees and crawled. I reached her desk, and luck was with me. She wasn’t there. I checked on Papa.
His scan had been interrupted by a nice guy in a white button-down shirt whose diffident mannerisms were so like Papa’s, it made me wonder. If Papa had gone to school like Uncle MIren and wasn’t this thing called ‘Indentured,’ would he have grown up to be like that nice office guy?
I pushed those thoughts away and climbed into Melinda’s chair. I didn’t have much time. Luckily for me, our scribe had left a chat thing called ‘Teams’ open, and her last conversation was about the reason for my visit—better PCs.
I smiled and started firing off questions to the one person who might know what we needed for this 3d rendering thing. After three exchanges, I had a link. I clicked it, and a sales page greeted me for something called a ‘refurbished gamer’s rig.’ I had no idea what that was, but it came highly recommended, and we needed a new pc, now.
There was also a sale—a whopping 12% off. Twelve was a good number, and it reminded me of the Queen Tree. Her calling card featured intertwined circles in sets of twelves. So I took this as her blessing on the matter.
Uh-oh, Papa was coming. A quick scan of the desk area turned up our scribe’s handbag. I fetched her wallet and fished out the plastic gateway to better rendering.
“What are you doing? You’re not supposed to touch anything in the office. You know that.” Papa spun the chair around so I faced him. “Why are you smiling?”
“You’ll see in about a week.” I hopped off the chair but didn’t get far.
“What did you do?”
I didn’t answer. Papa swept me up and carried me out. A few people stared at us, so I waved at them. But most folks were concentrating so hard on their screens, they never knew we were there.
“What did you do?” Papa asked as that glorious white light wrapped around us again.
The Queen Tree was recalling us, but that was okay. My work here was done, and I’d put the important things away (my scribe’s credit card). Though that shiny plastic rectangle was now maxed out again.
Melinda wouldn’t be happy about that when the bill came since she’d been trying for years to pay it off, but we needed a better pc. She’d be happy when she saw the results, and so will you. I know it in my heart. I just need to keep her from finding out about it until it arrives.
It wasn’t a top-of-the-line model or anything even approaching that because they cost two times what the refurbished thing cost, but it had enough power to do what we needed, and that was what counted.
“Ran, what did you do?”
“I fixed our rendering problem,” I said around a yawn into Papa’s shoulder. “Don’t tell Melinda, okay? It’s a surprise.”
Papa sighed. He didn’t like keeping secrets, but I knew he’d keep this one. I hope you will too!
Next week, we’ll resume our current out-of-book adventure. This week, we just had to do something about this computer issue. It’s holding us back, and we can’t have that, now can we? 😉
—Ran, Son of Sarn, “Wrangler of PCs and little green men?” 0_o
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