After a grueling 26 hour day of cleaning mysterious stains out of the upholstery, brewing coffee that no one drinks (they seem to believe that ordering an intern to brew coffee makes them look more professional), sweeping the carpet (the Guild can’t afford a vacuum cleaner), and picking up take-out at four different restaurants (because the Guild can’t agree on anything), I finally had a moment to lay down on my sheet of plywood (the job pays room and board, get it? This is what I have to deal with). They told me I could keep the board when I leave. It’s hard to sell a used mattress.
I don’t know how long they let me sleep, but it wasn’t enough. “Wake up, Marty. I have a meeting with the Council of Elders and we need to go on an adventure to prepare.” Steve was nudging me in the ribs with his foot.
I groaned. “But it’s my day off.”
“You slept through your day off. Now get out of bed.”
I put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with a dragon fighting a space ship—anything more formal than that makes the bosses nervous—and met Steve in the hall. “Ok,” I said. “What’s this adventure?”
Steve sidled up next to me and put his arm around my shoulder, ushering me down the hallway. “Imagine, if you will, a portal to another realm! Kings and monsters locked in a never-ending battle, babbling brooks cutting through tranquil forests, pixies and unicorns, lost civilizations, a whole world of possibilities and excitement.”
I blinked. I took a deep breath. I made three mental attempts to phrase this politely. “Steve,” I said. “Why are you talking like an elementary school librarian?”
“I’m not…” Steve sighed. “Will you just act like an intern for once and do what I tell you without any questions, comments, or financial compensation? It’s not a library. It’s a great adventure and you’ll love it. I myself went through this portal last week.”
I’ve stared into the face of inevitability on a daily basis since I took this job. I knew exactly what it looked like, and I knew when a fight couldn’t be won. “Ok, where’s the portal?” I asked, downtroddenly.
“Right here,” said Steve. He stopped at a door and kicked it open.
Inside, there was pointedly not a portal to another dimension. There was no wardrobe, no swirling vortex, no strange old man interested in my ancestral jewelry. It was just a desk and a book.
I tried to contain my sense of vindication. “You said it wasn’t a book.”
“I said it wasn’t a library. Do you see shelves? Do you see a librarian? Go ahead and shout something. See if you get shushed.”
I wanted to shout. I really did, but I kept control of myself. Self-control was the only thing I had. “So about this adventure…”
“Yes?” said Steve, smiling.
“You said you went on it already.”
“When I wrote it.”
“So the portal to adventure is…reading your book?”
Steve nodded. “That’s right. Now get started so you can tell the Council of Elders how great it is. The meeting’s at 2.”