|Alan's new lodgings
"Is someone still living here?"
"Oh, no. She moved out last month, and the guv'ment was supposed to come and clean it out for you, but I guess they didn't make it."
"So who was 'she'?"
"Ah, well, an interesting personage if I may say so. Her name was Mandrill and she worked for the Antiquities people as a protohistoric archaeologist, or so she said. She explained that 'protohistoric' meant that the Old People that once lived here had no written language, at least so far as they know. She was out at the Hazelhurst Ruins most of the time. We saw a lot of each other, maybe more than we should have, but then she left quite suddenly!"
"So were you two, um, 'together'?"
Adrian deftly scooped up the underwear off the floor. "Well, I thought so...and now I can't seem to find out anything about her, or where she went. She seems to have gone off the map, as it were."
"Sorry to hear that," Alan said. "I've had that same feeling about myself lately."
Adrian picked up the letters. "Well, let's see...one is for Mandrill, but now this other one is addressed to you - from the Ministry of Trade. So I guess the guv'ment was here after all..."
Alan, mystified, looked at the letter handed to him, front and back, then put it in his back pocket.
Adrian was of course quite curious.
"Say," Adrian said, "Is there anything I can get for you? If you want to get some groceries in Hazel, I have a bicycle which you're welcome to use. I'd invite you to supper but I'm a bit low on foodstuffs myself. The bike is parked out front if you want it...but I'll need it to get home later"
"Um, okay, Thanks."
When Adrian left, Alan looked through the kitchen cupboards (plenty of pots, pans and utensils). Then he examined the elderly fridge, which looked pretty clean inside (no food but there was a half-full bottle of Merlot). He glanced into the living room, and took in the old-style narrow French doors that opened onto a deck, and the view of Putney Bay. The room contained only a couch, a low table, one rocking chair and a dining table with two chairs toward the kitchen. The room and furnishings vaguely reminded him of that strange white room near the end of the 2001, A Space Odyssey movie.
He then wandered into the bedroom. He peered into the closet and opened the drawers in the spacious dresser built inside. He didn't find any more underwear. The bed was rumpled but clean-enough looking and there seemed to be plenty of towels and extra blankets and sheets. All he needed was food, and shaving cream. Osborne wandered in, hopped onto the bed, and then sniffed around the apartment while pointedly ignoring Alan.
Alan then walked out onto the deck and looked out at the waves blazing with late afternoon sunlight. To his left he spotted a nearby hill upon which must be the ruins Adrain was talking about - Hazelhurst or something like that. Alan had never been among ancient ruins before - there are not many in Indiana.
Then he remembered the letter in his pocket...
|The ruins are a short walk from Alan's place.