62: A Smile To Give You Tumours

Linda and Mike are coming down the stairs. Slowly though, and with The Boss propped up between them. Linda isn't sure how to drag someone down a stair-case respectfully, but she holds onto an elbow and tries to be gentle.

The Boss is mainly unconscious, but every now and again she opens her eyes and mutters something about War, about the Shame of the Christmas Club Theft, about Scotch Eggs and Who's Who and Games and Puzzles. Sometimes she chants Dewey numbers to herself, but Linda is too focused on making sure they get down the stairs in one piece to pay much attention to her.

'Mike, can you hear something?'


Mike rests against the wall. They are both panting slightly. The Boss goes limp in their arms and they prop her against the bannister. From the bottom of the stairwell, Linda can hear bumps, bangs, and shouts.

'I can't hear anything,' Mike says.

Linda blushes. She'd forgotten, but sometimes, when it's been a while since she's had a special drink (something medicinal, for her nerves) she tends to hear things. Not things. Just bumps. Shakes and scratches in the walls. That sort of thing.

'My mistake,' Linda says, and coughs, 'lets get to the staff room. The quicker we get a Gin... I mean, a cup of tea, the better I'll feel.'

Linda and Mike take The Boss's arms again, but suddenly she opens her eyes and smiles at them quite calmly.

'Are you feeling better?' Linda asks. She wants to say, 'Sir' but she bites her lip and stops herself just in time.

'Oh yes,' The Boss says.

Her smile is like cool blue water with the reflections of pine trees in it. It is melted glacier warmed by geothermal activity. It is water stuffed with unknown minerals: the kind that will make you cleverer, and live forever. Or the kind that will give you fast growing tumours. No-one knows.

'We'd better hurry up dear,' The Boss says, 'it looks like I made a mistake putting Rosalyn in the basement, doesn't it?'

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