76. Secrets of the Toilet

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There was a moment of silence, then a faint jingling as of coins or keys – then the footsteps turned, and retreated back to where they had come from. A chair scraped across the door in the neighbouring room.

What's this? What is he doing, damn him?

He didn't leave me a lot of time for wondering, or for damning. Two minutes later, a small metal container shot out of the pneumatic tube and landed with a 'pink' next to me on the desk. I jumped and grabbed the thing, pulling out the message. It read:

Mr Linton,

You are three minutes late. This will be deducted from your wages at the end of the month.

Bring me file 38XI301.

Rikkard Ambrose

All right. So, at a guess I'd say he wasn't pining with passionate love for me.

So he didn't want me.

Ergo: the kiss never happened.

Well, so much the better. I wasn't even a tiny bit disappointed. No, I wasn't. After all, the fact that last night's more... intimate occurrences had just been a dream had been what I had been trying to convince myself all the time. Now that I knew it was true, I ought to feel nothing but deep satisfaction.

Ought to, yes, but...

Hurriedly, I stood up and marched to the shelves of files. In no time at all I had discovered the required document and transported it to the door. I reached for the doorknob, turned it – and almost ran head-long into a closed door. A very unladylike word escaped my lips as I stumbled back, the file clutched to my chest.

What the...!

I tried the door again. I hadn't been mistaken. It was firmly and utterly locked.

"Hey!" With my free hand, I pounded against the heavy wood. "What's the matter? Why is the door locked?"


"Didn't you hear me? I said why is the door lock—"

A soft plink interrupted me. Turning my head, I saw that another metal cylinder hand arrived on my desk. Mystified and annoyed, I stomped over to the desk and grabbed it. Now what would he have to say

Because I locked it.

Rikkard Ambrose

I took a deep cleansing breath, trying to calm my stormy temper. It didn't work.

Crossing out the original with maybe a little bit more force than strictly necessary, I wrote under his message:

Dear Mr Ambrose,

And why did you do that?

Yours faithfully

Lilly Linton

Ha! I wondered what he was going to say now. Was he going to claim you could work more efficiently with all the doors locked? I wouldn't put it past him, the stingy, stony old...!



Mr Linton,

It is a measure to further your abstinence and thereby the efficiency of your work. There is a liquor store only two streets away and a sweetshop selling solid chocolate right beside it. From your behaviour at the tavern, I deduced that keeping you locked up is the only way from succumbing to irresistible urges.

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