Chapter 4 - The 15th Floor

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A curve in the lonely tree-blinded road abruptly opened up to a looming multi-story structure surrounded by a fresh black car park with crisp white lines like an inky (deserted) moat. Parking in the spot nearest the main entrance, they entered via working automatic doors into an elegant, spacious lobby bearing the strong scent of a craft store without a single scuff on the a floor so bright it produced the illusion of walking on ice. Every light was on. Not a soul in sight. 

At the front desk Anders hit the bell twice. When no one appeared, he leant over the counter. "Hello?" 

Hands full of squirming panda, Eirik nudged his friend with an elbow. "Let's see if we can go up without a key." 

Signage directed them to two lifts. Anders punched the buttons and both sets of brilliant brass doors opened instantly. Sharing pleased looks, they stepped into one, rode it up, and walked off on the fifteenth floor. The bear's squirming worsened as they neared their destination, causing Eirik to fumble with and nearly drop it, repeatedly. Watching Eirik's plight with amusement, Anders rapped on #1520. 

A lady's voice startled them. "Take it and go." 

A women in a pink-and-white hand-knit sweater with short wavy hair and reading glasses stood beside them as though she'd been there all along. She held out a ponderous iron key. A tiny plain card was attached to the key by a white ribbon. 

The panda fought Eirik, furiously. "MELISSAAAAA!" 

Melissa ignored the bear. "I'm Ana's aide. I was. For years I helper her stay organized, but she didn't tell anyone about me because I don't like people who aren't her..." Clearing her throat of emotion, she studied the pair. "You have a lot of questions but you're supposed to figure it out on your own and you will." She shook the key. "When you reach the bungalow." 

"Er, thank you." 

"You'll need these, too." She passed between them and opened the door to flat #1520. 

Inside #1520, a busy pattern on the wall grabbed Anders' eye. Initially he supposed to be a clever wallpaper that looked like hundreds of book spines to perhaps give the feel o a library or book store. However, after a moment, he realized the walls were indeed paved with books and covered all but two tall, charming windows. 

She reached inside to grab something and faced them. She put in Eirik's hand a Spinach-Mango Smoothie bottle, already drank and rinsed out, and in Anders' an empty green box which read 'Green Tea.' Both items were green. 

Anders scowled at the box. Trash? 

Eirik blinked, suddenly excited. "Green!" He said to his puzzled friend, "Artificially green things, remember? Nana said it keeps evil away." 

Melissa sighed peacefully like a librarian who finally managed to arrange every last one of her children (books) just so, thus completing her life's mission, leaving her free to read and cook and ignore the world to her heart's content.  

"Evil lives wooded areas including the woods around the bungalow," she said with serenity, "so good luck, be careful, and go away." 


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