Chapter 15.6

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Jacob leaned forward, his face half in darkness. The visible half was so pitted with acne that it was like the surface of the moon. A long slow smile had crept across his face.

Nick's voice was rising. "Everyone who ever preached honesty and virtue to me – do you know where they are? Dead!" He jabbed Ward's chest with his finger. "Everyone who thought they could move the world with – with something noble? DEAD!"

Suddenly Nick seemed to become conscious of what he was doing: his face lost its colour and he took a couple of steps back.

Jacob smiled from the shadows. The mouse had vanished. Perhaps the shouting had frightened it.

"It's time for us to say guh-goodbye. Until we muh-meet again."

"When will that be?" Nick said.

"Suh-sooner than you thu-think," Jacob said, and laughed. The non-word LOL flashed crazily across Ward's mind.

Jacob's image flickered out, as did the screens. The lab went dark.

To Ward's surprise he heard familiar music as they approached the closed door. As the music stopped the door rolled open again, to reveal Corvus and Mildew. Corvus removed the Oliphant from his lips. Ward's mouth dropped open. The Oliphant was whole again, somehow.

"I'm sorry to admit that I didn't trust Slops not to lose the original," he said. "I gave him a copy."

"Where are they?" Ward said. Carmen and Slops were nowhere in sight. Mildew hooked a thumb back up the corridor.

"We have much to talk about and very little time to do it," Corvus said. "Mildew will explain. "I have to go. Hello Nick. I take it you've met my old friend Jacob?"

Nick nodded slightly. He watched Corvus as a hawk watches a rabbit.

"It's been many years between visits," Corvus said. We have much to talk about."

"We have nothing to talk about."

"I could explain many things."

"Don't waste your breath," Nick said. "You never took me for a fool before, why would you start now?"

"Being blind is not the same as being a fool, though one can be both. I'll say only this: if ever you need counsel, my door is open."

"I would sooner pass through the door of Eden."

"You just may do so in the end," Corvus said, wearily. He turned to Ward and Mildew. "I will see you soon." Then he moved away up the corridor, faster than Ward would have thought possible for a man his age. It was only then that he noticed Ludwig was not perched in his usual spot on the old man's shoulder.

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Take a shower?

I would sooner pass through the door of Eden.

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