It takes even longer than usual for me to work the lock and open the door because I am nervous and excited, and giddy, and scared, and worried. All these emotions, all at once, are like a cruise line buffet at midnight for my madness, and it is definitely gorging. I finally get the door open and turn on the light switch to the foyer, closing the door behind me. What I find is a landing that separates the floor in half. Double doors set the walls on each side. After only two three-sixties on the landing, I make my way to the double doors that are closest to me, my thyrsos keeping me from falling.
I open the door, and I flick on the light switch, but not before closing my eyes tight first. I stand there, trying to picture what the light will show me. Is it a long nondescript hallway with countless lookalike doors like in The Matrix? Is it going to reveal a luscious dance floor, fully equipped with a long bar, and a live band like the dance clubs of old? Will it be a desert oasis, with palm trees, brambles, scorpions, and roadrunners? Or maybe a space station, using laser and ion cannons to make a futile attempt to hold off an invading force of shark-like creatures? Will it be a pirate sloop—oh, how I love pirates! And Sloops! With a hearty crew and…
I finally realize that my brain is trying to hijack the moment and open my eyes. What I see before me is scarier, and even more exciting to me than the image of shark-like aliens in my head. The space before me is just empty, except for floor to ceiling windows everywhere, and a series of columns holding the building up. Other than that, there is nothing remotely interesting about the place at all. Apparently, this is what Hebe meant when she said that the rest would be mine to use as I see fit. I can fit a dance club, an oasis, and a smaller pirate ship in here all at the same time! Not sure about the space station, though. There just isn’t enough space for space.
I let out a soft whistle as I go to close the door, but I stop short as the empty space holds on to the notes and carries it into the darkness. I always loved how empty space craves to be filled. I giggle a bit louder, which makes it last even longer after it is carried around by the echo. I smile to myself as I close the door, thinking of how I can fit a pirate ship into the elevator, and walk across the landing to the opposite doors.
My mind is stuck on ship logistics and trying to come up with whom in the family I know that can pull an Ant-Man and shrink and unshrink stuff, so I forget to close my eyes before I open the door. The first thing that I notice is the opulence of the room. The room opens to another foyer and into a massive living room with a wraparound fireplace and more than enough room for a visiting sports team. The furniture is sparse but lavish, and it is obvious that it is done on purpose. I walk around, throwing in a few three sixties to familiarize myself to the space, and move on to the next room.
The kitchen looks like it belongs in a spaceship. Maybe an alien spaceship with shark-like creatures. With big fishbowl looking helmets and flippers for their flippers! How cute would that be? Everything is neatly placed in hidden spaces to maximize the room, but there is no food to be had. Not that I am as hungry as I was before. I have too many thoughts running a marathon in my head, so I need to find the finish line, and I also need to find a phone.
It takes me a while to find a phone—who puts phones on desks in offices and not next to the tubs in bathrooms, anyway? I pick up the receiver and try to dial out a few times, but I get an operator reminding me to dial nine for an outside line. I finally remember to put the nine in front of the number by singing nein, nein meine fräulein to myself, and finally get through. The line connects after three rings, and after a handful of clicks, I hear the familiar voice come on the line excitedly with the customary greeting, “Geia sas, Mega Kyrie!” The accent is thick, which makes me smile because I can imagine the speaker pinching the bridge of his nose right after his words came out.
“Luis, you old goat!” I say, more excited to hear his voice than I expected myself to be. “It has been over fifty years since I took you in, and your accent is still horrible! Now I know that you have nothing to do over at Casablanca Valley, so why have you not been practicing your greeting?”
With a sigh, Luis switches to perfect English. “My apologies, Master, but I did not deem it necessary to practice for something that occurs a handful of times per year.”
I click my tongue at him and decide to roast him some more. “Jeeves, you get off the line and put Luis back on!”
“Ha, ha. Very funny, Master. Now then, how may I be of service?”
“I need you to contact the other branches and let them know that I am calling a meeting in the near future. I will call in a few days with more details.”
“All the branches, Master? Even the smaller ones?”
“Yes, even the smaller ones. And find a replacement for yourself. I will need you here.”
“Here, Master? And where is here? Will I need to run a trace so I can find you like usual?”
“Not this time, Luis. Book the earliest ticket you can get once you get your affairs in order. I am home.”
“Home, Master? You don’t mean…” he lets the sentence hang in the air, and I let him for a few extra breaths.
“Yes, Luis. I am home. My family has been back for a while now, and it is about time I joined them. I think it’s time to initiate The Master Plan.”
“So I see, Master. Is everything well? You seem a bit…” And another pause.
“I am indeed. The voices are subsiding. Can I rely on you to handle the minutiae for the task at hand?”
“Of course, Master. With luck, I should be there not long after you wake. I will reach you on this number once there.”
“Hasta luego, Luis,” I say and hang up the phone.
The voices in my head are lessening, and I know it is almost time for me to rest. I can tell that I have very little time left, so I hunt down the room with the bed. Unfortunately, when my tired body touches it, I jump back up. This mattress is way too soft for me, and I know this will not work. I throw a curse in the air. I simply do not have the time to examine all the other rooms, so I make my way back to the office, pick up the phone and dial “0”. After a single beep and another series of clicks, the line connects, and a voice I actually recognize picks up.
“Hello Dionysos, this is Anthi at the reception desk. How may I help you?”
“Anthousa, am I correct in presuming that Hebe warned you I might be calling?”
“Yes, sir. She told me to expect your call.”
“Good, good. Remind me to thank her for that next time you see me. But right now, I need a huge request, and I need it done within minutes. It is of uttermost import that my instructions are followed precisely and without hesitation. Are we clear on that?”
“Yes, sir. How may I help you, sir?”
“OK. Listen closely because this will sound weird…”
With much credit going to Anthousa, there is a knock on my door within minutes. I stop pacing and open the door quickly, then undo the latches and open the second door wide for the two men to bring in the item I requested. “Through those doors. Just set it down anywhere near the entrance, facing away from the windows.” The men belonging to the Complex Crew, probably security from their outfits and looks, make their way to the doors and hesitate. Before any of them can speak, I raise my voice and give it that air of authority that every Olympian can summon when they deem it necessary. “Yes. In there. Set it down and be quick about it!”
The outburst works, because the two men follow directions as quickly as they possibly can. Being imposing is one thing, but I have a feeling they have an inkling of what I could really do when angry, and they most certainly do not want to experience that. Regardless, they are done and almost run out the front door and to the elevator landing, which is fine by me. I close, latch, and lock the front doors and hurry to the living room. I pick up the bundle that I had prepared and run back out. The voices in my head are gone, and I knew that sleep will be claiming me soon.
I make my way out into the main foyer and through the other set of double doors leading to the empty side of the floor. The expanse that is now empty, with only one exception. The couch I woke up on downstairs in the lobby. I lay out the pillow and blanket I brought in, remove all my clothes and set them neatly over the back. Laying down, I wrap the blanket around me like a burrito. The area there is a bit too chilly and dusty, but I know. I know deep inside that when next I wake, I will not be alone anymore. The voices will wake with me, and the madness will be back along with them. And I know that that Dionysos will enjoy waking up to the lovely sounds of his own echo. In spite of myself, I close my eyes, and soon I am asleep, dreaming of desert pirates and alien space battles.