Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5.7

Posted by harmony0stars on November 23, 2009

They arrived on Scott’s level, which she supposed was officially a sub-basement. Robert was breathing shallowly from the smell of mildew or perhaps anxiety. Glory put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “It’s alright. Officer Hart knows we came here, and I’m pretty sure that secretary would let him know we’d been here if something happened that we didn’t make it back to Sybar City.” He shivered, but she felt him relax a little under her hand.

A head popped out of an open doorway, scaring them both out of their wits. In the dimly flickering lights of the hall, they’d had no warning that anyone was nearby. Professor Scott shouted boisterously, “There you are! I was beginning to think you‘d gotten lost. The elevators may be old, but it doesn‘t take that long to get to the dungeon.”

“We, ah, took the stairs.” Glory replied, a little unsettled.

“Good lord, why? No one takes the stairs since they opened up the elevators to the student body,” he announced with some consternation, as if he’d been made to wait for an interminable amount of time.

“I’m sorry…” Glory replied more unnerved by his gregarious welcome than her surroundings. In the woods, he’d been cold to the point of arrogance with his students, despite the fact that they were risking life and limb by helping him in his mission. Suddenly he was the welcoming committee? Something didn’t sit right with her. Either he knew something or he wanted something, maybe both. “I’ve never been here before,” she announced as she approached, reminding herself that she hadn’t actually met the man and so should not let on that she knew anything about him. “Professor Scott, I presume?”

She held out her hand, which gave him pause. It was only the slightest of hesitations before he accepted it in a hearty handshake, but she marked it and his slight start when he noticed Robert trailing her. He gave the boy a quick look up and down before standing aside so they could enter his office. “My name is Glory Lewin, and this is my foster son, Robert.”

“Well… well, well… harrumph, well… What can I do for you folks today?” he asked finally, seemingly a little disappointed that she was not alone. He stepped around his over crowded desk to seat himself in a plush leather chair which had seen better days. The seam had split in many places along the top and the armrests to expose the ragged stuffing inside. The desk itself was a crazy topography of scholarship. Papers and books were piled in no discernable order and with barely any space where actual work might be done. The office itself was crammed with bookshelves on every wall and even one barely small enough to fit in the space beside the door. If it had been even a millimeter longer, her would not have been able to shut the door. Books, papers, and several artifacts were crammed into any available shelf without any attention to culture or creed. If not for the fact that she’d seen the man at his real work in the Jersey Pine Barrens, she might have been charmed by his obvious passion for research.

There were two additional chairs in the overcrowded room, but one of these was serving as another makeshift shelf. Glory was an old hand at moving stacks of books and papers without making an even bigger mess. Even as Professor Scott sputtered and began to stand in an attempt to move the mess himself, Glory swiftly lifted the entire mess in its entirety and set it on the floor without losing a paper or displacing a book. He gave her an appraising look as he sat back in his chair, seemingly uncertain as to whether he should be impressed or disgruntled that she had touched his precious books.

“Let’s be frank, Professor,” she announced as she sat, offering the other chair to Robert. “I have every reason to believe that one of your people tried to kill me yesterday.” The professor sputtered in surprise, and she couldn’t tell if it was honest or feigned. “This isn’t the first run in I’ve had with your colleague, but it’s certainly the first time he’s taken a shot at me.”

“Just- just who do you think we are here? Ms Lewin, this is an academic institution, not a… an assassin training facility or some such nonsense. And -and if you think that a crime has been committed, why not go to the police?”

Glory smiled grimly. “I do in fact have friends in the police department, and they were kind enough to take some of the bullets embedded in my building for ballistics. However, I also know something of what you people are up to here, and while I don’t entirely disapprove of your goals… I feel some of your recruits would be better off in an institution of an entirely different function.”

Professor Scott looked at her thoughtfully, giving Robert a sidelong glance as if trying to decide what could be said in front of the boy. “Jacoby could very easily have hit Robert when he was aiming at me. Anything you want to say to me, can be said in front of him. I do not believe that ignorance of danger is any kind of protection against it.”

“Indeed Ms Lewin, on that we are very much agreed.” He steepled his fingers, withdrawing into the grim man she’d first seen in the Pine Barrens, remote and calculating. She’d almost think he had a personality disorder, but she suspected the man before her now was the true Professor Scott. The other was merely the face he showed strangers. “Unfortunately, Jacoby is no longer with us, and we have no control over him. I’m surprised he went after you however. His wife and daughter have always been his priority. He must feel you are in some way connected to their disappearance.” It was a sly insult that Glory didn’t appreciate at all.

“I find that difficult to believe, but racists and madmen have seldom made much sense to me.” His insinuation was ignorant, but he winced at hers, his cheeks flushing with suppressed fury. A little too close to home, perhaps.

to Book 5, page 8

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