At the apartment, Nickie changed into sweatpants and a tank top, before putting her new clothes away. Finished, she went to the living room. Seated on the couch, she lit a cigarette. I can’t believe I’m living in an apartment now. She watched the smoke drift away. Lennie seems like a nice person, and she’s attractive. Wonder if anything could come of that?
Lennie came out of the bathroom, having taken a shower and dressed for bed. She also wore sweatpants and a tank top. “You hungry, Nickie? There are potato chips and Pepsi in the kitchen.” She headed to the alcove.
“Yes.” Nickie followed her. “I put my new clothes away.”
“Good. We’ll get you more stuff tomorrow.” Lennie grabbed two pop bottles and filled a bowl with chips.
They returned to the living room. “Can I watch TV?”
“Go ahead. The remotes are in the drawer of the table.” Lennie opened her journal, recording the events at the building.
Nickie flipped through the channels and settled on a baseball game. “What are you working on?”
“I keep journals of the work I do for The Archive. The observations I make, what I did, what I found, who was with me; that sort of thing.” Lennie stood. “Be right back.”
She returned with the sample jar with the metal fragment and printouts of the runes. In her other hand, she held a magnifying glass. Nickie watched her open the jar and remove the object.
“What do you think it is?”
“Could be anything – maybe from a piece of jewelry, a decoration for a wall or a seal of some sort. I need to do a thorough search of the place. There might be more pieces scattered around.” She smiled at Nickie. “And since I’m the one that found this, I’ll be in charge of the search.”
“Can I hold it?”
“All right.” She handed it to her.
Nickie ran her finger over the runes. “Shouldn’t I be able to feel the runes on this? Even if they were painted or carved, there should be something there.”
“Excellent, Nickie. I noticed that, too. You have the makings of an Archivist.”
“I can think of worse things to be. Might as well start teaching me.” She turned towards her ‘teacher’. “So what do we do first?”
“Need to get a couple more things from the study first.”
Lennie rummaged around in her desk until she found a blank notebook, a pen, and another magnifying glass. She returned to the living room and held out the items.
Nickie accepted them, and opened the notebook. “I take it you want me to write my observations about the abandoned building?”
“Yep.” Lennie sat down, tucking her feet under her. “Don’t get creative, you’re not writing a novel. Write the facts, including the incident with the shadow thing. Better include when you think you first saw the runes there…” A loud clap of thunder rattled the windows. “…What the weather was like.”
Nickie jumped. “I’m glad I’m not out in that.”
“Same here.” She retrieved the piece of metal. “I need to give you a key to the apartment and the codes for the alarm. You’ll also get a weekly stipend from the money Brant gave me. You can spend it on whatever you want, except drugs and alcohol. If I catch you using drugs, you’ll be in deep shit with me. Need to get you a cell phone too.”
“No worries there. I’ve seen what drugs do to people and want no part of it. I saw a guy so stoned, he thought he could fly. He jumped off the roof of a ten-story building.” Nickie shuddered. “He didn’t look so good after he hit the pavement.”
Lennie grimaced. “Think I should do some grocery shopping tomorrow. You like cereal?”
“As long as it’s the sugary kind, not that healthy junk. I also like eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, bagels, cake, brownies, and cookies. Hate fish and chicken.” Nickie lit a cigarette before returning to writing.
“How do you feel about sandwiches? I could buy lunch meat. Along with tomatoes and mustard.” Lennie started a shopping list.
“You buy it, I’ll eat it.” Nickie sipped her soda. “Should I add a map of where the building is and a basic floor plan of the area we explored?”
“Yes. That would be helpful. Don’t worry about the dimensions. I’ll get a copy of the building plans from the city.” Lennie believed her charge would make a top-rate Archivist given the chance. She held out a spare printout of the runes and metal piece. “Here, put these with the entry as well.”
Nickie accepted them, writing the date and location on the back of each one. “Thank you.” She eyed the window where the rain slashed against it. “Looks like the rain will last until morning.”
Lennie sketched the metal piece into her journal. “You did great at the abandoned building today. Thanks for not running off when I was unconscious.”
She blushed. “Wouldn’t be right leaving you. That’s not a good place to be alone and helpless. Did that ever happen to you before?”
“No. Came close one time when I was checking out some ruins on the outskirts of the city. Some of those strange shadow beasts stalked Brant and me, but we managed to lose them long enough to get back to the car.” Lennie finished her drink, and then yawned. “Getting tired. It’s been a long day.” She gathered her stuff. “You can stay up as late as you want, but I will wake you at seven a.m. No arguments.”
“No problem. It’s going to be strange sleeping in a real bed again and using the bathroom when I need to.” Nickie grinned. “Think I’ll go to bed, too. Good night, Lennie.”
“Good night, Nickie. Sleep well.” Lennie ruffled the younger woman’s hair.
Nickie gathered her stuff and went to her bedroom. Lying back on the bed, she put her hands behind her head. “I guess my luck has taken a turn for the better. A new home, new clothes, a bedroom of my own, and I’m going to learn how to be an Archivist.” She closed her eyes. “Wish I could remember what happened to me. Maybe I saw or heard something I shouldn’t have.” Nickie covered herself with a light blanket, feeling warm and safe. Maybe Lennie can help me figure it out. She drifted off to sleep.
Sitting in bed, Lennie finished reading two more pages of the Callan Journal before turning out the light. Her thoughts drifted to Nickie and the puzzle she posed. “How the hell did she get into the lower level of The Archive? No one can get in there without a special ID card and having their fingerprints on file,” she muttered, setting the journal on the nightstand. “Why can’t she remember what happened to her? I hope Brant knows what he’s doing by making me her Keeper. I should get the report from the Scryers to find out what else they learned about her.” Closing her eyes, Lennie drifted off to sleep.