Lennie flung open the door of Nickie’s room and flipped on the light. “Let’s go! It’s almost seven-fifteen. The sooner you get up, the sooner we get to the Clinic and get that out of the way!”
Nickie opened her eyes, forgetting for a moment where she was. She flung back the blanket and stood. “Morning, Lennie.” Yawning, she went to her dresser to grab clean clothes.
“Go take your shower. I’ll reheat the leftover pizza for us. Unless you’d rather go to Pete’s Diner for breakfast.”
“Let’s go to the diner, please. I’m in the mood for a real breakfast. How long have you been up?”
“Almost two hours. Sometimes I get up early on my day off.” Lennie left the room.
After a shower and dressing, Nickie she went looking for Lennie and found her in the study.
Lennie dug through the closet tossing various items behind her. “I know it’s in here somewhere,” she muttered.
“What are you looking for?” Nickie eyed the growing pile.
“A spare book bag for you. Something to carry your gear. We need to get you a laptop and a camera today.” She crawled further into the closet and emerged a moment later. “Found it!” She handed the item to Nickie. “I should clean out this closet one day. Didn’t realize how much stuff I tossed in there.”
“Thanks. I’ll put my notebook and pen in here before we leave.” She hurried from the room.
Smiling, Lennie tossed the stuff back in the closet and shut the door. She went to her desk and put several items in her bag. “Let’s get some breakfast, Nickie. After that, a haircut, then the Clinic.”
To Lennie’s relief, Lisa wasn’t working then. She wasn’t in the mood to deal with her. Nickie didn’t notice who served, more concerned with eating. Lennie ate, but kept thinking about what had happened. The appearance of the creature can’t be ignored, but if I report what happened, I won’t be able to do a thorough search of the building for more fragments. A higher ranked Archivist will get the job.
Nickie shoved her empty plate away. “You’ve been quiet since we left the apartment. Did I do something wrong?”
“Trying to decide something, so it doesn’t get me in trouble.” She finished her scrambled eggs and sausage.
“Does it have to do with what happened yesterday?”
Better for the two of us to keep quiet. I don’t want to lose the chance of exploring that building. Lennie shoved her empty plate away. “Nickie, if anyone asks, nothing happened at the building. In fact, the two of us are going to start separate journals for that. So don’t let anyone see what you wrote in the first journal.”
“Why don’t you want to report what happened?”
“Because if I do, I won’t be able to search for more of those metal fragments. Only a First Class Archivist would have precedence over the people in Artifacts. If I tell anyone what happened, someone else will get the assignment.” Lennie brought out some money and set it on the bill. “Let’s get out of here. We’ll get your haircut now.”
Nickie stood, “Do I have to go to the Clinic?”
“Yep. One of the requirements. We need to make sure you’re in good health.” A dark blue sedan with tinted windows caught Lennie’s attention. That looks like an unmarked police car. She started walking. “We’ll walk to the salon. It’s not far.”
“You sure that’s a good idea?”
“Yep. I know this city well and all the shortcuts for avoiding people,” Lennie said. The car pulled out and followed them.
“How much further do we have to go?”
“Two more storefronts, and then we cut down an alley that’s too narrow for a vehicle. As soon as we turn into the alley, we run to the end and turn left. Then we’ll stop and see if anyone follows on foot.”
“Okay.” There was a slight quaver in Nickie’s voice.
Lennie patted her shoulder, “Don’t worry, Nickie. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
When they reached the alley, they turned and kicked into a run. Lennie peeked around the corner. A man in a three-piece suit hurried down the alley. It took her a moment to recognize him. “Ah hell! Why is he following me?”
“You know him?” Nickie whispered.
“Yeah. Detective Scott Olson.” The footsteps came closer, echoing through the alley. “Might as well find out what he wants.” She stepped into the mouth of the alley, arms crossed. “If you wanted to talk to me, you could have called The Archive.”
He stopped. “Lennie! I, um, I was going to call, but when I saw you leave the diner, I thought it would be easier to catch up with you.”
“You’ve caught up with me. What do you want?” She hid a smile at his discomfort.
“Need help with something, but I don’t want it to go on the record. You have time to talk?” Scott stared at Nickie. “Who’s the youngster?”
“I’m not a youngster! Damn it, I’m eighteen.”
“Calm down, Nickie.” Lennie smiled at the detective. “This is Nickie, and I’m her Keeper.” She showed him the bracelet.
“Do you have time talk? It’s important, Lennie.” He loosened his tie.
“Not right now. Have a lot to do today.” She tapped her chin. “Come by my place around dinner time. I’ll get pizza and beer and then you can tell me what’s up.”
“All right. Still the same address?”
“Yep. Come over around six. We should be finished with our errands by then.” I wonder what’s going on? I haven’t read anything in the news that’s out of the ordinary.
“See you then, Lennie.” He gave them a nod and walked away.
“Normally the police contact The Archive when they need an Archivist’s help.”
Forty-five minutes later, Nickie and Lennie left the salon. “This is so much better! I’m definitely going to keep it this short.”
Lennie grinned. “Looks good on you. All right, back to the car and to the Clinic. I’m hoping it won’t take too long.”
“Do all the Archivists go to this Clinic?”
“Yes. Sometimes we run into things and it can affect us physically and psychologically. The Clinic is where we go for treatment. Since I’m your Keeper, you’ll go there too if you get sick or hurt. It’s a hell of a lot better than the other Clinics in the city.” Lennie waited for the traffic to clear.
“Could I have a female doctor? I don’t like male ones.” Nickie lit a cigarette.
“Sure. If you want, you can see my doctor, Elizabeth Mays.”
“Okay. Do you want me to keep out of the way this evening?”
“No. If you are going to be an Archivist, this is something you’ll need to know.”