Tau Axis appears. I mean, not that he ever shows up any other way than landing practically on top of you whenever you least expect it, but it’s still disconcerting. Anyway, he’s wearing red, which is today’s color, and the design looks pretty much the same as the current one, I’d have to look at them side by side to compare, but pretty much the same, so he’s hopefully from not too far in the future, which is actually quite a bit less reassuring than you might imagine. He stares me down.
“Um,” I say, “hi.”
“Don’t do it,” he says, knocking on my desk for emphasis.
“Uh huh,” I say. “Sorry, don’t do what?”
He cocks his head. “You didn’t specify. Kind of assumed you would know. Were you planning on doing anything life-altering?”
I shake my head.
He shrugs. “Maybe you were going to smoke up. Drug testing later, you know.”
“I know,” I say, “we’ve all known for days.”
“Well,” he says, shrugging again, “find me at 9:30 and I’ll tell you what you were wearing.”
Then he disappears again, which is a lot less unexpected, but kind of rude. I mean, he did wave bye, but he didn’t wait for me to wave back and now I feel just a little unsettled, like the conversation was unfinished – although it was in a way, and now I’ll have to get back to him at 9:30. Maybe I can wave bye then? No, what the fuck, that’s just weird. I make a note in my schedule, because there’s no way I’ll remember if I don’t. I set an alarm, too, just in case.
Then I look back at my computer, and consider getting some sort of field emitter, because I can’t have people just dropping in on me interrupting my work constantly. Of course, if I do, they’ll just knock on the door, and that’s not substantially less distracting. Fuck. What was I even doing here?
I click through pages and pages of trivia, trying to get my train of thought back.
“Kuiper!” a voice calls, from out in the hall, like they can’t be fucked to come actually talk to me.
“What?” I shout back.
Whoever it was walks up to the door shaking a little plastic cup filled with sterile wipes, and hooks a thumb over their shoulder. I have no idea who it is. They don’t even look mildly familiar, and everyone looks at least mildly familiar. I wonder if upstairs has started hiring out a company, or if they just brought in a team from somewhere else. That’s not a bad idea, actually, having the teams switch cities so they don’t try to cover for their friends. I mean, I don’t know how you end up needing covering for, but it happens.
I go pee in a cup. I know they have to watch me go, but I have no idea why they have to scrutinize so fucking hard as I wash my hands.
The workflow’s already shot, though, so I take a detour down to the cafeteria to grab a snack or something. I don’t know. Chips or cookies or something. Anything I have to avoid eating in front of the kids. I have no idea what I want, but – actually, they have pizza bagels, so I don’t end up having to make a decision after all.
I eat two of them (well, one bagel, I guess) and stare at the wall. No one bothers me.
Eventually, I end up heading back upstairs. My work is still waiting for me, but it seems a lot more in order now that I’ve had something to eat, or taken a break, or walked around a little, (or peed in a cup, maybe) and it only takes me a few minutes to figure out what the hell I was up to and finish it up. Or at least the profile I was interrupted during. It’s going to take me a lot longer to work through all of them. Other cities clearly have a lot more people willing to take on a shitty teaching job. And by people, in this case, I mean heavily overqualified candidates.
I consider contacting Lisa to ask – no, that’s bad, Travis, don’t consider things. Considering things is what leads to Tau Axis zapping in to yell at you. I consider finding Sensei Domino to start training right now. I consider heading to the weight room for a while. I consider going for a run. I consider apologizing to Darren. I consider finding Smoke and asking any or all of the hundred questions I came up with the second after he left. I consider calling Paragon. I consider checking in on the kids’ stats. I consider giving up on work and finding some sort of freemium game to play.
It’s probably the running. Running right after you eat is guaranteed to be a bad idea. I mean, bad enough to instate Tau Axis’s help? Probably not. Maybe. Probably depends on how far you run.
Then again, with the day I’m having, I probably would’ve tried to run to fucking Norway, so I guess stopping me from running is – was that what he meant? Did I show up in running gear? Is he going to tell me I was covered in sweat and wearing track pants? Why the fuck do time travelers have to be so fucking cryptic, anyway?
I wonder if it’s hard for him, not being able to talk to his family about it.
Okay, new plan: Travis no longer considers doing various things, but just tries to plow through all these resumes, and answer his emails, and follows requests other people make if they show up asking Travis to do things. Travis waits for Sensei Domino to show up, then goes off to do karate or whatever, greets Lisa if and when she shows up and finds that intern task list again for her, and only interacts with the kids if he absolutely has to. At 9:30, Travis finds Tau Axis to talk to him about whatever the fuck, and stops having existential crises over self-fulfilling prophecies.
I am so ready for this week to be over.