Zorikh came to on his couch. Through a haze, he saw Theodora, kneeling beside him and feeling the skin on his forehead. “Hello Zorikh. You’re home now.” She said gently. “I’m going to go, I have things to do. Go to sleep. Remember what I’ve told you. If you decide to join us, look for Balliol on your television on Thursday nights.”
“But that’s NBC’s big comedy night…” Zorikh protested weakly. An attempt to pick his head up resulted in another wave of dizziness. “What…what if I refuse?” he laid an arm over his eyes.
“It’s your right to refuse.” Theodora said without a hint of disappointment. “If you decide not to join us, don’t worry. We’ll stop transmitting meetings over your cable. Well, good night Zorikh.” She rose and made ready to leave.
She opened his front door and was almost through it when he called to her. “Wait! If I refuse, how do you know I won’t tell anyone.” He swallowed hard, despite his parched throat. “If I refuse, you’ll kill me.” He was surprised to hear her laugh. It was a light, honest laugh, and would have been contagious had it not been for his condition. It didn’t seem appropriate at all that such a laugh came from someone who was his potential murderer.
“Zorikh, you’re quite safe.” She assured him. “Tell as many people as you wish. Who would believe you?” Then she left him to sleep. Zorikh stretched out and groaned.
“Well.” He spoke to an unfinished oil portrait that sat on a corner easel. “I’m never smoking pot again.”
Three Thursdays passed and Zorikh didn’t dare turn on the television. He threw himself into the Griffin Games project. He was, according to Stanley and the wanabee Gygaxes, rather brilliant. His choice of a leather bodice, slashed trousers and shell-beaded boots for the elf maid was right on the mark, and he was able to talk them out of a horned helmet for the gentleman. They agreed instead on a spectacled helmet and a rather savage looking bearclaw necklace. Theodora left no messages on his answering machine. He wasn’t sure if he was relieved about this. He sort of missed her; his time with her was brief but intense. He thought about the Rift, of course, and his trip to the New World, in a time when Manhattan was still the wilderness.
The fourth Wednesday after what he referred to as ‘that screwed up day’ Zorikh blew off a dinner date and found himself at the Museum of Natural History. He began at the Native America wing, made his way through Africa and ended at the foot of the T Rex on the fourth floor. Thursday morning, he called in sick and wandered the Met. By five o’clock, he sat cross legged in front of the exhibit of mounted knights, frozen proudly in parade in the hall of Arms and Armor. By seven thirty, he finished Friends, swallowed hard and began surfing the channels. “Must be crazy.” He told himself.
Somewhere in the upper channels, as promised, was Balliol.
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