I have not seen Aoibheann for a couple of days. Neither, it would appear, has the tavern, judging by the apparent lack of cleaning during the couple of days I was sleeping. I do hope that she is somewhere safe, and not being eaten by cŵn, or off being chased by, or chasing, the White Stag. She is normally quite fastidious about cleaning. After my strange dreams, I felt somewhat disconnected and mentally out of sorts, and decided that a good session of something as real and mundane as cleaning would perhaps be grounding. And it was, very grounding, and possibly, ground in, as some of the dirt on the floor appeared to be. I was right; nothing anchors you in reality like a bowl of soapy water and a cloth. I had selected a few songs from the box of jukes and one of the songs started with the lines “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy?” I had to laugh at that. Strange though this place is, I would hate to thing that this was the best fantasy I could come up with – an unpaid accountant, barkeep, up to my elbows in soapy water on an island that would seem to be miles from everywhere.
Within half an hour, I had cleaned up to my satisfaction and took the cloths and bowls into the kitchen to rinse out. Since I was in a cleaning mood, I decided to check the cooling machine, the refrigerator, I believe it is called. Now that was a most interesting experience. When I was younger and still at home, Mother would quite often invite our vicar, the Rev Hilaire Elverson, to dinner. Neither Mother, nor I were particularly religious, but the man had a very smart mind and we used to have the most entertaining and intellectually stimulating discussions. The matter of evolution was a popular topic of discussion, especially when it came to the matter of the conflict between the theory and the tenets of his faith. For a man of the cloth, unlike many of his colleagues, he was very accepting of some parts of the concept. This was not too much of a surprise; I long known, from discussions and his sermons, that he was not one of those that took the Bible at its literal word and had no difficulty in encompassing the Genesis description of Creation and the concept of life evolving from non-life.
What I found in the refrigerator might well have helped him in grasping the latter concept. I have no doubt that some people are from a culture where you did not waste food; even my mother, for all our relative prosperity, hated to see food go to waste, but a few of the left-over dishes had progressed to the stage that no sane person could possibly find them appetising. And I say this as one who has experienced the horrors of the crew galley on board ship when everything is a couple of weeks old. New life was definitely arising out of what I was sure was once Anna’s vegetable quiche. I couldn’t even begin to guess what the filling was of one of the pies, but I swear that the damn thing growled at me. However, I was not about to be intimidated by any damned baked goods, so I girded my loins and banished the various science experiments to the dustbin. To my surprise, the dishes, after a good soaking in the sink, cleaned up very well. I dried them off and since they all appeared to be ones Anna had used, I decided to take them back to her, or at least, leave them in the infirmary.
Once in the infirmary, I was accosted by the nurse, Tabitha, asking my advice about her latest patient. It was the queen. I realise now that this is a somewhat ambiguous description, but in this case, it was the insect one, not Isabella. Tabitha told me that one of the guards had brought her in, after said queen crash-landed on him. She said that she had done her best to patch up the damage, but was at somewhat of a loss. I cannot say that I blame her. I very much doubt that her nursing training included the anatomy of six-foot long insects. I can understand that she might be desperate for advice, but I don’t understand why she asked me, other than that I was the only other person around. I vaguely remember my biology teacher dissecting a locust in class once, but that scarcely qualifies me as an expert. I certainly was not able to answer her question as to what the body temperature should be. The scanner thingy was not a great deal of help, but then, since that thing thinks 37 degrees is a healthy body temperature, I don’t put much faith in it anyway.
The only thing I could think of was that we needed the worker. That time in the tavern, when it, or possibly, she, tried to take the box of jukes apart, I got the strong impression from my mental link with the queen that worker was almost obsessive about repairing things. I was not entirely sure if the damage to the queen was to her exo-skeleton or separate armour. Given what I have gathered about their technology, being somewhat organic it may be hard to tell the difference. Either way, my best thought was to find the worker, who, as I recalled, did not have wings and could need help getting here. I mentioned this to Tabitha, but I’m not sure she got it, which is quite understandable if she hadn’t seen the way the insect brood worked together. The only other thing I could think of doing was initiating contact with the queen, reasoning that I might be able to glean something from her, even if she was unconscious.
I am getting better at establishing contact, but what I got was not useful. Rather than having a silent conversation, as in my previous contacts, this felt more like I was sharing in her dream. And what a dream! I could not imagine such a scene, even on those few occasions that I have experimented with intoxicating substances. It was a ship, a huge ship, presumably one that sailed in space, on what I guess was the equivalent of the bridge or control room. I could not see the queen, but I realised I was seeing the scene through her eyes. The colours and light were strange; blues and purples that almost seemed to glow, much like the markings I have seen on the queen’s armour or exo-skeleton. I was reminded of some substances I have seen that fluoresce under certain types of light. Perhaps insects see using different types of light. Many, many of the queen’s kind – warrior and worker castes – were there, scurrying around, operating instruments whose purpose I could not fathom. It appeared to be in the middle of some violent battle and it was not going well. Instructions were being given in what would have been frantic shouts had it been a human vessel. The warriors were concerned for the queen’s safety. We/she were being hustled away from the bridge amid scenes of chaos. Warriors and workers were scuttling everywhere, trying to repair damage to the ship. We were running, heading for the lifeboats as the vessel rang with the sound of explosions. Escape was paramount; we had to get away, the warrior caste frantically hustling us into a smaller vessel, a sensation of acceleration…
I had to disconnect, as I was losing myself in the scene. This, I have to assume was her memory of the circumstances that brought her here. I told Tabitha that I had not been able to learn anything and went off in search of the nest, hoping I could find the worker and bring her back to the infirmary. I could not find even a trace of the nest, but then I only had a partial faint memory of the queen telling me how they were building a new nest, with no real clue as to where it was. I shall have to try again when she is in a better state of mind. If, indeed, she makes any headway in recovery. I hope she does. I would be sad to lose such an interesting friend.