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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Malpass

Secret Meeting

It's late. A thin man wearing a hoodie is standing in the shadows in an alleyway outside a nondescript steel door. His hood swings slowly to the left and right, his hidden eyes verifying the alleyway is empty except for him. He removes a scrawny hand from the front pocket of his hooded jacket and presses the call box button to the right of the door.

There's a pause, then a soft clicking sound and a dim blue light pops on near the call box. From underneath his hood, the guy mutters "darkness is light." Another pause and a second click, this one easy to identify as the sound of a magnetic bolt disengaging. The man in the hoodie pulls the door open and steps inside.

Automatic lights begin to flicker and glow, revealing a richly carpeted anteroom complete with two upholstered sofas, a couple of oversized chairs—even a coffee table. Very reminiscent of the waiting room of some fancy doctor's office. But is there something unusual about the art and other decorations in the fancy waiting room? Like that oil painting displayed above the sofa over there? Isn't that the Minotaur preparing to capture and devour another prisoner of his Labyrinth? Creepy.

Roaming the passageways of his Labyrinth, the Minotaur comes upon Theseus.

Roaming the passageways of his Labyrinth, the half-bull, half-human Minotaur comes upon Theseus, the Greek prince.

There's not enough time to investigate further, though, as the thin man quickly crosses to an open elevator and steps inside. He pulls out an elevator key, inserts it smoothly into the control panel, and makes several stabs with his index finger at the touchscreen. The elevator doors close and he begins a swift ascent. As the elevator continues to climb, the man pulls back his hood. He looks to be about fifty years old, with vaguely Mediterranean features. His short, gray-brown hair is thinning somewhat, and he has a neatly trimmed beard.

He rides in silence, casually watching the touchscreen as the numbers count up: 22...23...24.... The elevator begins to slow now and comes to a complete halt as the touchscreen flashes PH—penthouse level. The doors swish open and the thin man steps into a large, dimly lit room filled with weird, glowing electronic equipment and populated by more than a dozen—um, technicians, maybe?—deployed at various workstations dotting the room's perimeter. The center of the room is cordoned off, and there's some sort of darkly shimmering carpet thing on the floor within the cordoned area.

It's clearly some sort of operations center, but just like downstairs in the waiting room, things seem a little off. For one thing, everybody in the room looks very skinny, very gaunt. Think "bags of bones." Seriously, these emaciated skeletons need to take better care of themselves. Also, the lighting is quite insufficient. There are shadows almost everywhere along the floor, creating a bona fide tripping hazard; likewise, the ceiling is up there somewhere, unseen. And the room is filled with faintly disturbing odors and eerie squeaking sounds.

Besides the technicians there are two supervisors stationed at opposite ends of the operations floor. The nearer supervisor floats over to the—well, I was going to say thin man, but compared to these starving ghouls, he's positively portly!—with quick, tiny steps. "Ha ha, Brother Baphomet! How nice of you to drop by. Darkness is light!" she squeals unctuously.

Brother Baphomet glances down at the identification badge clipped to her collar. "Ah, Sister Stheno, is it? Am I saying that right? Darkness is light, sister. Are you she who summoned me here tonight?"

"Yes brother, because of the incident in Daniel's biology class earlier today."

Brother Baphomet curses profanely under his breath. "Shut up, you idiot! Never utter my son's real name again, under any circumstances! Do you understand me, you simpering moron?"

Sister Stheno recoils reflexively. "Oh oh, my brother! Forgive my carelessness! I'm such a bungling birdbrain, aren't I? Ha ha, what a ridiculous old fool I am." She cackles and chortles like a madwoman. "Of course, I meant the incident in Prince Moloch's biology class today. Yes, Moloch, of course. Ha ha ha!"


(Image courtesy of Warriors of Myth)

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