Where was I, before I started my little description of this charming place ?
Oh, yes. I remember now...
So there I was, standing in front of the Pannel, when I heard a noise from behind. In the hours I had already spent here, I had of course been surprised once or twice by a rat moving, or somesuch, but that didn't sound like it. Not at all.
So I turned around, of course. And there was I facing two other human beings. Or what looked like it anyway. One of them was a woman. The other one appeared to be a dwarf.
See, I said I'd been there for hours. I don't know, really. Could have been mere minutes, could have been as much as a day. Hard to tell with no time reference. Most of the clocks in the mall, when there were any, were broken, and the other ones seemed to say what they wanted, basing themselves on criteria only understandable by stupid, human-hating machinery. And my own watch wasn't feeling very weel, lately. So, I'd been there for what could not have been more than, say, twelve hours, but you cannot imagine the effect it had on me to see other human beings.
And one of them was a woman.
Let's not be misunderstood, here : I'm not horny enough that I would droll all over the first woman I saw after a day. Like most men, I had periods full of women, and there were times when it seemed like no woman could ever possibly consider getting close enough to me to ask for a cigarette. So, women came and went in my life, some even stayed for a while. I've done with and I've done without. No big deal to stay a day or two without seing the tail of one. I'd had my lonely days, too, when I stayed inside my flat and didn't see anybody for days, not even answering the phone, looking through the window or watching TV. But this was different.
I didn't feel horny at all at the time. Just relieved. Other living people was a thing ; a woman was another. If there was a woman, there was hope. Don't ask me why. 'Guess I've had too many bad youthful readings.
Maybe, these two were guards, about to throw me out - YES !! - or worse. Who cared ? I was not alone anymore.
The woman - well, maybe girl would be more exact - seemed to be in here middle twenties. Short hair, black ; thin, not too much ; not enough breast to star in a big budget movie, but too much for a classical dancer ; looked sportive enough ; face looked like it could have been nice, once cleaned up a little and after a long nap in a comfortable place ; the look on this face right now expressed only mistrust, defiance, maybe a little anger, and more than a little weariness. She was dressed in casual clothes, that somehow didn't seem to fit together : a black tight jean, a "I've been in New York" faded T-shirt (later I would see that it read "And I survived to tell the tale" on the back), on top of which a leather flyjacket culminated ; Dock Marteen's shoes (like the Pope and Madonna), the purple kind ; and a red handkerchief tied around the neck.
The midget was quite another story. Well, for one thing, he was small, of course. And quite large, at that. Square shoulders, which made him look almost square himself. He looked like a guy in his fifties, with grayish hair and beard. There, I've said it. Now you'll think he was like these magical dwarves in Tolkien or whatever. No, not that kind of beard. It was untidy, dry, going in all directions at once, as was his hair ; the guy was dressed in what could have been the children's version of a used light brown tweed suit, complete with a butterfly bow, a stripped white-and-brown shirt that was out of fashion twenty years ago, dark brown velvet pants, and "santiago" leather boots. To tell the truth, the guy looked like a bum just out of a charity shop - except for the boots, stolen on a sleeping cowboy or something.
There I was, staring at these to from top to bottom, wondering what they really were and what they were doing here, when the girl finally opened her mouth. And, most miraculous event, after having done that : she spoke !
"So, who the hell are you supposed to be ?"
NEXT... NO EXIT.