Pauline Wayne doesn’t often get called into the Room, unless it’s for a group meeting. On some level, that’s what she’s been expecting. At least, she would think that it’s going to be more than just her and Cornwallis.
And yet, that’s exactly what it is.
“Oh,” says Pauline Wayne.
Cornwallis tilts his head to the side. “Well, that’s one way to greet someone, I suppose.”
“Oh! No, I’m sorry!” Pauline Wayne swishes her tail. There are no flies here, but it’s an ever present habit. “I was just surprised to see that, well, there wasn’t anyone else here.”
Cornwallis makes an amused sound. “Who were you expecting, exactly?”
“Well, I’m not sure. Just…not just me?”
“Am I not here?”
“It can’t just be you if I’m also here,” says Cornwallis. “But that’s enough dather. I’m sure you know what you’re here for.”
“A job, I suppose.” Pauline Wayne looks around the Room, taking in the smooth white walls and the currently unlit doggy doors. They lead to countless other places in time, some of them even going beyond the White House and to various farms or small homes. “But I couldn’t tell you what sort of job would be best suited me. Especially not just me.”
“Now see, neither could I.” Cornwallis stands up, giving himself a hard shake. He’s all long legs and remarkably short fur. “The Room didn’t bother to tell me that. She just told me that having you here was important.”
“You don’t even know where I’m supposed to be going?” Pauline Wayne almost can’t believe it. She knows that the Room often works in mysterious ways, but she’s never been in a situation quite like this before. Still, when Cornwallis starts to walk away from his usual perch, Pauline Wayne follows him.
They move through the circular room, walking past each door in turn. Eventually, one of them lights up. The light is a dim, rusty looking orange.
“I’ve never seen that color light before,” says Pauline Wayne.
Cornwallis can’t keep the faint trace of concern off his face. His tail, no longer wagging, lowers just slightly. “If I’m being perfectly honest with you, Pauline – “
“Pauline Wayne, actually.”
“ – if I’m being perfectly honest with you, Pauline Wayne, neither have I.” Cornwallis squints, hard. “I’m not entirely sure what year this door belongs to either, or what President. I suppose that’s what the Room has planned, though, so you shouldn’t worry about it too much.”
“If I’m being perfectly honest with you, Cornwallis,” says Pauline Wayne, in counter. “That seems like exactly the kind of thing you should be worried about.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author