It started to rain just as the trio stepped out the door into the Street. Pilot ran back inside, and grabbing two Umbrellas from a Stand in the Store, he returned to the curb, where Dorothy and George were waiting expectantly under the concrete overhang. The three walked along the wet sidewalk to the Restaurant, Dorothy and George walking ahead under a large Black Umbrella. Pilot followed behind, under his own Blue Umbrella. It is in this way that Elevators, by and large, stayed dry in Rainy City.
After Dinner, walking home in the rain Pilot was left to his own ministrations under his portable navy blue tent. Dorothy had been eager to share her progress with her meeting with Mr. Owedewells, who liked Dorothy and had a Lead for a big Computer Project. George had been his usual quiet and questioning self until Pilot had piped in about something he had heard earlier that day in Mr. Owedewells’ shop, the Zippy Print store down the street. Pilot had gone there earlier to make several copies of the Inventory Blank—and also to get out of the Computer Store for a few minutes. He could easily have printed extra Blanks with the Epsom Printer, but it was “six of one, half a dozen of the other,” which cost more; using the Epsom Printer at their shop or the big Zeroz Machine next door, so since it was slow in the Store that day, Pilot had gone next door for the change of scenery. While there, he happened to hear Mr. Owedewells talking on the phone about the annual Zippy Conference in Tomorrowland, next month. Dorothy’s eyes opened just a bit wider and George raised his eyebrows, wrinkling his large round forehead.
“What if we could show the System we are developing for Mr. Owedewells’ shop to all the Zippy Stores in Tomorrowland, next month?” quizzed Dorothy. George thought this a good idea. Pilot wondered how all this was to occur. Tomorrowland wasn’t parsecs away, but it was far enough. It required flight and Pilot, for one, still hadn’t learned how to fly. Plus, the System the Computer Store had been developing for Mr. Owedewell was enormous. Far bigger than Dorothy or George or Pilot, even. With these questions in mind but few answers Pilot found himself thinking following Dinner.
After coffee, Dorothy and George went to their house and Pilot walked back to the Medieval Mansions. He was now living with Mary, not Robert, but Mr. Farley had not changed much. The Landlord was as gruff and unpredictable as ever. Pilot could go days or weeks without seeing him when suddenly he would pop up in the downstairs entrance fiddling with a lock or a spring or some mechanism of the door. He’d eye Pilot with that inscrutable gimlet eye of his, grunt out some inexplicable new rule, like “Don’t use the downstairs entrance!” and resume his work.
Pilot now lived on the ground floor, in Mary’s apartment, which was brighter and even lovelier. Mary, like Robert, had a Lease with Mr. Farley and Pilot was still a ‘roomie’. While Pilot’s initial experience of ‘Home’ had been excited at first by living at the Medieval Mansions, he felt now that this was not the permanent Home that he somehow sought. One reason he knew this was that Mary held the Lease. This was some kind of special paper ritual that even Dorothy and George had at the Computer Store. It provided certain magical qualities and evoked Responsibilities.
Even so, he felt good about his living situation. Mary had helped, as she was bright and cheerful, much like Mother some days, and he loved the cool grey wood trim and wide wainscotting throughout their apartment; the white painted walls, the high ceilings, the stained glass windows in the doors and the neat hexagonal tiles covering the cool bathroom floor, with its ancient heavy porcelain fixtures and giant bathtub.
That night, Pilot had a dream:
Pilot was speaking in front of a vast audience in an unknown auditorium someplace in Tomorrowland. All around him were lights shining in his armor and he could feel their heat on his heat shields. In the darkness arrayed in front of him there were thousands of bodies, each in an elevator, each with a pair of camera-eyes staring expectantly up at him up on a high stage. He looked down at the podium in front of him and placed his palms there. Immediately the room went dark.
Pilot was walking in a dense forest composed of deep green branches and dense leafy undergrowth. The light was dim and indirect and he had no sense of direction. There were bushes, but Pilot could see no trees. Around him, he detected shadowy, indistinct figures. Scrambling forward and tripping on a hidden stone, he fell onto his hands and knees. Pilot got up and walked further into the woods. He could feel the soft ground giving way to more and more hard stones. Almost tripping again, he looked down and was sure that now he was looking at the cobblestones of some old pavement.
He walked further and then, bending down, he looked more closely at the ground. Bending over, and brushing aside the leaves he uncovered an old tile floor, made of tiny, ancient hexagons. He stood up; looking around he saw a large, cavernous bathroom made of gleaming white porcelain and shiny chrome fittings. Startled by the change of scene, he lunged forward, almost falling again, but instead was saved from landing on his face by his palms pressing on either side of a large oval porcelain vanity. He looked down at the hands, which seemed otherworldly. Raising his neck slightly, he could see a white bar of soap on one side of the faucet. On the other there rested a dead bird. A robin he thought, or perhaps a sparrow? He looked up and there in front of him,was a large faceted mirror. In it he saw a Man with a Hat On and Golden Eyes. He removed the Hat and saw that underneath it was a fine Crown of golden curls. He tried gazing into the radiant eyes and seemed to see someone he recognized from a Long Time Ago. Who’s was this sparkling face? Looking down at the soap he traced the letters impressed into it. I-V-O-R-Y.