On the journey to the house of The Man Who Knows Everything, I had time to fill Womble in on the details.
Basically, Mr TMWKE used to work in the Universal Info Exchange*. Over time, and boredom, he stemmed to the rather-bad-yet-highly-expected crime of ‘Stealing from the Workplace’.
Started with pens and notebooks; ended not long after an attempt for the Master Archive Back-Up Drive**.
One hasty and inexperienced download later, and our office worker had everything possible to be known floating around inside his head.
He entered reclusive life very easily, very quickly. Why live among the “Normals” when life lacks any surprise, deaths are predictable and questions never end? Names varied from ‘Oracle’ to ‘Encyclopaedia’ to ‘Smart Arse’.
Philosophers and religion representatives pay for his silence, and he can sue any fact book of his choosing. The smartest men can become the richest.
“And hardest to visit’, I went on. “When you fully understand time travel, laws of physics weak points, limits of human perception and can even know when exactly in advance if you need to put the kettle on, you can really hide away…”
Oh riiiight, Womble wanted some time alone. Although given this ship’s track record that may well become an eternity. Well, I guess if he wants some context badly enough, he’ll ask.
He had some pretty swish looking headphones on him before he wandered off. No idea where they came from, but my respect to him. Headphones do make travel go faster, and I’m partial to the occasional music-based zone-out myself.
And I imagine from experience, he’s learnt that trying to join into one of my monologues while I’m flying the TARDIS is an exercise in futility. Not unlike adding a glass of water to a flood.
Wherever he may be in the box right now, I hope the trip is a bit more relaxing for him.
“Bit like driving a combine harvester over a mass of ‘Keep Out’ signs,” I found myself muttering aloud. “We’ll win, but it’ll take a while.”
As if some great, unseen being had muttered “Oh, very well,” the going got a lot easier, and we managed to land a few feet from Mr Knowledge’s front door. As I clutched at the console, trying to reassure my legs that the ground was now willing to stay still, Womble entered and headed for the exit, moving his headphones to around his neck.
“Now,” I say, straightening up and grabbing the top hat, “I’ve no idea what’s going to happen here. So I guess the usual: act natural, but be ready to run. Oh, and I guess I should say…we must try not to punch him.”
Womble smiles and follows me out.
Please don’t let Mr Knowledge say “I’ve been expecting you.”
*Bit like the offices of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but much, much, much less fun.
**Or, MA-BUD for short. An agonising example of what workplaces can do to humour and originality.