“Sir the fifth logic wheel in data mill five is out of sync with the detector processor.”
“Wondered if I could have your advice, about it.”
“Ah, well.. you should sync up the .. the what you said, you should synch them.”
“Boss, I’m ‘avin some trouble with that. It seems like the co-differentiators is developing oscillations at rotations over a rate-o..”
Spires listened for awhile and finally said, “Well its seems like you’re on the right track. If I told you how to do everything, what would be the point of having a first rate assistant?” Pat on the back, exit stage right.
The shoulder wound from the gunshot still ached as he opened the front door from within. No one ever thought much about the minute differences in germs from one alternate reality to another, but for Spires it had meant terrible diarrhea from the town’s questionable food, and beverages, and the fact that his wounds continued to get reinfected. If this town had smallpox, he was done for.
He stood outside the telegraphy office staring at the gray bulk of the city’s cathedral, one of the few buildings he recognized. He’d been born in Babbage of course, but Babbage wasn’t a military town, neither here nor in his own reality. He’d moved on, indeed had not returned for years until the fateful night of the battle with that one particularly difficult angel and that bastard Jonathon Spires.
Religion here was somewhat different, but the stones of mother church looked like the only thing to cling to, a cliff face against the smoke, dirty, and confusion. He walked across a bridge, and then within.
A monk stood sweeping the floor in very precise movements. It seemed he was doing some sort of meditative movements while being productive. In his own reality the monks were overweight navel gazers attending the occasional baby blessing or funeral. Here they were nearly a force majeure.
“Mr Spires.” the monk said by way of greeting. It was annoying being fairly well known in a city where he knew virtually no one’s name. It had led to several uncomfortable moments, particularly with that Mrs Argylle person. Or was it Pierce?
“Blessed Brother. Is it acceptable hours for Confession?”
The monk looked at him curiously, “We have no such tradition, but I will listen if you like. You have my promise of secrecy if you wish it. “
The vast interior was empty save for the two of them. “I guess I wish it. It’s just that, I’m feeling very out of place. Well I AM out of place. There’s no question of it.”
“There are a myriad things I am supposed to do, but I haven’t an idea how to do them. I feel like an imbecile. I’m relearning to be myself but I have no idea who I was to begin with. I can’t connect with anyone. I’m homesick. I miss my family. And there’s guilt: It’s hard to explain, but I did something terrible to myself, and it’s bothering me a lot more than I thought that it would. I keep seeing my body dropping into that slimy green water..”
“Troubled by bad dreams as well?” the monk asked, “Curious.”
Spires would have slumped his shoulders but a lifetime of military training prevented it. “What would you do?” he finally said.
“You’re internal battles are not coherent enough for you to sort out yet. It seems logical for you to aim your actions and conscious thought on external actions. Make yourself useful. Help others. Concentrate there”
Help others. “Just, simple as that?”
The monk nodded and returned to sweeping. “If you’re smart enough.”
“I am. I was, anyway.” Help others.