The window in Bookworm Hienrich’s office at Militia headquarters was open to the warm evening, letting in air that was, if not exactly fresh, at least better than the stuffiness that had prevailed inside all through winter and early spring. As she sat at her desk, taking care of a few last reports, Bookworm heard a thread of humming drift in, followed by a familiar voice musing, “So, 40 feet. Let’s see – think I used 40 feet already, so an extra 80? Hmmm… or is that the other way around?”
Her curiosity piqued by this monologue, Bookworm rose and went outside, finding Beatrixe Rouse standing in the street, facing away from her. “Well, of course the tunnel will need the extra 80, silly,” she said to herself.
“Hello, Miss Rouse,” Bookworm said. “What are you up to this fine evening?”
Beatrixe turned slowly, her bulky mechanical parts causing her movements to be rather pronounced and jerky. “Hello! The boss asked me to dig a tunnel a little deeper for him under the asylum. Just trying to find out where the land needs to end, of course.” She paused. “Or is it begin?”
“Goodness – how far is he planning to take it?” Bookworm eyed the distance between where they were standing and the bulk of the Asylum building standing nearby.
“That’s a good question. He said just a small room, so I figured to right about this side of the street would do it.”
“I see.” Bookworm softly added, “I wonder what he’ll use it for…”
“Oh, he said that’s a secret, so he’d better not tell me when I asked him!” Beatrixe shrugged. “Anyway, if you hear any digging anytime soon, don’t worry about it. It’s not the mole men! And most certainly not the ravens, either!”
Bookworm nodded solemnly. “How are you doing? Are your replacement limbs working well for you?”
“Replacement limbs?” Beatrixe looked down at herself. “Ohh! You mean my new arm and stuff. Yeah, that and the laudanum nightly are really nice. They make the parties even better.” She smiled brightly, though Bookworm raised an eyebrow at the mention of laudanum. “So if you need anything,” Beatrixe continued, “just whistle! My new ear sometimes even hears things!”
“I’ll be sure to do that.” Bookworm smiled and began to turn away.
“Oh, and one more thing I have to tell you!”
Bookworm paused and looked back at Beatrixe. “Yes?”
“The building here that you’re in? It’s sinking a bit. Probably should have that checked out.”
“Sinking?” she asked apprehensively.
“Probably just normal wear and tear. Weight in the building, and all.” Bea paused. “Don’t have a basement, do you?”
“We do, actually.” Bookworm frowned, thinking over all the archived materials and evidence stored down there.
“Well, I wouldn’t worry about it. Just have someone fix it! I’m going to get the things from City Hall to dig the things. Bye-bye!” With a cheerful wave, Beatrixe skipped off. Bookworm almost called after her to remind her that City Hall was closed by now, but decided it would likely be a futile effort. Chewing her lip, she stepped backward into the street for a moment, looking over the building. Finally, she went back inside, and left a note for the volunteer on duty the next morning, asking him to send for someone to inspect the building.