Ohoho, I am nervous to share this with you. But I also want to. It’s a conflicted feeling. So I’m just going to do it. If you hate it, don’t tell me. Or do, but phrase it gently. Maybe just scroll to the comments now, tell me you love me, then come back here and read it.
Here it is:
After several twists and turns, we were into what looked to be a small section of individual offices. She led us to the farthest wall and largest office. A sign on the door said “Peter Tahlman.”
She rapped smartly twice.
The door swung open. Behind it was a man, maybe forty-five. He had a kind face, crisscrossed all over with smile lines, and blue eyes that could only be described as twinkly.
“Ah! So you must be Irina and Blaze. Come in, please. I’ve heard so much about you.”
He ushered us in, and when I looked back, the woman was nowhere to be seen. Off to tend to another pair of teenagers in a locked closet? I thought wryly. Oh, well. Didn’t matter. We’d gotten our meeting.
The man who I presumed, from the sign on the door, was Peter Tahlman, indicated the two chairs opposite his desk.
“Please, sit down. Would you like anything to drink? I have water, but I was in a hot-drink sort of mood, myself, so I had some tea brought in.”
Blaze and I exchanged a look. This man was very … pleasant. I wasn’t sure what I’d expected, but apparently, this wasn’t it.
“Um, sure, yeah, I’d love some tea,” I said.
Mr. Tahlman began to pour. “Blaze?”
“What kind is it?”
“Just an herbal blend. I don’t like to drink caffeine when it gets later. This is a peppermint lemongrass blend, I believe.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Honey for either of you?”
I shook my head.
“I’d love some, thank you,” said Blaze.
Mr. Tahlman finished pouring and handed us each a pristinely white teacup on an accompanying saucer. He picked up his own, took a sip, sighed happily, and lean-sat on the edge of his desk, facing us.
“So, with this taken care of,” he toasted his teacup towards us, “I believe we have some business to discuss. Margaret told me that the two of you are Academy students and you ‘have some information and a request.’ I would love to hear both of those things, in order, if at all possible.”
Blaze and I shared a look. Now that we were here, it was almost hard to begin. Blaze took a long sip of his tea.
“This is really good, Mr. Tahlman. Thanks.” He turned to me. “Irina? I think this is your story to tell.”
I smiled, and said, “It all started with this one assignment the Agency brought me in on. I don’t know what made me notice anything about it, but it stuck with me in a weird way.”
I told him the whole story, up to Blaze and I crashing the demonstration. Blaze occasionally added a detail or two. When we finished, Mr. Tahlman pondered for a moment.
“That’s quite a lot you two have taken upon yourselves,” he said, finally. “And that’s quite a compelling story you have. Your request?”
I took a sip of my now-tepid tea to wet my throat. “Well, even though we do have some people and resources, we don’t have very much of either. That makes it a little hard to plan and execute … well, anything. Add to that the fact that all but one of us are teenagers, and we’ve got a lot going against us. We were hoping … well … ” My heart was beating furiously and I looked to Blaze for help.
“We were hoping we could sort of absorb ourselves into your organization. Yield to your experience, manpower, and resources. But we also want to do something about the Agency. And Academy. We aren’t sure what that means, and need your help to figure it out, but we’ve decided our best chance is to combine forces with you. Without you, we’re just a bunch of kids.”
“Kids with a cause and who will do whatever they can,” I added, feeling the need to defend our group. “But we can’t deny the fact that we’re working at a real disadvantage. And you’d make up the difference.”
Mr. Tahlman was silent, and I couldn’t calm my heart rate. He set down his cup and saucer and crossed around to his side of the desk, sitting in his chair. He folded his hands, elbows on the desktop, and pressed his fingers to his lips, thinking.
Could he draw out the suspense any more? Blaze said.
I shot him a glance. Shut up.
Dude, I’m not even talking.
I didn’t respond, my eyes locked on Mr. Tahlman.
Finally, he sat back, picking up a pencil and twirling it in his fingers, and answered.
I can’t tell you guys what the answer was. That would be a spoiler. But anyway, there’s a The Psychnomast snippet for you. Proof that I am actually, actively working on it again – that scene didn’t exist four days ago. 🙂