There was nothing unusual about the conference room. The warm red light filled every crook and cranny, the soft, steady hum of a properly run machine in the background, the pulse in the foreground, steady and reassuring as always. It was the atmosphere brought about by the three of them. It was hostile and suspicious. The argument had been going on for some time.
Physical said accusingly, “It must be her fault. I tell you I won’t allow it any more. My territory has been under attack and frankly, I am sick of it. If Emotion has a problem, why isn’t she telling us?”
“Because,” Emotion practically screamed, “it’s not me. You two always say it’s me. Well, it’s not. I am telling you that I have been swamped. All my details have reported back and there isn’t one leakage. You know as well as I do that I have always had signal guards posted. Well, two have disappeared. And, that could be by either one of you.”
Her words hung in the moist heavy air.
Mental moved uneasily. “Now, Emotion, to accuse me is the height of absurdity. Why would I remove your guards? Or, for that matter, why would Physical?”
She moved in the resigned negative. “I don’t know. I see no reason why either of you would. The fact remains they are missing. What about you two? What has been happening with your territories?”
Mental said slowly, “Well, there have been the bad headaches. Physical never cleared those with me, nor did I request them.”
Physical started. “Yes, you did. I heard you very clearly. I can check my commands. Every one of those headaches was properly ordered. And I know that because the eye sector complained, as did neck and shoulders.”
Mental repeated, “I did not ask for them.”
“Well, what are you saying? That I attacked without permission? Ridiculous. It puts too much strain on the surrounding sectors. What about that doctor’s visit? Hmm? Whose idea was that? Come on, Brain, you’re pretty free with your accusations, how about some answers?”
Mental spun to face him head on. “You are very rude and very rash, as usual. When the headaches continued and you didn’t respond to my messages — ”
“I never got any messages.” Physical said positively.
Mental began to shrug, when Emotion interrupted, “Just a minute. Listen to what we are saying. You two have frequently accused me of paranoia, but we have never had this happen before. When we have had trouble, we meet, we design a solution for our subject’s health and well being and put it in to operation. We have never had this breakdown in communications before. Do you understand what I am saying?” She looked around.
Both of them instinctively lowered their voices to a whisper. “No, what?”
She beckoned them closer and said softly, “I think there is an intruder on the premises.”
Both Mental and Physical drew backwards. “It’s impossible. It couldn’t happen.”
“We know when there’s interference.”
She said steadily, “There has never been any reason to doubt our word before. All of us have worked together and yet, here we are accusing one another of …, well, sabotage.”
To Be Continued…
Note 1: The Intruder is copyrighted 1986.
Note 2: This is part of the AWOL Manual, “When to Lay the Weapons Down,” copyrighted 1995, renewed 2008.