Spoiler Alert ~ Scroll carefully, my friend, the Intruder is revealed in the last sentence.
They were in conference once again. Everyone was tired, a little irritable and cranky, and thus, not alert. The Intruder slipped in without any of the three noticing.
“My God, but I am tired.” Physical said, yawning with effort.
Emotion said, “I’ll second that. I have never seen a mess like what we have been dealing with.”
Mental straightened up with difficulty. “I ache in every parallel line.”
“Try diagonal.” Physical said with a wryness that, in the past, had been foreign to him.
“Or horizontal.” Emotion said, joining in. She sighed. “It’s been a long time.”
Physical muttered, “You’re telling me.”
Mental frowned at the other two. “Don’t you dare look in my direction. It takes three to tango, you know.”
Physical said wistfully, “It didn’t used to.”
Emotion laughed. “It sure didn’t.”
Mental growled. “Well, times change. My God, She changed. She is so damn picky now…”
Emotion became defensive. “Now, just a minute –”
Mental waved her down. “Not you. Her. Our subject. Haven’t you noticed? None of the old ways work anymore. Well,” He amended, “Most of them don’t.”
“It’s true.” Said Physical wonderingly. “It’s not the same territory anymore. Why, damn it, She’s become practically respectable. Goes to bed at decent hours –”
Mental and Emotion chorused, “Don’t look at us!”
There was a pause.
Mental said slowly, distinctly, “If it’s not us doing the imputing, then who is? The intruder? We’ve never found him or her. It’s still wandering around. It seems to have become contained, but I doubt very much through our efforts.”
There was a polite cough.
The three froze. They knew their coughs, it wasn’t one of theirs. Slowly, carefully, they turned in every direction, looking for the new voice.
“Actually, you are not being fair to yourselves.” The Intruder said judiciously, as he came forward into the light.
They gasped in concert when they saw him.
Surrounded entirely in a nimbus, the voice continued softly. “You all did a magnificent job of teamwork at the end.” It became firmer. “It was a pity it took until the end, of course. A lot of disorder and chaos could have been contained, if not prevented, had you all worked from the beginning. But then, that’s my job.”
The three looked at the Intruder. For once, there wasn’t a single doubt amongst them. In perfect sync, they said, “And, what is your job?”
The Intruder looked surprised. “Why to take charge of Her, of course. That is my job, you know.”
Mental said, “Really, you just happened to show up now? Where have you been?”
Again, that polite cough. “Ah, well, it takes about thirty years or so for me to materialize.”
Though the three were bewildered, defensive and understandably upset, they rallied. “What gives you the right? You are the intruder here. We have always been here. So, just what gives you the right?”
The Intruder paused, and, when he had their complete attention, said softly, “Ah well, you see, I am the Soul.”
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.