Bodil's eyelids drifted slowly upwards, the right eyelid seeming to require all the effort her barely conscious brain could muster.
Then her priorities changed and the right eyelid remained at half-mast while the brain's resources were channeled towards reading the glowing blue numerals on her bedside clock. '03:01.
' Its task done, Bodil's brain was left to wonder why it always had to be three in the morning.
With more and more brain cells being roused from their sleep Bodil began to ponder what it was that had woken her up. Bladder? Nope. Leg out of the duvet? Nuh-huh.
Her ears metaphorically tapped her brain on the shoulder. Oh, it's a noise. She listened. A low hum receding off into the distance. The eyelids began to drift closed again. False alarm guys.
But the ears were being persistent. Now the low hum was getting louder or was that 'closer'.
The left eyelid became fully open while the right was still having trouble and remained fixed half way between.
Still reluctant to leave the big warm fluffy land of worry-free sleep, Bodil listened. The hum seemed to get deeper as well as louder until she could feel it reverberate in her chest.
The room remained stubbornly dark.
Bodil cleared the phlegm from her throat and tried again.
This time the circuitry obeyed and the room was filled with almost painful pupil-contracting illumination.
The noise was definitely outside.
Bodil dragged herself out of bed. She ran through a mental list of possible causes while simultaneously crafting a scathing but still polite complaint to the house staff.
By the time she had semi sleep-walked to the window and opened the drapes her still sleepy brain had completed neither.
What she expected to see out of her window was moonlit lawns dotted with artistically placed decorative street lamps romantically lighting the crisscrossing gravel paths.
However, sliding horizontally into view from left to right, and totally obliterating her expectations,
was a mass of heavily scratched and scorched metal that had once probably been painted blue.
Still holding the drapes wide, Bodil continued to watch until a large transparent canopy, perhaps five metres back from the near edge, began to fill most of her field of view.
Bodil's breathing, despite what she thought she was seeing, remained slow and steady.
Meanwhile, inside the canopy,
two black suited and fully helmeted figures sat side by side and seemed to be arguing over something being displayed on some screen just out of sight between the seats.
The two figures were bathed in an orange glow from the instrumentation that surrounded them and neither of them looked up as the animated argument continued.
Bodil's attention was dragged away from this comedic altercation by something moving on the cup-ringed ledge just behind the transparent canopy. She blinked.
A ten centimetre high bobble-headed cartoon figure with painted oriental robes bounced and jiggled as if also engaged in the same argument as the two seated figures.
Bodil watched the little dancing bobble-head toy until it and the argument and the whole mass of humming metal slid away out of sight to the right.
Bodil tilted her head to look after it but, now that the thing had left the cone of light from her window, all she could see was a dull orange glow becoming fainter and fainter as she watched.
Within half a minute Bodil was left looking at the silent, lamplit lawns. In the distance, a dog barked in a suitable stereotypical manner.
She let her feet guide her back to bed. Snuggling down into the recently vacated warmth, her last thought was to idly wonder if she would remember this dream tomorrow.
The following morning there was a note with breakfast.
Dear Professor Hill.
Please accept my apologies for my continued absence during your stay. I trust Ellie proved a suitable proxy.
I am happy to tell you that the matter we discussed in New Flagstaff is about to materialise, albeit earlier than anticipated, and, as I promised,
I want you to be there to witness and to understand.
Perhaps, when today is over,
I will have convinced you that your discretion regarding the erection of the statue of Joe Spivey is part of something truly important that will ultimately be to the benefit of us all.
Bodil read it through again.
"I want you to be there to witness and to understand. What in hell does that mean? Witness what?"
She flipped the small page over to see if there was anything on the other side. Nothing. She turned back and continued.
"... that your discretion... My discretion? What is that, a threat, a bribe? ...that will ultimately be to the benefit of us all. Hmmm."
She had her doubts. About Spivey and his 'importance' for one thing. But mainly about what the damn Troys were up to.
Too many times in the past had her work run up against obstacles and delays that could be laid at the feet of someone linked with the Troy name.
Bodil poured a coffee and held it up to her nose to enjoy the bouquet while she gathered her thoughts.
Is that why I'm here? To add credence to whatever it is they are trying to pull? Bodil felt her feathers begin to ruffle at the thought. Was that why everyone was being so damned secretive?
Damn this was good bacon.
Of course, that could have been why she was given access to The Archive. What was the term? A sweetener. An expression Mr Spivey would be very familiar with she was sure.
The thought of the shady little man trying to butter her up made Bodil smile.
The shower was just a shower.
But it was hot and it was relaxing and it didn't burp and sputter because of air in the pipes and it didn't run cold when more than one person in her apartment block decided to do laundry.
'That will ultimately benefit us all' Oh I love warm towels.
"Well, we'll see."