“Excuse me,” the quiet voice said from behind Walton. “Are you Mister Donlon?”
“Yes.” He turned to find a smallish person in a uniform and cap, holding a sign that said, “Dalton,” but which he hadn’t noticed as he passed through the security gate.
“I’m your driver, Deen. This way, please.”
Deen didn’t offer to take his bag, as some drivers did, but given it was almost the size of the other person, he thought it might be awkward for them to both carry and lead the way through the station and out to the vehicle. “I wasn’t expecting a driver.”
“Missus Heatherington said you wouldn’t be, though she said to remind you she’s mentioned it in every single weekly call for the past month, and emailed reminding you.”
“Oh.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket, found the most recently email from Erma, which did indeed tell him to expect the driver and that they might be a little difficult to spot. “So she did. Terribly sorry.”
“Not a worry, sir. We understand Missus Heatherington’s friends tend to have other things on their mind when they arrive.”
That was putting it generously, and even Walton didn’t think he was the most distracted of Erma’s visitors. It was just the way things went when one’s friend group was focused on matters of holding reality together or tearing it in just the right ways.
“Here you are, Sir,” Deen said, pointing to the chariot that sat parked at the curb, driven by a pair of caribou this year.
“Is it winter already?”
Walton stowed his bag on the back of the carriage and then climbed aboard, sinking into the plush seats. He watched through the window as Deen leapt to the driver’s seat, which was at least four times their height above ground. They took the reins in hand and snapped them to get the caribou moving. As the station fell away behind them, Walton returned to his phone, scanning through the other messages he’d missed while distracted.
Technically, he knew he was always distracted. There was always something to pull his attention from the here and now, usually questions of what could be, what might be, and if they should be. He didn’t have to handle such matters for all of reality, but he had his own little portion of it, and lately he’d gotten into his head an interesting idea. This was the reason for his visit to Erma’s retreat, though he didn’t know if it was because he wanted to talk her into it, or to talk him out of it.
But he’d been doing this for a very long time, and he was tired of the predictability of it all. Perhaps trying something different wouldn’t be the end of all things. In fact, it had the potential to be the beginning for a great many things. If, and that he knew was a very big if, they were willing to expand reality, its possibilities, and the very nature of truth.