Thursday, February 22, 2018

Korm's Master (Part Six)

It was no wonder that he was feeling fractious as the fall started. Five months had passed in this betwixt and between state, and he seemed no closer to his goal. It was during the days of the Autumn Festival, when the School was mostly deserted and even Master Belmok had traveled into the suburbs to visit his ancient mother, still somehow miraculously alive, that something finally happened.

In the few days of the old Morg's absence, Korm had been acting out a little fantasy. In the morning, having kindled the fire in the front office, he sat down behind the Master's desk with a selected volume, ink and paper for notes by his side, and then worked for the day as if he did indeed belong there. Looking up every now and then at the spotless shelves and gleaming accouterments, their restored condition, at least, the product of his labor, he felt a propriatary thrill, as if they were a hopeful prophecy of his future. A small sign outside the door gave notice of the Master's absence and kept anyone from peering in on his meager indulgence.

On the final morning of the holiday, Korm crept from his cold cramped cabinet, through the silent space of the early morning hall, and eased his way through the entrance of the office. With the school mostly abandoned, there was really no need to be so stealthy, but something about the hour seemed to forbid noise. He closed the door, and made his way through the dim chamber to where the banked fire glowed dimly on the hearth.

He grabbed some sticks of kindling, and thrust them down through the ashes into the live embers beneath. He crouched watching for a few moments until he was sure the wood had caught fire, then creaked back to his feet, satisfied. When Master Belmok came back this afternoon, the chambers would be nice and toasty. In the meantime, the young Morg would be quite comfortable in the last hours of his imaginary way of life.

He looked around the room in the growing light of the fire, thinking about which book to shuffle through in the early hours of the day before he could expect the old Morg's return. His eyes snagged on a bundle of old brown rags piled on one of the visitors' chairs. That hadn't been there when he'd left last night.

Then he remembered that he'd requested some of the groundskeepers be sent to touch up the pocked and crumbling plaster along the walls. They had obviously dumped these tarps off last night in preparation of a day's work. He frowned at the thought about the infringement on his last moments of free time, and stumped over in irritation to throw the pile to the floor. It certainly shouldn't have been left on the furniture, anyway.

He put his hands on the pile of rags, and to his shock it burst into startling, struggling life. He jumped back in consternation, gaping, and watched as the growling bundle thrust out arms and legs and finally tossed back a folded hood to reveal a round white head with a short scruffy beard. Two blazing blue eyes glared at him in angry confusion.

"You're a Man!" Korm barked.

"Last time I checked, son," the other said crossly. The old man stretched out his scrawny brown limbs and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, looking around. He focused on the young Morg and seemed to suddenly realize where he was. He smiled wanly and leapt out of the chair.

(To Be Continued...)

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