Part 2: A Step Forward
Alo shook his head again, grimacing. “I’m not doing very well at this. Collins is the expert on Trium and related studies. When he reappears, he’ll be able to illuminate much more than I have. Sorry I couldn’t be more help…”
“No, you are helping,” Tomas said quickly, as Alo trailed off.
“A little,” Kari said under her breath. If Alo heard her, he didn’t let on.
Tomas was shooting a glance at Kari when a single, loud knock popped out from the door behind them. They jumped, and after a brief moment, two more sharp knocks sounded out.
Alo nodded. “Come in, Collins. It’s not locked.”
The door opened, and the diminutive man entered. “Things are going smoothly in here, I hope. He’s answered your questions?”
“As best I could, sir. They crossed rather neatly into your area of expertise before I knew what happened.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I’m here, then. What did y’all want to know?”
“Alo was just explaining Trium,” Kari said, looking the large, dark-skinned man in the eye. Consciously or not, he shrank back just noticeably.
Noticeable for Tomas, at least. Collins was wasting no time pulling a fourth chair up [mc1] to the corner next to Alo and across from Kari. He was just about to sit when he heard that final word—Trium. Instead of sitting, he popped up and went to lock the door. The click of the key in the lock behind Kari and Tomas made them squirm; [Tomas didn’t even realize it until after he’d noticed Kari’s discomfort, but suddenly that stone room began to feel very small indeed.]
Alo smiled faintly. “I told you this is his field,” he said to Kari and Tomas. To Collins, he said, “Want the big chair?”
“No thanks,” he said, sitting with a flourish of his cape. “So what’s already been discussed? In fact, no. Tomas, why don’t you tell me what you’ve learned and we’ll go from there.”
“Oh, well…” Tomas thought for a moment. “Alo…didn’t get to say all that much before you arrived. He said She made us…and controls us…or not? But He’s also the Father and Almighty?” Tomas shook his head, confused. “Am…I remembering wrong?”
Collins smiled widely. “No, you’re right on track. Infinity is baffling to the finite. Don’t worry, you learn to live with it. Anything else?” He leaned his elbows on the desk before him and laced his fingers, as if he were very excited and working to keep it in check.
Tomas shook his head slowly.
Kari jumped a little before saying, “He said something about…uhm…permission.” Her eyebrows furrowed, and she sat back crossing her arms.”
Collins applauded quietly, an impressed look on his face. He turned and looked up at Alo first, who did his best to contain a smile, then swept his clapping hands past Tomas, then Kari, that same impressed look on his face; [albeit now with much more contained amusement behind it.] “Alo, it seems you’ve covered the most important pieces. Not only that, but you two caught them! Through no small effort of your own, I’m sure. Wonderful.” He breathed a short yet heavy sigh, clearly one of relief. “I have a story to tell you, if you’ll listen. It’s…central to both my work and my life. Thus, know that this is a rather personal thing for me to do, telling this story.”
Still confused and agitated, Kari and Tomas nodded.
They glanced at each other, which relaxed them just a bit. Then, Tomas said, “You certainly have our attention, Collins. But…we’re very tired of feeling in the dark. If this is only going to make us feel more lost, I’m not sure we want it.” He glanced at Kari again.
She nodded at him, then determinedly at Collins.
“Fair enough,” the balding man said. “I don’t think it will, but I’ll be right here until you’re out of questions. Honestly. This is the last thing I have to do today, so we have as much time together as you want.” He seemed to notice the locked door behind Kari and Tomas, so he added, “And only that. Leave if you’d like; the key’s in the door. Apologies for locking that so abruptly. Shared office and all that.”
Kari and Tomas both relaxed visibly. “We’ll listen, Collins.”
“Alo? You’ve heard this before…”
“I’ll stay, sir. You tell it best.”
“Well, then.” Collins cracked his knuckles loudly. Let’s begin…”