The Inklings: Chapter 78

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When Syafika went back to her old office to meet Leah she noticed that everyone else was back at work but her old desk was still empty. Helen and Julie came over and asked her how her new job was and soon everyone was milling around her, but Syafika wasn’t sure how much anyone knew. Nobody showed her any sympathy so she wasn’t sure if they had just decided not to mention her having had to leave in disgrace or if they had been told she’d decided to leave instead of being forced to. Syafika thought Helen and Julie might be a bit cross with her, but wasn’t sure. She hadn’t been close to Helen or Julie since they abandoned her in the pub.

Leah came out of her special office in the corner and suggested to Syafika that they go out to a café for coffee.

“What happened?” asked Leah as soon as she and Syafika had settled down at café table.

Syafika wished she’d been given a narrower question to answer. She didn’t know whether Leah wanted to know the sequence of events or whether she wanted to know why Syafika had stuffed up. Syafika decided to give her the sequence of events – she didn’t understand how she’d stuffed up anyway.

So Syafika told Leah about the phonecall she’d received and the email she’d sent in response. And then about how Glenda had come for her a couple of days later but Christine had rescued her and had told her that Joe had made some kind of mistake and blamed her for it.

“Joe was meant to be looking after you while I was away” said Leah, in an exasperated voice. “I’m sorry” said Leah.

Syafika hadn’t been expecting this. She started to cry.

Leah gave Syafika some tissues and patted her on the shoulder. When Syafika had calmed down Leah asked her how her new job was going and told her that if it had been up to her Syafika wouldn’t have had to move. Leah explained that she’d told Syafika’s team that Syafika had chosen to move and hoped that was ok.

When the coffee was all gone and it was time for Leah and Syafika to get back to work Leah handed Syafika her card saying “If you ever need my help please call me.”



The Inklings: Chapter 77

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Anthony was more worried than angry as he ran away. He was under a lot of pressure at the moment and he knew that if he made any mistakes his life could be ruined.

When Anthony ran past the spot where Syafika had been hiding the day before he smiled as he remembered how Syafika had followed him on his run. Anthony had taken an extra long and convoluted route just to make sure Syafika really was following him. He had enjoyed being chased by Syafika but wasn’t sure if it was just another one of her games or if she really thought he hadn’t noticed her.

Anthony decided he’d probably need to call Syafika soon because she might be able to tell him things that Nelson wouldn’t. Thinking of Syafika made Anthony feel happy, and he smiled. When Anthony realized he was smiling it made him remember how dangerous it was for him to interact with Syafika.It wasn’t unusual for him to develop a fondness for people he had spent a lot of time watching, but with Syafika it was worse than usual. Anthony didn’t feel in control of his actions when he was near Syafika. He kept forgetting he was meant to be working. If he made a mistake and told her too much he would be in real danger, and so would she. And Anthony wasn’t sure how much Syafika knew. Sometimes she seemed clueless but other times he thought he could see in her eyes that she knew everything and was just pretending she didn’t.


The Inklings: Chapter 76

To read the story from the start go to:

On Tuesday morning Syafika put some running shoes in her work bag and then became frustrated as she looked through her clothes because she couldn’t find anything that was both suitable for running in, and flattering. In the end she chose comfort over appearance because Anthony ran so fast that she wasn’t in danger of getting close enough for him to be able to evaluate her outfit. Syafika had to power walk to work to make it in time for the team meeting and was sweaty when she arrived.

At the end of the team meeting Christine announced that she and Nelson were interviewing applicants for the jobs that morning. Syafika was so excited that Fanta would be coming into the office that she couldn’t concentrate on her work. Syafika kept looking at the door to see if Fanta had arrived, and it took an email from her old boss to distract her from watching out for Fanta.

Syafika’s old Executive Director Leah had never had much time for her and so when Syafika saw an email invitation from Leah for a coffee and chat that afternoon she was concerned. Syafika realized that Leah must have just returned from leave and wondered what Leah thought of her shameful departure from the branch. Syafika wrote a reply saying she would come to coffee and had just hit the ‘send’ button when she noticed that the elegant woman from the café was walking into the meeting room with Christine, Nelson and a man Syafika recognized as being from Human Resources (She tried to remember his name and thought it might be Douglas).

Syafika started sweating immediately. Not only was the elegant woman competing with her for Anthony, she was competing with Fanta for a job. Syafika forgot where she was and swore out loud. Fortunately nobody seemed to notice because most people liked to wear headphones when they were at their computers. Syafika kept watching the door of the meeting room and in half an hour the elegant woman came out. The elegant woman wore a confident smile as she walked out the door. Syafika decided that she hated her and narrowed her eyes as she watched her go.

Christine emerged from the meeting room not long after and went to get Fanta, who must have been waiting in the foyer. Fanta waved to Syafika as she walked past. Syafika thought Fanta looked nervous, but Fanta also looked beautiful. She was wearing a dark blue dress and had her hair in an intimidatingly complicated layered bun.

Syafika noted the time that Fanta and Christine went into the meeting room. She wanted to know exactly how much time Christine gave Fanta, because she imagined that if the interview went longer it would mean that Christine liked Fanta better than the elegant woman.

Thirty five minutes later Christine and Fanta came out of the meeting room. Christine looked happy but a bit tired. Fanta still looked nervous. Syafika didn’t know what to think. She couldn’t wait to find out from Fanta what happened in the meeting room. Christine walked Fanta out and came back with a man who looked a bit old to be a graduate and so Syafika hoped that he was being interviewed for the team leader position.

Syafika’s phone rang and she was surprised to hear Fanta on the other end. Fanta was calling from a pay phone outside the building.

“How was it?” asked Syafika.

“Mostly good” said Fanta. “Christine and the other two seemed to like me and were talking as if the job was mine until I told them that I only wanted to work two or three days a week.”

“What did they say?” asked Syafika.

“Christine told me that things move fast and that if I wasn’t there every day I would have trouble keeping up” said Fanta. “And Nelson said that nobody else works part time. But Doug said that it was possible to work five hour days instead of fewer days.”

“I hope Doug can convince Christine and Nelson then” said Syafika.

“I guess it depends what the other candiates were like too. Have you seen any?” asked Fanta.

“There was one before you but I don’t think Christine liked her as much as she liked you” said Syafika. She was about to tell Fanta that the other candidate was the elegant woman who had met Anthony in the café, but when Syafika looked to her left she noticed that Bronwyn wasn’t wearing headphones and was worried that Bronwyn was listening to her conversation with Fanta. “I’ll tell you more tonight” said Syafika. “Want to bring your sisters for dinner?”

Two more candidates came and left before Christine, Nelson and Doug stopped for lunch, but Syafika had stopped paying attention. She’d been busy getting work done so she could go to the Botanic Gardens at lunch and still have time for afternoon coffee with Leah.

Syafika knew there were some showers and change rooms in the building but had never been there so she asked Bronwyn where they were. Bronwyn rode her bike to work so she was an expert in the facilities and was happy to take Syafika to see them.

“I saw you wave at the second candidate this morning” said Bronwyn as she and Syafika walked down the back stairs to the ground floor. “Is she your friend?”

“Yep” answered Syafika.

“Which position is she trying out for?” asked Bronwyn

“Graduate” said Syafika.

“Phew” said Bronwyn “Because I applied for the team leader position. My interview is after lunch”

“I hope you get the job” said Syafika. She meant what she said. Syafika thought it would be wise for Christine to give Bronwyn the team leader position because otherwise she might lose her. Who would want to stick around in the team working for another team leader if you’d failed to get the job?

“Thanks” said Bronwyn. “I hope your friend gets the other job. What’s her name?”

“Her name is Fanta. She would be perfect for the job. She’s clever and very wise. But she only wants to work part time. Do you think Christine would agree to that?” said Syafika.

“I think it would be up to the new team leader, actually” said Bronwyn. “They would be responsible for allocating work between members of the team”

“Would you agree to let her work part time if you get the team leader job?” asked Syafika.

“Yes” said Bronwyn. “I like people who know what they want. Most people just copy everyone else. But it would mean interviewing for someone else to do the rest of the hours. We have been allocated a full time position so we’d be stupid to not try to fill both halves of it. It will be a struggle to get projects done on time otherwise. It is a pity Fanta didn’t apply with someone else so they could fill the position together”

“That’s a good idea!” said Syafika. “I wish I’d thought of that earlier. If Fanta doesn’t get the job I will feel like I let her down”.

“Don’t be silly. You can’t think of everything” said Bronwyn. “You will feel better after your run. I need to go and have lunch now, so I’m not hungry in the interview”

Syafika looked at her watch and calculated that she had to be back in 40 minutes if she wanted to have time to have a shower before heading back to her desk. She got changed as fast as she could and was soon jogging up the hill to the Botanic Gardens.

Syafika was puffed by the time she got through the gates of the Botanic Gardens, but it felt good. She stopped to walk for a little bit, telling herself that she was doing this for fun, not for exercise. Syafika wondered where Anthony started his run. She thought it was likely to be the place he’d ended it last time and so she followed the path that led towards Government House. The trouble was that even if Syafika was right about where Anthony started his run, she didn’t know what time he started, or whether he started at the same time everyday or even whether he went for a run everyday.

When Syafika got to Government House she hid behind a hedge and looked out for Anthony. She looked at her watch and saw that she needed to be back at the showers in 30 minutes. She decided to wait another ten minutes for Anthony before giving up and just going for a walk. Ten minutes later Syafika reluctantly stood up and started walking towards the cafe. She thought a treat might help make up for the disappointment of not seeing Anthony. Then Syafika remembered that it was all downhill to the café and decided she may as well run there. Syafika felt silly when she ran. It wasn’t something she was used to doing and she imagined she must look very awkward. Syafika had a laugh at herself and by the time she reached the café she was feeling very happy and very sweaty. A small group of runners was ahead of Syafika in the queue and they all ordered salads for lunch, so when it was Syafika’s turn to order she chose a fruit salad instead of the slice of chocolate cake she’d been thinking about.

Syafika looked at her watch as she left the café and realized she’d have to choose between eating the fruit salad now and running back to the office to make up time, or walking back and eating the fruit salad at her desk after her shower. She decided to compromise and quickly ate a couple of mouthfuls of fruit salad before closing the container tightly and jogging back towards the gate closest to work.

Syafika couldn’t make it all the way back to the gate before she had to stop and catch her breath. Syafika could hear her heart beating but she could also hear something else. There were familiar voices speaking on the other side of some large bushes. Syafika peeped between the bushes and saw Anthony and Nelson. They seemed to be having an argument.

“I can’t change her mind” said Nelson. “Christine doesn’t like Celine”

“But if the other girl only wants to work part time surely that rules her out!” said Anthony

“Not in Christine’s eyes” said Nelson. “Anyway, we have to decide on the team leader first and then the team leader will get the final say”

“I know! What if Celine agrees to fill the other half of the job?” suggested Anthony.

“Ok. That might work. But now we need to worry about what the new team leader wants” said Nelson.

“I’m sure you can sort that out” said Anthony. “You know how important this is!”

Then Anthony ran off and Nelson started walking towards the gate.

Syafika wanted to follow Anthony but when she looked at the time she knew she had to follow Nelson instead.

The Inklings: Chapter 75

To read the story from the start go to:

As Fanta was preparing dinner she explained to Ruby and Nancy that she had to go to a job interview the next day and that they were going to stay with their friend Tony while she was at the interview. Tony lived in their street. He was older than Ruby but younger than Nancy. His parents were not really friends of Fanta’s but she did like them, and they often took turns walking the three kids to or from school. Tony’s Dad Malcolm would be taking them all to the park while Fanta went to the city for her interview. Ruby was happier with this arrangement than Nancy was. Nancy had been hoping to go to visit one of the girls in her class, but when Fanta reminded her that the flying fox in the park had been fixed Nancy stopped complaining. She loved playing on the flying fox.

“Why are we just having salads for dinner?” Ruby asked Fanta.

“Because it was a very hot day and on hot days a lot of people don’t like eating heavy food or hot food” answered Fanta. But as Fanta answered Ruby she started to doubt her decision to make three different salads for dinner, plus fruit salad for dessert. There was no time to change anything though, because the doorbell rang.

John and D’arby had arrived and it was as if they’d been able to anticipate Ruby’s uncertainty about salad for dinner because they’d brought some bread rolls and butter with them.

“The flat felt so much like an oven today that I decided I may as well make some bread” explained John as he showed Fanta the bread rolls.

The smell of the bread made Ruby and Nancy excited. Then the doorbell rang again and this time it was Syafika. While Syafika was getting settled and Fanta was getting everyone a cold drink Ruby and Nancy came up with a cunning plan. They requested that they be allowed to take their plates of dinner to the backyard. They said it was because they wanted to enjoy the cool change that had just arrived, but really it was so they would be able to flick any bits of salad that they didn’t like off their plates and into the garden.

Everyone was quiet until Ruby and Nancy had taken their dinner to the backyard. Then everyone started to talk at once. Fanta managed to be the first to get her story out, which was convenient because her story was the shortest.

“I have a job interview tomorrow – for a job in the same team as Syafika” said Fanta. She couldn’t help adding a big smile to the end of the sentence. She was very happy.

Even though Syafika was feeling exhausted by her distressful day this news made her smile too.

“I knew you could do it!” said Syafika “And they must like you a lot to have called you in before the closing date for applications”.

Syafika stopped talking just long enough for John and D’arby to be able congratulate Fanta then insisted that everyone listen to what had happened to her that day.


“Before you start – I’ve been wanting to know all day – what did Christine say about working part time?” Fanta asked Syafika.

“Oh no! I forgot to ask” admitted Syafika. “I’m sorry!” Syafika was sorry but she didn’t feel too bad about having forgotten. She thought that what had happened to her that day was more than enough of an excuse.

“That’s ok” said Fanta, pretending it didn’t matter. “It might be better if I don’t know anyway. If Christine had said she wouldn’t consider part timers then I’d have a hard time turning up to the interview.”

Fortunately Syafika’s story of Anthony and the disappearing haircut was so interesting that Fanta forgot about her job interview and D’arby and John forgot how urgently they wanted to share their own news.

“Really?” asked John. He had started to doubt that Syafika’s stories about Anthony were true.

“Why would Anthony disguise himself with a wig?” asked D’arby.

“I wish I’d been able to see you running after Anthony!” said Fanta.

The four were still discussing Anthony when Ruby and Nancy came inside with empty plates and asked if they could have some fruit salad.

When everyone had a bowl of fruit salad in front of them the discussion started again.

Fanta, John and D’arby thought that Syafika should keep away from Anthony because he could be a criminal but Syafika wanted to do some more spying on him. Syafika pretended she was taking their comments on board but secretly she had decided that she wouldn’t be satisfied until she knew what Anthony was up to.

John was chewing on a chunk of watermelon when he remembered that the meeting was meant to be for discussing activist stuff and so he mentioned that while he’d been waiting for the bread to rise he’d read D’arby’s notes about combining banking and renewable energy and thought that was something they should try to get started.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea for us” said D’arby. “Wait until you hear about my day and then you will understand.”

John was confused and a bit angry. He had put a lot of effort into understanding D’arby’s notes and was just beginning to feel confident that he knew what D’arby was talking about. He began to suspect that D’arby didn’t really want anyone else to be able to understand his ideas because he wanted to be the only one who was the expert. Luckily John took D’arby’s advice to wait before he said what he was thinking.

“At uni today I was asked to apply for a job working for a new bank that wants to do just what I was thinking about” said D’arby. “I don’t know if I should even be telling you this though. They want me to do some tests first and if I get the job then I won’t be able to tell anyone about the stuff I’m working on”

“Why not?” asked Fanta

“They say it is because it would upset a lot of powerful people… all the powerful people actually”

“Well what are we going to do then?” asked John. He was cross that everyone else’s lives seemed to be turning into spy novels and he wanted to be a part of the action. “And what happened to us developing your special pills D’arby?”

The tone of John’s voice made D’arby cross too – so cross that he forgot to think twice before he said anything.

“The pills don’t work” said D’arby.

“What? Yes they do. I’m living proof” said John.

“I used to think that too” said D’arby. “But then I looked at all the data and saw that the pills only have a placebo effect. You just thought they worked, but really you changed on your own.”

As John listened to D’arby the back of his neck tingled. If what D’arby was saying was true then it meant that John had achieved something really significant. But it didn’t make sense.

“Why didn’t I feel sick or crazy then?” asked John.

“I don’t know” said D’arby. “Maybe because you believed you had been cured instantly your brain was able to trick you into feeling fine. I don’t know. All I know is that the pills didn’t cure anyone else of anything. Have you seen them fix anyone else?”

John tried to think of another example but couldn’t and had to answer “No, but what if there was something different about me. What if they do work but only in certain circumstances?”

All John’s questions gave D’arby an idea.

“What if I hand over all my research to you, and you work out whether the pills work and if you find that they don’t work, you can work out why they don’t work and then maybe you will be able to fix them so they do work” suggested D’arby.

John was happy to accept D’arby’s offer. He was flattered that D’arby thought he would be able to continue the research and delighted to think that he might be able to help other addicts.

When dinner was over John and D’arby walked home in silence, but it was a happy silence.

As Syafika walked home she was looking forward a shower and sleep, but also to the next time she chased Anthony around the Botanic Gardens. She was disappointed that John and D’arby hadn’t wanted to be involved like they had been when she needed help with Vincent, but decided it didn’t matter because Syafika thought she’d prefer to do the spying herself.

When everyone had gone home Fanta encouraged her sisters to go to bed so that she could practice answering imaginary interview questions but in the back of her mind the question she was really worrying about was how to explain that she only wanted to work three days a week.

The Inklings: Chapter 74

You can read the story from the start here:

At lunchtime it was very hot, but that didn’t stop Mamadou from doing a bit of work in the garden while everyone else lingered over their cups of tea. While Mamadou was at the back of the yard he noticed that the western boundary fence was leaning to one side. He walked over to the fence and gave it a shake. It wobbled. Mamadou could tell that the supporting posts were rotten.

“Hello, who’s that?” said a voice from the other side of the fence.

Mamadou looked over the fence and saw a short lady who reminded him of a tortoise. When she saw Mamadou she got a bit of a fright.

“What are you doing in Rose’s garden?” asked the Tortoise lady.

“I’m Mamadou. I’m helping with the renovations” said Mamadou. “Who are you?”

“I’m Gina” said the lady. “I live here with Penny” said Gina, gesturing behind her to Pennny, who was sitting at a little table under an umbrella. Penny was taller than Gina and had long, silky silver hair.

“This fence is rotten” said Mamadou.

“Yes” said Gina. “I need to talk to Rose about getting a new one. But first I want to know what you are building behind the fence. Is it something I will want to see, or should I make sure the next fence is much taller?

“I am making the most beautiful garden you will ever see” said Mamadou. “So beautiful you won’t want a fence at all”

By the time Rose and Festus were ready to get back to work Mamadou had made friends with Gina and Penny and they’d decided that the next fence would be easy to see-through – probably just steel posts linked with wire.

During the afternoon Mamadou kept asking Rose questions about Gina and Penny. He was excited because they’d told him that if they liked the garden he did for Rose he could do their garden next. He was already imagining an archway linking the two gardens.

At the end of the working day the garage had been dismantled and sorted into different piles of materials. Most of the garage was going to be reused and even the concrete slab was going to stay. Festus was very glad at the good start they’d made but he was nervous because they were still waiting for Council Approval to build the new bathroom. Festus decided to take a gamble and put in the new plumbing while they waited. Zikpi was glad because this risk taking would add drama to the story.

As Mamadou, Ousman and Beth walked back to Ousman’s house they were all feeling very satisfied with the day they’d had. Aminata seemed satisfied too. She was riding on Ousman’s shoulder and making various noises that were similar to the sound of a garage being dismantled.

Binta’s day at work had been terrible. She’d discovered that she was most likely going to lose her job and that she’d find out for sure in the next week. Binta was scared about what would happen if she did lose her job and couldn’t find another soon. She couldn’t wait for Ousman to come home so she could give him a cuddle.

Binta was drinking a glass of water when she heard the front door open. Ousman was the first to get to the kitchen and he still had Aminata sitting on his shoulder. Aminata was thirsty and when she saw Binta’s glass of water she became excited and started bobbing her head up and down.

Ousman quickly got a bowl of water for Aminata because he didn’t want her to try to drink some of his mother’s glass of water. Binta watched and didn’t say anything. She liked how Ousman was taking care of the galah and she predicted that Ousman was about to ask her if he could keep it. Then Binta looked at Mamadou and could tell that he wanted Ousman to keep the bird.

While Aminata was drinking water from a bowl Binta gave Ousman a cuddle and asked him what the bird’s name was. Ousman was excited to be able to tell Binta the whole story.

Beth smiled as she watched Ousman telling his Mum about Aminata. She couldn’t wait to tell her parents about her day. Beth’s Dad was late picking her up and it upset her. Everytime her Dad neglected her for work she felt abandoned and being with a family that spent time together made her even sadder because she could see the lovely things her family was missing out on.

When Beth’s Dad finally did arrive Beth gave Ousman a big smile and thanked Mamadou and Binta with a cheerful voice, but as she walked out the door a couple of tears escaped.

As soon as the front door closed Binta gave Ousman another cuddle and told him that he was a lovely kid.

“Will we have leftover stew for dinner?” asked Mamadou hopefully. He was really hungry.

“Yes. If you cook some rice, Ousman and I will prepare some greens and we can eat dinner in 15 minutes” said Binta.

“Why are you sad?” Ousman asked Binta as they washed broccoli. He could tell his Mum was close to crying and hoped it wasn’t because she didn’t like Aminata.

“I think I’m going to lose my job” said Binta.

“You will find another one, won’t you?” said Ousman.

“One day” said Binta. What she didn’t say was that she was worried that before she found another job they would run out of savings and not be able to pay the rent anymore.

Mamadou had overheard Binta’s news. “Don’t worry. You must own this house by now. You don’t need much money if you own your house.”

Binta felt embarrassed as she explained to Mamadou that she was renting the house and didn’t own anything. When she was younger she had been keen to buy a house as soon as possible and had saved a large deposit. But then she’d become a single mum, and when she decided that she wanted to cut back on work so she could spend some of the week with baby Ousman, Binta had discovered that there was a stupid idea ingrained almost everywhere that you only deserve a ‘serious’ job if you are willing to commit at least 40 hours per week to it. For Binta this meant she had to be happy with a series of precarious and not well paid jobs, often with gaps in between. During each gap Binta’s house deposit had been eroded a bit more until the idea of buying a house became just a daydream.

“What about your inheritance money?” asked Mamadou. He was only really asking because he was feeling guilty – he realized how much Binta had given up so she could have Ousman. Binta’s parents had died in a car accident not long before Mamadou had left Australia. They’d left Rose and Binta their house but not much money.

“We didn’t sell the house” said Binta. “We have rented it out to the same family ever since.”

Mamadou didn’t suggest to Binta that she move into her parent’s house because it was far away and he didn’t want to live there. “Maybe it is time to sell that house and buy your own” said Mamadou. Then rather stupidly had added “Before you get too old.”

“I don’t want to sell the house!” said Binta. “Half that house wouldn’t be enough for a house deposit around here anyway, not now.” Binta was cross with Mamadou now. She thought that instead of making suggestions he should be asking more questions – there was so much he needed to catch up on.

Binta was quiet during dinner. Aminata ate some of Ousman’s food and then climbed to the top of the bookshelf and fell asleep, with her head tucked under her wing.

Mamadou went to bed as soon as he had finished eating. He was feeling depressed because he couldn’t help Binta.

Ousman washed the dishes without having to be asked because he knew his Mum was feeling sad and angry, and because he still wasn’t sure whether she would let him keep Aminata.

The Inklings Chapter 73

You can read the story from the start here:

When John woke up he felt happy because it was his day off. John was even happier when he realized that D’arby was there. D’arby was busy at the kitchen bench and John began to anticipate a nice breakfast, but as he watched he realized that D’arby was just making some kind of coffee drink. D’arby poured hot coffee from a saucepan through a tea strainer into a jug full of ice. Then D’arby added a splash of milk and poured out two glasses of what he called ‘iced coffee’. As John sipped his glass of the bitter drink he longed for sugar and whipped cream.

“Did you see the note on the fridge?” D’arby asked John.

“Yep. I’m looking forward to dinner time” answered John.

“Why aren’t you at uni?” John asked D’arby. John had begun to hope that D’arby would head off to uni soon so D’arby wouldn’t know if he poured the rest of the iced coffee down the drain instead of drinking it.

“I’m taking the day off to refine some thinking” said D’arby.

John had no idea what D’arby meant, but guessed that he wouldn’t be leaving the house for a while. “What thinking are you refining?” asked John.

“About combining banking and money with renewable energy” answered D’arby and he walked to the bedroom to get his bundle of notes. He was keen to explain his ideas to John.

John quickly tipped his coffee down the sink and had started rinsing the glass by the time D’arby got back.

Then the phone rang. It was someone from uni. They were wondering where D’arby was.

“Oh no!” said D’arby. He’d forgotten that there was a special event on that morning where PhD students could meet potential employers. D’arby evaluated what he was wearing and decided to quickly get changed. Then he ran all the way to uni.

After D’arby had gone John made himself some toast and while he ate it he sat at the table and looked through D’arby’s notes.

When D’arby arrived at uni he ran straight to the drawing office, which had been transformed into a kind of gallery for research. There were research posters up on every vertical surface and all the PhD students and post doctoral researchers were standing near their posters looking serious.  D’arby was relieved to discover that his friend Cate had put up his poster for him. He sat down near it and tried to get his breath back. But D’arby didn’t have much time to recover before an intimidating couple approached him. When the woman looked at D’arby he felt like she could see right into his mind. It made him feel naked and he wanted to hide. The man at her side looked unimpressed with the research he could see around him, but as he approached D’arby he gave him a hint of a smile.

“I’m Rudnika and this is Leopold” said the woman and she shook D’arby’s hand firmly. D’arby introduced himself and turned towards his poster. He was about to start explaining his research when Rudnika interrupted him.

“We already read your poster” she said. “We want to talk about something a bit different”.

Leopold handed D’arby his card and explained that they were from a new bank that also supplied renewable energy and were looking for someone with impeccable character who wanted a challenge.

Then Rudnika explained that what they were attempting to do was so revolutionary that it needed to be kept top secret and that if he joined them he needed to be as discreet as if he were dealing with state secrets.

Leopold then told D’arby that the application process involved him sitting a number of tests and that he would need to consent to a background check.

“Are you interested?” Leopold asked D’arby.

“Yes” said D’arby. He didn’t know if his heart was still racing because he’d run all the way to uni or because this opportunity sounded like just the thing he wanted to be doing next. D’arby couldn’t help looking over his shoulder and wondered how much Guitarman had to do with Rudnika and Leopold.

The Inklings: Chapter 72

You can read the story from the start here:

Fanta was happy on Monday. She’d sent off her job application the night before and so was anticipating that she’d hear back about it that week. Although Fanta was not confident that she would get the job, having an application in the pipeline gave Fanta hope for the future.  Fanta was also happy that John and D’arby were going to move in to her house. She’d been losing sleep over how to pay the bills, but with D’arby and John paying rent she wouldn’t have to worry anymore.

Ruby and Nancy were helping Fanta sort out the spare rooms. The room her aunt and uncle usually stayed in was in the best condition. It had a comfortable bed and the wardrobe was empty. Fanta had decided that when her aunt and uncle came to visit next time she would give them her room and squeeze in with her sisters, who had a spare mattress that they put on the floor when their school friends stayed.

The other spare room was less inviting. It had no furniture and there was a pile of cardboard boxes in the corner. The boxes had old clothes, books and toys that needed to be given away.

Ruby threaded a clean curtain onto the curtain rod while Nancy tied some boxes onto a two-wheel shopping trolley and Fanta put some other things into a backpack. Fanta had the backpack on and Nancy was pulling the trolley towards the front door when the phone rang.

Fanta answered the phone and was delighted to hear that she’d been shortlisted for the job. As Fanta agreed to an interview the next day she created a mental list of people she could ask to look after Nancy and Ruby while she was at the interview.

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