Murder, she typed

"I come from the International Time Travellers Association," she said proudly, but seeing my blank expression she added, "Well, all right, the International Time Travellers and Jaffa-cake Association, but that is hopefully getting changed soon."

I blinked as she removed her furs and a wig, revealing straw coloured hair and a simple dress of blue cotton.

"The ITTJA? We fix paradoxes, have a laff-a and eat boxes of that wonderful Jaffa? Our slogan? Helloooo?"

Somehow, I still felt dubious.

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2. Into the Magical Dustbin

 

"Look. I really need to go back now. So if you're from any asylum, tell me now, ok?" I tried, but instead she shook her head, disappointedly.

"I'm sorry, but we really need to enter the dustbin now. We are quite late."

For what? I panicked as she pushed me toward a large green bin, her green eyes flashing excitedly. Next thing I knew I was being thrust head first inside it.

Surprisingly, it was clean and empty, although dark. The woman also climbed ungracefully next to me, accidentally stepping on my nose as she did.

"I think I'm sitting on something..." I wondered aloud and shifted aside to see a lever next to me. The woman leant across my knees and pulled it down whilst making an impatient clicking nose with her tongue.

My stomach lurched as we were suddenly falling down a dark, plastic tube. We slid down the tube for several minutes, wind rushing past us and occasional patches of light shone in my eyes, too bright to see it's origin. The woman seemed perfectly comfortable, and in one of the light patches I think I saw her reading a book demurely. I wondered when this would end.

Eventually, the slide evened out and we were dispatched in a bright room. Squinting, I realised it was some sort of reception area with a desk and a bowl of Jaffa-cakes on it, as well as several holes in the wall, much like the one we had just come out of.

The woman hopped up from the ground and sashayed her way over to the desk and the small man sitting there.

"Cassandra Fiddlestring with visitor Karen Private," she said in an orderly tone, then whispered loudly, "First time down the tube!"

The man looked up and beamed at me, then spoke in a french accent: "Karen. Welcome to the ITTJA. Please, have a Jaffa-cake."

Into"Excuse me," I said slowly, "But who are you?"

The man looked surprised to see me speak, but nodded, almost nostagically, "Gregario Hittenpop. Though you can call me The Receptionist of Glory. Have a Jaffa-cake."

I smiled uncertainly - was that even a name? - and politely refused him. Gregario raised an eyebrow at my refusal, evedently thinking me odd to refuse food from a stranger who I had met after travelling down a magical dustbin shoot into apparently the home of the ITTJA. I have to admit, I couldn't really see where he was coming from. Gregario stood, revealing a black top and trousers, accessorised with a dusty pink scarf wrapped around his neck. Flicking it over one shoulder sub-conciously, he strode toward a gleaming metal door opposite to the tube we had arrived in. Theatrically, he pressed a button and whispered to a small speaker, "Cassandra.F With a visitor, Karen something... sending them in, ok?"

The door popped open, invitingly, and for some unknown reason, unknown to me, anyway, I stepped through into a carpetted hallway, beige walls and dim lighting. As I squinted through the darkness, Gregario pushed a button at his desk, illuminating the hallway and causing me to step back from the light involuntarily. Politely, Cassandra steered me through the doorframe and down the passageway. It reminded me of a household from the 1970s. Again, I wondered where on earth (or below it) I even was.

"Now Karen," Cassandra spoke from behind me as we walked past numerous doors with no name but small symbols printed on the wood, "You may be feeling a teeny bit confused, but I am here to explain it all."

She pointed to a nearby door with a triangle shape in beige and a curved line in purple sitting diagonally on another line and we entered another office. She walked behind it, moved a stack of papers and gestured me to sit down opposite her. I proceeded to sit on an uncomfortable wooden stool whilst she leant back in a glamorous, leather chair.

"My job," she pointed at herself proudly, "Is to manage the recruiting here at the ITTJA. This job requires high levels of skill intelligence and... adventure!" Her dark eyes flashed excitedly; this speech seemed well-rehearsed and important. I leaned forward slightly.

"How do you know I'm up for the job?" I whispered in her same, dramatic tone.

Cassandra leapt out of her seat, strode to a filing cabinet by the door and yanked one of the lower drawers out. After rifling through it, she gleefully pulled out a folder. On it was stamped the strange symbol I'd seen on the door. What was this place?


 

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