James watched the face on the screen and wondered how she could go from unlovely to lovely in under a minute.
“Please come to the employee’s door of the east wing. I'll let you in.”
“Alright, I'll be there in fifteen minutes.”
“That's fine. I'll be waiting.”
James quickly clicked the mouse to close the connection before she could stop him again. He strode purposefully across the room to where Brad had returned to the couch. He slapped his friend's foot as he passed by.
“Come on. We're going to the museum.”
“This late? Can't it wait till morning?”
“No, it can't. Come on.”
“Give me the keys,” he said. “You forgot to lock the door.” Brad locked the deadbolt after James threw the keys to him. “You never know what might happen.”
When they reached the car, James got behind the wheel and spoke the museum's address, leaning in the direction of the GPS component. The internal receiver entered the information into the vehicle's electrical drive system, and after he backed out of the driveway, the car took over, making the trip with little effort from him.
When they arrived at the museum, James parked in the main parking lot. As he locked his car, Brad came around to the driver's side.
“Why are we coming here in the middle of the night? Doesn’t that seem strange to you?”
“The curator wanted to talk about the legend concerning Circulus Nubis right away. She was very insistent about it.”
“Why?” Brad asked. “You don’t think we have come across some government conspiracy, do you?”
“I don't know,” James replied with a frown. “To tell you the truth, she was a little bit scary. Her eyes seemed to drill right through me, but don’t worry. It will be alright.”
When they reached the Employees-Only door of the east wing, they found the woman in question standing outside, looking to the left and right nervously.
“Hello, Mr. Miller. Thank you for coming to see me so promptly. When we get to my office, I'll explain why I'm being so intense about all this. Please come with me.”
She opened the door for them, then locked it behind her. She walked down a long carpeted hallway and turned to the right. They went through a big hall with windowed habitats depicting different legends. There was Jason with the golden fleece, Hercules and the minotaur, The Trojan horse, as well as many others. On the other side of the hall, she went into a little alcove and opened a door with her name and title on it.
“Please sit down gentlemen, and I'll explain why I wanted you here.”
She indicated a comfortable looking, overstuffed divan. They sat down.
Brad quickly glanced around the office. What he noticed most were the objects that were not present. There was not a bookcase filled with thick research volumes. The walls were devoid of pictures, and the only furniture was the divan, a desk and a computer chair on the other side of the desk.
Although paper was no longer used as much as it had been in the past, there was usually still some correspondence of that type on a desk in an office, but Linda’s desk was clear of any paper. Brad thought about the librarians he knew from school or seen on TV. Most of them preferred paper products. He assumed Linda would be the same way, her profession closely linked with a librarian.
The lack of paper was not the only thing he noticed about the desk. There were no personal effects of any kind. He expected to see picture frames with pictures of children or a significant other. Or, some knick-knack from a vacation. There were none. In fact, the desk was practically clear of any objects. A single laptop rested in the corner.
Brad looked at James and raised his eyebrows. James repeated the motion, and Brad wondered if his friend noticed the same things.
Linda sat down in her computer chair and wheeled it around to face them.
“You've come across a very rare legend. There are very few references to it in literature. Most of what we know comes from oral tradition, family stories, and the like.”
James nodded. That was exactly how he came by his information.
“The phrase in question dates back to the 5th century. It was not uncommon for people to go missing at night, during bad storms, and the like. Kind of like extraterrestrial encounters, people would report strange sightings, such as a person being engulfed in a spinning, circular black cloud ...”
“And people got sucked into this cloud?” Brad interrupted.
“I personally think that it started off with someone getting snatched by a tornado or some other natural phenomenon, and the story was embellished over time.The villagers who would have first started this story would not have spoken Latin, but as the story spread from one region to another, Latin would have been the language of choice. So, exactly what is meant by a circular cloud may never be known.”
“I see. The information I got was just that – the two words in Latin, nothing more.” James remarked.
“Very cryptic, indeed,“ Linda said, nodding slowly, her eyebrows raised.