''Oh DO stop this, you tiresome individual.'' came the voice. ''I'm not used to it, I'm really NOT. I don't know what's going to happen if you carry on. I don't...'' The voice stopped short, and a tiny, mouse-like woman walked around the corner, looking cross and scratching her sparse, dry hair.
''I don't know what's going to happen, full stop.'' she said, slumping against the wheel. She looked deflated, and too tired to carry on being angry.
The Doorkeeper lit up another smoke, and was about to put them away when he thought better of it and offered them to the woman. His relief when she pouted a disdainful refusal was ill-hidden.
She put her hands on her hips and eyed the Wheel of Life.
''Stopped, has it?'' she asked, redundantly.
''Well...yes. Looks like that.'' the Doorkeeper croaked, then tried to clear his throat, bringing on another bout of coughing.
She waited for him to stop.
''So, what do you do now, then?'' she asked.
''Well... I was hoping you'd tell ME. Never stopped before, not while I've been here anyhow. Which is... Forever.''
''I'd just leave it.'' she said, sitting on the floor. ''Just wait. Something'll turn up, won't it? Usually does.''
''But... but, this is the the Wheel of Life. It's never stopped before, so I don't think anything will happen, not unless we get it going again, anyway.''
He looked at the woman, who had reached into the pocket of the kaftan she was wearing and was stroking something - a small brownish furry animal which ran from hand to hand.
''Who are you, if you don't mind me asking. And what...'' he pointed, ''...is that?''
''I am the God of Tomorrow.'' she said, sighing. ''And this...'' she held the animal aloft - it was now sitting on her hand, looking around and sniffing the air, its black eyes bright, ''is Pippin.''
''Pippin is the gerbil of Promise.'' she said, holding the small rodent up to her face and wrinking her nose at it. The gerbil sat still, then began grooming itself, running its paws over its head and blinking rapidly.
The Doorkeeper hadn't been expecting this at all. He knew nothing of small rodents, and could not see how one could be relevant to his current dilemma. It was cute. He could see that, but what use was it to him? This woman looked very un-God-like too. He wondered if she was an imposter.
''Can he get the Wheel to work?'' asked the Doorkeeper, pulling out another smoke and lighting it.
''She!'' the God of Tomorrow screeched. ''Pippin is a female.''
The Doorkeeper narrowed his eyes and took a long drag. ''Well, sorry. But it's kind of difficult to tell from here what gender it... she is.''
The God of Tomorrow set Pippin down on her lap. It ran up her sleeve and sat on her shoulder, watching the Doorkeeper, its eyes fixed on him.
''Pippin says that you need do nothing now. She is monitoring the situation closely.'' said the God of Tomorrow, sagely.
''Oh. Oh right!'' the Doorkeeper had had enough. He stubbed out the cigarette on the Wheel of Life and stood looking down on the woman and her gerbil. ''You're no God and that... rat... shows no Promise. Bring me someone who knows what they're talking about, will you!''
The woman gazed at him, and stood. The gerbil jumped onto the head of the God of Tomorrow and stood on her haunches, with her short front paws drooping at her tiny chest. A high, beautiful sound filled the chamber. A sound full of... Promise.