Down below, the tanker boomed with industrial fervor. The languid suck of the lagoon filled the air with a rotten stench. But high above in the demucking tower, Ungulen and Drutherstone enjoyed the strange foggy breeze, a manmade bit of weather that soothed their tired heads. The tarp above them flapped pleasantly and a bluish sky — as opposed to a green one — was nearly discernible if you looked at it the right way.
“I have to go away for a while,” Drutherstone said.
“Don’t tell me we’re bankrupt.”
“No no. It isn’t anything to do with us. It’s Janus Tewditch. He’s in a bad way.”
Ungulen made a perfunctory show of concern. “I see.” But there was something prismatic at the mention of Janus. After some consideration, Ungulen added “Helping him, are you?”
“Yes I’ll be helping him.” There was a pause. “I’m not being sarcastic.”
Ungulen nodded and started to thoughtfully mouth at his lips. Then, he remembered something. “I brought sandwiches. Your favorite.”
From the inside of his shirt, Ungulen produced six mangy olive sandwiches. The bread was stuffed to brimming with seeds. Drutherstone’s face lapsed into a hungry smile.
“I love these.” He took one and immediately dug a delicious mouthful. It was tangy, salty, and full of oiled garlic that Ungulen never failed to add. Poppy seeds lodged themselves between Drutherstone’s teeth like little children clinging to their fathers’ legs.
Ungulen suddenly pointed a finger in the direction of the fairgrounds. Drutherstone looked and saw the body of a lever boy coming over the edge. The boy’s muck-choked screams echoed through the valley. Drutherstone produced a long weave of rope from under his top hat. They descended the Demucking Tower to rescue their small employee from becoming lagooned and entankered.