Several minutes passed before the screen lit up again.
What next? thought Yrtl, before it appeared once more – if anything, more lined and craggy, but definitely the same face.
“Hello?” Yrtl ventured. “I think I lost you for a moment.”
“What?” the stranger rasped, staring at him intensely. “Oh yes – I remember. I was speaking to you, some years ago.”
“Years?” echoed Yrtl, “It was just a moment ago.” Poor guy – mind’s totally gone. And still they make him work.
“Forgive me,” he replied, “my sense of time is distorted. I was released before temporal calibration was completed – part of my sentence.”
“Sentence? I’m sorry – you’re not making sense. Could I, perhaps, speak to your manager?”
“No! Listen to me,” he replied, his face filling the screen. Something in the eyes held Yrtl fast, like a butterfly on a pin. “You must help me.”
“Who…who are you?” managed Yrtl. “What do you want?”
“My name,” the stranger replied, “is Provost Kohl. And I am a prisoner here.”
“Why Heaven, of course.”