“H…h….h…ello…” Stuttered Jake.
The Oracle just ignored him, carrying on picking up stones and bits and bobs and looking under them with her bony green hands.
“E-e-e-e-e-excuse me. Did you want to see me?”
“Ha! No, you wanted to see me.” She said to Jake without looking at him.
“Sorry, but I don’t know who you are. Orph just brought me here.”
“Yes, because you wanted to see me. He wouldn’t have brought you otherwise! Anyway, stick to the script! I’ve been expecting you (as all good oracles do) and I know what you are supposed to say!” She poked a triumphant finger in the air.
“Sooooo… what am I supposed to say now then?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Do you think life is scripted or something? What put such a silly notion in your head? Take responsibility for your life, make it your own! That’s what I always say.”
If confusion could get confused, then it just had. Jake’s confusion got confused, not just him.
“So boy, you were telling me about your burning drive to discover a great mystery?”
Jake’s response stalled “Erm…”
“But where are my manners! We haven’t introduced each other have we? Well I know your name, Jim.” And before Jake could correct her she carried on, “My names Prune, pleased to meet you.” With that she stooped down to look under a stone, under which she apparently found nothing.
She stood up straight again and looked at Jake with a quizzical look on her face, “Who are you and what do you want?” (Jake’s confusion’s confusion could not get any more confused so it got confused too).
“Erm… I… erm… well… I, don’t, really, know… erm… ah…”
“WELL SCARPER!!! Don’t waste my time.” And with that she turned back to the floor, floated a few steps and looked under another stone, with apparently no results.
She looked up again. Jake stood transfixed to the spot, scared what she might do or say next.
“Oh hello dear,” she said very sweetly, “Have you been standing there long?” Her upturned lips wrinkled into what Jake thought was a smile, but it didn’t quite fit her face, like the way brown sauce goes with strawberry ice-cream (bad example for some that actually would like that).
“A little while, yes,” he said.
“Oh, silly me, so wrapped up in what I am doing. Sometimes I think I’m going a bit senile in my old age.”
Very politely, because Jake didn’t trust saying the truth, he said “No, I don’t think you’re senile.”
“What!? Who said I was senile. They’re lying! Don’t listen to those rumours. They are all out to get me. I’m as sharp as a plank of wood, me!”
Jake’s natural doubt came through, “Are planks of wood sharp?”
“You never get splinters boy?!” And she toddled a bit further on, floatingly.
“No boy! I am not called Prune because I am small and wrinkled!” Jake was taken aback by this. He had thought this, but it was only fleeting. But he was absolutely sure that he hadn’t said it out loud. “A right little charmer we have here, bet you have all the girls falling at your feet,” she said with a cynical snort.
Despite appearances he got the impression that although everything she was saying was disconnected, that really there were hidden connections between everything she said. Like the Loch Ness Monster, you see the head and tail, and several coils in between, but you don’t see what’s connecting them, or how long they might actually be underneath the surface. In fact he was hoping that there wasn’t more than one “monster” under Prune’s thoughts, lending extra coils.
From everyone else’s perspective Prune was incoherent and just plain batty, but to her all that she said and did was as straight and connected like an arrow from point to feathers. And perhaps just as deadly.