After they finished their lunch, they got back to walking down the hall.

Alex hoped the blandness of their surroundings would inspire some silence into Josie, but that was not the case, as they immediately went back to talking. “How have things been? I feel like it’s been so long since we last spoke.”

“Things have been fine.” Something was brewing in his head, some sort of dark frustration. He was trying his best to push it down.

“That’s great! Things have been wonderful for me,” they asserted, one hand on their hip and the other pumping a fist into the air excitedly. “I’m getting back into horse riding!”

“That’s great, Ms. Veilleux. Has Bloaty been well?” Bloaty was the name of Josie’s horse, on account of her horrible head.

“Oh, you know. Her head’s as horrible as ever,” Josie said with a smile. “She’s a sweet little thing. I’m lucky I got to keep her.”

“Speaking of, have the staff on Floor Eight been taking good care of you? I’ve been trying to phone them for a while about some of your requests, but they haven’t been picking up…”

Josie looked away and down at their shoes. “Yes… things have been wonderful.”

Alex could feel that darkness pulling at him, like puppet strings on the back of his neck. His fingers twitched against his palms, and he found himself blurting out: “Do you ever get the feeling they’ve forgotten about us?”

They looked back at him.

Alex wished now more than ever that he could read anything they were thinking. He was kicking himself, internally.

“Yes,” they said softly. “I do.”

He breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that his stupid brain parasites hadn’t ruined his one and only friendship by choosing to share their inane conspiracy theories. That did, however, invite them to start freely shoving their thoughts into his conversation. “I haven’t heard back from anyone in ages. I haven’t seen anyone except you in ages. Nowadays they just deliver my food under the door.”

“You’ve been in your office in ages,” they rebutted. “I still see my friend Marigold.”

“Any staff, though?”

Josie didn’t have anything to say to that.