Master James O’Dowd had received a memo from the Ministry of the Unique to attend a meeting at 9.07am the following morning at their office in 37.5A Sourgrapes Lane.
It was signed by Alfred Hawers, Esquire, Minister of the Unique.
The revelation that James could not only see what others couldn’t but also hear what others couldn’t left UNIQUE MARY and UNIQUE HARRY quite speechless which was a feat not too often achieved.
It was unusual for a UNIQUE to possess more than one gift. As was noted earlier the NUMBERS were brilliant at the Ministry accounts but a babbling incoherent lot outside of that, the CRAFTERS were capable of amazing work in the many craft occupations they excelled at but were lucky to be able to sign their names.
UNIQUE HARRY saw James as a one in a million UNIQUE. As James was still, but a boy and UNIQUE HARRY did observe him as an innocent boy this he thought might work in James’ favour.
James was a young boy not given to any suggestion of pretention; he was just a boy wanting to be nothing more than a young boy doing young boy things. It was just that nature was getting in his way.
UNIQUE HARRY decided to test him out mainly to see if James was restricted to hearing only from animals or was he open to hearing from all sorts of beings.
He looked at UNIQUE MARY who looked back in horror at the suggestion UNIQUE HARRY was making and couldn’t help but ask if he was insane in making the suggestion that they take James to see the FINGERLINGS. The FINGERLINGS were a UNIQUE form of life that had adapted to running the computer systems within the Ministry. There was nothing they couldn’t do on a computer or get a computer to do.
Their UNIQUE quality was, they were a form of plant life, which the Ministry had found and nurtured. It required the plants to be placed in pots containing cockroach larvae on which they fed. This was not difficult to organise as the earth was home to literally trillions of roaches and so there was an endless supply.
In return, the FINGERLINGS ran everything to do with the computer systems in the ministry. When you entered their domain you entered a world of root systems and branches stretching in every direction, with a maze of systems going this way and that, the human mind found it impossible to figure out what was going on only to trust that it worked and everyone from the FINGERLINGS to the Minister was happy with the arrangement.
People like UNIQUE HARRY were interested to find out how the FINGERLINGS worked, but the plants gave up very little of their secret workings.
When they entered the FINGERLING area, James was taken aback by the dense jungle of the room. Then again James wasn’t sure it was a room, as the vegetation seemed to stretch away into some form of infinity.
All three, UNIQUE MARY, UNIQUE HARRY and James stood inside the doorway and took in the sight of the plants interlocking and crisscrossing to produce what James later described as a low static sound.
“Can you hear anything?” asked UNIQUE HARRY.
“It’s a whole lot of gobblygook to me like they are repeating computer talk to one another. They sound a bit like my dad when he is chatting to a client about some computer system issue they are having at his office and dad is asking him to re-boot or switch this off or on. I could never understand what any of it meant. Though one has just remarked he went on a break just now, and the cockroach larvae were particularly delicious. It’s discussing the virtues of domestic roach larvae over that of the exotic tropical ones. Do they actually eat cockroaches?” asked an incredulous James.
“Sadly yes,” replied UNIQUE HARRY, “it’s their staple diet, they love the stuff, and it can be produced in literally bucket loads.”
“Hmm,” said James his eyes glued on the room, his brain trying to make sense of it all, “ they are happy though, there’s a profound feeling of happiness here. Can we leave now?”
UNIQUE HARRY guided James out of the room and led him back to the Minister’s office. They waited outside, and James tried so hard not to stare at the Minister’s secretary whose tongue whipped in and out as she went about her tasks.
Eventually, they went into see the Minister who heard from UNIQUE HARRY and MARY before settling himself into his chair.
“So, UNIQUE JAMES, welcome to the Ministry of the UNIQUE,” announced the Minister extending a hand to James, “We look forward to working with you. Harry will see to your training, above all James, we want you to be you. So let’s see what happens, shall we?”