Lukas stood up and scanned around the office. Scattered about were a few people on their computers tapping away, some more standing by a fridge that definitely wasn’t there last time he was here, and a few more just wandering through the isles of desks in various directions. There was no sign of Gloopy anywhere.
“Hey,” Stu said. “Are you alright? Looking for the toilet?”
“Yeah, something like that,” Lukas answered, his voice fading with each word he spoke.
“It’s just down there, follow the pathway to the end and it’s on the right, just past the tech-free zone.”
Almost instinctively Lukas started walking in that direction, weaving through the desks and unknown faces to try and find his friend. The office was drowned in the sounds of tapping keyboards, people taking calls, and the frantic heartbeats in Lukas’s chest. He made his way to the tech-free zone, where people could have meetings on a more personal level, and carried on walking through to a little corridor where the toilets were. No sign of Gloopy anywhere.
He turned around, his whole body shaking like it was seconds away from collapsing and that’s when he spotted Gloopy, wandering under a table a little way away. Lukas went into overdrive and started towards him, moving quicker than he had in months. Just as he reached the table, Gloopy was gone, but he’d seen which direction the little thing was headed in and set forth. He caught up with it as it was climbing up into a handbag that had been left under the table. Lukas hovered around the table, trying to decide whether he should speak to the person who was sitting there. It wasn’t anyone he’d seen before. He could see Gloopy rootling through the handbag. Every time he went to speak, he paused not knowing what to say.
“You alright?” the woman sitting at the desk asked.
“Um, yes,” Lukas started. “I just saw something. Maybe a rat. No, a spider maybe. It climbed into your handbag, and I just didn’t want to freak you out.”
She pushed her chair back and looked down at her bag.
“I can’t see anything.”
“I’m sure I saw something. Did you want me to take it outside?”
“No. There’s nothing there. It’s my bag and I’d like you to leave right now.”
“Sorry, I just don’t want you to be scared of whatever was in there.”
She picked up the bag, angling it away from Lukas and started to go through it with confidence, as if to make a point that she wasn’t scared.
“There’s nothing in there. I don’t know what you think you saw, but there’s nothing in my bag so please just go back to your desk and leave me alone. Please.”
Lukas could feel other eyes around the office starting to watch him, so he nodded and left, whispering an apology as he did.
For the rest of the day Lukas couldn’t focus on work. He knew that Gloopy was in her bag, he saw it there and she just straight up lied to him. Stu didn’t seem to notice that he wasn’t really working and when it got to lunch time he told Lukas that he would be heading home to finish the rest of the day from there, and Lukas was free to do the same if he wanted, as long as he logged in after his lunch hour on time. Lukas dismissed the offer, keeping an eye on the woman at all times so he wouldn’t miss her leave.
As soon as Stu was out of the office, Lukas swapped the computer he was logged into so he could better see the woman sitting down the office hall. Occasionally she would look over at him as well and their eyes would meet for brief moments, before Lukas looked anywhere else. He always thought there was a flash of guilt in her eyes. The rest of the day was uneventful as minutes turned to hours and the sun started to set out of the windows.
Slowly the office started to empty, people shouting their goodbyes to the few people still there as they made their way out of the building. Lukas awkwardly nodded and waved at people he hadn’t met before. As the room was almost completely empty, the woman stood up and made her way over to Lukas, the whole time her eyes were locked on his. He thought she was going to come over and shout at him, maybe alert the last few people in the building that he was some kind of creep.
“Hello,” she said. “I’m Melony. Mel for short. I’m sorry about earlier, but I didn’t know what was going on. I thought you saw my friend, but it was so much more exciting than that.”
She sat down on the empty chair next to him and placed her handbag on the table before continuing.
“Go on,” she said. “Take a look.”
Lukas leant forward, trying to act as if he didn’t want to tear the bag open to find Gloopy. He moved the bag so he could peer inside, and he found Gloopy. He also found that Gloopy had a friend living in the bag with him.
“There’s two of them?”
“Yes. Your friend and mine. I’m sure you can understand why I was scared that you’d seen it. I thought it was just me at once. Did yours arrive when you were ill as well?”
“Yes, kind of.”
“It was disgusting, wasn’t it? But I love her so much. I can’t even explain how attached I am to her. It’s really weird.”
“I know. What do you call it? I call mine Gloopy.”
“Gwendoline. Gloopy? Really?”
“Yes, I like Gloopy. It suits it.”
“If you say so. I can’t believe I found someone else with one. I’ve been waiting all afternoon to tell you. Have you ever come across another one?”
“No, not at all. This is the first time I’ve left the house since I was ill.”
“Ah, really? How bizarre. There have to be more of them around, but I haven’t found anyone else or seen anything online, and I’ve been looking.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad to have Gloopy back.”
“I’m just glad to have found someone else.”
Lukas picked up Gloopy, who had a wide and curious smile on its face. It looked up at Lukas with such joy and affection, that it hurt Lukas. They looked just as happy as each other to be back together again.