I looked at the dog. The dog looked at me. A moment passed. Then I said, “What?”
The dog stood up and advanced across the desk towards me, sitting at the edge with her front toes overhanging. “I was talking about your coworker Carver,” she said. “You needlessly antagonize him. If you don’t stop doing so, you may regret it.”
I snorted. “No offense, but I don’t usually put much stock in talking dogs,” I said.
“Scorn my advice at your peril,” said the dog sternly.
There isn’t much you can say to a remark like that, so I remained silent. After a few moments, the dog spoke again.
“My name is Barbara,” she said. “You may address me as ‘Barbara.’ Under no circumstances will I permit my name to be shortened to ‘Barb.’ If you do this, I will bite you.”
I nodded. “Fair enough.”
“I will be accompanying you for the time being. You need not concern yourself with my transportation, however. So it will not be necessary for me to ride in your finger again.”
I was about to apologize for that when she interrupted. “There is no need for apologies,” she said simply. “I chose to ride in your finger; had I not so chosen, you would not have placed me there.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Now then,” continued Barbara, “I will be assisting you as I see fit from time to time in the task that lies before you. But before that begins, do you have any questions for me?”
“Of course I have questions,” I said. “Who are you? Where did you come from? Why are you here?”
“As for who I am, I have already told you. I’m Barbara. Where I came from is not important. And I am here because someone thought you might benefit from my company in the days ahead. You might call me an emissary.”
“Emissary? Whose emissary?” But it dawned on me as I asked the question whose emissary Barbara probably was.
Barbara regarded me with mild amusement. “I can see by your face that you’ve already surmised the answer,” she said.
My voice dropped to a whisper. “The God of–”
“I suggest that you not utter that phrase at the moment,” Barbara warned, glancing towards my cubicle entrance. I followed her glance.
Just then, Harold appeared, walking by carrying an armload of file folders. “Hey Andrew,” he called when I caught his eye. Then he did a double take, stopping in his tracks to stare at my desk. “What’s with the dog?” he asked, bemused.