"Hello," says Michael. His voice has a disembodied, slightly metallic sound. "I'm the Archivist. How may I help you?" He smiles at us. His bizarre, overly plastic surgeried face has the look of a computer avatar, all smooth and slightly stretched out. He's wearing black, skinny trousers, loafers, his trademark white socks, and a black and metallic fitted shirt.
"But you're....you're. Fuck! You're dead!" Nick stammers. I stand up slowly and then help him up. He picks up the sword.
"You won't be needing that here. There's nothing to swing at unless you're going to kill your friend there," says Michael, he folds his arms. He's wearing red lipstick, his eyes rimmed black.
Nick puts his sword away never taking his eyes off the man. Michael takes a couple of steps towards us and he shimmers for a moment.
"Wait a minute. You're not a dead soul. You must be a computer generated something or other," I say, realizing if he were truly a dead soul he wouldn't look solid.
"Hmm," is all he says. He folds his arms, glancing at me in mild annoyance.
"How did you?...How did...How did you die?" Nick asks. I'm a little surprised. I never thought he would be interested in something like the death of Michael Jackson in the real world.
Michael smiles at him. "Heart failure due to the wrong combination of drugs."
"It's July 5th and the toxicology reports haven't come back yet. You could be wrong," I say, feeling slightly embarrassed that I even know such a thing.
"If I'm wrong then you're wrong, Girlie," he says smiling even broader. The smile has a weird, cartoonish look to it as it stretches his face beyond where any smile has a right to go. I feel a chill run down my spine.
"Now, what can I do for you?"
"Are you really a computer generated whats-its?" asks Nick.
Michael sighs and then throws up his arms. "Of course, I'm computer generated. I'm the Archivist. I can take any form of being I like and today I want to be the King of Pop." He looks at us pointedly. "Now," he says slowly starting to walk up and down, "are you going to ask me a question or are you going to just stand there and gape?"
"Where is Mithra?" I blurt out.
"Mithra. Mithra is a divine entity, part of the Zoroastrianism, protector of the truth and justice. And since he is considered a pagan god, well, he's in the Citadel. Is that what you need to know?"
"No, I meant Mithra the Sword," I say looking on eagerly. Michael pauses in mid-step, frowning at me.
"Why do you want to know that?" I hear a faint pounding noise behind us but pay no attention.
"Because I need to know, is all," I say, not sounding very convincing. I'm holding myself tense with anticipation. The pounding sound gets a little louder. Nick turns away from us and walks towards the door.
"I don't think I can talk about that, Girlie. Ask me something else," he says, frowning.
"No, I need to know the answer to that question. Tell me," I say, standing my ground. "You have to tell me the answer."
"Damn, protocols," Michael mutters. "All right, Mithra. Mithra is an ancient sword supposedly forged out of a black substance that destroys energy but it only works for the person for whom it was made and I can guarantee that is not you." He arches a perfectly plucked black eyebrow at me.
The pounding is louder. I look back at Nick. He walks quickly to us, swiftly closing the vast white space between us.
I turn back to Michael. "I hate to tell you this but I'm the person the sword was made for."
Michael stares at me for a moment then bursts out laughing. "Oh, that's really funny," he laughs some more. There's a loud splintering sound behind us and I turn to see the door starting to shudder.
"She's here," Nick says.
I grab Michael by the arm. "Tell us where the sword is. That's all you have to do."
"Wait a minute! What's going on with the door? No one's allowed to break the door down. And it's impossible besides!" he says, looking at the slowly breaking down door. The door splinters again.
"Tell me where Mithra the Sword is. Tell me NOW!" I yell in Michael's face.
He looks genuinely hurt. "No reason to be rude." He straightens up and says just as the Stranger breaks down the door, "The sword is in the White Tower."
"Run!!!" I yell at Michael and then I grab Nick's hand and stretch out my arm. The Stranger is rushing at us, much faster than Michael, as a blue door appears in front of us. It says "The White Tower." I grab the doorknob and pull it open, dragging Nick after me. As we are slamming the door shut I catch a glimpse of Michael's horrified expression as the Stranger grabs his head and shoves her thumbs into his avatar eyes.