High Tea, High Up There.
He led her out of the room, through a door that slid open for them, and down a fifty foot passage, past some other rooms, evidently, but she could not see through any of the opaque glass panels that were there, some of which looked like doors, and others like windows; to see inside and to see what was in there or what was going on in there. Because there were some vague and muffled sounds of human activity emanating.
It was relatively quiet in the passageway. Not even their footfall was making any real sound as they walked down it. The floor of the passage was some kind of grey and blue-lined hard-wearing fairly stiff textured carpet.
At the end of the passage a door opened for them and inside it appeared to be a rather smaller area than the first room she had been in, cosy even, you could say, with four dark green velvet-covered curved banquettes in there, and dark wood side tables; real wood...
“May I know your name?” She thought to ask, all of a sudden, in that moment.
“I am Xan Twenty-Five. Xan T-Five -, you may call me...” He trailed off; he spoke so languorously virtually all the time, she noted.
He said it like ‘Z’-an; ‘Zan.’
The door slid shut behind them. But it wasn’t actually completely quiet in here... Surely there was a low-level background humming. And it wasn’t mechanical either. There was a speaker system...
And every now and then a tinkling sound, like something – tiny bells - swirling around and around a drawn, tensioned metal spiral all the way down, down. That part did not sound like it was coming from speakers though.
And it was there, right there in one corner of the room. A silvery metal spiral running all the way from ceiling down to floor. And every now and again, apparently not in any obvious regular kind of timing or pattern, one small circle with a small silvery-looking jingle bell on it fell down spinning round and round.
Against one wall there was a hip-level open shelf bearing some thick glass bowls, very artistically shaped, like peculiar ‘Kosta Boda’ art or something. Reddish glass, with metallic copper sprays and droplets all through the glass-work.
Liz McNeil observed that there was loose leaf tea in the bowls. With golden spoons sticking up out of the piles of tea. And she could see that the tea leaves in each bowl were also all different from bowl to bowl.
“Please,” the male figure in the dark blue skin-tight outfit said, motioning with one hand. “Make yourself comfortable.”
She sat down in one of the chairs. Its padding was firm. But above the pressed snow-goose feather over-lining the actual outer surface covering was soft and very ‘sensory’ to the touch, with flat, broad-ribbed heavy yarn, blended wool-and-something-else twill lengths of finely-woven material running over the cushioning -, all very high tech-looking and very precisely and finely stitched together.
Xan T-5 spoke again: “This is my own personal supply.” He gestured towards the glass bowls. “Private Pink Keemun Orange Pekoe. Super Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe...”
He continued, undaunted by her remark.
“Royal Kandyan First Flush Darjeeling. Wild Monsoon FTGFOP.”
He straightened his gesturing arm to make direct contact with a fingertip on one of the bowls. “...And ordinary Demerara sugar.”
What long fingers, she thought.