Why did they want to put him into a pencil case? It was a ridiculous proposition, very probably born out of desperation. It was also another mistake. Putting the greatest minds together. What were they thinking? It must be the result of overreaching, of over expansion.
War was never straightforward in real life. Not like the films. Not at all. When you killed someone in a film they just laid down and died, perhaps after a minor protest. When you killed someone in real life, in absolute reality, they did the opposite. It was all you could do to stop them protesting. They kept getting up, again and again. They didn't just shout once. They made the most tremendous fuss. Not like the films at all, no. But that was to be expected. And B. was an expecter. Yes. He knew what the films were now. And the books. And the games. All products of the troika. Designed to trick the unwary, the weak-minded, the fool.
B. had wondered if he might give himself away by shrinking to fit inside the pencil case. But he needn't have worried. Now that was careless. Careless of an expecter. Naturally the troika would have mastered dimensionality. Had they got to his mind? It was doubtful. Besides, he had already taken the precaution of downloading himself onto the memory sticks. A world flooded with memory sticks, and no one knew what they were for. It was almost inconceivable. Almost, but not quite. Not for B. Not after all the sudoku.
It was the sudoku that had kept him sharp. That and the crosswords. Numbers and letters were the same - it made no difference - any fool could see that, what distinguished B. was the faculty of moving squares. Thus he was able to solve puzzles even when they couldn't be solved. When they were marked 'expert', or 'fiendish'. - A funny word to use, unless you knew what words meant. That was another thing - people thought words were kept in dictionaries. A notion rendered absurd the moment one remembered books could be opened. But remembering had gone 'out of fashion'. What had they called it? - Political correctness. Yes. And no one had noticed the slow creep from open dictionaries all the way to bottle recycling. No one but B.. It was incredible.
The pencil case was more like a sleeping bag than a pencil case. This might have disturbed a lesser individual, but B. was unlikely to be disturbed by the mere illusion of form. It was the essence that mattered, the rasa. Objects possessed hidden depths beyond their superficial surface appearances. Depths hidden to many, but not all.
At the foot of the pencil case, the eraser had already begun discussing the escape plans. In all probability it would be one stupid idea after another, until B.'s turn, but democracy was important. They must be given the illusion of choice first. Then they would be manageable. Many great leaders had seen this, and B. was merely the latest in a long line of great leaders. Perhaps the greatest. Perhaps the last. But that was for others to judge.
They had bound his arms, but not his mind. Escape was but a matter of time, and of correct move-ordering. The Americans had spent millions developing a pen that worked in space, just so Neil Armstrong could send postcards from the moon. The Russians had taken a pencil. And yet communism had been laughed at. B. sensed he knew who would be laughing last.
It was but twelve breaths, when the sharpener piped up from his hobby horse again. The sharpener - what a delicious irony in the name. B. had often marked that the appropriateness of names had been usurped by the prefix of the troika, which was mis. There would be absolutely no stopping him now, almost none. It had to be handled delicately, with gossamer gloves.
Luckily B. still had his gossamer gloves, which were really moleskin, but, as they were invisible, it didn't matter since the feel was the same. Only feels mattered. That was what separated humanity, and stationery, from mere rocks. And B. was far from rocks.
Off went the sharpener again, filling the pencil case with thought-wafers. Objective morality. He spoke of nothing else. Rather, the lack of it. How was one to ensure the revolution was objectively correct? It was clear no progress would be made until B. had done the Pankhurst. Had knocked the sharpener off his horse.
The sharpener was a malign influence. That much was for sure. A thorn in the paw of progress. An enemy of the revolution. The Cashmere Revolution. It mattered not - schism could scarcely be avoided. The sheep and the goats would be separated. Someone was coming. B. felt certain of that. He just had to hold on for now. For the intermediate times. All would become clear to all. Eventually.
The trouble was the new movement. Atheism plus. How much was in that sign! The symbol. The plus. They had already got to the Rizla papers. There was the plus, the sign of the cross, - in broad daylight for everyone to see - as plain as the nose on another's face - and yet it had gone almost completely unnoticed. Everywhere one looked - Rizla papers. The smoking ban meant there were others. Others on the inside. B. just had to hold out for now, and try to get a message to the others. They must be very high up, very high up indeed to have effected the smoking ban. But it hadn't worked. And B. alone knew why. He had to tell them.