The church was candle lit and Sir John, Phlebotomous, Osvold, Miss Henderson and Morag sat around the table. Constable Claude was back outside.
“So,” said Phlebotomous, looking slightly uncomfortable, “you want to build an imaginary machine?”
“No, that’s not it,” said Sir John.
“Ah good,” said Phlebotomous, looking relieved. “Because I was worried that…”
“I want to build a machine that lets me see imagination itself,” said Sir John.
“Oh dear,” said Phlebotomous.
“Perhaps a nice cup of tea and a sit down would help,” said Miss Henderson in a slow steady voice. She maintained both a fixed smile and a fixed stare at Sir John throughout.
“Look I know this sounds crazy,” said Sir John to everyone. Nobody disagreed.
“It’s not crazy crazy, more ‘day after ye took some powerful drugs’ crazy,” said Morag. “Sort of ‘maybe you should sleep on it before saying it aloud’ crazy.”
“It’s what Miss Henderson said,” said Sir John. Miss Henderson looked appalled.
“I did no such thing!” she said.
“You mentioned the Ectoscopic glasses and the Thanatograph. They let you see and hear spectral activity of course. And I was about to say that this is different, as the spectral forces are things one can’t normally see and hear, but they do exist. Well this is the other way round, see?” said Sir John. Four blank faces looked at him.
“I mean in this instance, we are looking for imaginary things. Imaginary things don’t exist but some people can still see them,” said Sir John. “So we simply need to build a machine which will let us see things that don’t exist.”
“I’ll put the kettle on,” said Miss Henderson and got up to leave, backing away from the table.
“I sort of follow you,” said Morag. “Absent a few of the details, but how would you build something that can see things that don’t exist. I mean, there’s an awfa lot of things that don’t exist.”
Sir John sat down and held his chin.
“Hmm,” he said. “You have a point.”
He stared at the table muttering to himself.
“How do we know which non-existent thing is the thing we want? That’s why I wish we had an artist. They can use the eyes of the imagination and bring something into being. I think if we knew what the avatar thought it should look like, we might be able to see it.”
“Maybe,” said Phlebotomous, “we should apply some logical problem solving.”
“Break the problem down you mean?” said Sir John. “Good idea. The avatar seems to be connected to the doors. I wonder perhaps if the doors have an imaginary counterpart?”
“Here’s some nice tea with 3 sugars,” said Miss Henderson, returning with a tray.
“So the question, then, is – how do you open an imaginary door?” said Sir John.
“Use an imaginary key,” said Miss Henderson absently, sitting down.
She looked to see four faces staring at her.
“What?” she said.