by Jeff Chapman -
“There are no matches among Avenir records,” contended the medico, and regarded the old man in the bed.
“Perhaps they were not very thorough,” said Brother Peter. “Mistakes have occurred before. They give scant enough attention to our requests. You should ask them to look again, Brother Sebastian.”
The medico nodded.
“And if the Abbot will give us a name,” said the director.
“His records are no longer there,” said the Abbot. “They were lost in the core memory collapses.”
Sebastian calculated what that meant for the age of the patient, then recalculated. Impossible. Until now he had thought the Abbot’s mental capacity untouched by age. Perhaps senility came in bursts like solar flares lashing out into space. He looked to the director and wrinkled his brows.
The director shook his head and sighed with the exasperation one might show an errant child.
“I believe—” began the director.
“Do you not recognize the face?” The Abbot turned from one monk to the other. “Either of you?”
Brother Sebastian shook his head.
“I’m afraid we do not,” said Brother Peter.
“Surely you do,” said the Abbot to the director. “You’ve passed his portrait many times.”
Brother Peter stared at the man in the bed, cocking his head from one side to the other to regard the face from different angles.
“I pass him every day,” said the Abbot.
“Yes, yes,” said the director. “I see it now. Uncanny. Remarkable, but utterly impossible.”
“Who is it I should recognize?” asked Brother Sebastian.
“The first Abbot, Brother Septimus. His dark eyes pierce me every morning and night. His is the first portrait outside my chamber.”
The medico gaped. “But—but—that would make him over two hundred Foundings.”