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The Green Eyed Monster was not a pleasant establishment. Nestled snugly between the towering stacks of alternate Shakespeares' works, bounded on either side by Othello and Pericles, the inn tended to attract the kind of clientele who were nervous, paranoid, and rested only a night or two before suddenly leaving. Its walls were grubby wood, its sumptuous carpets now stained and threadbare — one might be forgiven for thinking it was deserted, save for the occasional frantic mutterings of a particularly strung-out patron. The staff did the best they could to provide, but provisions were temperamental at best, and the beer was the colour of week-old dishwater.

In fact, there was only one man who had ever rented a room at the inn for more than a week, and he was known to his friends and family as Marius; to the Monster's staff, he was simply the Bard. Where most travellers through the Wanderers' Library sought solace in its contents — being, as it was, the repository for all works of literature from all decent, upstanding universes — Marius browsed a library of his very own, and it was the one inside his head.


Knock knock.

Two quick taps on the door, a fraction of a second apart, followed by a slow creaking as it swung inwards. The room's occupant sat straight upwards at his desk fingers drumming rapidly. Behind him, a soft voice spoke out.

"Oi've brought you a shandy."

Marius replied in a quiet, steady voice, like somebody who has to carefully examine each word as it leaves the production line of his brain.

"Thank you, Mrs. Cooper."

"We din't have any lemonade left, so oi had to make do with what we had in the fridge."

"I'm sure it will be fine, Mrs. Cooper."

"It's prob'ly supposed to have bits in, anyway. Bits is 'ealthy."

Marius paused at this. The woman1 was a wondeful housekeeper, but any guest of hers quickly learned that understanding the peculiarities of the human digestive system was not her strong suit. Still, not wishing to offend, he replied regardless.

"I'm sure you know best, Mrs. Cooper."

He heard a soft thud as her betentacled form slumped down next to him. A small trickle of oil dripped down his neck as she placed a wet, disjointed limb on his shoulder.

"Remus tells me you were asking round the bar last night. Looking for any strange occurences, 'e said. Well, I told 'im, you'd be hard pressed to find anything strange occurrencing round 'ere. We've always considered ourselves very normal people."

Marius sighed, and turned to look at her. A face like an accident at a chemical plant stared back, compound eyes glistening with motherly affection.

"Now listen, you've been wonderful to me. You really, really have, but I- I've run into a spot of trouble, and it's not- not fair to burden you with it. You see?"

Mrs. Cooper's sole jointed limb patted him wetly, and a tendril unfurled to place, on the desk, a rather sticky glass of something with bits in.

"You're restless, Marius. I know it." All pretences of accent were dropped now, the words instead adopting a low, silky tone. "You only ever talk in iambic pentameter when you're nervous. And it's not for the likes of me to tell you whether you should stay or go, I know — I just hope for your sake you know what you're doing."

The thing known as Mrs. Cooper patted him once more before dragging herself away. She lingered just a moment in the doorway, her almost-arm clutching the worn wooden handle.

"And drink up your shandy. Oi reckon it's prob'ly fermenting in there."

And the door swung shut with a click.


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