The look on the Abbot’s face was telling. “Come in,” he said. “Hurry up Flint, I haven’t got all day.”
Flint lingered in the doorway for a moment. He was not ready for another tongue-lashing from the old man. “Is something the matter?”
“Close the door behind you.” The Abbot sat behind an ancient desk that gave the man a distinct aura of wisdom and authority.
Something unpleasant was coming, that much was certain. The Abbot rarely called the adjuncts into his office, and this was the third time Flint had been summoned inside a month. Flint pulled the door shut with trembling hands.
“I think you already know why you’re here,” the Abbot said. His impassive eyes studied Flint. “It’s the same problem we’ve had since you started.”
“The research,” Flint said, looking down.
“You need to produce something. I understand that you are busy teaching. But so are all of the monks. You need to find some balance between class and your research. We can’t keep you on as an adjunct if you don’t produce something original.”
The words did not register immediately. Flint shook his head. “Can’t keep me on? You mean you’re going to dismiss me?”
“I have no choice!” the Abbot said. “You’re a fine teacher, but this is a research monastery. How will it look if my monks are not broadening our knowledge of the occult?”
“But I’m buried in work! You have me teaching more classes than any other monk by half. It’s not that I don’t want to study. I just don’t have the time.”
“Are you telling me you can’t do the job?” The old man placed a heavy hand on his desk.
Flint’s mouth hung open, and he waited for words to come out.
“Look,” the Abbot said. “I’m not unreasonable.” He shifted in his seat, and his eyes filled with an uncharacteristic guile. “I’d be willing to give you some extra time, if you are willing to do me a favor. Brother Godfrey has been working on a side project for almost a year now.” The Abbot sighed. “A full year. And no one has any idea what he’s actually doing.”
“I’ve heard,” Flint said, shrugging.
“You and everyone else. But it’s my responsibility to know, and that’s the trouble. Brother Godfrey is brilliant, but he’s stubborn as an ass. And he’s tenured. He won’t say a word. He wouldn’t even tell me where he’s working.”
“That’s the favor? You want me to find out where he’s researching?”
“And what, if you can. Do that, and I’ll give you a pass on your work for the next few months.” The Abbot pointed a finger at Flint. “But listen. I don’t want to hear about you breaking any rules, or using the occult to manipulate him. Do it right, or don’t do it at all.” The Abbot put his hand back on the desk. “Why don’t you see if he’ll take you on as his research assistant? That would put you right where you need to be.”
“I don’t know,” Flint said. “He’s so secretive. Do you really think he would consider it?”
“Go find out,” the Abbot said in a tone that told Flint the conversation was over.
Flint tried to hide his worry. He pulled open the door and stepped out into the empty corridor.
“And Flint,” the Abbot said. “This is the third time I’ve had you in my office. This is your last chance.”