Grizz barely had the words out of his mouth when a flurry of arms and a wall of womanhood crashed into his chest and he was surrounded by a cloud of dark auburn locks. "Jade." he wheezed, "I can't breathe."
Jade, whose head was buried into his neck, mumbled, "Where the heek have you been for so long?!" She moved away slightly and a whoosh of air escaped from Grizz. "Where's the Professor? Is he safe?"
Grizz rubbed the back of his neck, not looking her in the eye. "Well, I think I got close a couple of times." he said tiredly. "It was no use. I don't think we were even in the same Age."
"Well, no I don't think you're the same age. I know it's hard to tell with squirrels, but I was always under the impression that Thietris was a good deal older than you."
Professor Thietris Squirrel, CEO, President and Managing Director, Institution of Advanced Exploration of Myst Worlds
Professor T lay back in the rear seat of the taxi as it whisked the Squirrel family off to the Institution's imposing edifice in the heart of the metropolis. The winter's day was coming finally to a close -- and it had certainly been a long day. The orange glow of the street lights slid past the windows of the black cab. The Professor glimpsed the bustle of late shoppers through tired eyes and thought of those strange, haunted streets of L'nkhania. He found himself once again walking past Vincent King's grocer's shop, but now the mountain of spam which had previously spewed from the doorway had completely disappeared. The door was firmly shut, and a hand-written note had been blue-tacked to the inside. "Retired to the Costa del Sol!", it read.
He walked on. And spied two figures at the top of the hill. They looked familiar. He waved. They halted. As he drew nearer, the female figure started running down the hill towards him, arms outstretched. She whisked him up and spun him round till he felt quite giddy.
"Put me down! Put me down!" Really, what a way to treat a Professor.
"Professor! It's so wonderful to you see you!" said Jade.
"Well, it's very good to see you, too, Jade," said the Professor, his feet now firmly back on solid ground. "Hello, Grizz!" He waved to the bearded figure who stood some yards away. "What have you got there?"
Grizz was standing in front of a large shopping trolley, the contents of which were covered with his overcoat. He was looking a little sheepish.
"Hello, Professor," said Grizz. "It's nothing, really. Just a few tins of [cough] spam."
"One hundred and one tins of spam, to be precise," said Jade. "And we actually had to pay for one of them."
"But ... but why? Do you like spam that much?"
Grizz looked at the ground and bit his lip.
"Well, you see, Professor," said Jade, "Mr King, said it would put hairs on our chest."
The Professor gave Jade a strange lopsided look.
"No, not for me. I don't want hairs on my chest. Grizz insisted on buying the stuff. You see, it was some years ago that he first grew a beard -- to, sort of, compensate ..."
"Oh, now I see. But look, you can't eat that stuff. It's lethal. I'd just dump it somewhere if--"
"Wake up, Thietris! Look! Over there! It's that Mr Prescott!"