From the instant the big, heavy, double-height doors swung open, I was assailed by the smell. Sweet, musty, strangely warm in its impact. Rotting soft fruit, shot through with more earthy undertones I couldn't place.
I didn't have much time to react before the noise. "Noise" was perhaps not the right word. There was a mixture of sounds competing for my attention. And not ones I'd ever heard before, a little like someone chainsawing a herd of donkeys. There were hoots, screams, mutterings.
And the clattering. Always the clattering.
Smell and hearing had leapt in because, quite frankly, sight was out to lunch. My eyes saw the room. My eyes regarded the desks. My eyes took in the office chairs, the reams of paper, the banana skins.
But my brain was struggling with the monkeys. Dozens of monkeys. Scores of monkeys. Hundreds, thousands. Millions. Monkeys as far as the eye could see.
I realised that although I'd observed the room, I hadn't actually seen the far wall. I couldn't focus on it. There was a distant haze, but I couldn't make it out.
In any case, I'd been distracted. Not just by monkeys. But by typewriters. One placed squarely on every desk, ranks of which stretched off to the horizon. Most monkeys ignored them. A few had ripped the paper from the open typewriter carriages and fashioned nests. Some simply crouched, slumped on the keyboards. A number, though, showed a sort of simian interest. They added clatter to the background as they struck keys with fists, heads and feet.
As I walked between some desks, there was a tug at my trouser hem. A capuchin sat there, his thin fingers curled around some torn-off foolscap. Chestnut eyes fixed mine with a questioning look. I took the scrap:
cddhuidhunihy8n udpa8di d jnjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj cjdijj\ jdic\jcikxo4ifkc aouhuikI was puzzled. I read on.
cbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbhdbih\djisdjkenckjneakfle ke\jdemk edjKXMMDJDMKMKWhat did it mean? What was it supposed to mean?
ncjxhgcud nj989jmncaTo be, or not to be--that is the question:whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--No more--and by a sleep to say we end The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks That fleshhcduhdn duchdunw vcndwjb nvejhce cxn fhrI had my answer. It was possible after all.