You spent the next few hours being charmed by the whale woman, first letting yourself be lifted onto the walkway, then being held in her hands, and finally, somehow, you find yourself sprawling on her belly as she lays back.
She explains to you how almost every Hall has its own animia, its own spirit. Nothing quite as fancy as a god. She laughs gently at the idea. Gods would be able to leave, and warp and shape reality to their whim. No, they are trapped here, unable to leave. They seem to be at the mercy of human attention; without it they will gradually fade. With it, however, they flourish. And at night, they can take form.
She’s surprised nobody explained your job to you. Most of them need to be checked on, kept company, talked to. Many of them are too big to leave their own Halls, trapped alone in their exhibits. Like she is.
You’re skeptical of what she’s saying at first, but then you remember you’re laying on several tons of soft whale.
“Some of them need more attention then others.” she sighs, scooping you off her stomach so she can sit up. “More demanding. More…theatrical. But don’t forget to look for the ones tucked in the dusty corners.”
You promise you won’t. She lowers you carefully to the ground, looking a little wistful. “It’s almost the morning now. It was real nice talkin’ to you darling…come back and see me sometime.” she winks, giving you a smile of bristles. “But be sure to take care of the others first.”
She gives you a gentle push towards the exit with her index finger, even this light tap making you stumble. You take her eyes off her for a second as you catch your footing, and she’s gone. The cold fiberglass statue has returned.
You head home, passing the day crew on your way out. Do they know? Could you even explain what you’ve seen without sounding like you’re delusional? You just say your good mornings tiredly, and shuffle away.
Once back home, it takes you a long time to fall asleep, your windows shut tight against the rising sun.