(1939-07-31) Impossible Tasks
Details for Impossible Tasks
Summary: Schrader and St. Cloud have a boisterous conversation about the nature of the mind, God, and a certain Unspeakable hopeful.
Date: 31 July, 1939
Location: Department of Mysteries, Brain Room
Related: A Meeting of Minds

It's another typical day in the Thought Division. Unspeakables gather around various stations in the Brain Room, engaged in intellectual conversations that would spin the heads of the average wizard. Eyes turn to the main door when it opens and admits the Chief Unspeakable, Walter St. Cloud. The cheeful, wild-haired man strolls in, lifting a hand in greeting and says quickly in his mild lisp, "As you were." Such tours of the Department are not uncommon, as St. Cloud likes to be a visible and accessible presence to his people.

Schrader is sitting quietly at his desk, thinking himself above the rest of the rabble in his division, as per usual. His quill scribbles hurriedly across a piece of parchment but it comes to a halt once he hears the familiar ring of St. Cloud's voice in his ears. He looks up with a big, happy smile at the man and says, "Oh, Director St. Cloud, how lovely to see you today." He stands and throws his arms out in a welcoming gesture, "Come come. Sit." He waves his hand towards a chair on the other side of his desk, "I have something which I think would intrigue you, ja?"

St. Cloud perks in pleasant surprise at Schrader's enthusiastic welcome. "Ja!" he chirps in reply, starting off toward Schrader's desk with a little skip. He plops down in the offered seat, hands patting the arms of the chair excitedly. "What stupendous sustenance for the psyche do you have for me today, Schrader?"

"If I mind is made bereft of it's core information through either chemical or hypnotism-induced memory loss, is it still the mind? Is the conciousness no more than a collection of electrical stimuli bouncing around inside of a squishy grey blob endowed to us by the miracle of long line of happy circumstance. Or is it something more? Ja?" Schrader smiles giddily and continues, "Granted to us by…perhaps…perhaps a divine creator? Perhaps the nature of studying thought is in itself a paradoxical expedition in that it is no more the mind observing itself. Perhaps Schrodinger and Heisenberg were right. Ja? By merely observing the results, we change them on a fundemental basis."

St. Cloud giggles and titters as Schrader elaborates. By the time the man is done speaking, Walter's hands are clasped in glee, his body quivering. "A worthy exploration of the very fundamentals of Thought! I shall put this to you to consider. Let us assume for a moment that a divine creator is responsible for gifting us with our minds. Does that imply that it was the creator's intention that we should eventually ask these questions, and does that invalidate the notion that doing so is paradoxical or futile? Or, might it suggest that even the creator is unaware of the potential of our minds, and we, ourselves, are a grand experiment?" His lips form an excited O as a thought occurs to him. "In other words…is God an Unspeakable?"

"Of course God is an Unspeakable!" Schrader says with a happy chortle. "The old paradox of 'can God create a stone so large that even he cannot move it' comes to mind. Could got create a mind so complex that even he could not comprehend it? Perhaps we are simply born of paradox? Ja?" Schraders slaps the desk repeatedly out of excitement before he says, "All of this-" he waves his hand between the two of them, indicating their convesation as 'this', "-stirred in my mind from a conversation with a kleine vogel." He catches himself and curses himself in German before explaining, "Little bird."

St. Cloud laughs boisterously, earning a few raised eyebrows from the other Thought researchers in the room. But they are accustomed to their chief's childlike excitement over…well, everything, and soon it's right back to work. "Bitte erlautern Sie, Herr Schrader. Tell me about this little bird. You have my attention."

Schrader smiles warmly at his boss and claps his hands together, letting them fall with a clunk to his desk, "You no doubt remember the letter from a young Miss Rashley, ja? Came in not too long ago, I suppose. Inquiring about a position here?" He clears his throat and continues his oration, "Well, I took it upon myself to pay her a visit yesterday."

The Chief Unspeakable steeples his fingers, dipping his head in a deep nod. "Yes, of course. Morgana Rashley. Ravenclaw. Head Girl, and without any previous Prefect experience. Excellent marks. No significant signs of misbehavior…unfortunately. But clearly a superior mind. What is your initial impression of her?"

Schrader grins and leans forward, saying, "I quite like her, St. Cloud." He pauses for a moment and says, "My initial thought was that she was simply a bit dull, but when working in a retail environment, who isn't, ja?" He grins and proceeds, "I went in under the guise of a devious gentleman looking to procure various products for what seemed like a series of unsavory experiments. She was going to to sell them to me!" He pauses for a long moment, letting that sink in before he adds, "Or so I thought. I was a moustache twisting villain of the highest calibre, ready to believe that I'd won, but she soon revealed she had handed me the ingredients for a simple pep-up potion!"

"Haw, haw, HAW!" St. Cloud's belly laugh disturbs the work in the Brain Room once again. "Brilliant. She pulled the wool over your eyes, then? You genuinely did not realize that she hadn't given you what you'd asked for?"

"I did not!" Schraders lets loose a devious little giggle, stomping his feet happily. "She tricked me, St. Cloud!" After settling down a little bit, he lifts his glasses and wipes at his eyes. He dusts his glasses off with the help of a handkerchief and says, "I believe I would have married a Ravenclaw girl if I'd gone to Hogwarts."

St. Cloud nods, chuckling. "Ahh, yes. Those Ravenclaw girls and their big…big brains. Well, she's demonstrating an ability to think laterally. That's good, very good. She needs to be tested further, though. We must see how she operates in circumstances she isn't prepared for. I think it is time for a stress test."

Schrader nods to St. Cloud and leans back in his chair, resting his hand across his stomach, asking, "What do you have in mind?" He slides his desk drawer out and slips his pipe out from it, which he begins to go about packing down with a sweet smelling tobacco.

"In my opinion," Walter muses, "Miss Rashley's greatest weakness is that she tends not to deviate from her intended course. She's a planner, and that serves her well, as long as the unexpected does not occur. I've spoken with my predecessor, Sirius Black, who had a conversation with her about this. It seems she had hoped to move directly from Hogwarts into the Department of Mysteries, and was rather distraught that it would not happen. Hence her employment in a potion shop now. Let us consider…how might she react if presented with an impossible task?"

Schrader is always intrigued by the prospect of an impossible task and leans in to hear him out, striking a match and pressing it to the freshly-packed tobacco. He exhales a cloud of smoke, his eyes sparkly with curiousity, "We should have her tame a centaur."

St. Cloud chuckles, shaking his head. "We want to challenge her, not get her killed. No, this must appear to be part of her every day routine, so she does not immediately realize that it is a test. Perhaps an order for a potion that cannot be brewed. I shall arrange for her employer to be away, so she alone will be responsible for the mixture."

Schrader nods to him, "A centaur-taming potion!" He collects himself after his outburst and says, "I'm sorry. I've got centaur on the brain. They've got arms and hooves. Lovely!" He takes a few puffs from his pipe and leans back, crossing one leg over the other, seemingly lost in thought.

St. Cloud smiles in amusement, but his thoughts consume him as he considers the possibilities. "A permanent elixir of youth. Many have tried, all have failed. We shall make it appear as if the order was approved by Mrs. Black herself, so Miss Rashley will have no choice but to attempt it. You will observe her, and report on how she approaches this task."

Schrader nods to the man, "And if she succeeds, well I doubt she'll need a position with us, any way." He chuckles and exhales some more of that sweet, woody tobacco. "It's settled. I shall begins preperations immediately."

Walter barks a laugh. "Indeed, if she is successful, she'll likely have my job, if she wants it. Very good, Schrader. Do report to me regularly on this. Your little bird has me very curious." He rises from his seat with a little hop, offering his hand to Schrader to "seal the deal".

Schrader stands and holds his pipe in his mouth with one hand while the other one takes Walter's firmly, "Jawohl!" He smiles warmly and turns to grab his coat, "I'll go speak with Miss Black about the test after lunch."

St. Cloud shakes his head. "Leave Mrs. Black to me. She should remain unaware of our involvement. You focus on Morgana Rashley. Observe and report, Mr. Schrader. Observe and report." He gives the man a wink, and spins on his heel to continue his tour of the department.

Schrader raises his eyebrows and nods understandingly before he slips into his coat, off to go perform tests on small animals…or get lunch or something.

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