London England, Wednesday August 6th 2262
Following her gift purchase for Norman and then his subsequent call, Hillary Jane’s mind had been at peace; well, as far as the issue with him anyway. She still had the meeting with the Russians to get through. She had studied all her notes alongside Stephen’s, as well as the technical information that was available to her from that department.
She’d had Stephen fire questions at her for long periods, questions that she may have to face from them. She couldn’t afford to falter for a moment because of a lack of knowledge on any issue they may bring up. She wasn’t going to jeopardise this potential monumental event.
Stephen had left for the restaurant to get them both midmorning refreshments. She checked the time on her strap; she had just under thirty minutes. Her body surged with adrenalin.
Stephen had been astounding all morning; he knew just the right things to say to her to defuse her anxieties. If all went well she would have a quiet word with the Employee’s Welfare Department and see that he got the long overdue salary review that she had stood in the way of for so long.
She felt that underlings should always be left wanting if they were going to give you 100%. She knew, but never recognised the fact openly, that he went far beyond the call of duty.
She felt the time could be right to reward him. One had to be careful to time remuneration just right; too early and you would lose respect and their need to give their all; leave it too late and there was a danger that resentment would set in and a chance that you could lose their invaluable support to someone else.
She left her data-desk and went over to the right-hand window. The press had multiplied like bacteria, they were everywhere. The tarmac road and pavement, which were part of the grade five listing for the buildings and grounds, were awash with them. They were like a film of multi coloured scum on a stagnant pond that had been agitated by the large stick called scandal. She noticed Hector Humphreys among them; that skinny little weasel appeared all too often. Whenever there was any sort of press invasion he was always among the first to pop up. He was about as welcome as a carbuncle on a bride’s face on her wedding day. Why hadn’t she noticed him earlier?
She was convinced he was the recipient of the information that was leaking from someone within the building. All efforts to locate the leak had proved fruitless so far.
Stephen had sent out a junior to face the throng when he had gone for her coffee earlier. This had amused her; she liked the way he had an air of authority about him and admired his ability to delegate. The timid little mouse he sent was nearly ripped apart by their forward surge and savage questioning. She had stayed out only long enough to find out what they were there for, before scampering back in, tail between her legs. It turned out there was no scandal, the meeting with the Russians had been leaked. She thanked her lucky stars again that she had teleported straight in this morning. She noticed that the Government Police Authority numbers among the press had tripled in the last hour.
Stephen opened her office door and entered with a silver tray. It held two large steaming coffees in tall white mugs and a selection of sandwiches on a square white plate.
“Ah, good,” said Hillary Jane, returning to her data-desk. “I thought you were never coming back.”
“It was very busy in there; I annoyed more than a few people by pushing to the front of the queue. They were non-sympathetic to our tight timescale.” Stephen placed the tray on the left-hand side of her desk.
Hillary Jane smiled. “Good.”
“I heard from the restaurant gossips that the Russian’s have arrived, they are enjoying our fine cuisine in the hospitality suite on the ground floor,” Stephen informed her.
“Great,” she said with a smile. “Nothing worse than a hungry Russian to have to contend with in a meeting.”
Stephen laughed politely at her attempt at humour; he picked up a smaller plate from the tray and put a couple of sandwiches on it, grabbing his coffee to go with it he headed to the door.
“Why don’t you sit in here?” Hillary Jane suggested, feeling she wanted his company.
Stephen stopped in his tracks. This was new, he thought, as he turned round and smiled. “That would be nice,” he lied.
He put his mug and plate back on her desk and pulled one of the rigid looking black leatherette chairs towards it.
“Shall I take your suit jacket?” he asked.
He quickly continued. “Today wouldn’t be the day to spill coffee or sandwich filling down it.”
“Yes, you are probably right,” she said standing up and slipping it off; he did seem to think of everything.
Stephen took her jacket and hung it on the coat stand behind the door.
They ate and drank in silence for a couple of minutes.
Hillary Jane watched him sipping his coffee and nibbling his cucumber sandwich. “How’s er… your partner doing?” she asked, not remembering his name.
“Richard is fine,” Stephen replied, a bit miffed that after four years she hadn’t bothered to remember. “He is doing very well at work, he just recently got promoted.”
“Oh, very nice,” she answered, trying to sound more interested than she actually was. She selected a cheese and ham sandwich this time and took a large bite.
“How is Norman?” Stephen asked, remembering the probable quarrel they must have had this morning judging by her venomous tongue and evil mood earlier.
She finished her mouthful of sandwich. “He is just fine too. He called earlier to wish me luck with the Russians; he’s very thoughtful like that.”
The strained polite conversation continued for a further twenty minutes, until the sandwiches had gone and the coffee mugs had been drained. Stephen collected everything together, feeling somewhat thankful at the excuse to leave.
“I will relieve you of these,” he said lifting the tray. She nodded.
Stephen dumped the tray on his data-desk; there was no time to take it back to the restaurant just now. His dat-com strap pulsed as a message came in. It was in text format. He returned to Hillary Jane’s office.
“The Russians are in meeting room seven,” he announced. “The Boss will be joining them shortly.”
Hillary Jane rose from her chair. Stephen retrieved her jacket from the coat stand and helped her on with it.
“You look great,” he said brushing away any dust that may have settled on her shoulders. “I will fetch mine and we should go.”
“Thank you Stephen,” she said respectfully. Another rare event he thought, he smiled and then retrieved his jacket.
“Shall we go?” he asked.
“I’m ready,” she confirmed.
They descended the main staircase to the ground floor, several colleagues on the short journey expressed wishes of good luck.
They reached the long wide corridor that meeting room seven was at the other end of. The same thick navy carpeting, as every other floor, led to the closed double doors at the end of it like a runway. The oak theme also continued on this floor, the uniform waist-height panelled walls ran the length of the passage too. The carpet was randomly streaked with diagonal wall-to-wall patches of sunlight, created by open doorways here and there that led to presently unoccupied rooms.
The majestic panelled doors looked impressive, but also rather daunting today.
“Good luck,” Stephen half whispered, as they proceeded steadily towards them.
Hillary Jane’s face was expressionless and her nod barely perceptible as they drew ever closer to meeting room seven.
Anonymous audio diary 198
Discovered in 2087during the extension of the Moscow Kalininskaya metro line
After nearly seven months in 2262, and numerous months of planning with T in 2285, the day has arrived - the day has actually arrived!
I have mixed emotions that go from nervous excitement one minute, to sheer terror the next. I try not to think about the task ahead of me, a task that can’t afford to fail. I must be positive, I’ve planned the upcoming events to the second; every eventuality has been conceived and accounted for…
Have I forgotten anything? Will I get caught? I must stop questioning myself, I can do this... I will succeed!
T has bought a new grey suit for the day so that I blend in well with everyone else. It has done little to boost my confidence or alter my decrepit appearance. ‘Distinguished and authoritative’ were T’s words to describe me. Extinguished and pathetic were mine…
T and I have become very close over recent months; I do believe that she has feelings for me once again, how does she stomach my failing body? I ask myself this every time we make love… I do think the world of her too. I know that when Plan A succeeds today that our time together will have to end. There will be no need to see her again; and she is engaged to be married after all.
August 6th 2262, 13:04:52. This exact moment in time has been ingrained in my head for so long now that I will undoubtedly remember it until the day I die… may it be an anniversary to celebrate in the future and not one to dread…
In exactly two hours, eight minutes and fifteen seconds it will be 13:04:52 and I will be activating the most important teleport of my life...
By my next diary entry I will know if I have succeeded or failed… I mustn’t fail…