“What the hell Jill?” Grace moved away from the crowds at TethTech as she shouted through her earpiece. “Why did you rig it so Emmie won the competition?”
Jill Blackwood heard the shouting through her rack of monitors back at The Deck’s base. She rolled her chair over to the monitors, sending her short black hair whipping over her eyes. Her rounded red glasses almost fell off as she stopped in front of a large speaker. She motioned to Chris to come over and listen to the call.
“Nice to hear from you too Grace,” replied Jill. “It was the boss’ orders. Emmie wants answers and this is the only chance she’ll have of entering the building. Hacking their website was far easier than hacking their keycards and this way she can travel safely.”
“Boss’ orders,” Grace was beginning to feel a little sick of these orders, especially when she always found out about them after they’d happened. “Then why didn’t you rig it so I would be able to go in with her? She’s completely on her own in there!”
“It’s too risky,” replied Jill, moving her hair away from her eyes. She wished she had a fringe. “Just yesterday you had your body pressed up against Tobias and if there’s even a chance he could recognise you then that’s a risk we can’t take.”
“But you can risk Emmie’s life? Why?” replied Grace.
“She’ll be fine Grace. We can watch her through the security cameras,” she lied. “Emmie is still our number one priority. We won’t get a better chance than this.”
“So you are just using her for answers?”
“We all want answers Grace. We all want revenge for what Tobias did.”
Grace knew this was true and knew there wasn’t another way. “If anything happens to her…”
“I know, don’t worry,” Jill hung up and turned to Chris.
“It’s up to Emmie now,” said Chris.
I walked through the large double doors into the TethTech building with the other contest winners who seemed far happier to be there than I did. In front of us stood a wide golden staircase waiting to usher us into the factory.
“Can you believe this,” said Glenn, a thirty-something man with rimmed glasses and a receding hairline.
“It’s amazing. We’re one of only a handful of non-employees to ever see inside this building. Eeep,” Tina squealed, showing far more enthusiasm than you’d expect from someone visiting a science factory.
“I knew he’d never kill someone,” said Finn in a deep Scottish accent.
“It was just an act,” replied Tom, a short man with a low cut brown fringe. “The guy never really died. It was all faked.”
The three other winners stared at Tom, amazed that someone would actually question Tobias. “Are you insane?” asked Glenn. “What about all the doctors who checked?” said Finn.
“Easily faked. Tobias is a conman,” I had a feeling I’d like Tom. Finally someone with a brain. The other winners were less impressed. Glenn walked back to the guard at the double doors and exclaimed “This man is not worthy,” pointing his finger directly at Tom. “He doesn’t deserve to enter this sanctuary.”
“What is this, a house of God? Don’t be ridiculous,” exclaimed Tom. “Look, I like Tobias ok? But you have to admit we shouldn’t just believe everything he tells us on faith.”
“How dare you!” shouted Glenn, clearly taking this far too seriously. He wasn’t the only one. Finn and Tina had joined in by this point. “Kick him out!” shouted Tina. “He doesn’t belong here,” said Finn.
This was insane, how could people have such blind loyalty to Tobias? Looking at the winners they all appeared to be in their thirties, making them old enough to remember the events of the 20 Day Siege that had occurred twenty one years ago. For myself and fresh faced Tom, that day was nothing more than a lesson in a history book. Everyone else here had lived it and that showed.
“Fine, I’m gone!” shouted Tom, as a security guard grabbed him by his arm and dragged him around to the back of the building and away from us. “Good riddance,” said Glenn and I realised I hadn’t said anything this entire time. “Yeah, he wasn’t worthy,” I said, aware that my true feelings would get me removed as well. A risk I couldn’t take.
“Welcome winners!” a young looking scientist entered the room. He wore a white lab coat, with an orange surgical mask hanging down over his neck. “I’m March and I’ll be your guide on this tour of the factory.”
I was immediately sceptical of March. If anything he was too good looking to be trusted. His strong jawline and youthful features made him seem more suitable to be a model than a man of Science.
Besides anyone who was a loyal servant of Tobias was not a friend of mine.
Not that it mattered for Glenn who let out a cheer. An actual cheer, at having the chance to look around a factory. I rolled my eyes but it went unnoticed by the group who looked at March like hungry dogs waiting for a treat.
“Please follow me,” we followed March up a small staircase that opened out onto a grand open plan and brightly lit walkway. The room was pure white with coloured lines – oranges, pinks, blues, greens and reds – forming off to different doorways and paths. On the walls were photos which I assumed were of the TethTech team, that were arranged into circular patterns that intersected. Some of the photos’ contents included their homes, partners, pets, and children. They seemed so normal.
I walked towards the wall and one photo stood out at me. It was a photo of me – the real me, with Will stood behind me. When no one was looking I grabbed the photo and shoved it into my pocket. They wouldn’t need it any more.
Walking back to the group I looked down at the floor and saw an orange pencil sketch of hundreds of happy faces. Everywhere I looked the room was plastered in faces; the walls, the ceiling, the floor, thousands of faces all forming into concentric circles that started to move, intersecting and decreasing in size like a sound wave.
In amongst the waves of faces I thought I saw a face I recognised and as I walked towards it my feet slipped on the floor and I began to fall forward.
Before I could land on my face an arm had grabbed me from the side and pulled me upwards. As I steadied myself I saw the face of the man who helped. It was March.
“Are you ok?” he asked. He seemed kind and genuinely helpful. This wasn’t at all what I’d expected the organisation to be like.
“Yes, thank you.”
“Excellent, I see you were admiring the floor. Amazing isn’t it? These are soldiers who fight for this country every day. They are a reminder of the people we want to protect with our new project,” he sounded sincere. TethTech seemed like a normal office of normal people. I had no clue why they’d want Will gone.
“Sorry I didn’t get your name,” asked March.
“It’s Jessica,” I replied.
“Well Jessica, would you like to see something special?” His model-like good looks made him a hard person to ignore but he seemed unaware of this charm.
“Sure, why not,” If it could give me answers then I would see anything.
I followed March to the back of the room and our feet walked along a pink coloured pathway that ran across the floor. The line stopped by a pink rectangular panel located on the floor, which had a handrail. As we reached the panel I surveyed the room and saw that the other winners were no longer following us. They were talking to another technician, following a green line and didn’t seem to notice my absence.
“Why isn’t everyone else coming?” I asked, worried that my cover had been blown.
“Your entry form said you were a journalist for BBC News. So we wanted to show you an exclusive demonstration. A worldwide scoop,” he replied.
Grace, what have you done?
“Please hold the rail,” said March as the pink panel began to rise upwards through the tower.