Positrons and Paychecks (Part 5)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

A week later…

Today was the big day. We were presenting the footage and schematics of the cannon – and the pistol, I had to keep reminding myself – to the board, as well as interested military officials. Many of them were excited; they had heard through word of mouth about the success of the test. I was not looking forward to this, especially given their interest in the hand cannon. I had tried on several occasions to convince Richard to pull the plug on it, but he was adamant that “it was the future” and that this project was in the company’s best interests.

In some ways, he was right. Company stock had been rising the past few weeks, and we had seen a rise in publicity again, despite the populace not knowing exactly what the project was. When we went public with it in a few hours, Richard believed that stocks would rise even higher. I wasn’t convinced, but he had been at this for much longer than I had.

Sam hadn’t talked to me in person since our discussion. Anything that she had needed, she would ask me for via email or a standard request form. It was mildly disconcerting, compared to how much interaction she had forced on me beforehand. I felt like I needed to go check up on her, but she would most likely just brush me off. I’d see her at the meeting, and could try and talk with her then.

I sat down at my desk and went through the slides one last time. Everything seemed polished, but I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes with that many eyes on me…

“Excellent presentation, Varnum!” Richard shook my hand behind the stage. The applause was beginning to die down. I loosened my tie slightly, and took a glass of water from one of the aides.

“It was good enough.”

“Good enough? Did you see the chairman’s eyes when we presented the footage of the cannon firing?”

“No sir, I wasn’t sitting next to him like you were.” We started to walk over to the reception hall.

“Well, it was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen eyes go that wide before.”

I smiled slightly. “At least, not naturally?”

He laughed, “True.” We entered the reception hall, and I was immediately accosted by people.

An hour had passed, and the majority of the board and assorted guests had left. I took a seat at one of the tables and looked around. Both Richard and Sam had left as well. To think of it, I didn’t actually see Sam once during the whole evening, despite my hopes. Richard said that she had left with one of the other scientists to go run diagnostics on the prototypes. I was too tired at that point to protest. If she wanted to work on her last day, that was her prerogative.

I removed my tie and unbuttoned the top button of my shirt. I think a vacation is a good idea for everyone, I told myself. Going home and seeing Zeke and Pat seemed like a wonderful idea. When was the last time that I had been planetside, a year ago? I should probably try and bring Zeke a souvenir – I wonder if I could get a chunk of moon rock from one of the labs…

I felt a slight tremor. An earthquake? Suddenly the doors sealed shut, and a red alarm light started flashing. What was going on? All of a sudden, it hit me – there was an explosion somewhere on the lunar base!


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