Dr Arthur Milldew stared at his creation. The image was one of perfection, exactly what his employer would have wanted. He reached for the mobile phone in his coat pocket, flipping it open, he pressed the green phone icon twice. Redial. He listened to the cliché ringtone four times before a voice at the other end answered.
“I’ve done it...I’ve finally done it. I’ve managed to sort out the molecular problems that were...”
“I don’t care about the molecular whatever, will it work, and can you make all the alterations we discussed before. Forget the details, just tell me, can we move forward? Or is this another false start, because if I have to send him out to you again, and you’ve still got nothing, I’m going to be pissed.”
“Yes...I’m pretty sure that...”
“I need more than pretty sure, pretty sure means maybe, possibly, it doesn’t mean yes, can we do it or not?”
“Ok, I’ll call you tomorrow. Good work, he’ll be there shortly”
With that the phone went dead. Arthur didn’t like the man on the other end of the phone, but he was paying his wages, so he didn’t need to like him, just tolerate him. He was angered by his lack of care about what he had achieved. After fifteen years of dedication to this one project all he can muster is a ‘Good work’. Back when the project started Arthur’s six foot frame was lean and elegant, he was 26, and one of the brightest young scientists out there, qualifying from University College London, with a first, and completing his doctorate in record time, he joined the advanced genetics team at Future Development Limited. All had gone well for the first year; Arthur was a rising star, appearing on the front of New Scientist magazine, the first scientist ever to do so. He had quickly become the Head of Research and Development at FDL. However shortly after the end of his first year, the government had passed a ruling that ended any advancement in his field, the alteration of human genetics had been deemed unlawful, and morally wrong. His world had collapsed. When his phone began to ring a few weeks after his 28th birthday, Arthur had become delirious about the opportunity he had been offered by the same man who had just hung up on him so nonchalantly. He began work immediately, and for years the work had been wholly unsuccessful, the small team which he lead had hit barrier after barrier, and just when they seemed to be making progress another problem would arise. His employer seemed to have an endless supply of money, although they had never met, Arthur assumed he must have had something to do with oil. Arthur looked down at the stomach that had developed after years of fast food, and little exercise. He sighed, and off the polished surface of the aluminium work table he saw his reflection. His face was ash grey, and had not seen sunshine for years, not just because of the natural British climate. The phone call he just had, was one of only three direct interactions Arthur had been permitted to make with his employer, normally he would have to deal with his intermediary Ralph Goldstone.
Ralph had just received a phone call telling him of Dr Milldew’s success, and was currently making the short drive from his home away from home, a few miles away from the laboratory situated in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales. It was just passed midnight, and Ralph had been settling down for the night, but as had happened many times before, he was called upon to act swiftly to his employers demands. It was raining heavily, and the windscreen wipers on his Aston Martin were struggling to keep up with the pace, just as they had swept across to clear the precipitation engulfing the windscreen, another barrage would replace it. It was for this reason that the winding roads to the lab took Ralph an extra fifteen minutes longer than normal to travel the twenty three miles. He turned left off the main road, to a gravel road that lead to the facility. A few hundred meters down, and he came to the fence that divided it from the rest of the farmland. Ralph knew that he would have to leave the safety of his car here to use the intercom, that hopefully would be answered swiftly, and allow him access through the gate. He pulled up as close as he could, and stepped out into the pouring rain. He took the three steps needed to buzz the intercom, and waited for a response.
“Hello, who is it?”
“It’s me, Ralph. Let me in quick, I’m getting soaked out here!” he had to shout to compensate for the sound of the rain beating against the countryside. He glanced up towards the camera situated at the top of the 7ft fence which divided him from the voice on the other end.
“Ah, sorry Ralph, it was hard to make you out through the rain, its making my camera look like static, I’ll buzz you through now”
Ralph quickly got back into the shelter that his car offered. The gate opened within seconds, and he gently stepped on the accelerator of his automatic, and the car smoothly moved forward. It was another five hundred meters before the Lab came into view, its mirrored windows reflecting the grey cloud, making its stand out from the green hills beyond. As he got closer, he reached down and pressed a mahogany compartment which housed the car’s only cigarette lighter, and a small ash tray. As Ralph had quit smoking five years previously, this was now used as a holder for a remote control, which activated the door to the garage below the Lab. He removed it, pointing it in the general direction of set of sliver shutters which guarded the entrance, and pressed the button marked open. The shutters glided upwards, and he guided the car into the orange glow emitted by the lights within. The garage housed twenty five spaces, of which only six were filled. Ralph parked up, taking the total to seven. He stepped out of his car, and made his way towards the far end of the garage, where a set of metal doors indicated a lift. He reached into his trouser pocket, pulling out his wallet, which he swiftly flicked open and thumbed out a white plastic card. As he stepped up to the elevator he placed the white card on an electronic pad to the right, which flashed from red to green , indicating that the card had done its job. He placed it back into his wallet, and waited for the lift to arrive. It took less than a minute, and he stepped in. Surrounded by mirrors he suddenly became conscious of his appearance. His black hair, which was normally so pristine in its appearance had become dishevelled by the rain, he ran his hand through it, trying to manipulate any stray hairs back into place. His trench coat had also taken a good battering in the few moments he was exposed to the elements, but that was its job, he removed it, revelling a navy blue suit, which still looked immaculate. As the lift moved upwards towards its destination Ralph listened to the musak playing, thinking that it was strange that someone got paid to produce such a simplistic set of soft tones that were commonly thought of as ‘lift music’. Then again he thought, his job was just as strange. The lift jerked to a stop, and he stepped out. He quickly found his way through the maze of corridors to the advanced development department, where he knew Arthur would be waiting for him. The Lab was empty at this time, most people had left by 9pm, Ralph only passed a few security guards on his way, which he was obliged to show his credentials to, despite knowing most of them on a first name basis.
Arthur had been waiting for Ralph’s arrival for forty-five minutes. He had not sat twiddling his thumbs, but had been hard at work, preparing his success for Ralph’s and ultimately their employer’s approval. Arthur knew that if Ralph didn’t see what he wanted, then he would have to scrap the project, or delay it at least, so he needed it to be perfect. Finally one of the security guards had told him of his arrival, and so he was well prepared when Ralph strolled through the lab doors.
“Evening Arthur, I’ve been told you’re finished, and this time it’s going to work?” Ralph tried to sound sincere, but truth be told, he didn’t hold much hope that he had been successful this time either.
“Hi Ralph, it’s defiantly worked this time, I managed to sort out the molecular abnormalities that we were having, and...”
“Jesus Arthur, if you start rabbiting on about this scientific stuff you’re just going to lose me again, where is...”
“Hello” a third voice chimed in, causing Ralph to falter.
He turned to see who had interrupted him, ready to belittle whoever it was for having the audacity to speak whilst he was. The speaker was tall and muscular, deep blue eyes, brown wavy hair, dressed simply in all grey tracksuit. Ralph had never seen him before, and didn’t honour him with a response, slightly confused, he turned to Arthur.
“Who is this? What the hell is he doing in here? He doesn’t look like he works for us?”
“This, Ralph, is him.”
“What?! But, he...I...I only got the call an hour ago, he’s already...you mean?”
“Yes, Ralph, like I said, this time, its worked. Say hello to fifteen years of work.”