Chapter 3.1:

Pre-flight check-ups, information and rather too much worrying information for the participants’ liking.

Darkness seeped through the walls of yet another small corridor. Hanging in the air like an unwanted mark, the strong smell of disinfectant overpowered the group’s senses. Echoing around the enclosed space, the clicking of heels followed them down the hallway of panelled flooring, without even a simple strip of carpet to muffle the annoying clattering of steps.

Dank and dark, the dry little space felt isolating and constricting the longer was spent in the passageways. The limited light harshly restricted how far into the gloom each individual could see. The only bright thing in the small channels was the person in a nearly fluorescent white lab coat that was walking them through the simplistic warrens.

Eventually, roaming the endless tunnel like halls, with constant turns off either into other corridors or into rooms which the group would never see any further into than the front of the closed door, as the escort they had been sent stopped abruptly and ushered them into a conference room that looked like it belonged in a twentieth century American university.

Lining the back wall was a set of pull out chairs, all stacked up on one another. Their guide goes immediately over to the wall and pulls out the whole frame, producing a layered seating plan.

Without warning, the assistant in the lab coat turned around and walked out, leaving the group in the sterilising light.

Almost as soon as the person who lead them into the room had disappeared left, a balding, middle aged and obviously stressed man walked into the room with his hands full and overflowing with official looking papers. Once he had struggled to find a place for them on the desk, given up and dumped the papers on the floor, he motioned for everyone to take a seat.

The new man wore an ancient styled suit made from tweed with leather patches on his elbows. With his green lined checked shirt he wore a bow tie that was bursting around his neck – the bright and unruly colours were screaming for attention. His face was full and supported his rosy cheeks and eyes filled with an unusual twinkle. The twinkle seemed to project a small spatter of hopefulness and joy into the people in the room.

With a deep breath, the man started to speak. “Hello everyone. I’m the Head of Nasa’s Personal Advisors. I’ll be with you in just a moment.” Happily, he finished with a lost puppy smile.

Clumsy hands shook the piles of papers on the desk until the messy piles merged into one. Picking up papers, glancing at them and then putting them back down was all the man did for the first five minutes after he had introduced himself. Rustling around more papers and finally the draws, he seemed to find a pile which he had some interest in.

Taking so much time that the transitions between the different things the man was doing became uncomfortably awkward, he nervously fished around in his desk draws for his glasses. When he couldn’t find them, he looked instead in the pockets of his suit, now finding them.

Precariously, he placed them on the end of his nose, balancing them with such precision that one might wonder why they didn’t fall off. With the rosy cheeks, tweed suit, balding head and rotund build, you, dear reader, may find someone who you could liken this man to. That’s right dear reader. This man was as close to Santa Claus as this world’s population could get.

The End

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