1: You’re Retired
“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”
Henry David Thoreau, Essayist
Time Branch ‘x’
March 11th, 2008
Ignition minus 2 months
‘Do we have to cross, Daddy? There’s a car coming.’
Callison looked down into the glimmering brown eyes of his young son. ‘Mommy needs steak from the butcher, so she can make dinner!’ he replied enthusiastically.
As he led Jack by the hand across the road, a familiar unease came over him. He didn’t want to enter the dark building but felt himself propelled forward. The butcher seemed sinister again, and glared at them as they walked in. Callison waited his turn and then placed his order.
As the butcher bent to fetch his items from beneath the glass counter, he said something so softly that Callison couldn’t decipher the words.
‘Watch out.’ the butcher mumbled.
‘Pardon?’ Callison was confused, leaning in closer.
‘Watch out for your son.’ he said, glancing meaningfully toward the street outside.
Callison turned to the door but couldn’t move his legs. No matter how hard he tried, they would not carry him outside. There was a sudden screech of rubber on tarmac, followed by the dull thud of Jack’s young body on metal. Jack had been run over again. Callison’s valiant cries echoed in the air.
Things went quiet. Jack and the butcher shop now were haunting memories. The wind picked up and clouds scudded overhead as he found himself walking toward a rickety old house. Its windows flapped in a driving breeze. A familiar but meaningless statue outside the house pointed towards the front door, which creaked open as he approached further. He entered the hallway and saw a staircase in front of him flanking the wall on the right. There was a room to the left. Turning into the room, he saw writing on the wall above the fireplace, which vanished when he tried to read it.
A sudden shriek stirred Callison from his clammy nightmare: not the screech of tyres this time but the piercing ring of his alarm clock. Six thirty am. Just a dream, he realised with relief, trying not to relive the memory. He leant over and pressed snooze. He’d never found an alarm clock he liked the sound of; whatever the tone, it would always come to spoil his rest and push him into awake-ness.
Today’s awake-ness however, would be different. It was the final day of work before his retirement.
Eleanor rolled over and regarded him sleepily, her heart still warm to him after thirty-five years of marriage. She looked at his narrow ring of grey hair, drooping grey moustache and silvery hairs on his unshaven cheeks. Had he a tendency towards positivity, he might have been mistaken for younger than the sixty-five years he’d lived, but history was now etched into his face.
‘What time is it, dear?’ she mumbled.
‘Half past six.’
As his wife drifted back to sleep, Callison lay back with closed eyes, contemplating the day ahead.
It seemed barely seconds before the alarm woke him again. This time he turned it off and levered his body slowly out of bed. His knees and vertebrae stabbed, and he pressed his hands into the small of his back as he stood. As he walked slowly towards the door his joints began to loosen. His mind would take longer.
Retrieving his red gown from the back of the door he wrapped it around him, and then reached into the pocket of his trousers draped over the chair at the end of the bed, extracting the last two cigarettes from yesterday’s pack. As he left the room, Eleanor’s sleepy voice followed him.
‘Today will be ok you know.’
He stopped to poke his head back around the bedroom door. ‘I know.’ he replied, trying not to worry his wife.
As she slipped back into sleep he padded down the passage and the stairs into the kitchen and put the kettle on. Resting against the sideboard he gazed at the floor, running his hands over his stubble. What was he going to do with his life from now on? His employer had him under strict contractual obligation to give up all research upon retirement. His research laboratory and his office computer held some of the most classified secrets in the country. No, dammit, he thought. I’m too close to give it all up now.... The whistling of the kettle snapped him out of his thought.
He took his mug of tea out onto the patio with him and put it on the ornamental garden table. Pulling out one of the heavy metal chairs, he sat. Wrapping his gown tighter he crossed his legs against the chill, lit his first cigarette and took in the refreshing morning.
The dawn was just beginning in their small village of Holybourne and spring had officially begun, but the countryside morning was still cold, and a subtle mist hung over the dewy grass. The steaming tea was warm in his hands. As he exhaled smoke into the cold crisp air, he thought about the nightmare he had just woken from again.
After twenty-eight years, his nightmares about Jack were still common-place. October 23rd, 1980 was stuck in Callison’s mind as surely as Excalibur in the stone. He and Eleanor had been about to host a barbecue to celebrate an uncle’s birthday. Their son was barely five that fateful day as he died in Callison’s arms outside the butcher on Main Street. Or “mean” street as he’d come to label it.
The unfortunate driver had stopped, and Callison had had to face the weeping man. In a cruel irony, the number plate car of the yellow ford escort had been BLIS4ME. The phone calls to family, the regrets and the sleepless nights in the immediate aftermath all still haunted him.
Eleanor told him she’d been washing dishes when she got the dreaded call; and that she’d felt Jack’s spirit in the kitchen with her. That sort of thought scared Callison and he wasn’t comfortable talking openly about it.
The derelict house in his recurring dream confused him. He was never able to read the writing on the wall, but always sensed it was important. Not being able to read the writing added to the dream’s confusion, but upon waking it was always easy to forget about.
Callison stubbed out his first cigarette and took a swig of tea. The warmth of the tea in the icy morning air made him feel alive; the cigarette was merely an excuse to feel the outdoors. He lit cigarette number two and sat back, tuning in to the morning symphony of birdcalls. One particular bird, that he thought was a warbler, always called at this time and had a short high-pitched song. Although it was just a bird call, Callison thought it had character. He found a certain peace listening to the individual birdcalls and their answers. It was like their combined effect resulted in a natural symphony.
He and Eleanor would soon be moving from this home, into their new cottage. Callison would be sad to leave these birds; it was as if he’d formed a bond with them over the years.
He synchronised his last gulp of tea with his final inhalation, then stubbed out the second cigarette in the ashtray. With knees creaking like an old crane, he raised himself from the chair to face his last day at Quanta Laboratories.
Half an hour later, shaved and showered, Callison turned the key in his still new German sedan and felt a little rush of excitement as the engine powered to life. As the garage door whirred up, he inserted a CD Eleanor had given him to soothe his troubled mind. Track one started as he reversed out, did a three-point turn on the gravel, and joined the morning commute.
As the small country capillary roads led onto larger ones, he was making good time. He exited the large roundabout that led on to the motorway, punched it to 80 mph and blasted up the slip lane. But the motorway was thick with traffic. Drat. Easing off the accelerator, he shook his head, grimacing at the traffic flow. He fell into his thoughts again as he merged onto the busy motorway.
I should be happy, he told himself as the CD’s soft music played into his unconscious mind. Instead, all he felt was anxiety. For thirty years he’d worked as a researcher for Quanta Research Laboratories, a corporation owned by a syndicate of wealthy investors. The corporation owned the rights to all the breakthroughs of their employees, Callison included, and all researchers were required to sign confidentiality contracts. Callison had been barred from releasing any technical papers about his research into time-travel. He hadn’t enjoyed this aspect of his job, but Quanta had been his life, his second home, without it he would have no structure, no tasks, nothing to do but think. It was the prospect of thinking endlessly that vexed him; all thoughts eventually led to Jack, and torment.
He lit a cigarette and clicked the window down a notch, filling the interior with wind noise. Puffing away at a steady forty miles per hour, he turned up the volume as track seven started. The introduction was just panpipes, no vocals. Callison found it spellbinding. The combination of rhythmic drums and melodic panpipes conjured visions of ancient tribes. His thoughts turned for the better, and he thought of happier memories of being young again. The CD track came to an end after only two and a half minutes. The good ones are always the shortest, he thought, and started it again, tapping out the rhythmic pan pipes on the steering wheel.
After ten minutes, his motorway-exit beckoned. Darting between two cars travelling in the inside lane he exited and came to a roundabout where a small traffic queue had formed. Just two more miles left on the southbound carriageway into the north of Basingstoke and he’d be at work. Wedged into the traffic flow, Callison started track seven for the fourth time, before reaching for the CD box to check the name of the track. Panpipe Bliss.
The black windows and white concrete panels of the Quanta laboratories came into view on his left-hand side. A large silver and blue logo of a nucleus with three electron orbits hovered above the words “Quanta Research Laboratories Incorporated” written on the front-facing side of the angular and modern looking building. He turned left off the main road and rolled to a stop behind two cars waiting at the security gate. Why were they taking so long?
Suddenly Callison recoiled. The number plate on the red Ford estate directly in front of him read “BLISS4U”. He’d never seen that number plate here before. Involuntarily, his horror came flooding back, as the similarity of the number plate that hit Jack was all too evident. He tried to dismiss the observation, but it was hard not to. BLISS4ME, BLISS4U. What are the chances?!
The barrier rose, and the red Ford in front passed through and disappeared into the complex. The barrier came down again as Callison absently rolled up to it, staring at the number plate driving away. The security guard had to knock lightly on his window before Callison snapped out of his trance, lowered his window and stretched out his security card on its spring-loaded cord. The guard scanned it with a reader. ‘How are you today Dr Trebla?’ he asked. ‘Your pass is on its last day, I see.’
‘I’m retiring today.’ Callison muttered, vacantly.
‘Oh, what bliss for you! I still only have twenty years to wait!’ the guard joked.
Callison remained quiet, but lightly smiled, nodding. The red Ford estate drove around the corner up ahead and vanished from sight.
‘Okay, you have a good day now, Dr Trebla.’ said the guard.
The barrier ascended and as Callison was about to roll through he stopped and questioned, ‘Why did you say, “Bliss for you”?’
‘Excuse me, sir?’
‘You said “bliss for you” when I said I was retiring. Why those words?’
The guard shrugged and didn’t know. ‘Just… wishing you well, I guess.’
Callison shook his head, confused, putting it down to coincidence and drove on into the complex.
Fifty yards ahead lay a second fortifying Quanta failsafe, a camera with face and car registration recognition software the company had spent a hundred thousand pounds on. Taking security a bit too seriously, Callison felt. As he approached the camera he pulled a face by lifting the right side of his upper lip and silver moustache, holding the facial pose as he drove by. The car cruised past without any laser interceptions.
He pulled into his parking bay right beside the entrance; one of the perks he’d achieved over the years in the company and a godsend on rainy days, although today was dry and bright. As he stopped the car he noticed the name plaque at the top of his reserved parking bay now read “A. Fitzwilliam”, and not “C. Trebla”. God, they could have waited another 24 hours, he thought, shaking his head in disbelief. That’s loyalty for you. He sighed as he got out. Let’s get this day over with, he thought, locking the car with the infrared key. I hope you enjoy your new parking space, “A. Fitzwilliam”.
After a detour via the coffee shop to pick up his regular frothy cappuccino and one sugar, he set off down the narrow corridor into the old wing of the Quanta Premises; offices on the left, laboratories on the right. It was nothing like the glitzy new wing with its superficial client meeting rooms, function rooms and swanky new offices to impress Quanta’s wealthy anonymous investors. Callison far preferred the old wing; it was where the science took place, and that’s what mattered.
He paused ruefully in front of the fractured and weathered gold lettering etched onto the frosted glass of his office door:
Dr Callison E Trebla
Principal Research Scientist
This had been his office for nearly fifteen years. He unlocked the door and swung it open, surveying the office now with alien eyes, as if he were the new incumbent. Papers were strewn haphazardly over his desk. To outsiders it always looked messy, but he knew where everything was. In fact, he decided, perusing the built-in deep oak shelves on the right wall and the polished oak floorboards, his office looked rather stately with the dark green painted walls. The left wall of his office was flanked by three large grey metal filing cabinets and above them, three framed pictures of Mandelbrot fractals; mathematically created swirling patterns.
Fractals intrigued Callison, because no matter how far you zoomed into a certain part of the swirling pattern, the revealed detail would repeat the whole pattern over again, mathematically to an infinite zoom. He likened it to the orbits of galaxies and atoms or the rippling formations of cirrus cloud and the similar formation of sand ripples under the sea. Nature, he suspected, was one big fractal.
In front of his desk lay a large red rug, and behind it the shallow morning sunrays streamed in through the large windows that looked out to the car park.
To clear space for his coffee, he moved an old internal Quanta paper that he’d co-written with a colleague called Peter Montague, putting it on the top of a pile of other papers. The old document lay open at a photo of the two men standing in front of a large metal doughnut-looking device mounted in a metallic spider web of pipes and tubes. It was an as-yet unproven time portal that might one day enable time travel. The project’s official name was X109C, or “The Eye” as it was colloquially known within Quanta, but Callison preferred to think of it as the Trebla Eye.
During Quanta’s restructuring four years ago, Peter Montague had gleefully taken an attractive redundancy package, vowing to Callison that he was off to invent magnetised steam. Had he managed it? Callison had often wanted to give Peter a call to catch up, but it had always seemed too feeble a reason to call.
Since Peter’s departure, three people had been assigned under Callison’s supervision to continue the time-travel research, but none captured his imagination like Peter had. Time travel had fascinated Callison from an early age, and when the opportunity arose with Quanta to research this field ten years ago, he’d jumped at it.
X109C was like the CERN particle-collider, a circular underground tunnel that used powerful electromagnets to accelerate subatomic particles to almost the speed of light. But while the CERN was twenty-five miles in circumference and focused on smashing particles into each other to observe the outcomes, the much smaller X109C aimed to accelerate Quanta-patented mono-atomic iron powder to speeds faster than light. The theory – officially developed anonymously for legal reasons – was that as the mono-atomic iron particles approached the speed of light, they would stretch the fabric of space-time acting on the centre of the Eye and open the zero-point field, creating a portal by which time and space could be neglected, and theoretically bypassed.
The most recent prototype of the Eye now stood in the laboratory across the corridor opposite Callison’s office. It consisted of a narrow circular tunnel encircling a periphery of about two metres in diameter, standing two and a half metres high in an upright frame. Six large electromagnets accelerated the mono-atomic iron through its circular internal tunnel. By means of an inner and an outer electromagnet, the iron was suspended on the centre line inside the tunnel, touching no internal surfaces, thus experiencing no friction. A vacuum inside the narrow circular duct prevented air resistance. With enough co-ordinated power supply to the six hefty electromagnets, accelerating the iron to lightspeed was almost a reality.
Almost. The X109C had so far propelled the iron particles to speeds of 0.89C, 89% of light speed, before the internal temperatures of their equipment had reached their allowable limit, despite the latest addition of the absolute-zero liquid nitrogen coolant. During the run they had witnessed a strange rippling light effect appearing at speeds above 0.5C, the start of the theoretical tear in space-time, which grew within the two-metre wide portal as the iron speed increased further. It was clear to Callison – and to Quanta – that something was on the verge of revealing itself. All they needed to find was a little more speed.
Callison took his gaze off the photo of himself, Peter and the Eye, turned on his computer and leaned back, unconsciously sighing while sipping his cappuccino in contemplation of his last day.
He started to go through his emails. His inbox contained nothing of real substance: a few farewell retirement messages and some mundane admin messages detailing Quanta’s exit procedure. He had to hand in all company credit cards and security cards and sign the declaration of secrecy – again.
About twenty minutes had passed when there was an abrupt rap on his door.
In bounded Heinrich Muller – all six and a half feet of him – Callison’s superior for the past six years, and Quanta’s CEO for the last two. ‘Morning Callison!’ he boomed.
‘Good morning, Heinrich.’
‘Last day today, then. It sure won’t be the same without you!’ His voice lacked sincerity.
Heinrich had come to prominence at Quanta in the early eighties after winning a very un-publicised lawsuit against ex-Quanta researcher Richard Coffman. Coffman had accused Heinrich of plagiarising an early form of string-theory and publishing it as Quanta’s own. Quanta had supplied a lawyer who was paid generously to drag the trial out, forcing Coffman to bail out for financial reasons. Since then, Heinrich had been moved quickly up the command chain, to now sit at the top of the organisation.
‘I’ll miss it for sure, but go I must,’ Callison joked, ‘so I can finally start living my life!’ He didn’t really know what he meant by it but didn’t want Heinrich sensing any resentment. He needed his enemies as unsuspecting as possible today. ‘I see my parking space already has a new owner!’
His boss smiled, ‘What can we say, Callison, the sign writer was in yesterday, and we saved him a second visit. Would you believe how much those contractors charge?’
Probably peanuts compared to Quanta’s balance sheet, he thought, feinting a nod conceding and dropping his head a slight. A short pause ensued.
‘Listen, Callison,’ Heinrich continued loudly, ‘we’re having a bit of a bash over in the new wing for your retirement. Come by around eleven. Nothing too extravagant, just a farewell speech or two. You’re one of our longest serving researchers and we’d be rude not to give you a flamboyant send-off!’
Flamboyant? Callison didn’t want a send-off. ‘Thanks, I’ll be there,’ he said, trying to sound pleased. ‘No big surprises, I hope. I’m sixty-five, not twenty-five, you know!’
‘No, it will just be tea and cake,’ Heinrich chuckled, before drawing it back to business. ‘What are your plans for the rest of the day?’
‘Just dotting i’s and crossing t’s on this handover document, nothing major. It’s mostly done. Then packing up some belongings. Which room will this “Bon Voyage” be in?’
‘Sorry Callison, function room B4. Oh, and could you make some time to come and see me in my office today, about three-ish? You can take me through the handover document again, and I’ll get your autograph on some forms and things.’
‘Yep, OK. See you at three.’
That was a meeting Callison wasn’t looking forward to.
Unbeknownst to Callison, Heinrich was having the exact same thought.
Later that morning, Callison was in function room B4 in the new wing, smiling wearily in front of about thirty employees as Heinrich started his speech. Someone had sent around a group email which had attracted a fair amount of people Callison didn’t even know. An hour off work usually creates a crowd, Callison thought. He didn’t like the attention.
‘Well, Callison, what can I say? You’ve been one of our longest serving Quanta researchers. It will surely be sad to see you go.’ Heinrich Muller smiled and started to clap. The others applauded too. ‘I remember my first day here, almost thirty years ago,’ Heinrich continued. ‘Callison here, was working on our then infamous string theories and zero-point field research, which have helped to make Quanta what it is today….’
Callison’s mind wandered. He was going to do it. But how was he going to smuggle out the equipment he needed to continue the time travel project as a renegade researcher? He only really needed the experimental data, which he could take on a CD, and the magnetic acceleration units that cost thousands. He already had a half kilo of the patented iron powder at home – suddenly he became aware of the silence in the room.
‘Earth to Callison!’ the CEO boomed, ‘Do you read me, over?’
Everyone was looking at him intently. ‘Sorry?’ Callison mumbled sheepishly.
‘Do you think these guys,’ he gestured to the group of six taking over Callison’s research, ‘can get time travel all wrapped up in the next few years?’
‘Of course,’ Callison humoured them, ‘I expect to see your progress on the news!’ He saw their eyes sparkle at his words. He knew full well that any breakthrough would never reach the news; it would be used for military purposes above all else, as the law dictated.
‘Well, I’m glad they have your blessing, Callison. I also have full confidence. That leaves me to thank you for all your time and dedication over the years, and to wish you a happy and peaceful retirement.’ The audience applauded as Heinrich shook the hand of the almost departed.
Heinrich wrapped up. ‘Please help yourselves to tea, coffee and snacks. But back to work in about thirty minutes, people. We don’t pay you to party.’
Callison dutifully moved about the room chatting to various people and within forty-five minutes the charade was over.
On the way back to his office, Callison stopped by the storage department.
‘Six of the large heavy-duty cardboard boxes, please,’ he asked the skinny storage officer on the other side of the hatch window. After signing a form relating to what he could and couldn’t do with the sturdy flat pack boxes, they were his. Bureaucracy gone mad, he muttered to himself, although the knowledge that he would be breaching the form he’d just signed gave him a flutter of anxiety.
His pulse quickened as he walked down the main corridor of the old wing, soon-to-be boxes in hand, and turned not into his office, but right and into the research laboratory opposite. In the centre of the long, narrow work space, between sideboards teeming with research material, equipment, data and books, stood his baby; his Trebla Eye. It looked like a magical Ferris wheel and he smiled involuntarily every time he saw it.
He had to pull his attention back to the task at hand. Under a shelf that ran the length of the lab lay thirty spare electromagnetic accelerating units. Quanta’s records showed many times fewer than this amount, due to two double over-orders when the units were manufactured. Due to the method by which Quanta acquired funding and spent money, the focus on profit and proper business acumen was not so scrupulous and mainly taken care of by the researchers themselves. He’d kept quiet about the over-order on purpose. This day was to become the proverbial rainy day he’d waited for.
Most employees were on their lunch break. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead as he opened his flat pack boxes and placed the heavy accelerating units into them. He carried each one across the corridor and into his office. There he topped up the boxes with ‘sentimental’ lab jackets, papers, pictures and anything else that might constitute his retirement belongings. With all but one magnet boxed and covered, he cast the room for one more cover, but couldn’t find anything. His suit jacket was hanging on the office door. It’ll do. He rested it over the last electro-magnet and, making sure the jacket covered all views of the metal hidden beneath, he crossed his fingers and picked up the first box. Walking it to the door a lot more slowly than his heart rate was beating, he reassured himself, I’m retiring today; people would expect to see me doing this.
Locking his office door between every trip out to the car, and only having to make eye contact with one other colleague along the way, the sixth trip finally came. The boot of his sedan now held four of the boxes upright, and the other two were placed on the back seats where they looked slightly incriminating he thought. But he was retiring today, he reassured himself again. He took a breath closed the back door and locked his car. With the doors closed, less incriminating. Slight relief. He lit a cigarette and walked to stand at the smoke point just outside the staff entrance hoping he’d get away with it.
As he stood, two colleagues walked from the car park towards the building. As they walked closer and by Callison, he noticed they were in conversation. What they were talking about before he didn’t know, all he heard was, ‘oh that’s a coincidence, because…’ he lost interest as they walked inside but his mind turned to thoughts about coincidences. He reminisced on the strange coincidence at the security gate this morning. Still bemused. Was it a coincidence? He put his cigarette out and walked back inside.
The afternoon meeting with Heinrich was more awkward than expected. Heinrich remained falsely upbeat, while Callison, knowing that he was breaking the contract laws he had to sign, became overly helpful and chummy. He signed the secrecy documents as Heinrich witnessed. Then he was read out the security and legal spiel by his soon-to-be ex-boss which amounted to outright threats, reminding him that he now had no power to reveal anything he’d witnessed during his long tenure with the company; and he’d witnessed much. Heinrich even reminded him of Quanta’s successful legal history.
Unlike most of the meeting, the final, ‘good luck then – good luck yourself’ conversation felt surprisingly natural and genuine, and Callison felt almost sad that they wouldn’t meet again. Perhaps, he mused, he needed a nemesis.
At the end of his last day, as he started his car to leave for the last time, he thought, I’ve done it. I’ve retired. He wasn’t out of the woods yet though, and Callison was acutely aware of his contraband cargo. He reversed the car slowly out of A. Fitzwilliam’s spot hoping that, just like normal, they wouldn’t search his car on the way out. They’d never done so before, but today the stakes were higher.
At the security gates, there was an unusually long queue of cars as if to prolong his agony. He was so preoccupied about what he was carrying that he even forgot to put on the radio. He turned it on, trying to appear as normal as possible. His heart pounded.
Hurry up, hurry up, he mentally told the cars ahead.
A different shift was now on duty and the guard wasn’t the one from this morning. He looked rather authoritarian checking the cars ahead.
After an eternity, Callison’s turn finally came. The security barrier came down and he opened his window as he drove up. He no longer had an electronic card to proffer, and the security guard spoke to him.
‘Err, I’m retiring today, so I’ve handed in my card,’ Callison explained.
The guard stood back and radioed a query. ‘Tango 45 to tango 3, can I check the status of…’ he spoke to Callison, ‘What’s your name, sorry? …Callison Trebla. He says he’s retiring today.’ There were a few moments of silence as the guard waited for the reply in his ear piece.
Callison’s heart was now racing as he sat listening to the idling engine, waiting also. It felt like an eternity.
The guard dropped his shoulders, and seemed more human, ‘Okay, sir, off you go. Good luck!’
The barrier rose and Callison smiled back, nodding. ‘Thanks, see you.’
Not wasting a moment, he drove through the checkpoint not too fast, but not too slow either, and with relief filling him with every metre. Until he was free. He’d finally done it; he now had all the material he needed to recreate the Eye at home. Time travel is up to me now, he thought, and smiled at the prospect contentedly as he made his way for home.
But later that evening, Heinrich Muller entered Callison’s laboratory to retrieve the hidden camera. “Insurance” is what the Eye’s investors called it.
The investors of the Eye project; the hands that fed, were Quanta’s oldest and most reliable investors: wealthy aristocrats and influential members of the power dynasties for whom any sum was a mere flick of a pen away. In return for their creation of wealth, however, they always insisted on total discretion and secrecy; Callison never had any idea who he was really working for. They also expected to be informed of any developments on their investment.
Back in the new wing, in the privacy of his own office, Heinrich uploaded the camera’s footage to his computer and watched Callison on his screen taking the magnets.
With a deep breath, he picked up his phone and dialled.
‘Hi, its Heinrich here, could I speak with Harold?’ A code-name.
Before long a reply was forthcoming, ‘Hello Heinrich,’ came a deep, and assured voice, ‘For what do I owe the pleasure?’
‘There’s been a development on X109C.’