Edward W. Robertson
© 2012 Edward W. Robertson
Across the table, Ellie Colson's bosses laughed what might be the last big laugh of their lives. She forgave them. They didn't know they were joking about the end of the world.
She smiled thinly. Rawlings, her direct superior, chuckled and swabbed his puffy hand across the table, as if he were working at an imaginary water spot. Dr. Armen laughed and clutched his gut, as if he were afraid it might bounce away. Jesper Mason just smiled. Like Ellie, he hadn't been introduced by rank—Rawlings hadn't even mentioned which org he belonged to, which meant he was a field hand, and a useful one. She recognized him vaguely. Might have seen him around the stacks once or twice. Mason had told the joke, something about Spanish flu. Ellie hadn't been listening. She'd been thinking about the transmission rate in Rawlings' printout.