Published by Laura Lond at Smashwords
Copyright 2011 Laura Lond
Cover design by Jason Merrick
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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The group of people sitting around a huge marble table in a spacious conference hall with carefully drawn window curtains was unusually quiet; none of them spoke or moved. Once in a while someone would cast a cautious glance at the clock over the door. The meeting was scheduled for 2:00 p.m., the clock showed a minute till. They were waiting for a man known here as Mr. Kumidi; however, everyone realized that his collection of names and passports was probably larger than that of his neckties. His tall armchair at the head of the table remained empty.
The gathering consisted of fifteen people, of whom two were ladies. A pair of white earphones for synchronous translation lay in front of each person, indicating that not all the participants of the meeting spoke fluent English. In the chair closest to Mr. Kumidi’s sat a frowning young man in a checkered jacket and white slacks, his casual outfit a striking contrast to strict business suits of the others. No one, however, was surprised: Parkins, one of the most influential people at Technotics Corporation who reported directly to Kumidi, liked to emphasize his privileged position. He defied dress code all the time, allowing himself most remarkable combinations of colors and styles. Parkins was known as easy going and fun, always ready with a joke, but today he was clearly not himself. Instead of chatting about some nonsense until Kumidi’s arrival, as he would normally do, he sat silent and grim. The change seemed to be caused by the presence of a new person at today’s meeting, a man of fifty or so who looked like a college professor and sat modestly in a corner, keeping his eyes down on a notepad in front of him. Everyone noticed that Parkins frowned deeper each time he would happen to glance at the man.