7 Days in May
Some time later Booker closed the file and picked up the phone, punching out a number, tapping the file with his
fingertips while he waited for it to connect. The problem needed dealing with quickly, he couldn’t afford these doubts
about the success of AspByte getting farther up the line.
Booker’s thoughts were interrupted and he scowled at the desktop. “Oh yes. Is that you Dr Vasant? Yes, good, listen.
I’ve got this report in front of me from Dr Mckenzie recommending that the project be terminated. Can you explain what
the hell’s been going on over there for the past eighteen months? I was given to understand from your reports that it was
Booker listened to the deep voice issuing from the handset, muttering a few, ah ha’s and yes I see’s while the Head of
Research for the AspByte Project, Dr Mani Vasant, gave his excuses and recommendations.
Booker cut him short. “Well Dr Vasant, thank you very much. That’s very interesting. I’ll call you again later, after I’ve
had a word with Dr Mckenzie.”
Booker replaced the telephone in its cradle, a thoughtful expression on his face. He hadn’t said goodbye to Vasant, but
then he never did engage in social niceties with his staff, not seeing the need to.
Gazing at the ceiling, he considered what he’d just been told, then buzzed through to his secretary, ordering a cup of
tea before sitting back in his chair to mull things over.
If Dr Vasant was right, then the project could be pushed ahead with just a few months delay. Nodding, he wiped the
back of his neck. He could deal with that. Sir Craig knew, as well as anybody, that such research never went smoothly or
quickly. Digging in his desk drawer Booker got out his dicta-phone. He’d better get an alternative report drafted for
McKenzie to sign straight away, time was of the essence.
Feeling pleased with himself, Booker clicked the machine on. “Report to Sir Craig Holland,” he began to dictate. “Use
the crested paper and head it „COBRA Eyes Only’.
The office door opened and a well dressed woman walked in, placing a china teacup and saucer on his desk. Turning
to leave, the secretary’s eyebrows rose when she heard a muttered, “Thank you Sheila.”
My, the old man must be in a good mood today, she thought. Wonder whose head is on the chopping block this time.
Booker picked up the telephone again and punched out another number.
Sheena Mckenzie gazed from her office window, blue eyes reflecting the bright sunlig ht. She hated the high chain-link
fence surrounding her working world, The gate security and the identification cards they all had to wear made Area 7 seem
more like a prison at times. It stifled her creativeness, chipped away at the confidence that had allowed her to realise her
dream of becoming the Director of such a prestigious government facility in the first place.
That is if her latest report hadn’t put paid to that particular little dream, she thought, staring through the window with
a troubled frown creasing her forehead.
Sheena had grown up in a small village on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands, her early childhood spent roaming
the fields surrounding her parent’s smallholding. She would often come back from her wanderings clutching a glass jar
containing some insect or small creature she’d found, and when she got home she would always run to her father to ask
him what it might be.
He always gave her the same answer, “I don’t know Sheena boy, but if you leave it in the shed, when I’ve finished
work we’ll find out together.”
And they always had, delving into her father’s many books - a large eclectic collection that he’d built up over the years.
Although he worked on a small-holding, hard physical work, her father always found time for Sheena, sometimes
accompanying her on her searches for new creatures. He fancied himself as something of an amateur naturalist and his
bubbling enthusiasm had rubbed off on her at an early age. She still remembered his crinkly, sunburnt face and the smell
of stale smoke that always hung about him, with fond memories.
Although poor, Sheena’s family had unlimited pride and enthusiasm in their daughter’s abilities, supporting her
throughout her studies at university; her mother even taking on an extra job to help supplement the meagre grant. Sheena
had studied hard, gaining a doctorate in virology - a subject that had fascinated her since secondary school - only to join
the ranks of the great unemployed who swelled the Job Centres after the bank meltdowns of 2010. Sheena spent the next
two years helping out on the family small-holding, convinced that her education had been an utter waste of time.
It had been an accidental meeting with her old university supervisor during a family trip to Edinburgh that had led to
her applying for the Directorship of Area 7 - a name that always brought dark thoughts of conspiracy theories to her mind.
No-one had been more surprised than her when a letter dropped through the front door late one afternoon offering her
the position, and would she start straight away. Her mother and father had been ecstatic, even taking her to the small local
hotel where they had a celebration dinner, telling anyone who would listen how intelligent their daughter was.
Sheena was standing in front of her office window, hands on hips, studying her reflect ion, a soft smile spread on her
face at the memories. At five-seven and nine stones, Sheena was what she liked to think of as curvaceous. Waves of red
hair framed a pale, round face, highlighting wide blue eyes, a stub nose and full lips. She didn’t consider herself beautiful,
but knew a lot of guys - especially Gary Knowles, the laboratory technician working in the animal house - found her bright
hair and soft Scottish burr attractive. The thought brought a slight flush to her face and her smile grew wider. Gary had
asked her out for a drink on more than one occasion and they’d had one date but so far nothing serious had come of it.
Jumping when the telephone cut across her thoughts, Sheena turned from the window and crossed to her desk. Her
office was fairly large, with sparse furnishings; a modern glass desk on which sat a telephone and a large flat-screened