Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Project: Evil - The First Site Visit part 3

‘Why can’t you build the monorail higher?’ asked Brian, not unreasonably given the complex had to be tall enough to hide an Atlas rocket inside, concealed only from the uninhabitants who would be working on the project inside anyway.  ‘Preferably out of reach, seeing as it’s not needed,’ he added, looking at the drawings the workshop manager had passed to him. The workshop manager took the drawings back and drew a cone on them.
‘You’ve specified a bog standard Papier-mâché volcano, which as you know tapers in like this. Once you are above the first level, which only exists for henchmen to fall over stupidly low railings at the first sound of gunfire anyway, you only need the volcano to be wide enough to fit the rocket girth in,’ he said, drawing a rocket, a first floor balcony, a stupidly low railing and a henchman falling to the ground floor.
‘I don’t see any gunfire,’ pointed out Daw, who was looking at the drawing closely. The workshop manager sighed, then drew a gun firing.
‘Could we have lower golf trolleys?’ asked Brian, noting that the workshop manager had drawn a couple on the paper with tall cabs. The look of horror on the faces of the Plant Manager, workshop manager and Daw told him it wasn’t possible.  The workshop manager decided to make it easy on Brian.
‘Interfering with golf equipment is a serious offence,’ he said.
‘You let me mount machine guns on them,’ observed Brian, ‘doesn’t that count as interfering?’  Daw put his pen down.
‘You haven’t played golf with O’Feld yet, have you?’ he asked, adding, ‘you’ll find machine guns are standard fit in this company for all sporting equipment, including cricket bats and soccer goalposts,’ he said.  Brian could understand the utility in mounting machine guns in defence. 
‘Fair comment,’ he replied, adding, ‘but we still need to solve this problem.’
‘You could dig a hole,’ suggested the workshop manager, ‘lowering the ground inside the volcano by a foot or so, that should do it,’ he said, adding, ‘of course that’ll bung the price up as we’ll have to dig it out manually, so it’ll cost...’ he said, scribbling more stupid numbers on the pad; some, Brian noticed, in scientific notation.
‘But we have to dig a hole anyway, for the dungeons,’ he complained, watching the workshop manager freeze during his calculations.
‘Good point, but we’ve quoted to infill the hole to ground level, a semi skilled job.  Infilling to a foot or so below ground level; now that’s a skilled job.  We’ll need well qualified grunt labourers for that task, so the extra cost will be...’ he said, adding numbers with exponent powers to the already large sum on his scrap of paper.
‘Can’t we just make the wide part of the volcano taller?’ asked Daw.  ‘After all, it’s only Papier-mâché,’ he said.  Brian winced as the workshop manager looked up, then looked at his boss.  It was the Plant Manager’s turn to explain the ABCs of manufacturing.
‘This is like Tracy Island all over again,’ he huffed. ‘ A perfectly sound design, suitable for multiple futuristic if improbable flying machines, and one TV luvvy decides he can make any alterations he wants,’ he said, leaning forward and pointing at Daw. 
‘If you want a bespoke volcano, then you may as well have one without a top for the rocket to fly out of, because the budget’s going to spiral out of control anyway,’ he added, angrily.  ‘Project managers, designers, engineers; you all think they know how to do your own job,’ he growled.
‘You mean the top isn’t open?’ asked Brian, amazed.  He was no rocket scientist, but it seemed a reasonable requirement for a hidden rocket launch pad to have somewhere for the rocket to go when launched.  The workshop manager shrugged.
‘We’ve never got one to actually launch on any project we’ve run, yet,’ he said, adding as way of justification, ‘and the lid keeps the rain out.  Which is quite useful, given the material of the volcano,’ he answered.
‘Isn’t it Papier-mâché outside as well as in?’ asked Brian, looking to Daw for support.  Unfortunately for Brian, Daw was an HR specialist, not an engineer, so all he got in return was a shrug.  The workshop manager wasn’t finished.
Look, it’s not like it’s got stainless steel clamshell doors, hydraulically operated and utterly dependent on a flaky countdown timer.  That’s why the nosecone is pointed,’ he advised.  It seemed fair enough to Brian; he’d often wondered about the shape of rockets, now he realised that although the Americans tended to use places with good outdoor weather, they’d obviously considered the possibility of rain and the need to utilise any available Papier-mâché volcanoes, which in turn probably explained the proximity to Disneyworld. 
That seemed to wrap up the meeting – the first three stages of the rocket still needed to be stolen, stripped down, refitted with evil equipment, generally needlessly as the main device was more than capable of deploying the Armadillo gonads when in Earth orbit, then it needed repainting the beige colour that had been selected on a run out to B&Q.  Then the table needed removing so that pointless flashing lights could be installed.  So far the project was four months behind schedule and millions of pounds over budget.  If this was a Government project, realised Brian, it would be hailed as a success. Daw stood suddenly, looking at his watch.
‘We have to go,’ he said, grabbing Brian, ‘I’ve got a disciplinary meeting this afternoon.  We’re expecting to suspend an employee,’ he said, stepping over the rug at the door entrance.
‘Blackfriars Bridge?’ asked Brian, knowing the answer.  ‘Can I watch?’ he asked, following Daw.


The characters, companies and places referred to in Project: Evil are fictitious and any resemblance to people, companies, businesses or places is entirely coincidental

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