Ray Sullivan publishes science based fiction adventures on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, WH Smith and other good eBook retailers as e-books. Additionally all of his books are available in paperback on Amazon. He also muses on technology, posts comedic books in serial format and discusses the world of self publishing.
Books written by Ray Sullivan
Monday, 8 October 2012
Parallel Lives Chapter 2
Jack had assumed, incorrectly, that the officer
representing the Health and Safety Executive would have wanted to see the site
of the accident immediately. The man, Alan Parkinson, had dallied and dithered
in Jack’s office for nearly three quarters of an hour before he started to move
towards the accident scene. In the intervening period he had, in turn, checked
out Jack’s receptionist, poured over the last annual maintenance report, drunk
tea (after checking out the receptionist again as she brought the cups in),
re-read the maintenance report, eyed up Jack’s wife’s photograph and,
eventually, asked Jack about the events of the afternoon.
‘I was about to attend the weekly status meeting with the
heads of department when I heard the bang,’ Jack started to recount. Alan held
up the much perused report in way of interruption.
‘This would be about…?’ he asked, waving the report
‘It would be just before eleven, no, wait, I was running
late. I had been on the phone to one of our suppliers over a bad batch of
switches. I think they’ve let their quality control slip because we’ve had
nothing with trouble with these things for weeks. Anyway their sales department
had become aware that we were unhappy and were trying to placate me.’
‘These switches, do you use them in the factory?’ Alan
asked with little enthusiasm.
‘No, we use them in one of our test labs. When the
development team want to create a new test method they usually want us to throw
a test rig together. We’ve standardised on these switches over the last few
years as they’re quite adaptable. But the lab’s away from the factory itself.’
Alan nodded, satisfied that the switches were probably unrelated to his task.
He looked at his watch for the first time since arriving in Jack’s office.
‘I think it’s time we checked whether the firefighters have
satisfied themselves that the area is safe, don’t you?’ With that he turned,
deftly placed his empty tea cup and saucer onto Jack’s desk and left the
office, holding the door momentarily to indicate to Jack that he should follow.
They found the firefighters wrapping the last of their
hoses away when they reached the site of the accident. The Health and Safety
Executive man had established the whereabouts of the officer-in-charge from
them, and they found that man picking his way carefully through the rubble and
twisted metal that several hours earlier had been the plant room. Jack looked
around, trying to spot features that would help with his bearings, spotting several
down-pipes that seemed to be in the correct position, even if the shells of the
boilers did not. He realised that these two men were on a wavelength that only
occasionally crossed his own. The basis of their conversation was English,
sure, but the jargon and acronyms made large parts of the conversation
unintelligible to him. As they discussed the various clues and pointers lying
around, debating whether one particular three letter abbreviation was more
appropriate than some other, equally meaningless, jumble of letters, Jack
started to understand the drift of their conversation. The details were
disguised in techno-babble, but essentially they had agreed on where the
explosion had occurred, and what type of explosion it was.
The officer-in-charge lifted a loose section of battered
girder to reveal a gouged out trough in the concrete floor, some four feet from
the rear wall. He indicated the remains of boiler mounting brackets three
quarters of the way up the wall, bent and twisted in the shape of burned arms
crying out for help. He pointed to the ruptured pressure vessel lying forlornly
against the side wall, it’s heart ripped open, and to the chunks of breeze
block smashed apart by the force of the vessel striking them. Then both men
spoke Jack’s English, standard engineering English, using acronyms that were
familiar to his ears. They had requested to see the plant schematics, the
maintenance logs for the last three years and all documentation pertaining to
the equipment used in the building.
As the three men finished with the inspection Jack was
called to an internal phone, where he found out that one of the fitters
involved in the accident had just died in hospital, mainly due to the extent of
his burns and that the other was still critical. The men had expressed sympathy
and concern, but they were professional people in their own world; neither
would allow the tragic specifics of the day’s events to cloud their judgement.
Jack managed a passable impersonation of detachment in their presence, out of a
sense of professionalism he didn’t share internally.