Books written by Ray Sullivan

Friday, 2 November 2012

Parallel Lives Chapter 13

John Staples was the subject of another small group of men, in another public house, that night. Sam Jackson, Michael Watson and another, younger, colleague of Michael’s were sat around an altogether more expansive table in one of Warrington’s more expensive pub-cum-restaurants. Michael had introduced his colleague simply as Martin, not offering a suggestion of a second name. Sam probed gently, but accepted the blank look for the hint that it was – Martin’s surname wasn’t relevant, if indeed Martin was his real name. What had become apparent quickly was that Martin did know his science, although Sam wasn’t convinced he was a scientist as such. He had been quite used to this state of affairs some years ago, when he had been involved in the original project. Back then there had been a variety of individuals expressing vested interest, ranging from Senior Civil Servants, obvious military types through to nondescript, grey individuals who let little light in or out of their personalities. Martin seemed to sit somewhere between the grey and the military, with a leaning towards the grey thought Sam. Nothing had been said about the project during the meal, and Sam wasn’t sure about it’s classification at present. All the talk had been about general research that could be read about in the popular scientific press, with Sam throwing in snippets regarding his own personal contributions. Martin had joined in as well, however any contributions he may have made were less well defined but were, as far as Sam could deduce, meaningful. Sam decided to open the conversation up over the coffees:
‘Did you get the chance to look at that file I sent across?’ Michael and Martin exchanged a glance momentarily before Michael leant onto the table with both elbows, his voice marginally lower than previously.
‘Yes, it looked promising. We thought we’d like to follow this one up,’ Martin said nothing, staring expressionlessly at Sam. Michael continued:
‘It might be useful if you could obtain that notebook you mentioned, if this is the real McCoy then it could prove useful for the sessions.’ Sam nodded, pleased that he had remembered to ask Staples to bring it. Attempting to capitalise on his forethought he said:
‘I don’t know what he’s written in it, so we shouldn’t expect too much, at least until we’ve seen it. But you’re right, the chances are he will have written down the most relevant information while he’s in shock, while it’s still fresh.’ Martin interjected:
‘Assuming he’s a level-three.’ Sam nodded, acknowledging the obvious: they hadn’t proven anything yet, all that had happened was that an individual matching the theoretical profile had become known to them. He suddenly realised that he was totally out of the loop, he didn’t know the current status of the project, whether it had enjoyed any success or whether it was on a back burner like so many others. He decided to chance his arm:
‘Have you managed to isolate any level three candidates yet?’ Again the two men, the scientist and the grey man, exchanged glances. Sam thought he detected a very slight shake of Martin’s head, virtually imperceptible but nonetheless evident to anyone watching closely; and Sam was watching closely. Martin spoke:
‘You know how difficult it is to identify potential level threes. To be honest, nobody knows if the theory is correct, or whether we’re chasing a whole load of genuine nutcases.’ Michael interjected, not without a hint of annoyance in his voice:
‘A lot of work has been carried out on the theory. I worked on a major paper last year with two other colleagues. The mathematics, we believe, proves the theory without doubt. Obviously we can’t publish through the normal channels, but we have extracted the less sensitive bits to help those working on the unified theory.’ His face dropped slightly as he continued. ‘In fact, I think we could be a small step away from that one ourselves, assuming we’re allowed to pursue it.’ If Martin cared about Michael’s purist ambitions, it didn’t show.
‘Perhaps, but that’s not what we’re here for tonight. Sam, when are you seeing Mr Staples again?’
‘Tomorrow. We’ve made an appointment for him but I understand he hasn’t phoned in to find out when it is. He should get the appointment card tomorrow morning, and hopefully he’ll remember to bring his notes in. I can fit him in on Friday, if necessary. Monday would be a problem, but I’ll address that if I need to.’ Sam hadn’t realised at that point that the conversation reference the project was over, but it was. He discovered that when he tried to extend the conversation into areas addressed by John Staples’ narrative. Both men stared blankly, then changed the subject abruptly. Sam sat back, pleased. He was back in the game.


Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

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