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Rosetta (Maura's Gate, Book 2)

Chapter 5 The Interview (end)

Author: FionaR Total hits: 1431 User hits: 6 Date: 11-05-2014

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When Rose arrived at her company on Monday afternoon, she was uncertain of what to expect. Today could have been marked as the third post-apocalyptic day in the modern human history. Were coworkers celebrating that they could still see one another? Friends and relatives making long-distance calls and speculations of all the “what-ifs”? In fact, would anyone even come to work besides her?

To her surprise, nobody acted differently. It was just like a typical business day. More specifically, a typical Monday filled with aversions of a full week’s work ahead, as well as fatigues left by a convivial weekend.

Upon entering her office, the secretary told her that Mr. Perez had called during lunch time.

“I’ll call him back.” She headed to her room and heard footsteps catching up from behind. Needless to say, it was Leo.

“Rose, you’ve got to hear about this movie! And I’m sure you’ll like it. It has space travel in it.”

She paused at the door, turned, and put a hand on the doorknob.

“A team of miners arrive at a barren planet. After they’ve been digging for a day, they suddenly fall into a giant underground facility that has a zoo, a few real-estate agencies, and an interstellar strip club—”

Rose slammed the door in his face.

She sat down at her desk and turned on the TV. A news channel was conducting a remote interview. The speaker was a man probably in his late fifties, with stiff gray hair, dark eyes carrying an air of unassailable authority, and the name Kenton Clifton written below his face.

“Mr. Clifton,” a woman said rapidly in the background. “Over the weekend we have received thousands of reports from professional and amateur organizations, as well as individuals, claiming that they had observed unusual activity with Comet 195F. Is there a scientific explanation for this phenomenon?”

“First, we admit that over a short period of time, Comet 195F had deviated from its presumed trajectory. It was possibly due to some unknown force that had transiently appeared in the nearby space. But other than that, it’s an ordinary and almost mundane object. You can find all the test results on our—”

“That sounds scary!” the woman interrupted. “What kind of force was it?”

“We don’t know the answer, but it’s not as disconcerting as it sounds. Remember, the comet nucleus is tiny. Similar forces would not have generated any measurable effect on Earth or even on our moon.”

“Hmm … Could it have been a spontaneously-created small black hole, as some people have suggested?”

Kenton shrugged.

“How are the three astronomers who have landed on the comet? Did they find anything unusual?”

“They came home Saturday evening, all in good conditions. In fact, only two landed on the comet. When the deviation occurred, the two tried to identify the cause but nothing unusual popped up.”

“There are also hypotheses saying that the comet has been in someone’s control.”

“Controlled?” Kenton chuckled. “By whom? People have wild imaginations.”

Rose turned off the TV and sat back in her chair. Liar! She called in her head, but she probably would’ve said the same thing if she were in his position.

She grabbed the phone from her table and dialed Perez’s number. “I’m sorry, Dave. There was a personal issue I had to deal with over the weekend.”

And it wasn’t over yet, she reflected. The Rosetta project had ended, but soon she would have to start contacting those guys about the so-called Maura’s Gate, and she didn’t look forward to it. How were they going to react? This time she would not be welcomed as a generous donor.

“Whatever it was,” he said, “I hope it went well.”

That was why she liked him. He never pressed her for things she didn’t want to talk about.

“How about this weekend?” he asked. “Would you like to deal with another personal issue?”

“Only if it’s pleasant.” And she was sure it would be, given what had just happened.

“Where do you want to go?”

“Your boat.”

“Out to the ocean?”

Rose revolved her chair to face the glass wall behind her. The autumn sky was a refreshing blue, but she thought she could see Comet 195F traveling in the dark space toward the sun, with its sparkling long tail dragged behind. A few months later, it would turn around the sun and head off to the periphery of the solar system, back to a vapid stone, back to its lonely journey, flying, in a cold abyss long after Rose and the others died. But prior to that, there would be a moment of glory, a moment of splendidness, though not as bright or eternal as a star, still memorable enough for the thousands of years that were yet to come.

“Out to the deep, deep ocean.”

(End of Book 2)
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