Out there (1)
“Who made you the big boss over everyone here?” Sansia demanded as Raydon dropped her into a chair in the science lab.
“Maybe I was always the big boss,” Raydon suggested.
“You are so…so…so…”
“I’d like to wait until you figure that out but we have business to look after here,” Raydon cut in and Sansia ground her teeth together angrily.
“What should we do boss?” Robert asked. “There are only seven of us.”
“That’s a pack,” Raydon said.
“A pack of what?” Sansia demanded.
“People of course. There’s safety in numbers,” Raydon responded.
“A pack of people?” Sansia screamed but Raydon ignored her.
“We need more numbers than this,” Robert suggested. “What if that creature gets inside or the wolf on the inside gets down here?”
“Right now we need to be planning, not worrying,” Raydon said.
“I plan to go look for my friend,” Sansia said snatching her bag from the table and heading towards the door.
Raydon ignored her again. He was so insufferable, Sansia thought to herself, he knew she couldn’t just walk out the front door, she needed a ride in the helicopter he said he had access to.
“I’m Raydon Payne, I’m Vice President of Sales and Marketing here. Some of you were visitors to the building, perhaps the first thing we should do is an inventory of the skills we have here.”
“I’m Robert – security guard. I know every inch of this place backward and forward.”
“That’s good, might come in handy,” Raydon said.
“Teresa Taitt,” Ms. Taitt glanced about hesitantly. “I’m Mr. Payne’s secretary. Don’t quite know what I can do to help in this situation. I just stayed because I figured wherever Mr. Payne was would be the safest place for me.”
“Thank you Teresa,” Raydon said and the middle aged woman blushed. Sansia squirmed, not even older women were impervious to his charms.
“I’m Annemarie, I’m like Teresa just too scared to go outside. I’m the receptionist here.”
“Dave Gill, I came here about a job in the security department. I’m good with ‘I.T.’, I was hoping to get a job here. Man I picked a lousy day to come out for an interview.”
“A tech guy, you can be pretty handy too,” Raydon said.
“Thanks,” Dave hesitated. “Maybe after all this crap is over you’ll put in a word for me with HR so I can land this job?”
“You’re worried about a job?” Annemarie demanded.
“Things have been really r…” Dave started to explain but Raydon cut in.
“If we make it out of this mess in one piece you can be sure I’ll put in a good word for you. Now who’s next?”
“I’m George Griffith, I’m a science assistant.”
“Great, if we don’t get some information from the authorities we might need to start figuring out something about what’s happening on our own. We’ll need all the scientists we can get for that,” Raydon said.
“Our best scientists ran off,” George said.
“I don’t agree with that. Maybe our senior scientists might have run off but not our bests.” Raydon didn’t glance at Sansia as he spoke but she felt he was speaking about her. He had never once suggested he respected her work before. “I know that wolf turning up in the meeting really scared everyone but we need to stay positive,” Raydon said.
“Positive?” George yelled. “Any one of us could be the next to turn and we could be ripping out one another’s throats too.”
“Wolves wouldn’t kill without a reason,” Raydon said.
“You’re a wolf expert now?” Sansia asked.
“Right, you didn’t introduce yourself did you Sansia?” Raydon remarked turning to Sansia.
“I don’t have to because I’m not planning to stay around here,” Sansia said.
“Maybe she’s right,” Annemarie chipped in. “What if Robert changed, I mean, look at the size of him, we wouldn’t stand a chance in a cooped up little room like this against him.”
“It’s not that small,” Sansia defended. It was Lab A3 level2 and it was more than just a place of work for her.
“AnneMarie is right, why stay down here under the ground like a mole or something, why not head to one of the higher floors,” George said.
“Because the higher floors don’t have science labs,” Raydon explained with what appeared to be an effort to keep his voice calm.
“Are you okay?” Sansia asked leaning over to him to whisper the question into his ear.
There was something different about Raydon. Normally he was always so cool, calculated and never seemed to break a sweat. Now, he was still very much in control but it was a totally different kind of control.
“You think I’m changing?” Raydon asked with the kind of smile on his face that made Sansia’s heart flutter. This was the Raydon Payne that she knew, the Raydon Payne that used his looks and charm to get everyone to see things his way. Sansia found herself returning the smile, Raydon was right of course, there was no way he could change, he was simply too stubborn to change.
“If you two have stopped making cow eyes at each other I think we need some kind of a plan here. I don’t intend to stay in this hole until one of you rips my throat out,” George said.
“No one was stopping you from leaving,” Raydon pointed out.
“Maybe we can get this radio to pick up a working station and keep abreast of what’s going on,” Sansia suggested.
“I can do that,” Dave said immediately and hurried off.
“While he’s doing that you have a certain promise you need to keep,” Sansia said.
“You want me to leave now?” Raydon asked. “The pack…I mean these people will rip each other apart unless we’re here to offer guidance.”
“They’re adults, they can take care of themselves,” Sansia said and when Raydon still looked hesitant she added. “I don’t actually need your permission anyway; I’m going out there with or without you even if I have to risk going through the front door and facing that creature.”
“Wait,” Raydon said gripping her wrist. “I’m coming with you. Maybe we can make this daredevil risk worthwhile. Maybe we can pick up some supplies that could come in handy in case we’re stuck in here for a few days.”
“Days?” Annemarie squealed.
“We have to anticipate the worst,” Raydon advised.
“What do you want us to do while you’re gone?” Ms. Taitt asked.
“Keep the door locked and work on that radio, information is power in these circumstances,” Raydon said.
“You should also take samples of every one’s blood George,” Sansia added. “If we’re going to find some kind of markers for if someone is likely to change it will probably turn up in changes in their blood.”
“That’s a good idea,” George said hurrying across the lab to pull open a drawer with needles in it.
“Be careful,” Robert said.
“You’re in charge while we’re gone,” Raydon advised pushing open the door. “Look for weapons to defend yourselves; you don’t want to be caught unawares.”
“Of course boss,” Robert said.
Raydon’s powerful hand in the small of Sansia’s back guided her out of the door ahead of him and he slammed the door shut behind him, the partition shook.
“This place is not as strong as I imagined,” Raydon muttered.
Sansia scrunched up her face and then shook her head as if to dismiss an unsettling thought.
“Robert seems really quick to follow your lead,” she said as they headed up the stairwell.
“I’m a natural leader,” Raydon responded and Sansia grimaced. Well, he was a natural leader, she thought, but was that all that there was to it?