You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 16

Posted: 28 January 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Eight (continued…)

In the first second, a body in freefall drops about sixteen feet. Two seconds after that, it’s fallen a total of 138 feet. Two seconds after that, Jordan had plummeted another 228 feet.

And during each and every foot, he’d screamed.

Bravery, Jordan thought, during those heart-stopping seconds, was wildly over-rated. Convinced that his life was about to end, and equally convinced that when he hit the ground, he’d leave a mess that would take days to clean up, he only partly paid attention after four and seven-eighths seconds to a black blur by his side. He felt something take hold of him, and in his panic, tried to turn and grab whatever it was.

He barely heard Davies telling him to shut up.

In the next two seconds, several thoughts ran through his head. First was that he was still falling. For some reason, this troubled him, and for a wild moment, he thought that Davies’ plan was to ram him into the ground, not trusting good old gravity to do the job. Then he realised he was decelerating, and he realised that Davies was slowing them both down. It sunk into his fear filled brain exactly what was happening.

Had Davies grabbed hold of him and just stopped him falling, the deceleration to zero velocity from a freefall speed of over eighty miles an hour in a tenth of a second would have outright killed Jordan. There had to be, as there was, a gentle (or less than gentle in this case) slowing down, just to keep him alive.

Finally, the idea that he was going to live beyond the next second or two sunk in.

The two men slowed to a halt less than ten feet from the ground.

Davies let go of him again and for a moment, Jordan expected to fall the final few yards to the ground. Instead, to his surprise, he stayed where he was, and he realised that Davies was still holding him up, only this time without physical support. It shocked him. Davies was holding him eight feet above the ground just with the power of his mind.

One might have thought that if someone had just saved one from a seven hundred foot drop onto concrete, that there would have been a smidgen of gratitude from one towards that someone, maybe even more than a smidgen. But then, of course, one would have to be an extraordinarily virtuous person not to want to kill that very someone if he’d been the someone who’d dropped you from that height in the first place.

And Jordan wasn’t that virtuous. Far from it.

“Are you bloody insane?” he asked, wishing he could pull back the words from the air the moment he’d spoken them.

There was a pause before Davies, his eyes literally blazing, but the rest of his face supernaturally calm, replied “Very probably.” He gestured and Jordan fell the last eight feet to the ground.

He looked up at Davies, who stared down at him for a moment… and then left, flying at an angle, heading for the City.

– o –

At Doncaster and Monkton, the senior directors of the company were in crisis management mode.

It was approaching the Six in the evening, and Patt had been like a bear with a sore head all day. His personal assistant, Joe Colclough, a young man with long black hair (and occasionally fingernails to match) was, for the eighth time that day, considering whether or not to look for a new job. Long used to making excuses for his boss, today he’d given up trying to explain Patt’s foul and hair trigger temper and was now reduced to telling people that he was unavailable. It didn’t help matters when, just as he was passing this message on over the telephone, everyone in the office could hear Patt shouting at the top of his voice, screaming at someone or other down the corridors.

Colclough had worked for Patt since Patt had joined the agency and he was resigned to the man’s foibles and eccentricities. He was also semi-aware of Patt’s previous career, and there was little, he thought, that Patt could do to surprise him.

It could, one supposes, be looked on philosophically that a day is wasted when something new isn’t learned. And today certainly wasn’t that day for Joe Colclough, who realised that while he’d seen Patt in various moods, he’d never seen him either scared or needlessly offensive. The assistant’s computer beeped, a flashing icon alert that in precisely five minutes, Patt was due at the directors’ meeting.

Despite the normally warm, cordial and businesslike relationship he had with Patt, the senior man was never averse to reminding him exactly who worked for whom. Today, he’d been even worse and it was with some trepidation that Colclough knocked on Patt’s door. There was a brief noise, which might have been a start of surprise, from behind the door and then it opened. To anyone else, Patt may have looked as if there was nothing concerning him. To the assistant, Patt looked like he’d lost a million pounds, found it again in bundles of notes and then realised that the new notes were forgeries, bad ones.

“Yes?” Patt snapped out, as if he didn’t give a damn what the interruption was for. Which was, more or less, actually the case.

“You’re due to meet with Mr Monkton and Mr Williams in…” Colclough checked his watch, “three minutes.”

“What?” asked Patt, pulling his mind back to the present. “What did you say?”

“I said,” the assistant responded, “that you’re due in…”

He got no further as Patt interrupted him with a brief “Yes, yes, yes… I know.” He walked back into his office, grabbed his jacket from the hanger and shrugged his way into it. He left the office, walking hurriedly.

Colclough stood in the doorway and glanced at Patt’s desk. It looked dishevelled, but that was nothing new. He saw the object on the desk, made a quick calculation and then started counting. Quietly, but regularly, the numbers left his mouth. “One… two… three… four… five… SIX!”

As the final number was spoken, Patt appeared again, giving his assistant a baleful glare. “Where the hell are my briefing notes?” he asked belligerently.

Colclough merely pointed to the desk and Patt saw that the stack of briefing notes and papers were neatly piled in the corner of his desk, where he’d left them. He stalked across the room, picked up the papers and stopped in front of Colclough, as if to say something. And then, not trusting himself to say anything, he straightened up and marched away towards the meeting room.

For the ninth time, Colclough wondered whether or not he should get a new job. Quickly followed by the tenth time as he heard Patt bellow at someone on his way to the meeting.

Colclough sat back at his desk, then looked up as a shadow fell over him. Patt was standing there, silently, and Colclough panicked for a moment before Patt simply said, “Sorry, Joe. Bad day. Shouldn’t have taken it out on you.” He fished out his wallet and dropped a stack of notes onto Colclough’s desk. “Drinks for the team. On me. Sorry again.”

And then Patt was gone again, bellowing at someone else who’d had the audacity to be standing in the corridor when Patt was on his way somewhere.

– o –

At about the same time Patt was entering the meeting room, Docherty put down the telephone, terminating the call that had informed him that Clooney was on her way up. He stood and walked to the coat stand, from where he retrieved his jacket. He was just putting it on when Clooney opened his door and walked in, carrying a buff folder.

Docherty’s eyes found the office clock. “Excellent, Rosemary – you’re right on time.”

“Of course,” she replied, in a tone that elegantly conveyed her amazement that anyone would arrive late for a meeting.

“Did you bring the report with you?” Docherty asked, momentarily turning to his desk, and retrieving his ID card.

“Yes, it’s here,” Clooney said, opening the buff folder, extracting a small folder with, Docherty could see, about twenty sheets of paper inside. “There’s a one page summary at the front, the ‘Janet and John’ bit.”

“Yeah,” he said, accepting the folder from her and skimming through the first page. “Do me a favour, will you? Don’t call it that again. It’s an ‘executive briefing summary’, ok?” He’d said the last without lifting his eyes from the paper. He finished reading and then looked at her, and then stared at her.

She looked fabulous.

The make-up she’d chosen set the natural green of her eyes off perfectly and the two piece outfit she wore flattered her figure. In short, she looked like she was going on the date of all dates. Dressed to kill, Docherty thought, wincing at the accompanying thought that the appearance was oddly appropriate, given the meeting they would shortly be attending.

“Come with me,” he said.

“Oh, are we leaving?” Clooney asked, puzzled. Maybe, she thought, they were going to dinner. At least that was the hope. She genuinely wanted him not to think that she dressed like this just to deliver a report.

“We are,” said Docherty, not giving her a chance to query it. He almost pulled her out of the room, and down the corridors. Clooney gave up trying to ask Docherty where they were going in such a hurry after the third attempt, when it dawned on her that he simply wasn’t going to answer her.

When he got downstairs, Docherty stuck his hand up in the air and a taxi pulled over almost immediately. As they were getting into the cab, Clooney tried again and then stopped, thinking at least that when the address was given to the cab driver, she’d know it.

That was a fine plan; unfortunately at about the same time as she was thinking that the interior of the taxi was a lot cleaner than she was used to, she also realised that they were already moving, without Docherty having given the driver directions.

“He works for me,” Docherty said, in answer to Clooney’s unanswered question. “And as for where we’re going, you’ll see in a minute. Sorry to do this to you, Rosemary, but you’re not just briefing me this evening. There’s going to be some other people there.”

“What other people?” she asked, noticing the cab was heading for Whitehall and wondering whether she was the only scientist involved. Hey, she thought, maybe that’s it – maybe he wants me to consult with others.

“Pardon?” asked Docherty.

“Will I know any of them?” she asked, wondering who from the science of mutagenics they could have drafted in.

Docherty half smothered a smile. “Yeah,” he said, “I’m pretty sure you’ll know one of them. By reputation at least.”

But Clooney didn’t hear him. She was too busy gawping at the road sign on the wall as the cab turned into Downing Street.

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

To read part 17 of You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, click here.

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