Holding, Waiting, Leaving
Who: Mark McJohn, Victoria de Felice
Where: Galveston, Texas
When: Quite soon, but not immediately, after Dante's post
This was getting aggravating, Mark McJohn thought to himself for
about the thirteenth time. He listened as a JMC flunky in Liverpool
told him, once again, that Callum Kochanski was still not available.
He was starting to feel like his life was caught in some sort of
perpetual loop, because he'd been having this exact exchange with the
flunky several times in the past few hours.
It had started a few hours previously, when Mark McJohn, the Chief
Engineering Supervisor at the Space Corps' Glenn Aerospace Shipyard
in Galveston, Texas, had met the executive officer of an exploration
vessel that the yard was building. Victoria de Felice, the officer
in question, had informed him that there were serious errors in the
sets of blueprints that the counstruction workers at the yard were
using. They didn't match up with the Space Corps' blueprints in
several important aspects. The end result of these discrepencies was
that, were the plans the yard was using followed, the SSS Ontario
would explode as soon as its engines were turned on.
Quite naturally, on learning of this slight problem from Victoria de
Felice, Mark McJohn had called Kochanski's office, since Kochanski
was the chief architect on the design team that had created the
blueprints for the Ontario. He had expected that things would be
easily sorted out, since he knew Kochanski was a consumate
professional. Thus, McJohn was quite startled to learn from the JMC
recpetionist that Kochanski was out of his office, and apparently
could not be reached anywhere.
That was several hours ago, and by now the conversation was becoming
so familiar to both McJohn and the flunky that they found each other
exchanging roles, since each knew what the other was about to say
almost by heart.
"Thank you so much," he said to the Liverpool flunky as he hung up,
emptyhanded once again.
Victoria looked at him, then said "No luck, I take it," almost
mechanically and quite unnecessarily. McJohn shook his head.
"What now?" she asked.
"I don't get it. This is completely unlike him," McJohn said,
although he suddenly sensed that it actually was quite like him. He
then pictured himself as a systems electrician on a mining vessel,
which seemed a very odd thing for a successful engineering supervisor
to think about. McJohn shrugged it off.
"So what now?" Victoria asked again.
"I don't know. What time is it?"
She looked at the wall clock and told him that it was 10:38 in the
"OK, so what's the time in Liverpool?" he asked, mostly rhetorically.
"4:38 in the afternoon. No, now it'll be 4:39," she answered.
"Feel like a quick transatlantic trip?" McJohn asked her.
"Not especially, but I suppose --"
"Great," McJohn rode on over her objection, "I'll just tell Renee."
McJohn picked up the phone and hit one of the speed-dial buttons. A
few rings later, his wife Renee answered.
"Hello dear," he said. "I've got a bit of an emergency at work. I've
got to fly to Liverpool this afternoon and -- oh, really? Well, I
don't see why not. I'll call you back later. Bye darling."
He hung up and looked at Victoria. "Well, I guess we'll need three
tickets then. Renee wants to come along."
Victoria shrugged, since it really didn't matter to her. McJohn was
already making another call.
"Hello. Is that you Dante?" McJohn said into the reciever, "Hey,
yeah. I see, how are you? ... Good. Listen, I need a bit of a
favor. ... No, nothing like last time, I just wanted to know if you
could get me three seats on your next Dallas-Heathrow flight? ...
Just some blueprint trouble with the Space Corps, nothing too life-
threatening. I've been trying to get Kochanski on the horn all day
but he's gone fishing or joyriding or he's fallen into a black hole
or something. ... Yeah, it sure is. ... Sure, that's fine. Better
than taking the train, yes. ... Renee's fine, I'm sure she'd love to
meet you. ... Yep, I did tell her a bit about what happened in
Ankara. ... Yeah, those were the days. Thanks, I'll be seeing you."
McJohn hung up and turned to Victoria. "Well," he said
modestly, "That's that taken care of. I've got us three first class
seats on the 2:30 flight to London. One of Dante's drivers'll pick us
up outside the terminal. I'd better call Renee back."
Victoria sat there, quite surprised by McJohn's connections.
Three hours later, Mark and Renee McJohn and Victoria de Felice were
in the terminal at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, waiting to board