by H.E. Taylor
|Chapter 24||Table of Contents||Chapter 26|
Rhamaposa, November 21, 2055
Due to the tyranny of digital time, I know it was 3:17 in the morning when the house system woke me to answer an urgent call. Voice only. My first thought was, ‘Oh lord, now who has died?’ Then I saw it was an overseas number. I sat up on the side of the bed to talk without turning on the lights.
“Hello Luc. Luc Fontaine?”
“This is Peter Ramaphosa.” He spoke quickly with a strong British accent.
“What can I do for you?” I was confused. Why was this UN hotshot calling me? “And why are you calling in the middle of the night?”
“Middle of the night? Oh. Sorry, old chap. I’m in Sri Lanka. I must have got the hour wrong. The people I need to talk to are all over the globe. Look I’ve had this damned Task Force dumped on my head and frankly, well, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just have one thing to say to you now. Well besides ‘welcome aboard’ that is.”
He paused for a second, and when I did not reply, he continued.
“I’ll see you get proper notice, but I wanted to give you a heads-up personally. The first meeting will be this coming Wednesday 24th, at 12:00 noon Zulu. Please bring your geoengineering ideas clumped into conservative, conventional and radical categories.”
I grunted. “Okay, I can do that.”
“Right then. I’ll let you get back to bed. Talk to you then.”
I sat in the dark on the side of the bed thinking about the brash, erratic Brit. He had been in the middle of a controversy revealing United Nations corruption the year before. He had produced devastating video evidence of fraud before a global audience and had won a reputation as an honest and outspoken advocate. His phrase stuck in my mind. “I’ve had this damned Task Force dumped on my head and frankly, well, I don’t know what I’m doing.” If he didn’t know, I wondered who did.
No sooner did I lie down again, than I heard quiet footsteps.
“Luc?” Edie whispered from the door.
I couldn’t see her in the dark. “Yes.”
“Is anything the matter?”
“No. It was this manager guy from the UN. He’s on the other side of the world and got the time zones confused.”
“Oh. Good. I’ve always had this fear of phonecalls in the middle of the night. Well, good night then.”
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
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Last modified January 2, 2012