Thursday 31 January 2013
Verity Flynn and the upper management group watched intently as Nicholas Kent was ushered from detective to detective to Fire department Chief, EMT officer to CDC representative, government official, and an array of other uniformed and official looking folks representing a variety of emergency services. The company needed to regain control of the situation if it was to be adequately cleaned up and kept out of the public eye. The last thing the company needed or wanted was a nosy investigative journalist poking around or a senate inquiry instigated by a Senator hoping to get a leg up with his or her boss.
‘We need to get Kent over here with us as soon as possible. I want him debriefed, decommissioned, and removed from any public discussion regarding what has happened here today,’ Verity snapped at the team around her. They nodded in unison, as was the upper management way.
‘Anyone have any suggestions about apprehending Kent?’ The man who spoke was unfortunately endowed with weasel-like facial features, which would have been completely acceptable had he been a weasel. However, there was a reason why Gus Portland was not the first in line when the company needed a face for media relations. Simply put, his verminesque features made him appear untrustworthy and utterly unlikeable.
No one answered in reply; even in upper management there was an unwritten pecking order that was to be adhered to at all times. Verity Flynn was at the apex of that hierarchy, followed by Mr. Weasel, Gus Portland. In times such as the one they were currently facing, no other member of upper management really counted for anything where leadership was concerned, at least not until either Verity or Gus was decommissioned.
‘Well,’ Verity snapped, ‘you heard Gus’ question. Who has a solution to our Nicholas Kent problem?’
Silence again enveloped the group. Verity began to openly seethe at their lack of initiative. She was about to force the team to find a solution when she heard one of them clear their throat. It came from someone standing to her left, and she almost instantly recognised it as being Hilary Thoms, a recent addition to upper management, and the niece of the company’s President.
‘Do you have something to contribute, Hilary? Or are you just dealing with some phlegmatic episode?’
Hilary shuffled her feet, wondering if it really was the best idea to contribute to the discussion. Deciding that it was now too late to withdraw, she offered up her solution.
‘We need to control Kent, so why not control him externally? He has a wife. Let’s get her . . . onboard, shall we say. We have her, we’ll get his cooperation without any argument.’
Verity and Gus exchanged glances. It wasn’t such a bad idea, and it was a technique that had worked successfully in the past with other middle management employees, and was a raging success where the plebs of the company were concerned. The company’s employees were all screened and vetted for chinks in their armour, for the easy ways to control them in the event of an emergency, so why not use that technique again? Verity saw no reason to re-invent the wheel.
‘Very good, Hilary. What do you think, Gus?’
He rubbed his chin as he considered the option of emotional blackmail.
‘At this point, we don’t have any other options, so I suggest we get on this immediately. Well done, Thoms.’
Hilary barely smiled, more relieved than happy to help. She wasn’t entirely without a heart, and momentarily considered how she would feel if the company pulled the same trick on her. It wasn’t a pleasant thought, but with such a catastrophe, Nicholas Kent was making it difficult for the company to get the situation under control. It had to be done.
‘Hilary, you and Best pull Kent’s records. I want everything there is on this guy, his wife, kids, extended family, anyone remotely associated with him. I want him shut down within the next hour,’ Verity scribbled notes on her tablet as she spoke, stopping a number of times to reposition the stylus in her hand for optimal writing speed.
Gus continued, ‘ The rest of you, divide yourself into pairs. I want one pair dealing with the media, social media included. You know how these things can spread like wildfire when someone puts them up on the Internet. I also need a pair dealing with the company’s clean-up crew. You will be required to liaise with that lot,’ he pointed to the group that Nicholas Kent was standing with, ‘and again, I want this situation shut down. The remaining pairs are to take control of any other survivors. Is that understood?’
Nods and grunts of understanding came from the team.
‘The most important thing here is to play it all down. It’s nothing more than a gas explosion in a lab, and it’s got out of control before it could be contained. The officials are here in order to make sure that there was no contamination, no leaking gas, etcetera. Their presence here is . . . precautionary. We’re a civic minded, responsible corporation and we’re covering all of the bases in the event that there is wider contamination. But stress, people, that there is no further contamination. Tell anyone who’ll listen and get it out there to the public, that this was a clean event.’ She let her instructions sink in before urging the team to take up their roles.
‘Hilary, you get back to Verity and I with that information as soon as you’ve pulled his records. Don’t wait. We need him subdued immediately,’ Gus emphasised the urgency of his request by periodically slapping his hands together to punctuate his words.
‘The usual for us then, Gus,’ Verity said.
‘Indeed it would appear that way. Contamination suits are in the back of the SUV. We should suit up before we go a-wandering through the devastation that was Blackwood Research Facility Five.’
Nicholas Kent watched the upper management team disperse. He knew the drill, and he knew that upper management would have a deadly contingency plan. But most of all, Nicholas knew he needed to get away from the site as quickly as possible, and meet Sheri at their designated safe point. With the upper management team heading off in different directions, and the police and various crisis workers now concerned with closing down the facility, Nicholas covertly made his escape.
. . . To be continued . . .