Director Nancy Portman was having one of those days. It wasn’t that anything was going wrong. Just everything felt off. Her breakfast had tasted weird, her coffee a bit bitter, the weather a bit chilled, and even the commuter line a bit bumpier. She closed her eyes as she stood in the elevator, taking in and letting out a long breath to center herself. The day had hardly begun. Still plenty of time to smooth it out. At least the receptionist and guards below had let her be instead of trying to exchange pleasantries she wasn’t in the mood for.
Probably just butterflies, she thought to herself. Big day today. Bound to set your nerves on end.
The elevator slid open, depositing her on the main office floor filled with people all busy chatting. The room fell silent as she approached, all eyes turning to her. Sensing the need to say something, Nancy put a smile on she didn’t feel and addressed them.
"Today’s the day the talks begin. You all know what’s being discussed at Javits. For you, it’s just another day at work. No decisions will be made today regarding the future plans for this facility and what we do here. Merely discussed."
No one moved or blinked. Every last one of them kept their gaze on her. No, not at her, at something behind her. Nancy turned and looked up at the row of TVs adorning the wall overhead. Every major news station as well as a few local ones dominated the screens, live streamed from their various cloud stations. All covering the same story. Nancy felt a chill grip her spine as she took in the news.
Turning, she saw her executive assistant hovering nearby. With a crick of her finger, Nancy marched into her office across from the main entrance.
"June," she snapped at the young woman. "I want all department heads here for a meeting in one hour. And find Dr. Alinski. I want her here ASAP."
June nodded and rushed out the door. Nancy smiled despite her current feelings. The girl was an excellent assistant and would be missed when her internship ended. NYU would need to be contacted about a replacement
Shaking her head, Nancy sat down and keyed on her desk’s display to the news channels. So far, it seemed not much was being leaked. Details were scarce. All that they could confirm was an incident had taken place in a small conference room and all guests and convention center employees were forbidden leaving the premises.
"I don’t fancy the police chief facing some of those international guests," she muttered as her door slid open.
A perfectly prim and proper Dr. Alinksi strolled in. Not a strand of her dark brown hair was out of place and her white coat was pressed to perfection. The woman took a seat opposite Nancy as the director clamped down on the little bugs of jealousy surging to life in her gut.
"Miriam," the director said. "I assume you’ve seen the news."
The woman nodded, her tiny spectacles perched on the tip of her nose precariously not even moving.
"Do we know anything more? Any specifics?"
Nancy shook her head.
"Just what this blather has shared which is hardly anything."
Nancy looked up at the woman sitting opposite her.
"We don’t know anything but we need to be ready in case something has happened to one of our team members. Statements, contact her spouse if she has one."
"All of the team members are married."
"Right, okay. So we’ll need to be ready to meet with them the instant we’re informed it’s one of ours."
She glanced at the door.
"We’ll discuss more once we know anything."
Dr. Alinski nodded curtly then stood and walked out. As she did, the stations all changed. A new headline appeared.
Nancy felt the rest of her day flush itself down the toilet the instant she read the words.