Giles was hunched over his desk, poring over the latest fabrication model test results when a photo fluttered down and landed on the report. He looked up. Briggin was standing there. He hadn’t even heard him come in; he must have been lost in the numbers.
“What do you make of that?” Briggin asked. No small talk, just right to business. That was unusual for Briggin.
Giles picked up the photo and examined it for only a few moments before thrusting it back at Briggin. “I don’t think it’s funny.”
Briggin didn’t take the photo back. “Funny?”
Giles sighed. “Look, we’re giving it all we have. Every one of us. Nell was here all night putting together this latest run. It’s not like we’re trying to fail. We’re working hard. We haven’t gotten it right yet, but we’re still hard at it. We believe in our approach, and we’ll figure it out. Until we do, we don’t expect any commendations for the work we’re putting in. But still, it’s one thing not to be recognized for what we’re contributing, and it’s another altogether to have our work compared to a five-year-old’s refrigerator art, even in jest.” Seeing that Briggin wouldn’t take the photo, he tossed it onto the floor.
Briggin bent down to retrieve the photo. He handed it back to Giles and said, “How about an eight-year-old?”
Giles studied Briggin’s face. There was no hint of amusement, of jest. “What do you mean?”
“This was drawn by an eight-year-old, Giles. An eight-year-old boy.”
“Where did he get a copy of our latest designs?”
“He didn’t. I’ve already checked this against previous designs. No match.”
Giles looked at the photo again. “But what…? What do you mean? How could…?”
“That’s what I thought, too. Until I saw it.”
“You’re sure this isn’t somebody’s sick idea of a joke?” Giles asked.
“It’s not a joke,” Briggin replied.
Giles studied the photo. The drawing extended across multiple pages that were lined up imperfectly, apparently on the floor. The blocks were crude, but there could be no mistaking what it was: another version of the model they’d been working on non-stop for almost nine years now. And it seemed to pass the visual tests he’d learned to look for over the years.
“Who did this?”
“I told you, an eight-year-old boy.”
“So whose kid is he?”
“He’s not the child of anyone on the project. He drew this last night–his mother told me he was up drawing all night–and this was the result. I want you to run it through the simulator. I won’t tell you his name until after you run the tests.”
“Are you crazy? You want me to drop everything and load an eight-year-old’s doodle into our computer simply because it looks somewhat like my project?”
“Not somewhat, Giles.” Briggin stared coolly at him. “This drawing may be a fake, but if it is, it’s the best fake I’ve ever seen. And if it’s not, well, all I’m asking it that you test it. If it’s worthless, I’ll find a way to make it up to you. I’ve got tickets to the Bramiano.”
Giles eyes lit up. If he had a weakness, it was the Bramiano. Best music since the dawn of time. Still, what kind of fool would run a design from an eight-year-old? “If I run this and it doesn’t work, you’ll give me the tickets?”
“They’re yours for the taking.”
“I’ll have the report in your hand in two hours.” Giles headed for the simulation room, smiling. His wife was going to love the concert.
Eloa awoke to a sunlit room and looked around. What time was it? Where was his mother? He jumped out of bed and ran down the hall into his room, not wanting to be late for school.
As he was picking through his drawer for a shirt to wear, he heard his mother’s voice. “Eloa, is that you? Can I see you in the kitchen?”