The warm, dry air of the conference room was still, except in the front of the room where Danfield was waving his arms, gravely explaining a Powerpoint slide that really needed no explanation. The lights were low to accommodate the LCD projector, and Steve slouched in the back, crossing his legs at the ankles and letting his right hand make slow doodles on the yellow lined paper in front of him without looking at what he was drawing.
A dozen or so other lost souls paid varying degrees of attention to Danfield, or to their own doodles, paper cups of coffee, or surreptitious jottings on their palmtop organizers.
Danfield clicked onto the next slide - something in purple and blue, with yellow text. Steve stood up, swaying slightly in front of his dark blue swivel chair.
Danfield faltered. "Do you have something for us, Steve-o?"
Steve looked around at faces turned towards his, wondering at the break in routine. He smiled, open-mouthed.
"It's all so arbitrary, isn't it?" he asked. "Chairs, around a table, all of us primates sitting and sharing grunts." Danfield looked a little offended. Steve went on, oblivious.
"It could be so different. We could be... oh, I don't know, druids, in a circle of stones..."
The wind swept through the dolmen, whipping Danfield's long gray beard and gray robes as he raised his oaken staff in both hands. The other druids stared at Steve as he mused aloud.
"...or a tribe of dolphins..."
Danfield click-squealed a warning about orcas as the rest of the troupe swirled around Steve, playfully diving and rolling under him. Word formed in his brain, and he shared them in sonar.
"...or a cluster of sentient stars..."
Danfield's ruddy glow served as centerpiece for a rosette of stellar radiance, a dozen stars spinning tightly together in defiance of physics, basking in each others' glow. Steve modulated his neutrino output to say,
"...or ants in a hill..."
Danfield's pheromones were all about food storage and defending the Queen; the rest of the ants touching antennae with her seemed to be enthralled, but Steve found her attention wandering to the sandy tunnels leading Above, and her pheromone trail talked about
"...a bunch of Stompers in a warm dry place..."
And there they were, a dozen primates circling a hunk of dead tree, Danfield gesticulating and throwing feces in Steve's general direction, the purple, blue and yellow of his naked ass signalling dominance in a display that Steve just ignored, turning on his heel and grabbing a vine...
...scurrying through the nest...
...spinning out of the orbital net...
...catching the southbound current...
...descending into the oaks...
...shutting the conference room door gently behind him, cutting off Danfield's slides and his stunned face, walking past the secretaries and the clerks and the coffee man in the corner, out into the cold, clear sunshine of a winter's day.
November 26, 2003
©2003 Alan P. Scott. All rights reserved.
Last updated November 26, 2003.