Chapter 11: A Shift In Focus

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“I am impressed by the work you two have been collaborating on.” The Director spoke as he typed. “Tell me about it.”

Don and Cassandra immediately began enthusiastically explaining their work, bouncing ideas off of each other as they spoke.

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The Director cut them off, glancing at the clock. “Your work on the serums is quite promising, and your,” the Director looked at his notes, “this momentum conserver I must admit isn’t as frivolous as I thought it would be. It’s still a bit cumbersome, but your idea to modify it so it can be placed in the break rooms and labs was genius, 56742746. Everyone is focused all the time, and we are ahead of our schedule. Surprising.” The Director was silent, reading a message that was on his screen. “Yes, yes. Where was I? Right,” he continued as Don waited quietly. “You are being promoted to Serum Sequencer, and you, T-4684, are now, he glanced at a file, are being promoted to the Technological Innovator Department. Please see go see the RAD,” the Director added, “Assistant Director of Resources, but RAD sounds better than ADR.” He looked at the screen again, “go to the RAD, 25436-1, for your bonuses and further information. You’ll start on Monday. Enjoy your weekend.” Don and Cassandra rose. “Oh, and take this thing with you,” he motioned to the momentum conserver. My desk is cluttered enough.”

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“Hello, I’m T-56742746,” Don told the assistant. “The Director sent me here about my promotion.”

“Yes” she said, “just a moment.” Don waited until his file was up. “We have you living at Slipshod Mesquite,” she paused and Don could hear the disdain in her voice, “Bedrock Strait,” she cleared her throat. “Oasis Springs. Is that correct?”

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“Yes,” Don answered, feeling a bit offended. No, it wasn’t the greatest neighborhood but if she’d known that he had been sleeping on park benches a few years ago . . . . Never mind, he told himself. That was in the past. The present was looking pretty good. Assistant 25436-1 typed for quite a while. “This usually isn’t offered at your career level, but I see you are being offered an apartment at FutureSim Living. The information has been emailed. Read it over and report back here Monday morning. Your §312 bonus has been deposited. Enjoy your weekend. Oh, and why don’t you take the technician — your partner, T-4684 — out for a celebratory dinner. Try Chez Llama. I’m making you two a reservation for 1800. Congratulations on your promotion!”

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The FLS Resource Department assistant went back to her computer. “Send in T-4684.”

“What did she say?” Cassandra asked. She had been waiting just outside the door.

“To take you out to Chez Llama tonight. We have reservations for 1800. Can you go right after work?”

Cassandra smiled, “Of course!”

Dinner at Chez Llama was interesting. Apparently, everyone at FSL knew the restaurant was the public test kitchen. Regular sims knew it was “experimental,” and those adventuresome to try new dishes, flocked to the upscale restaurant. The more Don learned about FutureSim Labs, the more it seemed they had interests in about everything. He began to wonder if Johnny might have some truth with his conspiracies.

“I’m going to miss working with you, but it’s against the policy we signed.” Cassandra sighed. Until that moment, Don didn’t realize the significance of their promotions — he’d still be working in Lab 747, but Cassandra was being assigned somewhere else. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but he had signed the terms of employment agreement. That seemed a lifetime ago when the possibility of settling down was out of reach.

“Did they offer you an apartment at FutureSim Living?” Cassandra asked as they ate their dinner.

“Yes, but I’m not sure,”Don was still irritated by the implication that where he lived wasn’t good enough. “Wait–did you get the offer as well?”

“I did,” Cassandra answered, taking another bite. “This honeycomb vegetable cup is delicious. There is one opening, but it isn’t available for six more months. FutureSim Living is only for families.” She looked at him out of the corner of his eye.

Don immediately grasped her meaning. “So do you want to postpone the wedding until we can get in?”

“Yes,” Cassandra took Don’s hand. “If you don’t mind. Don’t think all I see is your big brain and intellect, Don.” She smiled. “I know you are a romantic at heart, and I know you have commitment issues. You’re still with me after all these months and with FSL, so I have hope it will work out for us–“

“I think I’m over my fear of commitment,” Don answered. “Cassandra, I would wait lifetimes to marry you.”

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