Smoothing down her dress, the same dress as she had worn for her tour with the minister, Rachel nervously glanced around her. Like a teenager before her first date, she couldn’t settle and tensed every time someone came near her. Just before lunchtime Dr Mossman tapped her shoulder, causing her to jerk in shock.
“H..hello, sir!” She fussed with the hem of her dress, not making eye contact as he apologised blandly for frightening her. He held up a hand to interrupt as she began her customary summary of the day’s progress and, smiling coldly, gestured for her to follow him as he led the way to the staff room. The room was empty apart from a couple of military police, who were sitting in front of the television, watching the news.
“Tell me, Rachel, how did the briefing with the minister go?” There was an edge to his voice that made her look at him sharply.
“Erm, it was fine” she shrugged, “I hadn’t really given it much thought. Why?” Her voice trembled as Dr Mossman looked away from her, his gaze rested on the television for a moment before he spoke again. Her gaze never left his face.
You seem nervous Professor.” He observed without looking at her, “Is there something you want to tell me?”
“I don’t understand what you are getting at, Sir.” She bluffed weakly, stroking her dress fretfully she finally looked over at the television. The last of the colour drained from her face as she watched. Dr Mossman turned to look at her.
“Now, I’m not saying that there was anything untoward” he assured her “Except that… there was an awful lot of whispering in corners and, well, have you seen this morning’s news?”
On the screen in front of them Minister Redman was chattering excitedly. He was talking about the welcome news of a scientific breakthrough that would finally lift the ever-present fear of nuclear contamination. He detailed his vision of a glorious future in which the world was free of nuclear waste; a world where it could be fired into space and the fall-out from any accidents would be cleared up using GM bacteria, engineered to scrub it out of the sky. Finally he waxed lyrical about the potential for crowd sourcing, and lauded his fellow ministers for their work and their brave openness in allowing this information into the public realm where it could be used for the greater good rather than hoarded for political gain.
“I swear – it wasn’t me!” She panicked, casting around for support and then staggering back as the 2 MPs got to their feet and began moving towards her.
“Of course you didn’t” sneered the professor “I just don’t understand how you thought you would get away with it?”
“No! No, I really didn’t! They were going to approach me today to see if I would! I haven’t given them anything yet,. They said…” One of the MPs interrupted, suggesting that she shut up until she had a lawyer in front of her. Roughly he pulled her arms behind her back and fixed the handcuffs to her wrists. Snapping her mouth shut, she dropped her head and began to shake as they read her her rights. Without looking up, biting her lip against the tears, she said nothing as they led her back through the lab, past all of her former colleagues and friends.