Three dead crows. The words echoed in my head. Crows had been swarming the place since I arrived. My Uncle had mentioned that.
Now three had died.
I stepped down the stairs and into the hall. The scientist was standing in a doorway.
“No, just Myra,” he said. He didn’t seem to notice me. “Two. The intern and a guy from the Enceladus Settlement.”
There was a long paused. The scientist nodded a few times and checked his watch.
“I’ll see what the levels are.”
He got off the phone and I snuck down the opposite way of the hall. I would ask Rosalind where my Uncle was since I hadn’t seen him that morning. I had been dragged into this affair, whether I liked it or not.
I walked into the kitchen. I was surprised when I saw the curtain drawn over the window. Rosalind always had it open. There was no cold air coming in.
But it didn’t look like she was in there. The kitchen was empty. I closed the door and walked in. It slammed shut.
I heard it from around the corner. I snuck over to Rosalind. She was standing on the other side of a cabinet, right in front of the door leading to the breakfast room.
She had her ear pressed up against the crack. She looked up at me as I stepped over, as quietly as possible. She didn’t say a word. I stood in front of her.
She put a finger to her lips and pointed to the door.
I had never known Rosalind to spy on anyone, but I also knew she wasn’t that scrupulous. So I put my ear to the door too. She didn’t look nervous, so it couldn’t be anything dreadful. But on the other hand, I had never seen her nervous.
I listened. It was my Uncle’s voice I heard, talking to someone over the phone. It seemed a lot of people on the outside were involved in the inside.
“I understand your concern,” he said. “But I can keep everything under control. It’s just an intern and my nephew that we have to worry about. Make sure you don’t let news of the breach get out. I want this completely undercover.”
There was a moment of silence on his end. I could hear him scuffing his feet on the floor. Then on sudden impulse I opened the door. It rattled. My Uncle turned around, instantly hearing it.
He hung up on the phone and put it on the table.
He had that same mild and controlled expression, though I had seen a flash of irritation. He adjusted the collar of his shirt.
“Close the door,” he said. It was as if he had expected me to come in. Had been waiting for me.
I closed it. I assumed Rosalind would still be listening on the other side.
“So,” he said. I stuck my hands in my pockets. “You visited the Double Effect.”
I didn’t say anything in answer. I stood awkwardly by the door while he searched in a drawer and pulled out a cigar. Once he lighted it he turned back towards me.
“It’s going rather well, but we’ve had a containment breach,” he continued. “Crows are the problem. For some reason they’re multiplying like – “
“I don’t mean to interrupt,” I broke in. He looked up sharply. “But before I leave I just want to know one thing: this really isn’t about some sort of new transportation, is it?”
He looked at me, twiddling the cigar between his fingers. It took a few moments for him to answer.
“Not to disappoint you, but,” he looked at the floor for a moment. “No one’s leaving this place.”