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Olivia stepped off the podium as a lightning storm of flash photography erupted. The rest of her team helped her escape the room, as reporters fired questions over each other like stockbrokers on a bidding frenzy.
“Are you crazy? said Michael. “We’re going to lose our research grant”.
“I don’t care” she replied defiantly as she kept walking. Later that night, she received a message from the University:
“Dear Olivia, thank you again for all your contributions over the past few months, as you worked tirelessly with your team to deliver today’s important findings. As you realize, this has now become a politically sensitive area. There is more pressure than ever on our Board to stay impartial during the remainder of this research. To ensure this, we will need to manage communications extra carefully. We have unanimously decided to put Michael in charge of the team for now, starting from tomorrow. Michael will also be leading all external communications, so please coordinate with him from now onwards. Thank you again and we wish you every success for the remainder of the project.”
She slammed the laptop shut and pulled her coat off the back of the chair so angrily, that it made it spin several times. As she turned the lights off in the lab, one light stayed on: the green glow coming from the incubators, where her samples of phytoplankton mutants were growing under various light, temperature, and nutritional conditions. As she exited the elevator on the ground floor, she saw a familiar figure sitting in the reception lobby. It was John.
She was surprised that she recognized his silhouette in the dark. His hair and beard looked exactly the same as 4 years ago, only now much lighter, they greys beginning to take over. He still wore the same glasses, and even the same coat that he sported during most his days at the university. Olivia knew that coat well. It was etched vividly in her memory from the days when she sat at the front row of his class, watching him deliver his famous Extinction Ecology courses.
She walked over to the white leather couch where John was sitting, still visibly in distress from the e-mail. They looked at each other in silence first. Then smiles broke out. There was a lot of catching up to do.
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books