When the lights went down, Jacobs the engineer didn't have time to wait for R17 to climb the stairs from the pump-room. He ran up them two at a time, tripped, fell on his face, turned on the flashlight on his phone, and ran up them again. Bursting from the pump-room door, he ran across the corridor into the Trilobite Park control room. Backup power was on inside the room indicated – for some reason – by a red incandescent bulb that the unknown original engineer had seen fit to install.
"Converse with me, humans," Jacobs said.
There was a long pause before a palid young man in an Aquaman t-shirt replied: "Do you mean 'talk to me people?'"
In the cool damp bowels of Trilobite Park, Jacobs the chief engineer was heading towards apoplexy. The plumbers who he had hired were nowhere to be seen, the pumping room was full of smashed barrels and there actually seemed to be more pipes running spaghetti-like through the room.
"This is bad engineering," he said. "The engineering is just bad."
He noted that this wasn't much of a thing to say, but as there was no one there to hear him, he didn't suppose that it made a difference.
The robot R17 entered from upper doorway. "Beep," it said.
Dr June Kim could hardly believe her luck. Trilobites! An entire museum dedicated to trilobites and her, June Kim the chief educational officer! but no – it was not just a museum. It was a zoo. An aquarium full of real, live trilobites! Her whole life had been leading to this job. She smiled internally, all the while maintaining a businesslike expression.
"This is where your office will be," Thag said, as he pointed to a semi-completed room, not very dissimilar to the dozens of other semi-complete rooms in the construction site. "Adjacent to it is the main education room. This is where you will interact with school groups, et cetera."
Thag was a short, burly, dark-skinned man with a thick beard, a heavy brow and a perpetually annoyed look. June had met him once before, when she had been studying at the University of Sydney. This had been shortly after Thag had been thawed from a glacier and was still being shown off at paleontology departments around the world. Thag had stuck in her memory as the only Neanderthal she had ever met, but he hadn't remembered her at all. Granted, he must have met hundreds of science undergrads before he'd tired of being a valuable specimen and left to study Human Resources management at the University of the Gold Coast. ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 1: Things Start Out Suboptimally"