She walked forward to see how far down the building went. Placing her hands on the rail that circled the opening, she was able to count four levels below.
Out of the corner of her eyes she was able to see Karl take position up next to her.
“We fought the water for nearly a year before we were able to get the foundation reinforced enough to actually build a structure like this.”
“Excuse me?” Cynthia asked, turning slightly to see him better.
“Every contractor we spoke with said that a structure like this couldn’t be built on an island. They all said that the water table was too high and that we’d never be able to keep the water from seeping into the lower levels.
We finally found one who was willing to do the job, as long as we acknowledged that there was a high probability of failure.
It took a year of playing with different reinforcement options before we found one that held back the water.”
“But even still it takes constant vigilance to maintain the foundation,” Cynthia heard Mr. Winston say behind her.
“What does that mean?” she asked.
Mr. Winston walked over and took a space next to her on the railing. “Even with all the precautions taken during construction we still get the occasional wet spot or leak. So we have crews dedicated solely to the purpose of maintaining the foundation.”
“How does that work? Surely it must disrupt whatever is going on to go into a room and check the walls.”
She noticed a slight hesitation from Mr. Winston as he tried to decide what to say. And then Karl spoke up behind her. She turned to face him, but caught the slightest glare directed at Karl from Mr. Winston as she turned.
“That floor you see below is not the bottom of this structure. There is another level below that which houses pump equipment.”
“So you pump the water out as it seeps into the lowest level?”
“Yes. But even better, is that there is an outer ring that encloses all of the levels below this one.”
She heard the slightest growl from Mr. Winston. Deciding that this might be useful information later she decided to press her luck and see how much information she would be able to get from Karl.
“But how does another wall help?” she asked, assuming the role of naïve girl for a moment.
Karl didn’t notice the act, and was more than willing to talk more about the building. “Double wall construction, sweetheart. It takes twice as much for any water to get through. Plus, since we made the separation large enough for a person to get through, we can make foundation repairs without disrupting the work going on here at all.”
Cynthia could see the pride emanating from Karl. She could tell that he had helped in the concept during building. She wanted to keep him talking about it, but Mr. Winston interrupted before she could ask for more information.
“Mr. Stone, don’t you think that we should get Cynthia settled in? It was a long flight.”
Cynthia saw Karl’s face lose the pride it had held only seconds before. In it’s place a businesslike demeanor took residence.
“You’re right.” He turned toward the front for a moment and gestured at the person who sat at the security desk. The person at the desk picked up a phone and spoke into it.
Karl then turned back to face Cynthia again.
“Sweetie, I’ve got to go with Mr. Winston for now. There’re some projects that he wants me to look at in the research department.”
“Can I come along?” she asked, not really wanting to let either man out of her sight for now.
“I’m afraid not,” Mr. Winston cut in from behind.
“Why not?” she asked, turning to face him.
“We’re only now adding you to the security system, and it takes twenty-four hours for any changes to take effect.”
“But I’d be with you two, and shouldn’t that make it safe enough for me?”
“Fraid not, sweetie,” Karl said. He placed his hand on her shoulder. “The security system is very good, and it won’t let you any father down than the first two floors below this one. But don’t worry; we wouldn’t leave you completely alone in a strange place. I’ve summoned an escort for you.” Karl looked around. “And here he comes.”
Cynthia turned to see a man walking toward her. He looked only a year or two older than she was. He was dressed in a dark blue suit, but strode like a fighter.
“Jacob? Is that you?” Karl asked.
Cynthia turned to face him, surprise getting the better of her. But she turned almost immediately back to face the new person.
“Yeah,” Jacob said, blushing slightly. “But I don’t remember who you are.”
“That’s quite alright, I wouldn’t expect you to. The last time I saw you, you were running around the place with a toy gun, and protecting everything in sight.
I think you were about three or four at the time, just before we took Cynthia here and left the island.”
Jacob’s blush deepened as Karl spoke. But it quickly disappeared as a slight cough came from Mr. Winston.
“Jacob, I want you to show Cynthia here her quarters, as well as the mess and other important areas. And Karl, I believe that it’s time for us to attend to our own business.”
Then, without another word, Mr. Winston led Karl away and toward what must have been an elevator.
Cynthia looked at Jacob, trying to glean some sort of information about him by the way he looked. But his demeanor betrayed nothing about him.
Finally she gave up. “Where to then?”
“Well I guess that we’d better start with what was suggested. Father would be very upset if I couldn’t follow at least that command.”
“Father?” she asked, curious.
Jacob grimaced as he realized what he had said, then decided that it was best to explain. “Yeah, Security Chief Winston is my father.”
Cynthia groaned inwardly, it was bad enough with one Winston looking over her. But now she had two.
They had been walking at a brisk pace around the perimeter of the building, and then suddenly, Jacob stopped.
“Your room, madam.”
“Thank you,” she replied with a hint of annoyance.
“Here is your keycard,” he said, handing over the credit card sized piece.
“Thank you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll take a shower.”
“Just call if you need to.”
“Ok,” she said going through the door. Then she stopped and turned at the last moment. “How do I call Jacob?”
“There’s a paging panel just to the side of your door. You’ll see it.”
Cynthia nodded and turned to go inside the room again.
“Oh, and by the way,” Jacob said.
Cynthia turned, looking at him.
“Call me Jake.”