Chapter 2

The offices of the G.U.T. were arranged in a high tower with ivory friezes about each of the many windows. From the outside it looked like a tall, engraved, upside-down tusk with its tip disappearing into a vast green lawn. Underground corridors ran off from the Tusk’s tip to surface again in a long, low narrow building called the Tube, and in another facing the tramline called the Shoebox. There was grass all around the three buildings and sheep would graze there, that is whenever they made it across the highway of cars in one piece of herd. Only the tram was well behaved enough to let them all pass as one. The General Services of the G.U.T. used the sheep as an outsourcing alternative to hiring gardeners, and it was whispered that the spring lambs sometimes graced the tables of the upper echelons, but no one spoke openly about that.

The Shoebox, which was the farthest G.U.T. building and faced the United Nations, was made of glass with cardboard on the outside that automatically came down in sheets whenever the sun tried too hard to peek in.

Theodor Saint’s office was tucked away in the back of the corridor leading to the Shoebox and looked out onto a corner of the sheep-kempt lawn.

Pippa had yet to find the old man, which was not going to be easy, for one thing since the office that she shared was located on the 10th floor of the Tusk.

The marrow of the Tusk had been replaced by a series of lifts, four in all. That was where people met, but only five or six at a time if at all that many, for they had to run round in circles on each floor to catch a lift that was free, and that stopped at all, since the lifts liked to go up and down for no apparent reason except that it was coffee or lunch break time.

The people who worked in the Tusk rarely ventured along the corridors of the Tube, or as far as the Shoebox, that is not until a large cafeteria was built there in the interests of communication and as part of a project by the same General Services that had outsourced the garden work to the sheep.

Coffee breaks were never long enough to allow excursions to the cafeteria and at lunch time all anyone wanted was to get out of the G.U.T. and do errands, jog to the neighbouring botanical gardens, or just lunch in one of the many small bistros that abounded in the area.

The bronze busts of the men and women who had wanted to change their immediate world were located in the catacombed tip of the Tusk, to one side of a rolling staircase that led out to a heliport for important visitors.

In the summer, some years, the heliport was also used for outside parties. It was at these parties that all the people from all the G.U.T.’s buildings were able to get together socially, some for the first time. And it was at one of these parties that Pippa Sandberg met the tall angular Head of General Services, Dr Humid van Arroz.

She didn’t actually meet him as such, she tripped over his size 12 shoe just as he was moving one leg to balance and demonstrate his latest project for corralling the sheep, some of which had been straying from the lawns of the G.U.T. to block the doors of the neighbouring post office. One might say that his shoe met with hers and she fell to his feet.

802 words

Continued in Chapter 3