Dr. Ryan Francis enters the Executive Suite of Peterborough Pharmaceuticals. The receptionist looks up. “Mr. Layton is expecting you, Dr. Francis, go right in.” He proceeds to the inner office. “I’ve set up assignments for the TWOFER staff list you sent me,” Dr. Francis says, handing over a slim folder, “but I do not see Dr. Tompkins on the list. I want him to help with the sequencing. Please tell me his omission is an oversight.”

“I’m sorry,” Layton responds, “but Dr. Tompkins is not transferring. Our patrons felt he had to be held accountable for the problems on TWOFER. He’s been transferred to another project.”

“That is unfortunate,” Dr. Francis says, “my schedule included him. The timeline will need to be pushed back. I hope that wherever he has been sent, they make good use of him. He is a talented geneticist, and a gifted researcher.”

A helicopter touches down on a desolate, rocky landscape. There is no vegetation to be seen for miles. A small knot of people are waiting for it. A few men in AECL overalls climb out of the helicopter, followed by a man in an Armani suit and a designer overcoat, carrying an elegant leather case. The helicopter lifts off, and flies away. One of the workmen exclaims “No ride AGAIN!” to the men waiting for them. With some grumbling, they trudge off towards a construction site about two kilometres away, leaving just one man to greet the well-dressed arrival. “You must be SOLITAIRE’s new Chief Medical Officer,” he says, offering his hand. “I’m Dallas Williams, Governor, Construction Boss and Warden.”

The other man shifts his case to his left hand, and accepts the handshake. “Yes, I’m Dr. Tompkins.” He looks over towards the construction site. “I had thought you’d be further along.”

“We had weather delays in the spring, plus the usual problems with a project of this scale. If the AECL boys can stay on schedule, though, we should be out of the temporary buildings and into the facility before the snow flies. Its weather-proof, we just need power.” The two start trudging after the workmen. “Sorry for making you walk, but we’re hoarding diesel in case we don’t get things running in time, and need to stay on the generators longer.”

“How long until winter?” Tompkins asks.

“We’ve still got a few weeks” Williams responds. “There are no research facilities in the temporary buildings, but we’ll keep you busy. The usual industrial accidents, drunken hijinks injuries, and keeping our few remaining inmates docile. We won’t be taking any more in until late spring. That is also when they’ll start sending in your staff. You’ll be the entire medical staff over the winter.”

“What happened to Dr. Smith?” Tompkins asks. “I had heard it was catastrophic, but did not get any of the details.”

“He was adjusting the dosage for one of the inmates, trying to get her into the work gang. He must have gotten it a little light, and she turned him into a gibbering puddle. We gassed the shit out of the treatment room, and went in Tasers blazing. He was the only casualty. We sent him south for treatment, but nothing anyone has tried has been any help.”

They reach the top of a small rise overlooking the construction site. “Welcome to Ellesmere Island,” Williams says.

We’re playing next on Friday, Sept 28.

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