(Small Fry Chapter 2)
“You’ve been invited to a lunch at Cambridge University on 1st February next year." Aneet continued. "In attendance, will be several speakers on Ancient History in the Mediterranean.”
“Ancient History in the
Mediterranean?” I echoed.
“I don’t teach that topic.”
“It’s not a topic, it’s a field." She said. "With all your papers on Rome, Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Babylon, you do fall into that category.”
“Oh, I see your point.” I conceded. “But who else is going to be at this shindig?”
“Dr. Fielding, Dr. Golding, Dr. Jordan, Dr. Thewak and Dr. Humphries are just some of the many…” she prattled off, “…I think this is going to be some kind of symposium to honour past historians.”
This made me pause, "Which past historians?”
“I think they’re going to be honouring archaeologists and professors such as Dr. Jasmine Aviv, Dr. Jason Garret, Dr. Bianca Sabre, Dr. Bianca Wisetail and Dr. Ash Marzuq.” She read out. “That’s what it says on the invitation, anyways.”
My face flushed when two of my past identities were read out.
“Um, can we please put the 1st February on the back burner?”
“Instead of clicking ‘accept’ or ‘decline’, would you like me to hit ‘tentative’?” She asked.
“Yep.” I agreed. “Now, what’s next?”
“Aside from your papers, there’s not much else. It's quite a few lunches in the next six months, but not many symposiums.” She speculated.
“I’m not really interested in lunches.” I sighed reluctantly. “All it is, is a bunch of academics who are normally bitchy to each other; hide their knives to stab you in the back with, to be friendly face to face.”
“Would you like to decline the academic lunches and charity dinners and just stick to the lectures, Dr. Baker?” She offered, using my latest pseudonym.
“Yeah that'd be a good idea, Aneet.” I decided. “So how are we looking so far, one lecture per month?”
“Yes except for March, when you have two lectures." She reported. "You have the one at the University of Technology Sydney and the other at Columbia.”
Suddenly Declan’s voice interrupted, which gave me a fright.
My head turned sharply, to find my husband standing in the doorway, listening in. Then he came into the room to talk directly to my mobile phone.
“Sorry Aneet, in March Dr. Baker will be five months pregnant, which means she’ll tire easily. I don’t want her travelling around to do two lectures a month.” He ordered.
She sounded surprised to hear his voice. “Oh er, Mr. Baker?”
“No, it’s Mr. Sabre.” He corrected sharply.
“Yes Mr. Sabre.” She fumbled out. But he made her so nervous, she mispronounced his surname. Instead of saying Sar-bra it sounded like she said, Say-ber. “Er, did you just say that Dr. Baker would be pregnant? I mean um, is pregnant?”
I could hear the shock in my secretary’s voice, as clear as a bell. She had been my Personal Assistant for the past thirty years, and through two pseudonyms. Although Aneet worked for me, she would also act as my liaison with the multinational company Hodge Endeavor, which was under Circulate control. This meant they would also hear of this. On my first day of being pregnant, the news of my 'happy condition' was being broadcasted.
The Circulate Mainframe, all the way at Circulate Headquarters on Taurus Six, monitored mine and humanities' timeline. It sent instructions via email and text messages, to myself or the Board of Hodge Endeavour. All I had to do, was turn up at the odd Board Meeting when an important decision was required. It ensured the company invested wisely and that I retained control for financial security. The powerful company's political connections, were also ideal in protecting the Circulate's and the Lokoti's anonymity.