Working through the new documentation, Anthony was, once again, impressed with how the package had been put together. It was most professional with clearly indicated instructions.
The building designs were distinctive and of a high standard. Although he had expected changes after what was said at the meeting, some extraordinary additions – of hidden doors and underground passages – seemed strange. But then, the drawings all appeared to be signed and approved by the correct authorities. Obviously, based on their discussion, the Hiltons would not want the wrong people to become aware of secret passageways and access points.
There had to be some purpose to them.
A new full underground floor had also been added to the production plant, this hadn't been part of the design he’d received originally. The housing estate’s design, other than that it was now linked to the underground passageway via a garden workshop, was the same as the original.
His first step was to assess the immediate need for earthmoving equipment. It often took some time to arrange this and, in order for him to procure it urgently, he gave the list to Lorraine for Mervyn to review and approve.
The next meeting with the Hiltons turned out to be intensive. Fortunately they had set a whole day aside to review the details. The equipment and temporary offices had been ordered and would arrive by the end of the week. Mervyn insisted on keeping the meeting going until all issues had been cleared up and they were ready to start work.
With all the preparatory work to do, time flew by. Anthony felt he hardly had time to draw breath before the next day arrived.
It’s a real dream come true, Anthony thought as he stood in the doorway of his site office. The sun was breaking over the horizon and it promised to be a beautiful new day in more ways than one. Within the next few hours the earthmoving equipment was scheduled to arrive, and he was ready to start breaking earth. In his mind's eye, he tried to picture the view from there in twenty months' time.
Over the months, Anthony remained impressed as the project unfolded. At first he would wonder if the dream might end, but was continually astounded by the assistance and support he got from the Hiltons. If ever he encountered the slightest problem, they seemed to have the resources the power to make it disappear.
At the end of another long day, Anthony sat at his desk recording the day’s events in his log. As the project was drawing to its close, he no longer had much to log. His work was almost done, and he stood and looked over the scene, trying to recall the bare land as it had been almost eighteen months before. He had not been permitted to capture the progress on film, as one of the stipulations of the secrecy agreement was no cameras allowed on site. The Hiltons did promise that they would provide photos for his portfolio at the end of the project. Still, he failed to understand the secrecy, but then it was not his business. A smile spread over his face when he imagined a movie scene with James Bond sneaking dangerously through a perfume factory . . . the plot was thrilling.
He decided to have an early evening. The main work had been completed and only finishing off remained. He thought about the long way he had come. How, at first, he’d been nervous to work with the Hiltons and now, nearing the end, how the Hiltons had turned out to be such great clients. As a matter of fact, they had become rather close friends; they even socialised together at times.
Jane was likely to work late. Although his work was tapering down, she was very much at the peak of hers, and had been working late most evenings trying to finalise settings and trimmings.
As he left the office, Anthony grabbed a batch of drawings he needed for marking up some final changes.
He was fifteen minutes away from the office, caught in afternoon traffic and sitting in his idling car, when he realised he had forgotten his notebook with the comments he required to mark up the drawings. His first thought was to let it go; then he changed his mind. He would probably be stuck in traffic for a while and going back would let him avoid the worst of it. The flow should be smoother by the time I return.
Back at the site – deserted as most people had left for the day – he parked next to his own office rather than in his usual spot at the main block. He knew exactly where he’d left the notebook and did not bother to switch on the light inside.
While leaving in the fading daylight, a movement in the direction of the main building caught his eye, and he froze when he saw Jane and Glen Hilton approaching the main office. They seemed to be in a heated discussion, when suddenly Jane stopped. In the poor light, though it was difficult to be certain, it looked as if Glen embraced her as he led her into the building.
Anthony was uncertain what to do next; he had never liked the idea of those two working closely together. Of the Hiltons, Glen was the one he did not fully trust. Perhaps I’m just jealous. I just don’t like the way I sometimes catch him looking at Jane. Whatever is happening, I need to know – and he set off after them.
Inside, the building was lit by a few dim lights, yet it was still pretty dark. The unpacked crates and the packages of equipment and furniture cast eerie shadows along the walls.
Once Anthony's eyes had adjusted to the darkness, he looked around. There was no sign of movement. After spending so much of the past few months in that space, he could have found his way through the building blindfolded, and he moved stealthily, between the boxes and down the passageway leading to senior management offices.
He drew nearer, observing a dim glow of light. He heard a faint sound of voices, carried to him in the silence from an inner room. Edging closer, he saw the source of light emanated from the partially opened door to Mervyn's office, which was situated beyond the reception area. The voices grew louder, mainly the familiar boom of Mervyn's who sounded excited. Anthony’s view was blocked by the partially closed doors, and he also could not make out what was being said. He had to move closer to find out exactly what was going on. He crept forward silently until he could see into a section of the room through an open gap in the door.
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