A sharp buzzing noise accompanied the squeal of the metal rollers on the door to Prison Wing 7 at Scrub City. Geek, accompanied by a guard, walked forward into the visitor’s area. The guard pointed to a chair and Geek sat and waited for his father.
Archer stretched his legs out on the bed and flicked the remote on the television. An advert for Virgin Galactic trips to the La Luna Space Station was just coming to an end.
Davey arrived home and embraced Louise. He placed his hand on her belly in anticipation of the bump that was to grow there. She smiled at him, and he barely managed to return it. Today, he was plagued by thoughts of Geek's discovery all those months ago. The other members of the Axiom Few knew he had cheated on her. But he also knew the future required that this baby be born. It would grow up to patent a vital piece of AI code.
'I wonder what we'll call him,' he said.
'Or her,' she added, running her hands through his hair.
'Good to see you son.' said Tony from across the cold wooden table.
'I came to tell you that everything will be ok,' said Geek, unable to look directly at his Dad.
Tony laughed quietly, the lines on his face creasing like un-ironed laundry. 'You took your time to come and say that. I've been here five years.'
Geek smiled nervously and finally met his father's gaze. 'When you wrote the letter...' but he was interrupted by sirens. Building in the distance out of the tiny, wire-mesh covered window near the ceiling of the scummy visitor's room.
'What letter?' said his father, more creases developing on his perplexed face.
'The one asking for our help. You wrote to me.'
Tony laughed. 'I don't think so. You disowned me. You moved to a new apartment.'
Geek felt a hand on his arm. 'I'm going to have to ask you to end this conversation,' said the guard. 'You need to leave the building immediately.'
'What's going on?'
Tony added, 'You moved, son, I don't even know where you live. You never gave me your new address. So I couldn’t have written to you.’
Geek's mind was racing. Trying to understand. 'What do you mean?'
Then his mobile was ringing in his pocket.
Archer poured some wine from the bottle into the glass. This evening he was drinking a rich red 2039 Chateauneuf du Pape. He rested his head against the headboard as the top headline came on the news.
'Evacuation and quarantine measures put in place at Scrub City. Police and medical experts rush to contain new virus at the prison.'
Archer jolted and spilled his wine over the covers on the bed.
He reached for his mobile.
'Dammit! Geek. Davey. what have we done?'
Geek was running down the corridor when he finally answered the call. 'Archer, someone's messing with us.'
'I know. I've got Davey on conference. It's on the news. They're locking down Scrub City. Are you out of there yet?'
'I'm getting out as fast as I can. The letter never came from my Dad. Now I understand why the postman was looking funny at me. It was his first visit, not his second.'
He turned a corner and ran down a flight of stairs to the ground floor.
'So the letter was a fake, sent through a rip.'
'Yes, as well as the drug in my glass.'
Geek had reached the main reception area. A small crowd of people in business attire were being herded out through the main entrance. He followed them into the car park, where a multitude of white vans, ambulances and TV units were parking in jagged formation.
'It was designed to make me sleep late, so I wouldn't suspect any funny business while someone dropped the letter back to my doorstep. Oh boy we really fell for this one guys. How could I have been so stupid?'
'Davey you need to pack your bags and get off-planet,' said Geek as a group of men in biosuits rushed towards him, they were coming from a hastily erected decontamination tent. 'This could swiftly turn into a murder hunt. I have to go.'
Davey was breathless down the line. 'But... Louise. She needs me at the moment. I thought we were saving those people.'
'That baby is the reason all this happened,' said Archer. 'Your baby ultimately causes Brenda to exist and close these loops. You're likely to be in the frame if the authorities ever get round to searching the video footage from the Water Works. And now that you've conceived, now Louise is pregnant, there's no futuristic reason to preserve your relationship with her anymore. We can't guarantee your safety.'
‘I'm a murderer,' whispered Davey.
Archer said, 'We need some breathing space. I'm at my computer now. I'm sending you a hyperlink to priority Virgin Galactic flights. Book a ticket, say your goodbyes to Louise and get your arse to Heathrow Base.'