The Board was determining whether the hotel across the road could make the appropriate changes to their building to fit in with their new slogan: For people who want to travel Business Class all day long.
I was new to The Board, and had rather a temporary position there. But we all knew how each other would feel about this decision, and we all knew it would not be made quickly. There would be the old guy worrying about the time it would take to repaint the building, and whether or not they would use pebbles on the driveway. His concerns for their welfare would take an hour to sort through alone.
I would be concerned about the socioeconomic and environmental issues about this redesign, which was being glossed over as 'all they want is a new paint job'... Which neatly points to two other members of the Board. One of whom kept leaving the table because she didn't see what all the fuss was about.
And our Chair. Pure business man. His first concern: the cost to us. His second concern: the cost to them, and if they could indeed do what they claimed they needed to do, that the job would not be left half finished, or so. When he was satisfied with the bottomline our hours of discussion would be fruitless - and the proposal would be passed.
My daughter (there is no such person in real life, she was me - aged 8 or 10) had come along with me to the meeting. She'd seen her cousin (my real life husband, also reduced in age to a teenager) and wanted to go play with him.
"OK..." I said, the meeting was missing members, so it was quiet and that's why
I my daughter had interrupted. "Hey listen, why don't you go see what is happening across the road at the hotel."
The paint job was Cathay Pacific green with a red stripe, and I knew that a lot of internal work was being done as well - at least, it was proposed, but I had suspicions. The building was one storey at the front, but there was a second storey at the back, and I suspected some depth in the ground, but I could not be sure.
my daughter I skipped off to find my cousin, but he had walked past, and that stupid Board meeting had wasted so much time. I had to go by the hotel, through the train station and then I was at the park at the back of the hotel. I was also at the edge of the CBD.
I wondered where he had gone, but I could not see my cousin anywhere. So I decided to cut through the park up to the hotel, do the investigations, and report back.
I started to climb up the hill behind the hotel. A few other kids were attempting this feat, and a lot of them were falling down - somewhat on purpose because it was fun to roly poly down the hill. But I was in a tiny hurry, so I took that path that I was sure would get me to the top - and to the back of the hotel.
Only my hill became a small clay cliff, and I had no other choice but to slide down, and try again.
But when I reached the bottom, a young guy offered to take me to the `Academy': "Sure, everyone's welcome. That's why my parents sent me there. It's good and fun. And they teach you a lot of stuff."
He went straight up the hill that I had not been able to find a path through. I followed easily in his wake. And we were at the huge wall that signified the
Inside the wall was like a military or prison or school camp mess - lots of kids sitting at tables in a row, eating identical food on trays. The kids were all dressed `normally', and they were pretty relaxed. The sound of happy chatter was constant.
A guy a little older than my cousin walked up to us. He was in a black uniform with neat silver and red trims. His hands were `at ease' behind his back. He smiled to me.
"I believe you may want to have dinner over here."
He moved away and my cousin was having dinner in the crowd behind him. I was so relieved!
"Ah thanks, but we'd better get back. I didn't realise how late it was..." I said to my guide.
My cousin stood up nonchalantly to leave. My guide's eyes opened wide though, and he went a little white. He quivered quietly, "I don't think you'll be allowed to leave. Nobody is allowed to leave."
Then it was on: The leader had moved away, but was keeping an eye on us. He made a gesture and then we were being chased by several `guards'. It was a high-speed chase on foot (something I could do when I was aged 8 in real life). We ran through the `hotel'. We ran into a stairwell, it was a fire stairwell, and not commonly used. Mostly I was following my cousin, and we were both running if not for our lives, then for our freedom.
We stopped in the stairwell, to catch our breath. I panted quietly: "If we can get across the road, we won't be too late to stop this."
We got to the top of the stairwell, we knew they would probably be waiting for us past the door. We had no choice, and the front door may well be locked. Each door was an old, heavy door, breaking them down would not be an option.
My cousin made a break for it. No reaction from anywhere within the small foyer, or the entrances to it.
He tried the door handle, and the door opened. We both sighed with relief. And he made his break for it, he didn't wait for me, we needed as many options as possible.
As I made it to the door, there was a huge explosion out the front. I think I suffered very minor burns. But I knew my cousin was not so lucky. There was no time to mourn, I had to get across the road. They did not have a second explosive, and I made it.
What I didn't know, was that my cousin had also made it. The Academy had been watching him, they knew his every movement. He had the ability to turn into a mouse. Which he did at the moment of impact. The explosion burnt him, but blew up about a metre above him.