The Daffodil engineering headquarters was designed to look like an enormous Daffodil. Its base was a thin stalk that reached more than eight hundred feet into the sky. The entrance to the building was at the base of this stalk, which was just wide enough to contain a bank of elevators. At the top of the stalk were six pods, each three stories thick, which represented the six leaves of the daffodil blossom and just above them was a cone-shaped central pod in which a massive solar collector was located and which moved to follow the sun. The entire thing looked like it might fall over at any moment.
Mike walked into the front door, strode confidently past the security desk, and headed toward the open elevator. It started to close just as he reached it, but a feminine hand held the door. The large elevator car could have held forty people, but was occupied by only about fifteen.
“Floor?” someone called out.
Several people called out “E3” and a couple called out “E2”. Mike nodded, as though one of those destinations was his as well.
“It’s a nice day today, isn’t it?”
He turned to look into the face of the woman who had held the door for him. She was an attractive brunette; about five foot eight, with carefully applied makeup. She smiled at him.
“Yeah. I’m really pleased. I’m sick of the heat.”
“I don’t believe I’ve seen you on campus before.”
“No, it’s only my third day.” Was she hitting on him? He couldn’t remember the last time that had happened. And this girl was far more attractive than the women who usually took interest in him—or had, back when they took an interest.
“You work on E2, right?”
“I knew it. I can always spot a hardware engineer.”
“It’s the clothes.”
Mike looked down at what he was wearing—casual slacks and a tan sweater over a blue shirt.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Oh, nothing is wrong with it. It’s just typical engineering. I almost expect you to have a pocket protector under that sweater.”
Mike looked back at her sharp pinstriped business suit with an extremely short skirt, showing a lot of leg.
“Where do you work?”
“E3. Hardware software liaison.”
“I’m really just a glorified messenger.”
“I’m sure that’s not true.”
She smiled at him.
“Oh my,” she leaned over and whispered. “You don’t have a badge on.”
“Um, no… I forgot it,” he whispered back.
“You know how touchy they get about that. Do you know Sheila Peacemaker?”
“Maybe. What does she look like?”
“She has long straight hair and wears black lipstick.”
“Go find her. She’s the E2 assistant liaison. She’s got some spare badges. You’ll just have to wear it backwards so nobody can see it’s not your picture.”
“Thanks,” said Mike. “What’s your name?”
“Fallon. Fallon Snow.”
The elevator stopped and the door opened with a “ding.”
“This is your stop,” said Miss Snow. “I’m sure I’ll see you around.”
Mike turned left and walked down the hallway past hundreds of cubicles lined up in a row.
“Fallon Snow,” he muttered to himself. “How could parents do that to a child?”