I sneaked past Kellie’s desk while she was on the phone. Dr. Carbon’s door was open, so I stepped in. He was seated at his desk, and looked up when he heard (or sensed, I still wasn’t exactly sure what Dr. Carbon’s full capabilities were) me enter.
“Ah, Mike, thanks for coming so quickly,” he said.
I froze almost in mid-step. I’d interacted with Dr. Carbon quite often in my time with him, but I was sure I was just another faceless hireling to him, a name on a check or a jail roster whom the attorney had to bail out. If he knew my name, he probably had it in a file that he’d been reading just so he could address me properly before firing me. I had no idea what I’d done wrong, but to be called into a Vil’s office out of the blue… It wasn’t usually a pleasant experience from what I’d heard.
“Please, Mr. Williams, sit down,” Dr. Carbon said, pointing casually to one of the chairs in front of his desk.
I sat, wary of the chair being a trap, my mind visualizing webs or straps locking me in so he could tell me why he was about to toss me into a volcano. I have no idea why I was so paranoid, but the mind control incident had happened only a few days ago, and the Supes and Vils pretty much share the same information grapevine.
“Mike, the reason I know your name is because you’re a good worker.”
I froze again, this time in surprise that he might be able to read minds.
“The reason I’m an A-lister, Mike, is because I pay attention to details.”
I nodded, letting him know I respected him and enjoyed working for him because he paid attention to details enough to be an A-lister. At least I hoped that’s what my nod conveyed.
“A big part of the details,” he continued, “are the people working for me. I know most citizens and Supers only see you and your fellow associates as faceless goons, and too many of my own associates, the C-listers and below, make the same mistake. You’ve always done great work for me, and HR knows that any time your name comes up on the rotation, they are to do whatever it takes to get you back with us for another six months.
“And as an employee who is one of two on the HR list to get such special treatment, it means whenever I have a tough job, one that I dare not trust to anyone but someone I consider fully capable of successfully completing it, you and Washington are at the top of my list.”
I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t too surprised to hear Washington’s name. The guy scared the hell out of me, scared the hell out of most people, including the Vils he worked for. I tried to imagine what kind of scheme Dr. Carbon had cooked up that he had to call me in and praise me.