David Griffin did a very English sort of thing: he sat Phillips and Moore down at his kitchen table and offered them a cup of tea. Mary Simms stayed silent in her chair watching the two strangely dressed men through eyes that gave no indication as to what was going on behind them. While Griffin fussed around in that polite middle-aged way of his, Mary lit cigarette after cigarette and kept uncharacteristically silent as the older of the two men continued his crazy story.
“Mr. Griffin, approximately three centuries ago a man named Greg Stevens was looking for fossil samples in a desert in a place that you know as New Mexico and stumbled across what we now call the Bunker.”
“Stevens was the leader of a group of geologists. He immediately saw the unique advantages that the Bunker offered. Within two years he had established a small settlement in the Bunker. Under Stevens’s direction his follower’s gradually brought the building back to life, got the power working, sorted out the water and sewage system… That sort of thing. Within twenty years several hundred people were living in secret in the Bunker. Today that figure has swelled to more than fifteen thousand. But we’re not really here to talk about the Bunker. ”
“I’m sure it’s all very interesting,” said David Griffin, placing two cups of hot tea on to the kitchen table. “But what has all this got to do with me?”
“A great deal, actually,” said Ray Moore. “More than you could possibly imagine.”
“Look,” said Griffin. “I let you into my house because you seem to know an awful lot about me. I’d very much appreciate it if you’d tell me where you get your information from.’
“That’s easy,” replied Moore. “We know so much about you because we’ve been studying you and your descendants:”
“Descendants? What do you mean descendants?”
“We mean the people who followed on from you. Your son, your daughter, your grandchildren…Their children…”
David Griffin stood in the corner of the room and studied the two strangers. There was no disputing that their appearance was odd. The men looked uncomfortable in their crumpled suits, as if they were not used to wearing such clothing. “Forgive me for saying so but I think you’re both quite mad,” Griffin said. “Either that or this is some kind of elaborate practical joke.”
Now Griffin turned his attention to the silent figure of Mary Simms. “Mary,” he said. “You’re keeping very quiet. Is all this something to do with you?”
Mary Simms shook her head and took another drag on her cigarette. “No,” she replied calmly. “I’ve never seen these people before in my life.”
“We can assure you that the girl knows nothing about our mission,” said Nathan Phillips. “In fact, it would be to her distinct benefit if she knew nothing more. Would it be impolite of me to ask her to leave?”
“She’s staying right where she is, if you don’t mind” said Griffin sarcastically. “After all, it’s not every day that you get to meet somebody from the future. I couldn’t possibly deny her this privilege.”
Nathan Phillips had known all along that this was not going to be easy. It never was. Over the years he’d read all the research material available regarding the correct protocol for making contact with pre-temporal civilisations. In the days leading up to the Great Chaos this had been a frequent occurrence, with travellers making little regard to the consequences of their actions. In the Bunker such contact was strictly forbidden except under the most extreme circumstances. Circumstances such as the one he found himself in now. That was why he had brought the gun. He pulled it from his pocket and pointed it towards David Griffin.
“Please don’t be alarmed, Mr. Griffin,” he said. “I assume that you recognise what I have in my “Hand?”
”Nathan. My God!” said Ray Moore, not quite believing what he was seeing. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Be quiet for a second, Ray,” said Phillips. “I know exactly what I’m doing.”
David Griffin’s mouth dropped open as he stared at the strange old man. The gun looked real enough to him. At least, it pretty accurately resembled the guns he’d seen on the television and in the movies. “Look, this has gone beyond a joke…” he said.
Phillips climbed to his feet and indicated for Griffin to take his seat. “It’s not my intention to use this,” he said. “But I will do if I really have to.”
Ray Moore and Mary Simms exchanged concerned glances as Griffin did as instructed. Griffin’s face had gone white as a sheet. “If it’s money you’re after,” he said feebly.
“No I don’t want your money,’ said Phillips. “It’s your attention I require. Your full, undivided attention. That’s all.”