SIX - Witnesses

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On their way to the Inspiration Gestation Station to check in with Edward Lyne, Hobson and Choi swung into a nearby branch of production line lunch shop Subway. He'd not been able to get them out of his head since that awful breakfast.

"Second day running?" Choi murmured. "Wow, you really like your subs."

"I don't really like them," Hobson said, "I just fancied one after that manky fry-up."

"That's how they get you, y'know? First a mild inclination, then a desperate need."

"I'll be fine, Choi."

They joined the queue, standing in silence while Choi checked her phone. Only a day ago, Hobson thought, she was too scared of upsetting the new boss to ignore him in favour of Twitter.

Before he could complain, the intern saw something over the top of her phone and nudged him. "Hobson! Look! It's Social Awesome!"

Sure enough, it was a group of them: receptionist Lettie Vole, her brother Pete, quiet programmer Matt (who Choi believed was a heartless killer), and Jacq, front desk woman of the whole Inspiration Defecation Installation. Hobson wasn't so much impressed by Choi noticing them as annoyed with himself for not doing so – wasn't he meant to be a detective?

After all, they were hardly hiding, just slumped around a small table eating sandwiches. Maybe they'd faded out of view because they were using the tables provided in Subway – who would risk food on those crusty plastic spindles?

Of course, the moment Hobson and Choi noticed the Social Awesome crew, they all looked up and around. Only for a moment, though – after a short, unified stare, the whole table went back to their food, talking quieter than before.

Hobson went back to reading the menu, but out of the corner of his eye, noticed Choi giving them a tiny, awkward wave.

It was the kind of twee hand-flutter Hobson hated, but it seemed to strike a chord with these bastards. They smiled and waved back – except sullen potential psychopath Matt, who kept examining the swirling table pattern.

"Choi," he hissed, a plan forming, "do you think you can get in with these people?"

"Who?"

"That lot," he muttered, taking care not to gesticulate, "the Social Awesome awful cool Twitter nightmare over there. They seem to respond to whatever it is you do with your arms and your dithering."

"My arms?"

"Look," he said, "get your sandwich, then go over there and make friends. I'll cut my losses and go ahead to their office."

"Wow." Choi's eyes widened, as if he'd asked her to scale a tall building. "Do you think I could prove Matt killed William?"

Hobson only sighed. "Maybe focus on being friendly. Ask them why they Twitter, or something."

She sighed right back at him. "Okay."

"Okay."

*****

Angelina walked over to their table, putting one foot in front of the other. She decided to open her attack with another small wave. After all, the last one had gone pretty well – this time, though, they seemed bewildered.

"Hello," she added, standing next to their lunch table and gazing. What if she couldn't get them to accept her? Would she have to go and eat lunch on her own? It'd be like school. Lettie moved to assume her role as grumpy gatekeeper, even though she wasn't behind a reception desk, but a friendlier face leapt in first.

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