04 | CONTROL ROOM BLUES

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"Where about's did Claire say she was meeting you?" her assistant Zara questioned as she cautiously drove a Mercedes through the remote road up to the park. 

"The main street," I grumbled.

Instead of going to the compound today, I'd been asked for a meeting with Claire about my "inappropriate conduct" towards a new employee. Apparently, forcing the college kid to wash the walls of the pit on their first day was "disadvantageous to their study." I was mildly pissed off at Owen, who did nothing but shrug when Zara tottled out of her car at the compound this morning for me, whining at the mud stuck to the bottom of her heels.

Sitting in the back of a fancy car wearing a pencil skirt and blouse that I'd had to borrow from Zara over khaki jeans and a tank top made me shift uncomfortably for the entire ride into the park.It was a rarity that I ever went up to the resort. Mostly because I can't stand how expensive it looks but also because I'm not fond of wandering among thousands of tourists or shaking hands with all the interns up at the control complex.

Owen and I were urban myths up at the resort. The amount of times we'd had interns and employees from the resort sneak up to the compound on their lunch breaks and days off in their not-so-subtle jeeps was laughable. Just to get a glimpse of the animals that were rumoured to be kept hidden away on the far side of the island. We just worked with them. That's all. They're not sideshows. They're animals. We like to be left alone.

Which is why my knuckles grew tense when I thought about yesterday. The marketers. Alex's disinterest. Claire. 

The jungle became scarcer and eventually turned into plain fields as we rolled up towards a massive wall that read "gate 5." I peeked out the window, gazing up at the glimmering blue innovation centre. 

Once let inside, Zara ushered me out of the vehicle, her bag literally buzzing with phone calls and alerts. "Straight down that corridor, you'll see a flight of stairs with a door that lets you out of the innovation centre onto the main street. I'd wait at the steps if I were you," instructed Zara. 

"Wait, you're not even coming with me?" I said, but she was already on two devices as she walked away from me towards the control centre. Unbelievable.

Following her instructions, I was lead out of a door that exploded with noise and light when I entered the street. Thousands of people in brightly coloured clothes mingled, some heading for attractions, some eating, some comforting their children bothered by the heat or the noise. There was chatter and placid laughter and screaming ringing in the crowded street. The sunlight was harsh on the cream coloured bricks making it difficult to see any of the shops. The scent of coffee and steak lingering in the air was nauseating. 

"Laura!" called a high pitched voice. Great. I turned around to face Claire walking towards me with a smile on her face, in the same attire as I last saw her. Somehow, her hair was even straighter. How the fuck was that possible?

"Lovely attire."

I clenched my jaw.

"Right then, let's get it over with," she said, gesturing for me to follow her up the steps of the innovation centre.

Claire pushed open the giant wooden doors, revealing the hall glimmering with diagrams and interactive displays. She walked straight through the hologram of a velociraptor, ignoring a group of kids gawking at her.

She sashayed through the luxe innovation centre, effortlessly walking through the crowd of tourists packed into the room marvelling at the interactive holograms. The click of her heels echoed down the corridor of production labs on display through crystal clear glass. Workers occasionally looked up from their activities, some ducking their head slightly at the sight of Claire.

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