Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The World Below: Part 7

Todd looked around in amazement that they could think he could do anything to save them from the beast. He was only a boy after all! What could he do, that they couldn’t? After the song was finished they all cheered and shouted “Praise God for sending Todd!” over and over again.  Todd tried to tell them that he wasn’t the one; that there must be some mistake; but no one heard him over the cheering and shouting, and the thunderous clapping that filled the room with joyful noise. Finally Bandrag motioned for the crowd to be quiet and then began to speak.
“There is much to celebrate!  There is much to be thankful for!  Once again God has provided one to save us from the beast!”
The crowd broke into cheers and applause again. Bandrag motioned again for quiet.
“Our friend Todd has been sent by God to a challenge that even the bravest and strongest of us would not dare to face.  The beast is feared by all Anakdidae! But Todd will face this challenge alone!”
More applause and cheers drowned him out.
“He will, however, need our help in one way.” The crowd murmured amongst themselves, asking what they could possibly do to help the bravest of them all. “We will be fasting and praying today, so that our God would strengthen Todd and give him courage for the battle tomorrow!”
Gardle took Todd’s arm and raised it with his into the air in a show of unity and victory. Todd smiled and looked around like a boy who had just been voted the captain of the team, but was used to not being picked at all.  He noticed that Einah was smiling broadly at him and cheering as enthusiastically as the rest and that seemed to help a little so that he almost believed it himself!
“Let us begin our fast this hour. Go;  Go to your homes and pray for Todd and his victory over the beast.” Bandrag concluded.
The crowd dispersed happily and soon the lights dimmed again as only Bandrag, Gardle, Einah and Todd were left. Todd asked, “Bandrag, how am I going to defeat the beast?  I am just a boy;  I have no weapons!?”
“You are not a child, Todd.  You are a man and I am positive that you will prevail with God’s help. In addition, you possess the oracle, which will give you the strength you need.” Said Bandrag.
“Oracle?” asked Todd.
“Yes, the holy oracle.  You call it a…” he thought for a moment, “belt buckle!”
“Are you serious?  How is my belt buckle going to defeat a giant squid?”
“It is needed to activate the defense system of the blessed hive.  Without it we are vulnerable!  The beast is getting more and more bold as it gets larger.  Soon it won’t just attack individuals; soon it will attack the blessed hive itself!  That cannot happen if you activate the defense system.”  Gardle explained.
“You are not making any sense.  I don’t even know where my belt is; the last I had it I was diving off the oak tree.  When I awoke I was dressed like this.” Todd explained.
“We, took off your clothes; they were wet.  You, um, weren’t wearing any pants Todd.”  Said Einah who turned a darker shade of silver.
“He has no oracle!” exclaimed Bandrag angrily. “Gardle? Why was I not told?” he asked obviously upset.
“At the time, we were not certain where it was, or if he was the one. Things have progressed somewhat more rapidly than I had anticipated, Bandrag. I offer no excuse however.”  Gardle bowed his head and fell to one knee in submission to his leader.
“You will have to be punished for this oversight. You have embarrassed me; you have embarrassed Todd! You have made a mockery of this whole thing.” Bandrag said, still fuming.  Out of nowhere a long sword glinted in his hand and he raised it above his head, as if to separate Gardle from his. Einah screamed.
“Wait! What are you doing!” Todd jumped in front of Gardle, standing between him and Bandrag. “You can’t kill him! He – He doesn’t deserve to die for this!”
“It is our way.” Said Gardle humbly, “I fully submit to this punishment.”
“I don’t care!  You will not kill him!” Todd said defiantly, standing taller. “Kill me in his stead!”
Bandrag slowly lowered his sword, his eyes wide.  You would do this for him? One you hardly know?”
“I know enough of him to know he is a man of character.  He does not deserve to die for such a minor thing.  However, if that is your law; that someone must die; then let it be me!” said Todd, setting his jaw.
“Very well.” Said Bandrag.  “Step forward and kneel.”
“No!” said Einah, “Stop! He does not know of our customs. Please!” and she started to sob.
“Enough.” Said Bandrag.
“You don’t have to do this Todd.  Please, let me pay my own debt.” Pleaded Gardle.
“Jesus didn’t save himself when he stood in our stead. He could have easily called ten thousand angels to save him.  If I can do this thing for you, I hope that He will have mercy on my soul for taking your punishment.” Todd said quietly. “Let’s get on with this.”  Then he kneeled before Bandrag.
Einah hugged Gardle and put her head in his shoulder sobbing quietly as they stood behind Todd.  Todd heard a grunt as Bandrag raised the sword above his head, followed by a ‘swoosh’ of the sword coming down in an arc through the air. Then Todd heard nothing.
“Stand up.” Said Bandrag.
Todd looked up to see Bandrag, empty handed, smiling. “You have passed the test of character. You are the one.”
Gardle said, “You are the one.”
Einah said, “You are the one.”
“Praise God!” they said in unison.
“What? That was a test?  How could you do that to me? Is this some kind of sick joke?” asked Todd incredulously.
“I am sorry Todd, but we had to be sure before we could entrust you with the oracle and the fate of our people.” Said Bandrag. “You are the one to save us from the beast.  Now it is up to you, and up to God to give you the strength you need for the battle tomorrow. Gardle.”
“Todd, here is your belt.” Said Gardle.  Another Anakdidae came in from the shadows carrying Todd’s belt, and with it the buckle/oracle.
“We retrieved it from the blessed hive entrance. Somehow it was pulled off as you traveled through and left inside. Take it.”
Todd took the belt and fixed it around his waste. “What now?” he asked.
“You must find the altar of Dagon in the depths below. When you find it, you will know what to do.” Said Bandrag.
“What about the beast?”
“The beast will be waiting for you, just as he waits for anyone who wonders near his home. He is a formidable foe.” answered Gardle.
“Todd, you must be careful!  The beast has never been defeated!” said Einah concerned.
“The beast will be no match for Todd.  He is the one.” Said Bandrag. “Now let us all go and fast and pray.” He said finally, then turned and walked away.
“Come Todd. You must prepare as well. There is much to do to prepare!” said Gardle and led Todd to the doorway.
“I’d like to help, if it is allowed?” suggested Einah.
“Very well. Come along then.”
The three walked out the doorway.  Todd felt nervous, but didn’t show it.  He didn’t want Einah to see him scared. Einah walked with him and held his hand, Gardle led the way down the hallway and around several turns. He stopped at a doorway that opened before him.  What Todd saw there he would never forget as long as he lived.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Valentine's Haiku

These are three separate Haiku poems written last February for our employee magazine.  I entered all three, but only one was published. :(  Well, there's no accounting for taste!  They are supposed to be funny.  Is Haiku supposed to be funny?

A card from pretty one
My heart leaps with joy
My spouse won’t understand

Why is love so blind?
Two lovers so entwined
Morning sings new song

Red and chocolate,
Flowers and perfume!
Too bad Charlie Brown

By Mark Phillips
February 2010

Coming of Age

Written for a young man I know with strong character.

A newborn baby did cry with hunger,
The mother did joyfully feed.
The baby was small and surely unable,
To satisfy his urgent need.

The toddler he ran with all of his might,
To get the ball he kicked.
The father, so proud , his son his delight
Did laugh, but his heart it was pricked.

“Push harder!” The shout of the father so loud,
When working together with strain.
That’s it! Was the cry when success was achieved,
 “What teamwork!”  it was their refrain.

With Wisdom and strength from the Lord above,
The young boy he surely did grow.
The father he prays that his son will not move,
From the path that is so narrow.

The mother and father with joy now behold,
That the young boy has become a young man.
With friends they are gathered, some young and some old,
To celebrate with him God’s plan.

The path of a man is set by the Lord,
With Grace he will follow His lead.
If hope he puts in the God of the Word,
With trust he will surely succeed.

Proverbs 23:24
The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

What's The Rush - A Christmas Poem

The year is ending, Christmas is near,
more credit, more lending for Holiday Cheer.
The stores filled with shoppers ignoring the lights,
while rushing to buy expensive delights.

For this friend or that, for sister or brother,
a gift must be bought for one reason or other.
By the end of the season frustration increases,
The gifts get less thoughtful, and we go to pieces.

Could be we’ve forgotten why Christmas is here?
The reason for gifts and singing and cheer?
God’s Gift of His Son is why we rejoice,
and give gifts, and sing songs with our voice!
His love for us is why He came down,
made low in a manger, not wearing a crown.

Salvation He brings to all who believe,
His death on the cross was so we could receive
the gift of new life and eternal reward,
trust Jesus your Savior and call Him your Lord.
By Mark Phillips

Ana-Baptist Poem - for Reformation Day!

The time had come for all to hear,
The Popish church must change!
The greed of lucre was it’s goal
Indulgences so strange.

So Luther nailed his ninety five
On the door it did resound,
But little did the Priest for see
An impact so profound.

Reformers of the church were they
Zwingli , Luther, Grebel and Manz
But eye to eye they could not see
On Church and State, by chance.

More issues did arise so swift
The men could not agree.
Baptize the child - Immerse the man,
A split did form you see.

Reformers and Romans had found a cause
On which they could agree.
The Re-Baptisers should be drowned
This caused the men to flee.

Not all would flee, Some chose to fight,
At Munster did they rally.
Hofmann would cry, let them all die!
And sickening was the tally.

Some called for peace, good will toward all,
Menno Simons at the head.
Pursued were those that proclaimed peace
Many persecuted, many dead.

So Luther went one way you see
And Menno went the other.
The Church survived the schism then
With love for one another.

Baptism now can still divide,
When men, their wills they press.
But Christ, His Bride, He will prepare,
Despite man’s stubbornness.

Mennonites, Quakers, Hutterites too
Ana-Baptists one and all
Amish, Brethren and Baptists a few
Our heritage can we recall.

Reformers all,  we have to thank
For bringing to the light.
The errors of the Popish Church
For Truth must still shine bright!

By Mark Phillips
October 2010


Red Sky - The Sun Can Kill! - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The noise of the traffic on the street failed to penetrate the screaming of the heavy metal music in her ears as Jade Carter snaked in and out of traffic to a rhythm only she could hear on her mp3 player. Her skate board was emblazoned with a graphic of her latest project, soon to be released.
The occasional cry of “Hey!” from a jostled pedestrian, or the honk and screeching tires of a suddenly stopped SUV didn’t slow her down.  It was the fastest mode of travel in the busy Redwood Shores district of San Francisco, California.
Jade Carter looked about sixteen. She was a tiny five foot five and 110 pounds. She wore the clothes of a rock star and the combat boots of a soldier.  Today’s outfit was made up of well-worn jeans and a skinny metal studded leather jacket over a tie died T-shirt.  Her short black hair and bangs that fell over one eye was graced with a bright yellow daisy, a feminine touch in contrast to her boyish looks. With no makeup on her round face she could have passed for a boy. That was until you looked into her eyes.  Long black lashes surrounded her deep blue eyes that seemed to always sparkle with mischief. When Jade saw the humor in life her lopsided smile revealed straight white teeth and a single dimple on her left cheek.
On her back was a black leather backpack with her dearest possessions inside. It contained the most powerful gaming laptop money could buy, her cell phone, her wallet and keys, a notebook for ideas, a pocket Taser ‘just in case’ and a small photo album.
Turning the last corner and grabbing a free breakfast bagel from her friend Carlo’s sidewalk Bistro as she went, Jade rolled to a stop at GV Games.  Jade picked up her skate board and clipped it on her pack she walked in the front doors.
GV Games was the number one game developer in the world.  It hired only the best and Jade was the best game script writer in the business. The tall green glass doors opened automatically for her and as she entered the lobby she instantly felt relief from the hot air outside. 
The beautiful and eye-catching fifty foot waterfall in the center of the ornate lobby seemed to be falling from thin air. It was supported from the ceiling by thin guide wires and gallons of water were pumped from underneath through clear Plexiglas tubes. It created a cooling mist that permeated the lobby.
Jade walked on the cobblestoned floor and around the waterfall to the security gate where she showed her pass to the guard on duty.
“Thanks Jade.” said Sergeant Nick Gonzalez with a brilliant smile on his handsome face.  He was the only security guard on staff that had any military training.
Eight years in the Army Special Forces, with three tours in Afghanistan, made him more than qualified for the minimum wage job.  At five feet seven and one sixty five pounds Nick still wore a uniform well. He stayed in shape at the staff fitness center and was the envy of the GV staff who worked on computers for a living. 
In her mind’s eye, Jade could see how their pale, skinny bodies failed to measure up against his tanned, muscular one.  She often couldn’t help but take a peek when she came off the jogging track and passed by him on the weight machine.
Jade looked up at him with a smile and said “Good morning Nick”. She put her bag and board on the conveyor belt and walked through the body scanner. “Did you have a good night?”
“Yes thanks.  I studied until late again.”  Stifling a yawn Nick covered his mouth. “On top of that I couldn’t sleep.  It was so hot last night!” he said.
“I know! It was hot! It’s supposed to be even hotter today they said on the weather last night. 95 degrees! Who would have thought it would ever get that hot here again this year?” Jade asked.  She picked up her stuff and with a quick lopsided smile over her shoulder, Jade waved goodbye.
“I know, huh?  Have a great day!” Nick said and watched her head for the elevators. She was cute, but so young to work for a living, he thought. Little did he know that they were the same age.
At 19 Nick joined the Army with his Dad’s permission. His Dad was a Korean War veteran that had served in the Army as a volunteer and was thrilled to see his son get off the streets and into the military. He could see how Nick would end up if he stayed in the streets. Nick would be wearing gang colors in the wrong neighborhood, dead in the gutter. A Mexican-American had little chance to make it in the mean streets of San Francisco.
Nick had his father’s height, but his mother’s looks.  Built like a tank, they used to say when Nick was growing up.  Nick was always stronger than the other kids in school. They soon learned that he was the wrong one to ridicule for his height, or because he had a white mother.
The US Army soon found out what they had when Nick joined. Basic training seemed like a walk in the park to him and he graduated easily. He was recruited by Special Forces and placed in the X-Ray Program, a special program for new recruits that included the Infantry School, and the Airborne School.  After successful completion, Nick attended the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) School and two years of specialty training.
Needless to say Nick did well in the SF.  Their investment paid off when Nick and his team of four infiltrated a Pakistani Al-Qaida stronghold in the middle of the night to rescue a missing pilot. It turned out that the pilot was severely wounded and the terrorists knew they were coming.
Outnumbered and surrounded, Nick managed to kill or wound all the terrorists, rescue the pilot and two of his own men, all while he himself was shot in both legs. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his action, but was medically discharged due to the injury to his left knee. A bullet from a terrorist’s AK-47 shattered his knee and in spite of several surgeries, he would never have the motion or endurance demanded by the Special Forces.
Nick was still, however, not someone to mess with. It was a good thing that most of the time his Canadian mother’s mild manners won over his dad’s Latino temper.
He took the security job mostly for extra spending money as he was on medical disability and that covered his basic needs.  Consequently, he had a nice, new, Mustang GT Cobra.  It was brilliant black that shined like the night and had two red racing stripes across the hood, over the cab and over the back tail of the powerful car.  A matching red stripe hugged the lower edge of the car on both sides, making the muscle car look like it was always in motion.
Nick’s mind wandered for a moment and he thought it would be interesting to take Jade for lunch some time. He was about to call to her when he was greeted by the next employee to arrive at work and motioned him through the scanner.  When he looked back at Jade she had entered one of the towers elevators.
Jade pressed the fourteenth floor button and waited for the door to close.  Josh Martin threw his hand in between the doors a split second before they closed and the doors opened with an annoying buzzer voicing its complaint.
“Hi Jade!” said Josh nervously looking Jade in the eyes and quickly back at the elevator floor indicator.
“Hi Josh. Close call!” said Jade.  They had known each other for the last two years and they now worked together on the new game that was about to be released.
Josh was a bit taller than Jade, but twice her weight. He had brown eyes mounted too close together on his wide round face behind “Harry Potter” glasses that magnified his beady eyes to incredible effect. His old blue T-shirt with Pac-Man on the front was his normal attire with khaki shorts that he had trouble keeping up in the back. The shirt seemed to always be wet under the arms, which was in part due to nervousness, and in part the extra weight he was carrying. Fortunately Josh had a habit of taking a shower twice a day to combat body odor for which everyone was grateful. He had straight brown hair cut in the style that used to be called a “bowl cut”. This was a recipe used for years by kind hearted mothers the world around who really thought it looked cute.  “Take one poor small boy, place bowl on head, trim around the bowl, remove bowl and comb.” Somehow mothers had no idea how silly their boy looked to his peers.  Josh kept the style into his twenties even though his mother had died seven years ago. 
He lived with his mother after his father had run off with his secretary when he was twelve.  His mother had won the house with the divorce settlement and his father had gotten away without paying alimony, for reasons his mother never would understand. As a single mother, she managed to earn enough as a waitress to send Josh to private school, but not much else.  Once Josh started working things eased up for a while financially. That was until she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Then financially and emotionally Josh carried it as best he could.  He still had a debt that would crush most sane people, but if there was one thing his mother had taught him, it was to be indebted to no one. When his mother had finally died after months of chemotherapy he was left alone in the house she had willed him; the house where he was born.
 Josh was the graphic designer responsible for making the background scenery details realistic for the game and he designed the world that the players ran through. He began as a game tester for GV games, but when, at Jade’s suggestion, he submitted some of his artwork to the Lead Graphic Designer, Bill Smith was impressed enough to offer him a job. Josh was forever in Jades debt for more than just that.  She didn’t know it, but two years ago she had saved his life.
That night when she came over to see his artwork, he was going to take his own life. She surprised him by actually coming over.  When she showed up two hours late and knocked at his door, he had already locked himself in the bathroom and had prepared himself mentally for the last pathetic act of his poor pathetic life. He somehow heard her knocking over his pounding heart and answered the door in a sweat.  She attributed it to nervousness and he didn’t tell her what he was about to do. They looked at the pictures, ate some popcorn and watched a remake of Star Trek in 3D.  Josh couldn’t believe that Jade had actually come over and had actually stayed.  He now loved her more than any other person in the world, but was too afraid to say anything.  If she would ever look into his eyes, deeply, even for a moment, she would see the love there, but Josh never had the courage to hold her gaze that long. 
Jade liked Josh as a friend, a good friend, but she had no idea that he wanted more than just friendship. They worked together, and were friends, but she really couldn’t see him as more than that. Besides, they were both too busy anyway.  The deadline for the release of the new game was less than a month away and there were still several chapters to finish.
The elevator reached their floor and Josh motioned Jade to go ahead. “Ladies first!” he said gallantly.
“Why thank you kind Sir!” Jade responded with a grin.
They walked side by side through the sea of nondescript grey cubicles decorated with various monsters, ghouls, aliens and cartoon characters according to the fancy of each cubicle occupant.  Fortunately Ray Wong was a good boss who wasn’t big on corporate rules and regulations but was big on creative freedom.  The cubicle walls were his only concession to the man. Within their workspace they had the freedom to decorate and customize as long as they delivered their work as promised.
The project room as they called it, was a converted conference room.  Ray had taken funds allocated for a new office copier and spent the money on comfy couches, bean-bag chairs and pillows.  This was the place they met every morning to get their directions for the day, and to provide status updates for their particular piece of the game.
When they entered the room they saw the usual crowd; Richard Stevenson with his biker’s scarf and hulk Hogan mustache was the special effects/model master; Randy Watson the historian with his bifocals hanging around his neck; Elaine Gerard the PhD in psychology with her tight-fitting sweat suit; Padraig Jones (Jonesy) with his green tea and long blond hair was the game programmer.  A unique group of people to say the least, but in spite of their appearances each one was an expert in their field. GV games only hired the best. Greetings were exchanged and Jade and Josh grabbed a drink and found their customary spots; Jade on the bean-bag chair, and Josh on the leather recliner.  They were all waiting for Bill Smith and Ray Wong to arrive to direct the meeting.

Elaine, ever the observer of human behavior said with a suggestive voice, “Good morning Jade and Josh, arriving together again this morning I see?”
“J-j-just a coincidence Elaine!” stammered Josh, almost spilling his coke.
“Ignore her Josh, she’s just trying to get a rise out of you.” said Jade calmly.
“I know.” said Josh, carefully putting down his coke so no one would see his hands shaking in embarrassment.
Stevenson laughed and said, “Yeah, those two together? Who are you kidding?”
Randy just shook his head in amazement.
“C’mon dude, it could happen. Even Sonny had a Cher!” said Jonesy with a smile.
“We’re just friends, OK?” said Jade, then with a glare “Let it go Elaine.”
“Good morning everyone!” said Ray Wong gliding in unnoticed by all, followed by Bill Smith clumsily carrying a laptop and several binders and folders.
“Good morning!” was the group’s reply.
Ray Wong was dressed in a dark business suit complete with vest and tie.  His dark hair was cut with bangs in front and fairly short around the sides. He looked around thirty to his coworkers, but in reality he was fifty years old, although he had no telltale grey hairs to prove anything to the contrary.  Ray always wore the most expensive suits which was a quirk from his years in Hong Kong.  He was unusually tall at six feet tall and had a slender build from his mother, with hands better suited for a surgeon, or a concert pianist. He was always smiling, so you couldn’t tell if you were in trouble unless you looked into his eyes.  There you could see the flint of his father’s anger beneath the veneer of civility.
He had grown up in Hong Kong and was involved in the family business that manufactured and exported children’s toys to the US and around the world. Ray’s parents moved to San Francisco the year before Hong Kong was going to be turned over to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.  They were afraid that the PRC was going to revert Hong Kong back to communist rule and confiscate any businesses, property and assets held by Hong Kong nationals.  There was a mass exodus from Hong Kong in the years leading up to ‘the handover’, as it was called, and Ray’s parents and his brother Ronald were included in the more than one million souls that emigrated from Hong Kong in the end.
Ray had started with GV games fifteen years ago. The fledgling game development company had limited resources with only eight employees, but a lot of enthusiasm. He was the project manager for their first game using a 3D gaming engine they had bought from a Swiss company. “Hidden Sky” was a first-person shooter that had amazing graphics for the time; the plants actually moved and objects exploded as the character moved through various but limited landscapes. It was a far cry from the graphics of today, but still had a large cult following. The game started as a PC game, but eventually moved to game consoles as they became more popular. The success of “Hidden Sky” continued with version 2 and version 3 popular worldwide. As new technology grew, the gaming universe evolved into near-real-world virtual reality landscapes and cinema quality graphic sequences. GV games became number one in the world expanding its offices to China, Ireland, Las Vegas and San Francisco.  Each office was responsible for a specific game genre. San Francisco was the head office and owned the first-person shooter genre. 
“Red Sky” was the project Ray’s team was working on and it was almost complete.  The pre-release trailers had already hit the TV and the internet and hype was building with the Comic-Con gamer’s conference only weeks away. The game was already the number one downloaded demo on File-Planet.com which was the most popular place to get information or get demos for the latest games.
Ray and Bill found a seat and the conversation turned quickly to more important matters.
“Alright boys and girls, before we get into status reports, Ray would like to say a few words.” Bill began.
“Thank you Bill.  As you know we are three weeks away from the release of Red Sky. I want you all to know how proud I am of you. I am sure that this is the most advanced game ever produced, by any gaming company, and I know that it is the best one ever produced.  With your hard work and creativity, Red Sky will be a best seller, and I’m sure, a cult classic just like its predecessor, Hidden Sky.” Ray began with flourish. He continued, “You also know, that Red Sky is the number one demo downloaded in the US, and a close second in Europe and Asia.  Your two years of hard work is about to pay off!  The company has approved a significant bonus if this game is released on time. Are you ready?” he paused for effect and looked at each person, letting their anticipation build for a moment, he paused then went on, “two months pay, plus an all-expenses paid, week-long trip to Las Vegas!”
“Hey-Hey!” said Elaine.
“Awesome, dude!” said Jonesy.
“Nice!” said Josh.
“I’m in!” said Randy.
“Whose pay?” asked Stevenson clarifying an important detail in his own mind.
“Each of your individual salaries Dick.” answered Bill.
“Just askin’” said Stevenson.
“What’s the catch?” asked Randy.
“All you have to do is finish the last chapter this week, so that we have time to produce the finished product for pre-sales in two weeks!” answered Ray.
“No way!” exclaimed Jade, “we don’t even know how it ends yet!”
“I guess our trip to Vegas depends on you then dear.” said Elaine sarcastically.
“How am I supposed to write the final script in one week?” asked Jade, her voice rising.
“Jade, I’ve seen you come up with brilliant solutions before. I don’t doubt you will come through again.” observed Bill.
“Thanks for your vote of confidence Bill, really, but that doesn’t give me much time!” she said.
“I’m afraid we don’t have much choice Jade.  Our sales channels are already expecting delivery in three weeks and management has approved the schedule.” Ray said.
“Well no one consulted me Ray!” said Jade, a little angry now. “How can they set the schedule without input from the people doing the work?  That’s inane!”
Bill cleared his throat, but before he could speak, Ray answered, “We did consult with Bill last week, before the schedule was approved.  He was filling in for me while I attended to some business out of town. We assumed that he had spoken with you.  Did he not?” he asked looking at Bill with his dark eyes burning.
“Of course I did!” Bill said, then looked at Jade and each person in the room in turn as he spoke, “Last Monday I shared the schedule with you.  I told you we had four weeks left.  You all agreed that that was enough time to finish.” He concluded.
“Bill, I was sick last Monday, remember? You never asked me about the schedule.”  said Jade.
“That’s right!” said Josh, coming to her defense.
“Oh, you’re right, um, I guess I forgot that.” said Bill sheepishly.
Ray straightened his tie, a sure sign of his annoyance, “Well, all that aside, this is the schedule we’ve committed to.  Jade, please do whatever you can to finish up this week.  I understand if something comes up, but do your best.  If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
“Okay. Thanks Ray.” Jade said, somewhat appeased.
“Alright, let’s go through statuses now. Bill you can start” said Ray straightening his tie again.
The meeting continued for an hour as each one gave a status report for their respective areas.  Everyone was caught up, except for working on the patches to the game from beta testing, but those would be done by the time the game was released.
Jade’s status was short and simple. “I have to work a miracle.” She said.