“I’m glad you’re finally here Alec,” the Dean said. “Would you mind taking a seat?”
As Alec sat down, Jill looked from him to the Dean worriedly. Something wasn’t right here.
“As I was saying,” the Dean continued, “budgets are tight these days, and your project has been using an enormous amount of server capacity. The reputation of this school is not built from anthropomorphic flights of fancy.”
“Just what are you saying?” Bob asked.
“I’m saying that your project has been terminated.”
“You can’t do that!” Jill said.
“Unfortunately he can,” Bob said. “we’ve been working with shared resources, and the Dean’s office controls that budget.” He shot the Dean a withering look. “I’m sure other worthy projects have already been selected.”
“In fact yes,” the Dean said. “Those servers are needed to launch our new experimental campus-wide social networking site. I hear there’s money in that.”
Jill was livid. “Do you deans stay up at night thinking of ways to screw researchers?”
The Dean just smiled. “Do androids dream of electric sheep?”
Alec rolled his eyes. “Do you enjoy being a dick?”
“Touché young man. Now if you don’t mind, I have work to do. I’m sure the three of you can see yourselves out.”
They walked outside as if in a daze.
“It’s hard to believe,” Jill said, “that we are being shut down just when we’re getting results.”
“Well, things could be worse” Bob said.
“I think,” Alec said, “they are.”
Jill and Bob looked to see where he was pointing. Thick black smoke was billowing out of the windows of their laboratory.