Nine o’clock nears and I find myself in Building 11, making my way to the meeting. Though the building is reopened, not all renovation has completed. The lobby is a well-lit and sparse arrangement with modern-looking chairs around round white tables but there is still yellow caution tape that’s up everywhere that cordons off where not to go. I follow a series of hand-drawn signs; someone has helpfully scrawled: “9 AM MEETING! THIS WAY! ⬆️⬆️⬆️” on sheets of paper and taped them every ten meters along the wall. I honestly kind of feel like a rat being led along in a maze.
Eventually, I reach an open room that appears to be some kind of lounge and see several other folks who are already there: Four Chinese, two white people (me and another blonde woman who’s draped herself in the oversized corner armchair), an Indian guy, and a super-nerdy looking, skinny black guy in a plaid shirt and huge over-sized glasses. Aside from one of the Chinese men who looks older, we all look about the same age, mid-twenties to mid-thirties.
Actually, once I get closer I see that the black guy is considerably younger– maybe in his early twenties.
The woman looks vaguely familiar, though I can’t place her face in the moment, and I don’t recognize anyone else, so I just give a small wave to everyone and sit on a barstool at the bar next to the Indian guy. He gives me a small nod when I sit down but his expression is otherwise inscrutable. The room is quiet, though I appear to be the last one that everyone was waiting for. After I sit, the older looking Chinese guy rises to his feet to address the room. He’s a handsome fellow with a lanky frame and slicked back, black hair. He’s wearing wireframe glasses and a suit blazer but without a tie and has his polo shirt open collar.
“Welcome, everyone,” he smiles looking around at us. “My name is Yu-Law Yang. I am one of the directors here at the Jinshui Future Laboratory. First, I would like to thank all of you for making the trip. I know our humble lab here in Jinshui is a good distance away for most of you, especially those from abroad. Secondly, I apologize for much of the secrecy. It may seem exaggerated and overblown but is unfortunately necessary.”
Yang pauses a beat but no one interrupts him. It’s early and most of us are still jet-lagged. Or we’re just patient people and have seen this movie before. So Yang just clears his throat and continues.
“The reason you’ve all been brought here,” he says, “is because we’re looking for some help with a sensitive subject.”