Campbell fidgeted outside the office conference room, his ear and cheek pressed flat against the door. He fit his finger to his lips when Tucker walked up, a signal for quiet.
“What’s going on in there?” Tucker nodded towards the door, then sipped from his steaming coffee cup.
“Stevens and Costello are in some kind a brainstorming session.” Campbell backed away from his listening post. “Old Man Merkle told them they couldn’t come out until they’ve figured out how to fix the problem with the Stafford contract.”
Tucker craned his neck, as if a trying to peek under the door. “How long have they been in there?”
“The conference room was locked up tight when I got here at 8, just a tray on the floor outside the door with an empty coffee pot.” Campbell shoved his hands in his pockets, trying to look nonchalant when Carol, the office receptionist, walked by them.
“Carol came in around 8:30,” Campbell whispered through barely open lips. “She told me she hasn’t heard a thing from in there either.”
“Maybe we should get Carol to leave out some sandwiches?” Tucker peered into his cup, wondering where all the coffee went.
“Merkle may want to starve them out,” Campbell said, trying to peek into Tucker’s cup. “It might give them some incentive to come up with a solution. Hunger can be a powerful motivator.”
“Or create a Donner Party scenario.” Tucker shook his head, then took a sip of his imaginary coffee. “They could end up killing each other.”
Campbell let up a nervous laugh, pressing his ear to the door again.
“Are you sure anyone is even in there?” Tucker asked, turning his coffee cup over, waiting for a non-existent drip to appear.
“Do you smell smoke?” Campbell jumped away from the door.
“I bet if you pulled the alarm, and Stevens and Costello are in there, they’d come running out.” Tucker shrugged. “Unless they’ve already been overcome by the fire. I guess you’d have to open the door yourself to find out.”
Campbell ran off in search of the fire alarm leaving Tucker behind. Unlocking the door, Tucker looked around the empty room, turned off the light, then shut the door. Turning in the opposition direction from Campbell, he ambled back to his desk. He waved at Stevens and Costello as he walked by their cubicles.