Middleton, Maxwell & Schaum :: by Liss
Kate Lambert squirmed in her seat, stretching the muscles in her back, then stared disconsolately at the calculations in front of her. Something, somewhere, had gone spectacularly wrong, and from what she could tell the new library was due to collapse into a pile of rubble once the construction company started on the third floor. Kate tapped her pencil on the side of her desk, and sighed. A fresh pair of eyes, that was what she needed; she’d been looking at the plans all morning. She swivelled in her chair, notebook in hand, and started to ask the man behind her for his opinion.
Of course, there was no-one there.
The large table was bare of everything but a pencil holder, and even that was empty. Of Michael Scofield, there was no sign that he had ever existed, certainly not at Middleton, Maxwell & Schaum, Chicago’s most prestigious architectural firm. But he had worked here, had sat at that desk, had bowled over Middleton, Maxwell and Schaum with his brilliant grasp of structural engineering. Kate tapped her pencil softly on the edge of the desk that had been Michael’s, and wondered why he hadn’t been replaced yet. It wasn’t as if the firm could manage as they were: the plans for the library were proof enough of that. Why couldn’t Middleton, Maxwell or Schaum find someone to take over, to fill Michael’s shoes, to sit at the desk so that it was no longer an empty reminder of someone who wasn’t there?
They couldn’t be waiting for him to come back, not after what happened. One day he gave notice; a couple of weeks later he was attempting an armed bank robbery. Bank robbery. Armed bank robbery. Robbing a bank with guns. No matter how often she played with the concept, no matter how many variations she tried in her mind, Kate could never quite make it fit. Because, when you came down to it, Michael wasn’t a bank robber, armed or otherwise. Why on earth would he? Some of the guys had said that he was into gambling, and needed the money, and it was true that Michael had had the occasional flutter, or joined in the Tuesday night poker games. But Kate had noticed what the other’s hadn’t: when Michael was involved, it wasn’t really ever a gamble. He calculated everything down to the last decimal place, and he always won.
Charmian, one of the architects, had sniffed and said it wasn’t anything other than she’d expected; that Michael came from a criminal family and blood would out. Kate had always thought that argument was a pile of rubbish anyway, all the more so after she got to know Michael better. But then Lincoln Burrows had murdered the Vice President’s brother, and it all got a lot more confusing. You never could tell, after all. Kate had met Lincoln a couple of times, once at the office, when he had come by to meet Michael, his son with him. The second time had been at Michael’s apartment, when Michael had hosted a party. Lincoln had dropped by, and been rather disconcerted by the presence of seemingly three-quarters of MM&S. He had had a couple of drinks, then clapped his brother on the shoulder and left. He hadn’t seemed like a murderer, but Kate supposed that they never did, really.
Maybe the same was true of bank robbers. Maybe you never could tell.
Reluctantly, Kate swivelled back to her desk, and studied the plans for the library anew, hoping that the aberrant detail would leap at her. It didn’t. She was unsurprised. She leant over it, concentrating sharply, and for a moment she could almost feel Michael leaning over it with her, his arm brushing against hers as he pointed out where it had gone wrong, his voice intent and serious. It was imagination only. Michael was locked away at Fox River Penitentiary. Michael was gone.