The Silent Sea (2010), стр. 76

Without Juan to lead it, there was talk of dissolving the Corporation altogether, talk that Max Hanley was doing nothing to quell.

Mark Murphy was seated at his desk in his cabin, playing mindless games of Internet backgammon. It was well past midnight, but the thought of sleep was impossible. More than anyone, he feared for the future. His IQ had kept him socially isolated his entire life, and it wasn't until he'd joined the Corporation that he found a place where he not only fit in but flourished. He didn't want to lose this. He didn't want to return to a world where people thought he was a freak or used him as a walking computer, like when he'd worked in the defense industry.

The people on the Oregon were his family. They embraced his idiosyncrasies, or at least tolerated them, and to Murph that was enough. If they cashed out, he had enough money socked away and would never need to work again, but he knew that the sense of isolation that had plagued him his entire life would come roaring back.

He polished off another player, his eleventh in a row, and was about to start a new game when he saw his e-mail icon blinking. Hoping for a more interesting distraction than another round of 'gammon, he toggled to his e-mail page. Three messages. Their mainframe did a good job of filtering spam for the rest of the crew, but, for whatever reason, Mark allowed a lot through to his computer. Junk messages were better than none.

One was spam. One was a move in a long-running series of chess matches he was playing against a retired Israeli professor. He'd have the man in mate in another four moves, and the old physicist didn't yet see it coming. He dashed off his reply, and glanced at the address for the final message.

He didn't know anybody at Penn State, but the subject line looked intriguing. It read Lonely. Probably some lame college dating service, he thought, but he opened it anyway.

Hi there. Remember me? Until recently, I was the chairman of a major corporation. Now I'm the king of a penguin colony here at the Wilson/George Research Station. My friends had to leave me behind. They didn't know I'd gotten clear of the gas plant and escaped in the confusion after it blew. I guess I shouldn't have broken my radio in a fight. I have spent the past four days hiking through the snow to reach this place, surviving on nothing but the protein bars I'd loaded into my smuggler's leg, the one with the hollowed-out calf. I've got the generator going and have plenty of food, so my main problem is loneliness. Any suggestions?

Cabrillo had signed it, Abandoned in the Antarctic.

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