Nicodemus Lemuel Westfield sat in his chair, and said nothing. Uneasily, the foreman continued. “It’s… just not… the sort of construction we’re used to.”
Mr Westfield smiled with his mouth alone. “And this is an opinion you all share?” he asked, looking to the others present. The architect and surveyor seemed to inch away from the foreman. “Now here’s a thing,” said Mr Westfield. “We have collectively embarked on construction of a shopping centre, the like of which has never been seen before in Britain. A flagship of commerce. A city within the city, a democratisation of luxury for millions. Thus was it intended from the start… and you are worried that it is not what you are used to. You can see, sirs, why this seems paradoxical to me. Perhaps you would care to elaborate?”
The architect cleared his throat. “Well, Mr Westfield, these plans don’t seem to make sense. I mean, geometrically speaking, the Westfield Centre won’t fit into the area allocated. The outer wall won’t contain the inner space. But here’s the real problem, Mr Westfield. The plans don’t make sense, and yet they… somehow… they work. I mean, we’ve had no trouble actually building the thing.”
Westfield smiled again. “Then perhaps you were wrong and I was right. Tell me, Mr Gabellini, do you know everything?”
“Of course not.”
“Then do you know even half of everything?”
“Despite this, you feel qualified to criticise the plan. The fact is, gentlemen, that humanity can only advance by pushing at the boundaries of possibility.”
“Well, yeah, and speaking of that, some of the men are a bit weirded out by the outside contractors you’ve got in,” said the foreman.
“That is not my concern, nor should it be yours!” snapped Westfield.
“One of the men went into one of the sub-basements and never came back, Mr Westfield. We got a phone call before he disappeared. He said something about ‘organic structures.’”
Westfield’s eyes seemed to flash. “He had no business going down there! Did I not say that it was forbidden? I accept no liability, sir, none at all!”
The surveyor spoke up. “But it’s not right, some of the things we’ve had to do. Like when you and me were looking at the site, and… that night watchman came along… and you… you made me…”
Westfield waved a dismissive hand. “A blood sacrament was necessary.”
“What about the others? That homeless man… that little girl… the policeman… the-”
“I have promised you immunity from prosecution and that promise stands. The fact is that certain appeasements have had to be made. For a project of this nature, one needs a little more than planning permission.”
“It’s not right,” repeated the surveyor shakily. “It’s not right. They were human beings! God’s creatures!”
“And now they serve a different master. Your concerns imply a pettiness that is most unbecoming.”
“I can’t keep quiet about it any longer,” said the surveyor. “I can’t. I see them in my dreams, out the corner of my eye, looking over my shoulder in the mirror… I don’t care what happens to me, I’ve got to tell people. This can’t go on. It can’t!”
There was a flash and a bang and a thump. The architect and the surveyor stared open-mouthed at the body of the surveyor as Westfield returned the gun to his desk drawer. He stood up.
“Gentlemen, we are but men. The Westfield shopping centre will be greater than any of us. This is not some dream or hope or plan – it has been foretold.” He put his arms around the other two. “We are instrumental to this plan, yes, but you must realise that we are but mortals, tiny individual accessories to a greater scheme. We can either help history to take its course, or we can be mown down in its advance. The choice is entirely yours.”