Earhart nodded, then brightened when he saw a trio of Wally’s fellow assistants come walking through the door of the laboratory. “Welcome!”
Wally turned himself, away from the computer screen, then rose to greet his three colleagues and the two others who followed close behind. A minute later, all twelve of Earhart’s graduate assistants were standing near his office when he re-emerged from that office with a small wooden crate in both hands. “Stephen, did you bring the cups?”
Stephen Dwyer held up a plastic-wrapped stack of red cups. “Ready to party, Doc.”
“Good.” Earhart set the crate on Wally’s desk and pulled off the loosened lid. “Welcome, everyone,” he began with one arm buried in the crate’s packing, “to the first annual John Everest Graduate School of Physics Christmas party, sponsored by our very own Department of Defense.”
“How can it be annual if it’s the first?” Dwyer asked, prompting a pair of laughs from the two females present.
Earhart laughed as well and tensed his arm in the packing. “Well, that would be inaugural, wouldn’t it? But rest assured that we shall be doing the same thing next year.” The hand below the arm was pulled from the interior of the crate, and a bottle of Dom Perignon emerged from obscurity to several murmurs of appreciation. “Merry Christmas, everyone!”
“Merry Christmas!” everyone shouted back, and Dwyer proceeded to rip the plastic off the cups as Earhart pulled out the second and third bottles of champagne.
It wasn’t until after the cork in the first bottle had been sent flying across the room to hit a computer monitor that Earhart addressed the party again. “And before we indulge, I would just like to point out that today is a very special anniversary.”
“Kitty Hawk,” Wally volunteered from his chair leaning against one wall.
Alternity, Chapter I: