Return of the Hero
The conference room occupied the top floor
of the skyscraper. Widows curved around half its length and those
inside could look out from the 85th floor and see all of Steel Canyon
and some of Talos Island. If it were a clear day one might even be
able to see all the way to Peregrine Island.
But not now. The sun
had long since set and the conference room was lit only by the low,
soft light of an expensive chandelier and the desk lamps in front
of the Board of Directors as they sat. The table resembled a huge
horseshoe. Made of the finest oak, it was polished to a mirror-like
shine. The faces of the fifteen men and women seated around it were
closeted in shadow, only their mouths and chins remained visible,
reflected up from the glossy surface. The Chairman of the Board sat
at the table’s head calmly turning the pages of the report.
stood in the center of the horseshoe. He did not appear concerned
or anxious in any way although the Chairman’s decision about the project
contained within the report was possibly the most important undertaking
he, or any doctor for that matter, could ever hope for. He simply
stood, unmoving, in his rumpled gray suit, wrinkled white shirt and
a haphazardly knotted blue tie. His wildly bushy eyebrows matched
his white Einstienian hair but his dark eyes blazed with nearly uncontrolled
zeal. Let those fools at the Stuttgart Universität für Biogenetics
und Forscht laugh, he thought. I will prove it. Prove it all.
the Chairman looked up from the report and regarded the Doctor, eyebrows
raised in question. "And these conclusions are correct?"
you will notice pages 16 and 17, you will see the outline of the research
and the extrapolations that were reached," he said in a high German
accent. He met the Chairman’s eyes for a moment and then looked at
the report on the table. "Of course, I will be forwarding all of the
research to you about the subject…pending the decision made here."
"Of course," the Chairman smiled and returned to the report, scanning
through each page. A few moments later the report lay closed. "You
realize we cannot be connected with this venture in any way. It is
imperative we have complete deniability."
"I understand. I have already
made some inquiries as to agents who could carry out the acquisition."
He reached down and picked up a battered leather briefcase and struggled
to open it with one hand.
"You have already made some inquiries?"
the Chairman asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes," he succeeded in fishing
a single sheet of paper from the case and placed it on the table in
front of the Chairman. "I believe this group will meet our needs.
Their price is not prohibitive and they seem skilled in this type
The Chairman slid the page over the table and nodded
imperceptibly. From behind, out of the shadows, a large figure loomed.
He leaned over the Chairman’s shoulder and looked over the page. He
nodded once. "I have a contact who has dealt with them before," he
said in a thick Brooklyn accent. "They are reliable and discreet although
they are a bit eccentric." He stepped back and once more was swallowed
by the dark.
The Chairman sat motionless for a long while considering
all the options and angles, all the possible scenarios and finally
nodded. "Very well, Doctor. Set your plans in motion. You will report
to me all your findings."
"Yes…wonderful. You will not regret this.
Power is at your doorstep."
"I already have power, Doctor. See to
it that this power is under my control." The Chairman paused then
spoke in a low whisper. "And if you are found out, or if any of this
leads back to me…well…let’s not speak of that." The Chairman sighed.
"Now, all of you, leave me and turn out the lights as you go."
by one the desk lamps clicked off as the Board of Directors silently
left the room. The hulking man in the shadows was last to leave and
flicked off the softly glowing chandelier.
The Chairman sat alone,
the conference room lit only by the lamp on the table and the sparkling
lights of Steel Canyon as they found their way through the window.
Author's Note: Please read the story "The
Beast" also on this site. This story is a sequel to that. You don't
have to but it may put some of the events and characters here in context.
Please, enjoy the ride!