The 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.

Dr. Albriecht 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.

Finally the Chairman looked up from the report and regarded the Doctor, eyebrows raised in question. "And these conclusions are correct?"

"Yes. If 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 of operation."

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."

One 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.
Review this story
Review this story
Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors
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!