[Edge1.1.19] I Wanna Be A Billionaire
“They were sick. I was desperate. Mark promised miraculous results. So, I put them in the same study as Alpha Four’s brother. At first the results were excellent. They surpassed our expectations. But then they started regressing. Then horrible things started happening to them. You know what happened to Alpha Four’s brother. Others died. I had the means to have my daughter put into cryogenics. I didn’t wait for the tests to fail to have her deep frozen. But the rest all died. So, everyone blamed me for the deaths of the other subjects while sparing my daughter. But I just couldn’t wait until it was too late.”
“That’s why they call you an evil monster.” Art said. “And now you want to try to use my technology to reverse the effects. To do that we’ll have to perform more experiments. More people might die. I’ll take the blame like Mark did.”
“I told you that he took unnecessary risks with the patients. He didn’t follow protocol. He tried to work his own miracles and didn’t follow proper safety procedures. I want you to do things the right way. There is no longer any rush. I just want the hope that someday, I may be able to save her and hold her in my arms again. But I would never ask you to take unnecessary risks or do anything you didn’t feel would work.”
“I get full control over the research procedures and how the technology is used. You won’t try to squeeze it out of me and have one of your henchmen do it behind my back?” Art demanded.
“Of course not, Art. I would never do that. Do you think I would knowingly have let anyone do something that would harm my own daughter.”
Art looked down at the paper and then back up at Tony. He sighed as he weighed the decision. Tony’s eyes pleaded silently.
“We only have a minute left, Art. The ball’s in your court. I’ll make the transfer for the first payment as soon as you sign this. You can still keep it at the end of the two weeks if you don’t think we can do good, save lives, and change the world together.”
Art looked him deep in the eye, trying to gauge how sincere the man really was. He hated to be under pressure like this and have to make such a snap decision. Ultimately, it was a judgment call. Art knew he had to give it a shot, but before he could get the pen to the paper, Tony started talking again.
“Thirty seconds, Art. I’ll even throw in the second payment today if you sign it right now.”
“Half a billion dollars,” Art paused to ask.
“Yes, five hundred and eighty million dollars!” Tony shouted. “Sign the stupid thing already! Will you?”
Art signed his name to the dotted line. All the pressure of having to make a decision flowed out of him. Relief flooded his body, and he relaxed.
“For crying out loud, boy!” Tony half-shouted and half-sobbed. “You know how to keep an old man on the edge of his chair.”
Art smiled as watched Tony sobbing with relief. It seemed too genuine for him to have faked. He felt like he had made the right decision. He would do his best and change the world.
It had been so worth it. Every sleepless night. Every sacrifice made to achieve the results of this project. To know he had the potential to transform people’s lives. To give a father fresh hope for a better future.
Art started to tear up himself. He wiped a tear from each of his eyes and reached out his hand to comfort Tony.
“It’s okay, Tony. We’re gonna do this. We’re gonna save your daughter.” Art said gently.
Tony reached out with both arms and hugged Art tightly. He sobbed a bit longer, then let Art go. He wiped his face and picked up the contract to show to the lawyers.
“Let’s wrap this up y’all. Make sure to let them know in Brazil that their prized project is no longer up for sale.”
Art snickered. This was so worth all the trouble Pedro had put him through. Pedro had taken him to task time after time. Pedro tried to have the board shut Art’s project down. Art would have loved to see the look on his face when he realized how much Art had made off it. Not that Art ever planned on telling him. There was no way he planned on telling anyone. He would just tell them that he had gotten a new job in America and was getting paid in dollars. He would do his best to make sure that his friends and family were taken care of for real.
“Can I go now?” Art asked.
“Where do you wanna go? You can take a shower in there, and we can have some food brought down.”
“I just want to go for a walk,” Art said.
“I think it’s best if you didn’t just yet,” Tony said. “You still have a lot of people who want to suck your brain dry. And now that you’re an instant billionaire, you need proper protection before you go out.”
Art sighed but nodded in agreement.
“I’m gonna go take a shower and take a nap. I didn’t sleep much before your henchmen came to pick me up.” Art said.
“Frank and Joe are good, upright, honest cops. Some of the best you’ll find here in Brimhill. They aren’t my henchmen and never have been. They were just trying to do the right thing for Johnny. He was a well-liked character around here. So, word of warning, just be careful what you say about him to folks around here. They’ll lynch you if you try to bad mouth Johnny without proof.”
“Sure,” Art said. “I wouldn’t do that to anyone.”
“Good,” Tony replied.
That seemed to be the end of their conversation and what Tony needed from him. Art went off to find a similar bathroom to the one he saw earlier complete with the Jacuzzi. He took off his clothes and wrapped a towel around himself. Then he plopped himself down into the Lazy Boy chair while he waited for the hot tub to fill up.
The warm water felt so good as it embraced his weary body. If this was what being rich felt like, he could take it on. This was the most wonderful feeling in the world. He dozed off a bit in the tub, and then woke up to drag himself into the huge, king-sized mattresses in one of the many bedrooms. He didn’t bother to ask Tony which room he could use. He didn’t think it would really matter, and he was too tired to go looking for him. He crashed on the soft, downy pillows and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep as he imagined what he would do with half-a-billion dollars.
Art woke up feeling like a million dollars. Five hundred and eighty million dollars to be exact. It felt great. He stretched lazily in the huge, soft bed and rolled around a few times before finally getting up. He walked out into the kitchen where the clock on the wall said it was already seven p.m.
Tony was nowhere to be seen. Beta Five wasn’t around either. Art walked into the living room and sat down on the couch. He turned on the T.V. and started randomly flipping through channels.
“Oh, hey! You’re awake.” a soft voice said behind him.
Art turned to look. A young woman dressed in spotless uniform smiled at him brightly from across the room.
“Did you sleep well?” she asked with a light Spanish accent.
“Where is everyone?” he asked.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she replied. “I just got here myself. You’re the first person I’m seeing.”
“You work with Tony?” he asked.
She giggled. “No, I’ve never even spoken to Mr. Blanchet in my life. I think I’ve only seen him one time in the past few months that I’ve worked here.”
“What did you say your name was?” Art asked.
“Carla Ortiz,” she replied.
Art’s ears perked up, and he sat up straighter. “Did you know Johnny well?”
She looked at him funny. “Johnny,” she repeated. “The name sounds familiar, but I can’t put a name to the face.”
“Johnny Silva,” he prodded. “One of the directors here at LocTec.”
She shook her head. “Can’t say I do,” she replied. “But I only work the night shift after everyone has left. So, I don’t see many people.”
“Do you know any other Carlas around here,” Art continued.
She shook her head and smiled again. “She must be pretty special. Huh?”
“No, it’s not like that,” Art said. “A friend of mine told me to look her up to ask her something.”
“Well, I can ask around,” she said. “How do I find you if I learn something?”
“I’ll be around. My name is Arthur Melo, but you can call me Art. Just look me up.” he said.
“What? And you don’t have a phone number Mr. Mysterious Melo?” she asked with a pout. “Or is your girlfriend jealous and doesn’t let you give it out to other women.”
“No.” she said.
“No, she doesn’t?” the girl said with a wry smile.
“No, I mean that I don’t have a phone and that’s not why I can’t give it to you. I just flew in from Brazil yesterday and planned to buy a new one here.”
“Brazil. Huh?” she said. “Do you work for that company called A3 Robotic Solutions?”
“Yes,” Art replied. “What do you know about it?”
“Everyone is talking about it. They say that the company declared bankruptcy earlier this afternoon. It sounds like a big deal with all the political scandals and corruption that’s been going on down there.”