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  • Patrick Rizio

Staying safe.

Just wanted to encourage everyone to act responsibly and stay safe until this virus has run its course. We are lucky enough to have medical experts to advise us. Now is definitely the time to listen to them.

Now, on to chapter 22


Alison took her seat and held her flute in her lap. She looked around her. The rest of the musicians were all taking their seats. It was so exciting. She could hardly wait to get started.

Some of the other girls started whispering when the First Chair Violin took his seat. He was not only the best musician in the orchestra, he was also very handsome. When he sat down, the girl next to him moved her French Horn, so she could sit closer to him, and started talking to him right away. She was always talking to him, or helping with his music stand, or doing whatever.

Alison didn’t mind her though. She might act like she was his girl, but she could never be his lover. Alison knew that. He looked at Alison and smiled. She smiled back.

The Conductor approached the podium, and everyone quieted down. They all knew how lucky they were to have such a Conductor. She was the best Conductor in the world. She raised her baton, the instruments went up, the downbeat was struck, and they began.

Alison couldn’t believe how easy it was to play her flute. It was effortless. She knew why. It was the Conductor. The Conductor was helping all of them, bringing them to new heights in their music. That’s why they were so much more than the sum of their parts. That’s why they could play this symphony without any sheet music. That’s why it sounded so incredibly beautiful.

But then, how could it not? It was, after all, Mozart.

When they were finished, everyone stayed in their seats. They weren’t too exhausted to move, just too relaxed to want to. Alison looked over at the First Chair Violin and saw him smiling that goofy half smile of his back at her. Then the Conductor put down the baton, walked over to Alison, and gave her a great big hug.

“I love you mommy,” she said...

Alison opened her eyes and sat up in bed like a shot. She had had dreams before, but nothing like this. It was so vivid, so real. She felt herself almost out of air, as though she had been running hard. After a few deep breaths she swung her legs over to the side of the bed and rested her feet on the floor. It took her another moment or two to catch her breath. She looked at the clock. It was 3:22 A.M.

She stood up, headed straight for the refrigerator, took a glass out of the cabinet and filled it. She drank it so fast she got a brain freeze, but it tasted so good that she didn’t care. She filled it for a second helping, then stopped dead in her tracks. The sudden realization of it all made her sit down. It took all of the composure she could muster, to not go wake Sarah and hug her to death. Taking a deep breath, Alison moved the glass back from the edge of the counter.

With a smile on her face, and mist in her eyes, she put the orange juice container back on the top shelf of the fridge.

*******

Jason looked at his watch and stretched. It was six thirty, and he had skipped dinner again. He grabbed a banana from the corner of his desk. After two bites it was abandoned for the pages of data before him. He was so close, and he knew the answer was in there. His body was tired, but mentally he was in full stride. There was something he was overlooking, and it was probably something simple. It usually was when the research had come this far.

His instincts were telling him to push harder, but his experience was telling him to slow it down. Jason knew that he sometimes tended to make simple things hard when he got this close.

He put the papers down, forcing himself to finish the banana before continuing.

At 5:30 the next morning, he put his feet up on his desk, and allowed himself some sleep. It had been a good session. He estimated he had cut the distance between himself and the answer about in half. He told himself to awake at 6:30 and closed his eyes. His girl dimmed the lights in his office. “Good night my darling,” she said in a voice as soft as silk.

“Good night,” he answered, and in less than a minute began to dream.

*******

Oscar Crowne poured himself some sixteen-year old Scotch, then returned to the folder on his forty five square foot desk. He took a long pull from the glass and continued reading. He finished the report, and very carefully put the papers back in the folder. He resisted the urge to throw it.

Control was most important. The Scotch would help. He took a deep breath, tightened his fingers around glass, and finished it in one big swallow. Then, angered as he was, he slowly picked up the folder, and forced himself to read it again.

Fools, (like some of those idiots he employed), made bad decisions when they were angry, and Oscar Crowne was no fool. Again, he carefully placed the papers into the folder, mindful to do so ever so gently. Holding back the anger like this was good for his self-control. He felt the Scotch kicking in. He started to relax. This new information necessitated stronger action on his part, if he were to be successful. Leaning back in his leather desk chair, he thought over his position and his options.

His position was not good. Not good at all. The first attempt to acquire had not only failed, but also alerted the target. Universal was getting ready to go public with this thing, and his time was running out. He had to think options now.

Hacking into Universal’s computers was out. Their encryption was too good, and the information he wanted was probably only on one computer. His people could just break in and steal it, but from what he knew of this LaCost, the machine had surely been programmed so as to make it impossible to download anything of value.

He could buy a controlling amount of J-Tech stock, but of course that wouldn’t be offered.

He could kidnap LaCost, and while that would help alleviate his anger over this thing, there were just too many reasons why that wouldn’t be practical.

He could always hope that his team would be able to crack the patent on this thing and…No, the report he had just read, made it clear that wasn’t going to happen. It had also made it clear that this thing was much bigger than Universal was letting on. This was going to be huge.

He had to get…he had to get to…Of course, Of course! 

The simple solutions are always best.

Oscar Crowne pushed back the leather chair from his desk, walked to the bar on the east wall of his office, and poured himself a strong one to celebrate.

He had built an empire finding solutions. He knew what needed to be done. He simply needed to get a little more personal.

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