Our congratulations to Ramon Rozas III, winner in eSpec Books’ December Flash Fiction Contest. His prize is publication on the eSpec blog and one free ebook from among the eSpec publication list.
Anton Kukal – Heroic Intentions
Michelle N. Palmer – The Verona Tapes
Christopher J. Burke – Sin Cafe
For those interested in submitting to this month’s contest details can be found at:
TOP OF HIS GAME
Ramon Rozas III
“Master Austin, sir,” Honeywell said.
“Excellent!” the tall man in the suit said. He rose from behind his desk as Honeywell showed Austin into the cavernous, glass-walled, two-story office atop the tallest skyscraper in New York. The tall man nodded. “You may leave us, Honeywell.”
“Certainly, sir.” The assistant exited the office.
Bruce Kincaid, by most calculations the richest man in the world, considered the young man before him. “Hello, son. How old are you now? Eighteen?”
Austin Kincaid shook his head. “Seventeen, sir. Eighteen in two months.” He knew his father never forgot anything. This was just a show – too bad Austin saw right through it.
“Ah. So, to what do I enjoy this visit in New York?”
Austin shuffled his feet. “Well, sir, I wanted to discuss my college choices with you.”
The senior Kincaid repressed a smile at Austin’s show of nerves. His son was never nervous. Too bad Bruce saw right through him. “So what are your choices?”
“MIT or Stanford, sir. Or the Lenin Institute in Novosibirsk, Russia. There are several excellent underrated geneticists there and the local restrictions on…experiments are less taxing.”
Bruce shrugged. “Wherever you attend, I will ensure you have a private lab free of complications. What are the pros and cons of your remaining choices?”
Austin ran through his list. His father nodded along.
“An adequate analysis,” Bruce said, studying Austin. “Was there something else?”
More faux hesitancy. “I did consider taking a year off to simply work my way around the world.”
“Hmm. While your mother has done an appropriate job raising you, your opportunities to observe social interactions amongst the public at large has been limited.”
“I am sure you have deduced after all these years that your mother is an employee, Austin – paid quite handsomely to ensure your upbringing. And she has done exactly as I anticipated.”
“Why aren’t you coming to my graduation?” Austin blurted out without preparation.
Bruce held out a hand, palm up. “What is the one resource you can never buy, borrow, beg, or steal, Austin?”
Austin blinked twice. “Time, sir?”
Bruce held up one finger. “Correct. I have important plans, Austin, to which I have dedicated all of my time, my will, and my not-inconsiderable-intellect.” The elder Kincaid turned from his desk and moved slightly toward the wide, transparent wall behind him through which one could see the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan Harbor.
“The…peasants of this world need to be shaped, Austin. They –”
Austin launched himself at his father’s back, working loose the razor-sharp knife he had made himself from his hidden thigh sheath.
The elder Kross made a twirling gesture with his left hand without turning around.
Two taser darts shot from the dark metal desk and struck Austin in each thigh. With a crackle of electricity, he fell to his knees, knife still pointed at his father in his frozen hand. He shuddered as the voltage flowed through him.
Bruce turned and walked over to his shaking son. He considered his elbow and then drove it into Austin’s jaw. His son collapsed fully to the floor.
Bruce turned off the current, kicked the knife from Austin’s now-loose grip, and dragged his son to the settee near his desk. He ripped open Austin’s shirt, revealing a plastic wrapping around his chest. Bruce tapped it lightly. “Body armor?”
“Bio-film based,” Austin gasped. “Hardens when certain chemical triggers issue.”
“Went right through my scanners,” Bruce said admiringly. He pulled the taser prongs out of his son’s legs. “Too bad I aimed low.”
He called for Honeywell, who came with a first aid kit.
Bruce Kincaid stood, wiping his hands on his immaculate suit trousers and considered his son. “I am relieved, Austin – I thought you would never try.”
Austin waved Honeywell’s hand, with a compress, away from his bleeding chin. “Why? What is this?” he said.
Bruce walked back over to the broad, giant glass wall, surveying New York. “I have plans, Austin – grand plans. And I have everything I need, except one thing.” He turned on one heel back to his son and raised his index finger. “Time. I cannot finish in my lifetime, so I must make sure that my successor is prepared, educated, and hardened.” He dropped the finger and pointed at Austin. “You will try to kill me again, and again and again. You will gather resources, allies, strategies and become wise in doing so. One day you will succeed.”
Bruce spread his arms wide. “And that day, you will be ready for all of this to be yours.”
Austin rose shakily to his feet. “All of this is just – shaping me? Making me your tool? My mother? My teachers? Friends?”
“You will be Alexander to my Phillip, Austin. And the world will tremble at your feet.”
Austin was trembling. Suddenly he was shouting. “You’ve taken everything from me! Family! Friends! I HATE YOU!”
Bruce smiled. “Excellent. Take that hate – shape it. Use it.” He turned back to the cityscape. “Honeywell, show my son to the infirmary and then make arrangements for the plane to take him home.”
“Of course, sir.”
“Oh, and Austin – what have you decided about college?” he asked without turning toward his son.
Austin was breathing heavy. “Stanford…sir. I don’t have time to travel the world.”
Bruce nodded, smile still on his face.
Honeywell escorted Austin out.
Kincaid touched his watch. He deserved a small indulgence. Perhaps Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings? He tapped in the command and the music swelled in the vast office as he watched the tiny dots scurry about below.