Where would you hide if you could instantly go anywhere in the universe while you were being pursued by an all-knowing and all-powerful being who would take your soul and those of all of your future generations as well if you were found?
Most adults have fond memories of playing hide and seek as children, but nobody would like the version that Gerald Ward was forced to play.
Gerald Ward, Chairman of the Board at End Run Industries, sat bolt upright in his bed as if he had been yanked up from under his sheets and slapped. He was instantly, totally awake, although a glance at the time on his electronic radio-alarm clock told him that it was only 2 AM. The clear, deep, Voice began speaking, though he knew that the Voice was not audible in the way one hears sound. Precise, clear words formed in his mind. This Voice was one which could not be muffled or drowned out or ignored. He had heard that voice exactly once before in his life, thirty years before.
Gerald had had a great life ever since that first night even though it had started out to be the worst night of his entire twenty-seven years at the time. Looking back thirty years, now, it didn’t seem that long ago and his memory of the situation he was in at the time was crystal clear. There had never been any doubt of his urgent need to agree to the terms of the contract that had led to this ugly state of affairs now. He didn’t feel as though he was being tricked and he entered the agreement fully cognizant, if unbelieving, of the fate that was promised him when he agreed.
At the age of twenty-seven, after taking over the family’s business he had inherited and plunging it deep into financial ruin, followed by going into personal debt through excessive partying, drinking, and drugs, Gerald soon found himself taking out a high interest bank loan. When it came time to repay the loan, though, he was even deeper in debt and the banks were totally lacking in a sense of humor, so he arranged a quick loan to pay them off from an acquaintance of a friend of a second cousin. When it was time to pay that person and Gerald hadn’t raised more than ten percent of the required funds, he was visited by three young skin-heads who beat him up and trashed his house. They promised to return in twenty-four hours with really serious consequences if he didn’t pay in full and in cash. With all avenues of survival disappearing around him, he considered escaping, but knew he was being watched and would be followed. With the pressure mounting and his resources gone, he was reaching into his desk drawer to pull out the revolver and complete the process of self-destruction he had started with his financial transgressions. Then the Voice halted his actions.