The Chimera Within

Chapter 3

Tom was walking down the hallway of the University of Pittsburgh when Gwen came running up from behind him. Slapping him on the back and grabbing his shoulder, she said, "I've been looking all over for you. We're in." She grinned.

Tom stopped walking and looked at her, full in the face. "We are? That's incredible! But how?" he said, hugging her and lifting her off the ground.

"Bartholomew fell for your little ploy. He leaked your photos and story to the press, and the board voted to kick Norman Osborne out of his own company. Connors had been gaining support on the board and became one of the directors last year, when he was able to leverage the FDA approval of a drug that his research had produced to slow down the effects of Alzheimer's. He already had all of his parts in motion to become CEO of the company when Bartholomew pulled his little publicity stunt. Now because Bartholomew panicked thinking that he would be swept away as part of the dying regime, he desperately went to Connors, boasting that he was the one that leaked the story."

"What did Connors say?"

"He yelled at Bartholomew in front of a whole group of interns. Bartholomew had no clue that Connors already had everything in place to get the CEO chair, so Connors blamed him for a reckless gesture that weakened the whole company."

"And where do we come in?"

"Well, I was also in the running for the internship, but I've made sure that you and I have a concrete deal."

"How did you do that?"

"I snuck in past Oscorp security dressed as a pizza delivery girl and then I presented our proposal in person. I assured him that we would be the most dedicated interns he had ever encountered, and then to make sure, I sweetened the deal. I told him that I have connections with the Saudi Royal Family, and that the Saudi king is very old. I hooked him up with a contract for his Alzheimer's drug that's worth millions, thus strengthening his position as the new CEO."

Tom was amazed at Gwen's resourcefulness, and the excitement of the implications of the success of their scheme was starting to wash over him. But then he paused, "So when you say that you sweetened the deal in person, you didn't sleep with him did you?"

Gwen grabbed his shoulder, "Why would you ask me that?" Tom fumbled for a response, but just turned red. "Listen, we teamed up because we're both willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish our goals, which are noble. First of all, no, I didn't sleep with Connors. Second, it's none of your business. And finally, stop thinking with your winky and focus on the plan. You did your part, I did mine and we actually got ourselves in. We can't screw up now, thinking about stupid things. We have to prove that we are what we say we are and help Connors achieve scientific immortality."

The next day, Gwen took Tom to Oscorp to fill out his registration for the internship program and to introduce him to Dr. Connors. When they met him near his lab, he came over to greet them. "Good Morning, Miss Stacy. How delightful to see you again. And this must be the young man you were telling me about. Charmed, I'm sure."

Dr. Julian Connors was a tall, lean man with light coloured hair, bright, intelligent eyes behind black rimmed, trendy spectacles, and spoke with a smooth, almost seductive British accent. But Tom was made aware of what was probably his most striking feature when he went to shake his hand. Connors was missing his right arm, apparently cut off above the elbow. "Ah yes, a Mister Tom Jones is it? Well I look forward to us getting to know each better. And no doubt you have remarked upon my little disability, eh? A result of my service as a military doctor, I'm afraid. If we all do our jobs well here at Oscorp, then one day, not only myself, but millions of people who are missing limbs, require replacement organs or are otherwise suffering infirmities could be blessed with a fully productive life once again." Tom could feel his face beaming from a glow that began in his chest and spilled out from his shining eyes and broad smile.

"Yes, sir. That is my dream too."

"That is exactly the kind of passion that I like to hear, dear boy. Sometimes what seems to the world to cripple us, actually serves to inspire us to help that same world with wonderful innovations. At least that's what we aspire to achieve here at Oscorp, and we are attaining it." Tom was completely captivated by his presence. He talked with such confidence and moral authority, how could you help but be galvanized to strive for the common goal? Tom looked at Gwen, who was equally mesmerized. When he finally caught her eye, he gave her a look that said, "Now I get what you've been saying."

And she mouthed the words, "I know."

Connors proceeded to turn around and lead them through the lab with nervous energy quivering through his body. "Now come along. We have much work to do, so let's not waste anymore time but just get you two sorted out so you can get started." He paused briefly as he opened a door to look them both in the face. "The future awaits."

George Bartholomew was not going to go down without a fight. He had earned that internship! He had the best GPA in his class, and his father was a wealthy and influential executive for a petroleum firm. He also enjoyed scheming to take down his enemies; a Machiavellian trait that his father had told him on more than one occasion was essential to get ahead in this world. Part of Bartholomew told him that it would be better to lie and wait for the perfect circumstance to come along to destroy Stacy and Jones, and then take back what was his. But his pride would not allow him to drop the issue, even momentarily, so he was compelled to act more quickly. The more he thought about it, the more his malevolent mind started working out a strategy. And the more his strategy started to form before his eyes, the more convinced he was that he needed to strike now, while the iron was hot, as the saying goes. The points in his favour were these: Connors was still very new in his position as CEO and therefore more vulnerable. As to the fact that Connors was now his implacable enemy as well, there was no doubt in his mind. He had to remove Connors, and then removing the other two from their unmerited position would be relatively easy. He would simply remind the school of his grades, as well as his father's influential position as a patron, and the internship would be his. For Bartholomew, being a part of Oscorp, maybe even running it one day, was the goal. And to capitalize from his GPA and father's powerful name, it would be best to act sooner rather than later, while both were fresh in the dean's mind.

So using his father's name, Bartholomew launched an attack on Connors as a CEO, threatening to sell shares and cause a stock market disaster if Connors was not removed.

Connors, for his part, was not caught off guard by this attack. He had been expecting that someone from the board of directors would raise the issue of his lack of experience. He presented among other marketable products that the medical division of Oscorp had been preparing, the deal with the Saudi's that opened up the sale of their products to the Middle East. "There are a lot of rich Sheiks," he said, "And they are willing to pay us to prolong their lives. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have been appointed as the King's physicians." His speech only served to strengthen his status among the shareholders. But what Bartholomew's attack did accomplish was to allow Connors to zero in on an annoyance that threatened on becoming an enemy that must be vanquished.

The next day, Bartholomew was summoned to the dean's office. "Mr. Bartholomew, we are sorry to have to talk to you about this, but we have been receiving disturbing reports about you from some of your professors and fellow students. To investigate we are afraid we must request you to attend a session with the school psychologist."

"What? My professors are complaining about me? This is ridiculous! I have the best GPA in the school!"

"Yes we are aware of your impressive academic record, Mr. Bartholomew, but we are afraid we must insist. At this University, we pride ourselves, not only on producing brilliant minds, but encouraging upright character as well. And producing individuals of the highest calibre and strong moral fibre is an indispensable aspect of our charter as an institution. Please acknowledge that you understand that failure to appear for your appointment with Dr. Streudian will be grounds for dismissal from this school. Now I bid you a good day."

Eventually the school psychologist diagnosed him with extreme mental instability and paranoia, a danger to himself and others, and George Bartholomew was subsequently expelled from the University of Pittsburgh, and thus out of consideration for the Oscorp internship program.

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