Not According To Plan
Isaac Rutherford had a strange feeling. He’d recently felt something was amiss, but couldn’t quite put his finger on what it could be.
Because of his dedication to his company, Isaac’s efforts were rewarded the day he was promoted to CEO, a position he’d held for nearly seventeen years. Now that he was nearing the end of his career, seventy-two-year-old Isaac—a balder, grayer, and more exhausted version of his former self—devoted every waking second to his company’s upcoming inheritance quest. His life’s work was on the line, and that made his recent worries that much more bothersome.
“Isaac? Are you busy?” Isaac’s secretary paged him from her office next door.
“Just looking through some paperwork. What can I do for you, Sarah?”
“I need to talk to you for a couple of minutes. When would be a good time?”
“Right now is fine.” Isaac wondered what this was about. Since being hired, his secretary hadn’t been much for conversation. Isaac noticed she looked depressed as she entered. “Is something the matter?”
Sarah sighed. “Kind of. I know it’s really bad timing right now, but I need to take some time off.”
“Why?” Maybe this was the cause of Isaac’s strange feelings.
Sarah became shaky. “Mom was admitted to the hospital last night. They suspect pneumonia. I think I should fly out to be with her until she gets better.”
“I’m so sorry.” Isaac smiled warmly. “Whatever time you need, take it. We’ll cover for you while you’re gone. When do you need to leave?”
“I can book a flight for eight thirty-five tonight. I may be gone for a week or more depending on how mom does. Do you want me to call you while I’m gone to let you know how things are going?”
“Thanks, boss.” Sarah returned to her office, obviously relieved.
Isaac leaned back in his chair and looked up. He kicked his feet out and immediately noticed something was very wrong. With dread filling the pit of his stomach, he realized the backpack for the quest was missing. He also instinctively knew this was no accident and that his recent worries had nothing to do with Sarah’s mom.
With haste, Isaac called an emergency staff meeting. He informed his staff of the missing backpack and the likelihood that somebody inside EIS had stolen it. Naturally, nobody stepped up to admit as much. With little to go on, all Isaac could do was instruct his staff to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.
Returning to his office, Isaac made two important phone calls. The first was to alert a trusted ally of his that he felt the inheritance quest was possibly going to begin earlier than planned.
“Something’s up,” Isaac said. “You know I always trust my instincts. If the quest does begin soon, there’s no stopping it. If that does happen, I’ll need you to remain in contact with me. Keep me informed how the quest is going. And if you see anything suspicious that could put Maddy’s life in jeopardy, let me know right away. I need to make sure she stays safe.”
The ally agreed. “Anything else I can do?”
“No. I know I can trust you to keep in touch, old friend. Goodbye…and thank you.” Isaac ended the conversation, sat back in his chair, and rubbed his temples. He had a pounding headache.
A few minutes later, Isaac made his second call. It was to the director of the Federal Aviation Administration. Isaac alerted the FAA that the company’s helicopter might be entering airspace sooner than expected. The director thanked Isaac for the heads up and promised to keep an eye on things.
The moment the second call ended, Isaac realized with great sadness that he had just relinquished total control of the quest he’d devoted the past fifty years of his life to.
Charles Douglas Bronson, owner of Greasy Petrol, Inc., was irritated. He’d been waiting for a phone call from his informant, a scientist at EIS. Charles had paid the scientist handsomely to spy for him for many years. Over that time, the informant provided priceless information on the progress of the discovery that could potentially put his empire out of business.
And it seemed the biggest news of all was soon on its way.
A large man with broad shoulders, greasy salt-and-pepper hair, and thick eyebrows, Charles bullied anybody that crossed his path. Always smoking a cigar, he sported Armani suits and cumbersome gold jewelry wherever he went. Without mercy for his employees, he oversaw his empire’s finances, made administrative decisions, and monitored daily operations.
Every decision Charles made was meant to grow and preserve his empire. He’d implemented legal and business-savvy strategies over the years, including pushing for legislation that supported importing and exporting oil and natural gas. He’d run advertising campaigns in favor of his vast company and was publicly vocal against EIS. Not surprisingly, his campaign against EIS also included illegal and ethically irresponsible strategies such as hiring his informant, tapping phone conversations, and bribing congressmen to ensure they remained supporters of big oil.
Charles’ phone finally rang. He answered in his usual gruff tone. “You have news?”
“I was called into a meeting today,” the informant replied.
“The quest might start sooner than expected.”
Irritation crept into Charles’ voice. “What happened to months from now?”
“Somebody stole a backpack from Isaac’s office. Isaac is taking that to mean that whoever is responsible is pushing to start the quest any day now.”
Charles growled. “Is his granddaughter still involved?”
“As far as I know.”
“Is there anything else?”
“Yes. I placed the tracking device on the bottom of the helicopter. We’ll know where it is the entire time.”
“What about the backup plan if that brat succeeds?”
“I’ve almost completed it. It should be ready within the week.”
“Good. Keep me informed. Your check will be in your account tomorrow.”
Charles hung up and made one more call. “Is this K-1?”
“Depends. Who is this?”
“I didn’t expect to hear from you for another few months.”
“And I didn’t expect to call so soon. I’ll need you to be available in a day or two. Looks like the quest is starting earlier than expected.”
“I already have another job lined up.”
“I’ll pay you double what we agreed upon. But the job remains the same. You do whatever you can to sabotage the quest. I don’t care how you do it, and frankly, I don’t even want to hear how you’ve done it. I just expect it to fail.”
“The tracking device is in place?”
“Triple pay and you’ve got a deal. Isaac’s granddaughter won’t stand a chance.”
“She hadn’t better…or else I’ll cut you up into triple the body parts.”
Charles hung up and lit his cigar.
You’re finally done for, Isaac.