|Back to Index||Written May, 1999|
There is a certain comfort in being protected from the elements, a certain comfort in watching a storm without being exposed to it. There is a certain joy in watching the rain smash down upon the less prepared while remaining untouched by nature's fury, a strange peace in listening to its song.
The man watched the storm. He listened to the storm. Around him the tempest swirled and rained great drops of water down upon the ground, but not on him. Even the thin glass of the conservatory roof was sufficient protection against the onslaught. He remained untouched. The room stood out in blazing light against the darkness of the moors and its foggy night. From far away it might be mistaken as a beacon, a light to guide passing souls to safety. To the man it was simply his home and sanctuary, and a place from which he could watch the storm.
He allowed his mind to wander as his eyes panned the landscape until all he could hear was the quiet pattering of the falling rain. It was such a soothing sound, this was such a soothing place - the only place where he could sit or stand and forget who he was, or how he had got here.
A crossword lay, half finished, on the table beside him, a testament to something he would never be. It must be someone else's, he had never cared for puzzles. He found them pointless, a waste of time which could be better spent.
Another man might have asked their wife if it was theirs, but he was not married. His impression of marriage was that it was even more a waste of time than crosswords. People had asked him if he missed the company, his reply had been that his cause was the only company he needed.
Ah yes, his cause, his holy crusade. How could he have allowed it to slip from his mind, even if only for a moment? It was the single thing that dominated his thoughts. He might sit in a meeting, listening and talking and thinking on other things but his cause would always be there, in the back of his mind, the single constant in his life.
It was quite a life, even he had to admit. Few people ever attained what he had, money, possessions and fame beyond measure. There was nowhere on the Earth where his name would not be recognised, always with respect, seldom with admiration, often with fear.
His wrinkled face bore no marks to show it but his fifty three years of life had taken a toll on him. Recently he had had to be content to see others doing his work, to delegate the tasks that others could understand. The doctors had told him he must and so though as a whole he had very little respect for the profession he had no desire to die before seeing his cause completed so he had complied.
He could remember how he had begun. They had said that he had potential, then that he had shown promise. Later, as he had changed, so had others' opinions of him. They had said that he was throwing his life away, that he could be so much more than he was aiming for. Gradually, that had changed again.
Tenth richest person on the planet. But what did that bring with it? Responsibility, respect, contacts...but primarily power. The power to take his crusade, his cause to a new level - the level he had always dreamed of.
There had been over a hundred biographies written about him over the last twenty years despite the fact that he had never been seen in public and no pictures of him existed in the public domain. He prefered to keep a low profile, but his just seemed to have enhanced the aura of mystery which surrounded him.
He had even read a few of the books, out of curiosity more than anything else. He hadn't liked what he had read. After he had slowly worked his way through the first couple of chapters of each they were all discarded in turn. He had found their analysis flawed, their commentary weak and their ideas about his motivations were laughable at best.
"Driven" had probably been the most complimentary statement about him, although "obsessive" was more common. From all this emerged one important fact, he didn't care what tthe public thought of him. In fact, he would have preferred it if the public didn't think of him at all (a fact which the media - used to people who would do anything to get their picture onto television or into the paper - could not really grasp).
Still, the cost had been high and there were times when he found himself wondering if he had been right all those years ago to dedicate his life to the pursuit of what some would call a triviality. That was irrelevant! He had sworn so long ago that he would take revenge upon the people who had robbed him of so much of his life.
It was a strange irony that revenge for those few precious minutes of his time had consumed the rest of his life...but he could endure the irony. He doubted that his sworn enemies, whom he was certain could not even guess what was about to hit them, would appreciate that.
It had taken years of work in his company's top laboratories, developing the technologies that would allow him to evade the arms of the government that would sweep out to encircle him. Jammers to hide the position of his secret base, re-direct systems to hide the origin of communications, computers to adjust for every possible enemy move. For he was going to strike at the very heart of the establishment and for that they would never forgive him.
He pulled a small video tablet from his pocket, his own company's design, and tapped it. The small screen sprung to life, showing the view from the cameras located in his secret base. Operators sat at terminals wearing microphone headsets, hundreds of them in neat rows stretching away as far as his eye could discern.
The operation had begun a little over an hour ago and now each and every operator was sitting, waiting to see who would be the first to act.
It would be any time now. Any time. Soon he would be victorious, soon he would grind the symbols of everything he had grown to hate into the dust, soon he would walk out into the streets a free man - revenge obtained.
This was it! The first operator was now in position. He touched a panel on the tablet and listened in on the conversation. The operator seemed shocked at first, astonished that they had the privilege of being the first.
The musical notes of some indiscernible tune faded into the background to be replaced by a human voice.
"Technical support, John speaking. How can I help you, sir?"
The operator, shocked as he was, still managed to stammer out a reply. "Please hold." The operator touched one of the buttons on his terminal and another, different, song started playing. The operator moved on to another call, leaving just the quiet song to play down the line.
Miles away, he quietly slipped the tablet back into his pocket. Then he laughed. The deep, rolling laugh of someone whose dream, however perverted, had finally been for-filled.
"Vengeance." He managed to say through his laughter. "Vengeance is mine!"