Tale of the Mighty

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: March 24, 2017

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Submitted: March 24, 2017

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"If you do me, then I will do you." John says sharply and then loudly smacks the disconnect button on his deskphone. John Michael owns a movie production company called Artemis Corporation. In business since 2002, he quickly built his small movie lot into a towering prospering skyscraper. He is happily married and has children.

In recent years Artemis Corporation and its partners had taken a hit following hit repeatedly in the hands of jealous industry opposition, Aim Pictures particularly. Not only was Artemis Corporation under fire in their public relations, some attacks were personal, using John Michael as the unassuming target in their smear campaigns. Because of these highly tactical covert attacks through the media of movies and social network sites, Artemis Corporation’s numbers were falling. John and his personnel were quick to catch on and were rushing to find a sustainable solution.

John is in his main office on the top floor of his high rise building. His secretary and personal assistant Catrina Alpine is in his office with him, handwriting on a clipboard. She says, “Threats don’t go over well with the lawyers, Mr. Michael.”

John let out a long dramatic sigh, hands held together, touching his chin with his pointer fingers. He says, “I know. I can’t let them think I’m stupid and don’t know what’s going on here. I can’t let on like I’m not wise to their deceptions. I can’t let them think I’m going to take it and whimper out and let them get their way. What did you glean out of this phone call, Catrina?”

Catrina says, “They were definitely surprised with your directness and sincerity, maybe frightened with the amount of details and the depth with what your accusations were and they were not happy at all that you hired such sharp lawyers. I think your threat to get even on a personal level cinched the matter.” Catrina blinks with an empty smile.

John says with a smirk, “Can you put all the call recordings regarding this subject onto disc, dear Catrina? I want to keep a fully thorough reference of each call, each meeting and all documents that pertain to the situation with Aim Pictures. Make sure you put all of it on paper and keep it all in a single box so we can easily find all of our materials quickly. Our lawyers aren’t going to miss a beat.”

Catrina says, “Right away, Mr. Michael. Anything else before I go take my break?” says Catrina.

That would be all, Ms. Alpine. I will see you at the meeting.” John says with a wink.

Catrina winks then promptly leaves John’s office.

John sits in silence a short while, clearing his mind. A fish tank sits on his bookshelf bubbles quietly away.  He looks at a printout of the DOW Jones index lying on his desk. Artemis Corporation isn’t publicly traded but he watches the stock market avidly, having invested a great portion of his money in a few companies. He sees his investments going strong. Good news.

 

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John Michael is in the meeting room a floor below his top level office, waiting while his employees get in their chairs. Once everyone is ready he gets an attendance checklist out of his briefcase. He always does an attendance verification and has made the task required protocol at all meetings. He often reminds his employees that diligent record keeping is a key part of Artemis Corporation’s success. He calls this policy ‘Company Total Recall’ and this total recall practice has made his employees sharp and attentive. Rarely anything weasels through unnoticed.

He looks at his checklist which lists each attendee’s name and their occupation.

 

_ John Michael Chairman

_ Catrina Alpine Secretary and Personal Assistant

_ Elijah Pembersaul Entertainment Lawyer

_ Bill Shooter Corporate Lawyer

_ Patricia Nottelvog Accountant

_ Mary Bekingtop Producer

_ Matthew Lockenberg Director

_ Amy Rhodes Recruiter

_ Hendrick MacMilton Actor

_ Darren Cools Writer

_ Tanya Lifeson Writer

_ Joules Pinzes Writer

_ Kendall Heise Musician

 

He reads the list of names aloud and each person other than Kendall Heise affirms that they are there. “Oh, I forgot!” Tanya Lifeson says, standing up. “I won’t take a minute or two, I left him in the lounge.” She leaves quickly to fetch Kendall Heise.

“Alright.” Says John, “How is life personally with everyone here?” He gets a lot of yes nods with some quiet mumbles. “Good! Glad to hear everything is gliding on the tracks so to speak.”

“How’s your wife and son, Mr. Michael?” asks Matthew Lockenberg.

“They’re fine.” Says John, “My son is in school and my wife attends her clubs when she isn’t at the house being a mommy.”

“That’s gotta be hard with the other kids, you know, your son being who he is, the son of a prominent movie man. Could be hard with all the other kids always trying to get his attention.” Says Matthew.

“Ah, not at all.” Says John, “My son Wilson goes to private school and he never rides public transportation. No busses. I think he’s happier that way. Private school is good for him. We choose his teachers and his curriculum. Not a lot of variables. Not a lot of randomness. Doesn’t need a brain shrink that way. No strangers for him to get to know. Secure and safe. In a public school he would be subject to a lot of things that degrade the quality of education. Not a sky price school either.”

Tanya walks through the door with Kendall Heise who looks out of place in his stylish designer clothes and unkempt hair. His wristwatch is too loose and his shirt unbuttoned, revealing the surfer tee beneath.

John says, “Glad you could join us, Kendall. Why don’t you take a chair here with the others?”

Kendall nods with a dopey smile and makes his way to an empty chair. He says, “Thanks, Mr. Michael.”

Tanya sits in her chair.

John speaks up to his employees, saying, “You all know that Artemis Corporation has its share of difficulties. This past year saw us get plowed hard with sales. Many of these copycat films get thrown on the screen in quick succession and chisel away at our profit margins. Not only do these copycat films degrade the true artistic value of the originals that we produce with their mockeries and their outright hostile anti-thesis’s, they also mislead moviegoers. Because of this difficulty we have juiced up our advertising to reach movie fans before the copycats mislead them, but the copycats are stepping up their smear campaigns. This all adds up further along the line and we are attempting to cut film budgets where we can. Honestly though, this copycat situation is getting out of hand.”

“When we were filming Starlands and the word got out about the storyline and locations, the dumbbells over at Aim Pictures went right on to filming their mock-up film called Gnarly Hands. They actually released this horrible clip two weeks before Starlands went onscreen. This was a disaster.  Aim Pictures used a plethora of media tactics and what I assume was volunteer personnel of starving college students to quote unquote, get their message out there. And what was that message? Copy stuff? I didn’t get it. Aim Pictures was effectively flipping the audience over and we barely broke even on our own film.”

“In spite of this, critics praised Starlands and trashed Gnarly Hands. That good reception is great and all, but we need to make money. That isn’t where they quit either. When we prepared Starlands to a DVD and Blu-ray release, Aim Pictures threw another mock-up film together called Rattleman and released it the same day. This second film, Rattleman, was terrible and every scene was a parody of every scene in Starlands.”

“So now…” John shrugs, “What do we even say about that? What possesses Aim Pictures to smear us like that? I obtained a list of their employees and you know what, no one here at Artemis Corporation knows anyone personally at Aim Pictures! Not really! There were some paths crossed briefly, but… no disparities, no fights. Not a single thing to point us what inspires Aim Pictures to attack Artemis Corporation. Ever since Starlands Aim Pictures has maintained their attack path and they even refined their techniques, getting into deep codes and situational psychology with their scenes, basically like a full-on silent tease. And I kept sitting on this, wondering what to do. I discussed this with Elijah and Mary who both seem to think that we should draw up a well thought out plan and pursue legal action instead of diminishing to their level with an onscreen reaction. That’s what they want, some sort of adverse response that they can play on and keep it going. I agree. And here’s the kicker. They did a full-on media assault mock-up on my birthday with a few parody type things and whatnot. My birthday! I’m really at a loss of words. That birthday stunt really caused a lot of difficulties. I never thought much about it at first but then, someone pointed out some things in relation to the Aim Pictures birthday attack stunt and I was profoundly convinced.

“The lawyers and I are getting the details listed as thoroughly as we can but we aren’t on a final decision at this time. And here is where Kendall Heise comes in. Could you stand up, Ken?”

Ken stands up with a smile.

“Now, Ken here,” Says John, “we discovered playing guitar on the streets for chump change. His life is a tragic story. We didn’t know about Ken through his scarce and unknown artistic creations, but we found out about him through the reputation he had as a showbiz target. Come to find out he was going through a lot of the same media type attacks that we as a company are going through and that’s what got me interested. I thought maybe he knows something that we don’t know and we could use his knowledge to our own benefit as a company and as individuals.

“So, my associates at that time and I talked with Ken and got to know him and eventually, following a few meetings with him we decided to make him a part of the company as we found that not only is he well-spoken and intelligent, he also makes great art, being multi-talented in several different mediums. I am proud to call Kendall Heise a part of Artemis Corporation. We signed him a few months ago. He’s the only musician on our books. He’s kickstarting his long deserved professional career with our full support. I really think that he’s going to make it and become a money maker and perhaps an icon.

“And although his story is tragic and unbelievable, it’s true. Through all that cruel suffering and irretrievable loss, he ascertained something about how those people operate, what makes them tick, their methods and mindsets. He has agreed to share that in spite of his embarrassment at being a victim of intense wrongdoing. As he told me, he wants revenge and basically, we’re on board with that 111%. Ken can tell you himself about his long fight against the hideous highbinders that infect the entertainment industry. So, give a good welcome to Kendall Heise, our current addition to Artemis Corporation.”

Everyone applauds a short while.

Ken says, “Yeah, well, it’s a really long story. There’s so much that I could say about these treacherous… ah, what’s the word… they’re treacherous, I will leave it at that. I could fill a 1000 page book about what I went through, it’s that ridiculous. I didn’t do anything to these people but they were there manipulating things in my life and the lives of my loved ones and this goes all the way to when I was a teen. They made me into a target and then relentlessly attacked me in much the same way they’d been glued to Artemis Corporation. The difference is, these aren’t the same attackers. Although they aren’t the same, their methods are similar and in some ways precisely the same.

“It’s been a full ten years since the worst of their assault began, a target 10 years straight. No let up. No hope. Pure destitution. And I’m not the only one they’d done this to. But I went through this situation to a severity that I believe far surpasses anyone who has a similar story to tell.”

John Says, “Sorry to interrupt, but I must say, you look 10 times better than you did when we first met.”

Ken says, “Yes, of course. Everything is alright now and I couldn’t be more grateful that you gave me the only fair chance I ever had. I admit, it was tough when I was safely inside again, a real emotional trip. I thought it was never gonna end. If I didn’t get real help then you know, it wouldn’t’ve ever ended. But I mentally re-adjusted right to where I was before it all began. It was a mind trip and although there’s a lot to weigh me down in retrospect, I take it all as it comes and don’t let it get to me. I don’t think about it much, I try to avoid dwelling on the details because you know, it would slow me up. I keep my mind on my new friends, my new life and on my music and all that stuff. No one ever asks me about the tragic times and I don’t care to talk about it to them much but you know, for this meeting, I prepared something that puts it all on the line and toss all my cards on the table. I can’t act like it was all a dream and I can’t go on without doing something about it. So, I’m glad I can share this with Artemis Corporation and help you people find a way to counter these sorts of things.”

Elijah says, “In case anyone here was wondering, we offered Ken access to our company psychiatrist but he hasn’t seemed to need therapy. I think he’s handling it all quite well, whereas other similar cases I can reference are in really awful shape. Kendall’s attackers screwed him so hard for so long that I’m surprised that he can function on any level at all he isn’t braindead.”

Ken laughs and says, “Yes, thank you Elija. I promise that if I ever do need that sort of help I will immediately give your psychiatrist a call. I’m riding on the euphoria of being signed and being safely indoors again. Mentally, I should be alright. I like to stay sharp.”

Ken says, “On a creative note, I cut the fruit, I stab the fruit, slice the fruit, chop up the fruit, then I throw the fruit in the dumpster. I never eat the fruit. Eating the fruit would be disgusting. I’m sanitary like that. And sanitation, as you may or may not know, has absolutely nothing to do with sanity. Look it up in every English dictionary ever published and you’ll find I am fully right.”

There is a stretch of silence at the odd statement.

Ken winks and says, “Nah, I’m perfectly fine. Can still pull your leg like the best of them.”

There’s a few chuckles.

Elijah says, “Just some reiteration here about Ken’s situation so as not to let his unusually uppity state fool you. In all honesty, Ken was on his own self-made path to success with his life and reviewing his personal story and all facts therein it looks like your classic case of topside domineering. A sort of corporate sharking, meant to strip Ken of his personal power so that his assailants could take control, relinquishing his independence in the attempt to make him dependent on them. They wanted to effectively make Ken their puppet, but, he courageously fought against them and resisted. They were uncustomarily cruel to him, I must emphasize that. With similar cases, and there were many that I looked at, few of those cases were anywhere close to the drama and tragedy of Ken’s personal story. I’m sure Ken’s assailants would like to discount him, write him off as deluded, spread lies about him, assassinate his character, defame him and all those other petty things that treacherous billionaires do, and truly have already done to him, but, I am glad to say that since under our wing, here at Artemis Corporation, his deeply damaged reputation is healing and he is securely protected in all legal matters previously denied him.”

There is a stretch of silence at the lawyer’s remarks.

John says, “It’s great to see you here Ken, we thought you weren’t going to show up. I trust that you brought something that you prepared pertaining to your personal story. Am I right?”

Ken says, “Yes. I made a document about the whole thing. There’s a timeline to give a good idea of the whole situation beginning to end. There’s a list of the methods used to attack and subdue me and keep me destitute. I name names and point fingers to the best that my memory allows. This pamphlet ended up being 30 pages long but could’ve been much longer. I kept it as brief as I could and as short as I was able to make it while hitting all the key points and important matters that I thought Artemis Corporation would be interested with. You can use this document to assist you with your similar difficulties. Here, let me get them out and pass them around.”

Ken gets a bundle of stapled pamphlets out of his briefcase and then walks around the meeting table, handing them out. When he’s done he goes to his chair.

Everyone around the meeting table briefly thumbs through their pamphlet.

John says, “Thank you Ken. These pamphlets are valuable to us and I urge everyone here to take theirs with them and read them. We are scheduling a second meeting to further address Ken’s situation and I want everyone to be familiar with the details that he has shared with us. We are drawing up a course of legal action against Aim Pictures and we’ll use whatever we can to find a way to end their increasingly pricey annoyances. Our lawyers are also meeting with Ken to determine what legal actions he has to choose. Also, to reassure Ken of our stance as a company, I would like to proudly state that we aren’t cons here at Artemis Corporation. We don’t get devious. His time here with us is going to be a straight easy enterprise without any of that subterfuge absurdity.”

John says, “And Ken, tell us, how is your music project coming along?”

Ken says, “It’s great. My band is relatively full. We need a bassist but we’ve got an eye out to get someone to fill in the role, someone we feel good about kickin’ with. Three of us are songwriters so we’re accumulating a lot of material very quickly. So much good stuff we can’t decide on what we should use. Our first demonstration disc should be ready in around a few months or so. We’re not rushing it. It’s all a quality trip. We want to really take this music project to the next level. When we make that demonstration disc I’ll bring plenty of duplications to the offices here and hand them out. I’m very pleased with this. You’re all gonna like it.”

John winks with smile and says, “Good to hear that. Hendrick MacMilton, our actor here, you should know, is also a musician. Am I right, Hendrick?”

Hendrick says, “Yes, actually, I used to play drums when I was a teen. Still got my old drum set.”

Ken says, “That’s cool. Maybe if you’d like you can join us sometime and play some tunes.”

Hendrick says, “Yeah, that would be nice. My agent will get in touch with your agent and we can plan something.”

John says, “Alright now. I got a huge surprise. I purchased a 700 year old castle in England. This castle I purchased isn’t all that grand. The stones are covered in plant life and eroded. All the wood is long gone, it’s half buried and covered with debris. Charming though, got a paranormal feel. No towers. Got a smashed wall around it.

“So I sent an English team of archaeologists to find what they could and prepare the area to get a professional restoration. They uncovered some common artifacts such as the usual medieval swag, coins, all that. Not much treasure. Though they did find a handwritten leather-bound hardcover book.”

John takes a wireless keypad out of his briefcase and says, “Could you dim the lights, please?”

Darren Cools gets out of his chair and dims the lights.

John says, “Thank you.”

Darren sits in his chair.

John gets his projector presentation rolling. Scans of his book fill the screen. He says, “And here’s the ancient book.” He flips through the images, revealing the high quality craftsmanship of the item.

John says, “As you can see, a lot of skill went into putting this book together. That was before printing presses were invented. Naturally, I was really interested in this item. There’s some deterioration but not that bad. You can read the whole book without crumbling pages if you’re careful enough.”

John brings up the image of the hardbound book cover on the screen and reads the title out loud. “Tale of the Mighty.” He says, then flips around, facing everyone. “Tale of the Mighty.” he says once again. “Sounds like a classic but research shows no account of this book mentioned at all in any language of the medieval periods. So I’m sitting on a one-of-a-kind item.”

Patricia Nottelvog asks John, “Mr. Michael, did you notify the local English historical societies?”

John says, “Yes, of course. That was understood with the outline of the archaeologists’ contract. They must thoroughly document their findings to the appropriate authorities. Right now, the actual book is safely kept in a museum security box until a decision is made on what could or should be done with the item. These scans here were made at the museum. A full transcript of the content was made. So everything was done the right way, no hanky panky.” John winks.

He puts the keypad slowly into his briefcase and says, “I am sending all of you an email with the scans and a word document with an easier to read version of Tale of the Mighty when this meeting is done. I want you to read the whole thing and get a good understanding of what the story is about. It should take a few hours to read as there is 140 pages. I’m going to tell you a summary of the tale and why I’m sharing this artifact with all of you.”

John gets a paper out of his briefcase and hands it to his right. He says, “Write your email addresses on this, pass it around.”

He says, “First off, this story, Tale of the Mighty, sort of echoes old Greek myths and other old European tales of early history, but it doesn’t quite copy anything. It sounds similar, but it’s a story that was never told before. Whoever made this book doesn’t identify himself but he swears that the tale within is a true account of actual people and events. There are accounts of powerful artifacts. There is a claim that a grand voyage was made across the Atlantic Ocean, now this was hundreds of years before the American colonies. It sounds like the New York area when you read the text carefully, at least the way it was before all of the cities and highways. The discovery of a sacred golden stone that shines with a light all its own is narrated with great detail. This stone was said to reveal a hidden world that we can’t see. Okay, so that part sounds nuts, but it doesn’t end there either. It gets screwier.

“This golden magic stone was brought to mainland Europe where a wealthy family owned it and then passed it on to the main character in this book whom the writer calls Nathaniel Delf. Now, this Nathaniel character goes to England and builds an apprenticeship of some sort and this was where he met the writer of this book.

“The writer states that when twenty years passed of him knowing Nathaniel he started noticing that Nathaniel hadn’t aged. They often would see each other when the writer of this book, who himself owned several successful businesses, would trade with Nathaniel on a monthly market. He would tell Nathaniel, quote, ‘You should tell the secret of your youth. You should see that time has made everyone grey and slow, but, you have not changed.’ Nathaniel would pretend he didn’t know what the writer was telling him until one day the writer caught Nathaniel using magic.

“Nathaniel then confessed to his permanent life, endowed to him through his golden stone. He told him that he has lived already over 260 years and he told him the story of how the stone was discovered with the Atlantic voyage. Of course the writer hardly believed him, noting his disbelief in his book, but he recounted Nathaniel’s tales the way that Nathaniel told them.

“Nathaniel told him about his quest across Europe and his discovery of what powers his golden stone was infused with. Nathaniel tells of an encounter with star people who fly in ships made of iron and they teach him how to make magic with his golden stone. Nathaniel reveals his massive accumulation of knowledge and claims that he influenced key events in Europe, disguising himself time and again and going place to place to avoid being found out.”

“So, really, there’s a lot of good stuff there. Hadn’t read a story that good since I don’t know when.”

Amy Rhodes asks, “And let me guess, you want us to make a screenplay out of this book?”

John says, “Yes! I thought you’d never ask. Of course! This story is going to make us a classic film. I guarantee this. That isn’t all, either. I put some researchers on the claims made in this book and they went on their investigation to find whether this Nathaniel Delf was a real person. Research uncovered that in the north of France in the year 1194 a wealthy farmer, Meinsueur Delf, registered his family at a census, listing that his second son Nathan was a ‘newborn at summer’. If that was the actual same Nathaniel, which in all probability it was, then that makes this book mid-fifteenth century.

“Now, scientific proof isn’t on the counter yet, but professional opinion is that this book is authentic. Paper carbon dating and chemical tests on the ink and leather bound cover should tell us whether this book was really made in the medieval period. It could be a recent imitation, planted at the castle sometime in recent history but everyone believes it’s authentic.”

Bill Shooter says, “Okay, gotcha. So you’re saying that his book isn’t a fake and soon we should know with certainty. In addition, this man named Nathaniel Delf, who has mythological powers, could still be alive right now. And if so, if Nathaniel Delf is still alive, what are you saying? That he controls all of Earth in a secret laboratory? I mean, come on! That’s a difficult story to believe. But with all that nonsense swept aside, I would say that you got a best seller on your hands, well outside the line of copyright infringement. Even if the museum keeps your book, the story is yours. We’re in the clear on this one. As you say, it’s a money maker. You should tell your lawyers about these things before calling them to a meeting, Mr. Michael.”

“I know, I know.” Says John, “I wanted to surprise you.”

“We should talk when the meeting is over, Mr. Michael.” Says Elija.

John says, “Sure thing. Could someone get the lights up?”

Darren gets out of his chair and undims the lights.

“Thank you again, Darren.” Says John, “And there is one final surprise before I say we’re done and we can all go on break.”

John gets in his briefcase and gets some papers out of it. He holds them up and says, “What these papers right here should do is make Artemis Corporation a new profit margin of around half of what we were at before Aim Pictures started smearing us with their cheap tactics. This would be in addition to our current profit margin, which is under the weather, but should be recovering at the next quarter.

“It was a private deal. An offer was made first to me to purchase a merchandising company called PhazeTekk. If I didn’t jump on the offer then it would’ve been put up to auction. Their price was reasonable and we settled on a contract that let PhazeTekk employees presently to keep their jobs while we give the company an overhaul and reshape their policies and procedures to mirror our own. We are going to merge the two companies slowly and carefully.

“PhazeTekk, if you aren’t familiar with them, own a plastic factory where they make toys and they make parts for electronic gadgets such as tablets, DVD players, personal computers and some other devices. They also have a factory where they make movie set props. Our set designers have used PhazeTekk’s prop services a number of times these last few years, so we got some connection to them.

“The buyout offer was given to me first because they liked our industry reputation and the way we treat our employees. The owners of PhazeTekk thought that they would be leaving their company in good hands if they sold to us. I agree.

“So I’m really happy about this deal and all proper requests and notices of Artemis Corporation employee participation with the merging of the two companies should be sent out as needed. This could require our employees to work some overtime here and there and we are incorporating paycheck stimulus bonuses into this whole deal.

“A word document is going to be emailed to all Artemis Corporation employees about this merging with PhazeTekk along with a questionnaire that needs to get done and sent to our Corporate Resources department.

“And that would be all. Any questions before we close up this meeting?” John asks his employees.

Everyone is silent. John slaps his hands together with a pop.

He says his usual closing line, “We lead and we are led, but we never fall behind. Dismissed.”

Everyone starts to leave. John flips the screen projector off and then puts his things neatly into his briefcase. His lawyers, Bill and Elijah, are patiently waiting near the doors.

John closes his briefcase and locks it. He looks up to catch Kendall before he leaves and says, “Hey Ken! I’ll call you next week. Keep your eyes open at your emails, I may send you something.”

Ken says, “Okay. Take it easy Mr. Michael.”

“And you take it easy, Ken. Don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do.” Says John.

Ken says, “I promise.” Then quickly leaves.

John walks over to where his lawyers are standing and says, “You want to talk?”

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Denrich Tender. All rights reserved.

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