Disvigos

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A late night board meeting proves deadly for the world.

Submitted: July 18, 2010

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Submitted: July 18, 2010

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He stood bent over the thing; the palm of his hands forcefully resting on the table as if he had just had a glorious epiphany. He couldn’t have looked more euphoric. It made me physically and emotionally sick.
It looked really slick, perfectly square and made of the shiniest metals and plastics. It had an LCD screen encompassing the entire front side that showed a flowing cloud of sand transforming into a beautifully rendered lily. It had a button on top that looked to be made of pure white marble with the word PUSH sprawling across it in black letters. It did, indeed, made people want to push it.
Neil Bryant, co-CEO of Disvigos and the man who was avariciouslyhovering over the device, spoke with pride, “Here it is, folks, 30 years of research and development and the miracle that is going to usher in a new era for our company.”
The woman sitting next to him tapped his hand, “Uh, and the world.”
Neil smiled in approval, “… and the world.”
All twelve of us reacted in different ways. Most of us smiled and looked at one another with great admiration. I did not. It was 12:30 at night and I hadn’t been getting much sleep lately. My interest in this project waned considerably when I figured out the consequences the use of this little device had. Add to the fact that the only two lights on in the building where the two wall lamps hanging on either side of our conference room and the glowing blue of the Companies Logo resting menacingly in the hallway, and you could see why it was hard for me to stay awake. This thing would not be approved to go into production, so I just wanted to vote and get out of there.
A fat man in a penguin suite and top hat rose from his chair and patted Neil on the shoulder, his exuberance adding a little more vigor then was called for, “Well, way to go young man. This is truly the crown achievement of this company.”
Neil brushed his long, golden hair out of his eyes and winked at the woman next to him, “Well I couldn’t have done it without Kathleen, my wonderfully sharp and gifted older sister. It’s because of her compassion for society that this product stands before us.”
Ha! Her compassion matched her stature, skin and bones. Any compassion that woman had was so little that she couldn’t be able to find it in herself to feed a starving mouse.She nodded in approval. Her eyelids tried to shut over her buggy eyes momentarily, irritatingly trying to display humility. She couldn’t do it. A person can’t convey feelings that they do not understand.
She spoke, “Well, thank you Neil. With this product, Mr. Hewitt, we will be able to solve some of the world’s great problems, from world hunger to pandemic diseases. “
Rage started to bubble within my gut. She is spoon feeding him lies, all in the name of profit, “Lies!” I blurted out. I couldn’t help it. It physically could no longer stay in my body. The anger I felt consumed every organ, every cavity within me. There was no room for lies.
Everyone turned my direction, most with looks of disgust on their faces. Kathleen’s face got thinner and whiter. Usually when an act of defiance like this happens she would turn beat red and start screaming. But there was a guest in the house and she wanted to show that she had compassion for her children. Neil, however, wasn’t trying to be as pleasant, “Excuse me? And who the hell are you?”
“Paul Anderson, sir, Research and Development.” I knew how the game was played. I knew that I wouldn’t get fired on the spot. It would make the company look bad if the bosses where so quick to punish. I decided to push my luck a little more, “Well, not exactly lies, I will admit, but not exactly the truth. Is it?”
Neil tried to crack a warm smile, “Care to explain, Mr. Anderson?”
Hell yeah I will! I wanted to get a little more comfortable. I leaned forward, resting my shoulders on the table, “I certainly do. As you know, Mr. Bryant, as part of my job in the R&D department, I have to fill out a progress report every week if the week’s research was a success. If there was an accident, then I would forgo the progress report and just fill out an accident report. Well, throughout my career here, which is to say, throughout this entire project’s life span; there have been more accident reports than progress reports filled out, filed and put on your desk. Did you not read any of them?”
“I read everything that comes across my desk.”
“Then you know that this little device that your sister so cleverly devised does more harm than it does good.”
Neil leaned over the table once more and gave me a derisive glare, “Wasn’t it also your job to make sure that any problems that would arise would also be fixed?”
“It was. But, chalk it up to design flaw or something; every time we would fix one problem, a new one arises.” I turned to Mr. Hewitt, and spoke matter-of-factly, “Did you know, Mr. Hewitt, as the design of this little box now stands, it has been prone to killing everything that is over exposed to it. And I do mean everything. Plants, animals, people. Little children are especially at risk.”
Mr. Hewitt was bewildered, but kept calm, “Well, I suppose we will have to put a warning label on it.”
“More like fifty warning labels! That was just the final results of our tests. It has also been prone to cause severe rash, impotency, extreme fever, and blindness!”
Mr. Hewitt didn’t believe me, “How the hell is that possible? It’s a box with a button.”
Here we go. I knew he wouldn’t get it. I would have to show him, “Press that button. Then you would see what kind of evil this box is capable of.”
Mr. Hewitt turned to Neil and got right into his face, “What is this, Neil. Your own team is denouncing this project. This isn’t safe?”
Neil became very flustered, “I assure you, Mr. Hewitt, the treatments out way the side effects, just like with any form of medicine.”
Mr. Hewitt began to cough. It came deep within his lounges and his body was defenseless against it. He bent forward, grasping at the table for support. Time to turn up the devil’s advocate dial, “Having a panic attack, Mr. Hewitt?”
A gasp of air from the old man, “YES!”
“Press the button. It can cure any panic attack. You’ll feel like a newborn baby taking a nap.”
He started to reach for the button on the box. I got extremely nervous. The red LED light scrolled a message across the front of the box. What ails you? Please say loudly. I looked at my colleagues around me with a devious grin. They looked back at me, every single one with panic in their eyes. He stopped the man from pushing the button, just for a moment, “Uh, Mr. Hewitt, you have to tell the box why you’re sick. It can’t cure you unless it knows what it is that needs to be cured.”
“I can’t breathe! I can’t Breathe!” he clinched his hand into a fist and was going to pound the button.
The young man sitting right next to me, Michael, quickly jolted out of his seat and screamed, “No! Please don’t!”
This sudden outburst knocked Mr. Hewitt back into his seat, where he slumped low and started to turn red. Kathleen rushed towards the sink and filled a small glass with water and gave it to Mr. Hewitt. Ah, there is her compassionate side.
Michael continued, “I wouldn’t use that in this small room. It would be harmful to those of us who are healthy.”
Mr. Bryant spoke, “So a person who where to use this should do so only around sick people… or by themselves?”
Michael sighed, “Yes… I suppose.”
“Good, we will put that on the warning label.”
Mr. Hewitt devoured that water in less than two seconds. We all sat there while he sucked in most of the air in the room. The moment he could utter any sort of words he did, “You know what, it’s damn near one o’clock in the morning. You have my support, and my money. If we could vote to approve this, I would like to go home!”
Neil smiled, “Sounds good. We have already taken roll so all we need is a yes or no from each of you.”
He went around the room, pointing at each of use. As each one of my colleagues said yes my vision became blurry. The damp, grayish scene from outside the windows swirled and mixed with the blues and reds of my fading eyesight. I was the only one to say no. My body reacted to this travesty in the most instinctive way, with complete and utter despair.
“Well there you have it!” Neil’s wild blonde hair jostled across his face. His eyes where full of greed, “Production begins eight o’clock this morning. As majority shareholders of Disvigos, you have all just become very wealthy people.”
There was an insincere applause from the eleven that voted yes. And that was it. That was how the pandemic started, with the late night board meeting. No one knew we were there. No one knew about the box. No one was able to stop the devastation it would unleash across the globe.
I was the last one to rise from my seat. As Neil walked out of the room, he turned and spoke, “Mr. Anderson, I need to see you eight o’clock in my office. I think you are overdue for a performance review.”


© Copyright 2020 Liam Stanton. All rights reserved.

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