Chapter 49: Mr. Walker

Hello, dear readers. Today we turn to Mr. Walker so we can see the story from his perspective for the first time. And yes, you read that right, Mr. not Lord Walker. As you can imagine he’s none too happy about that fact, either, so let’s join him now and see what he has to say about it. And if you’re enjoying the story so far, please do take the time to leave a review of the first two novels on their respective Amazon pages here. Honest reviews are worth more than money to me at this point in my career so I’d greatly appreciate even a short sentence.

That’s enough for now, though, dear readers. Enjoy the continuation of the story and enjoy the rest of your weekend. We do nothing alone.

< XLVIII. Ansel     [Table of Contents]    L. Nikola >

XLIX. Mr. Walker

Why him? Why did the universe always have to gang up on on little old Lor—erMister Walker? What did he ever do to deserve such bad luck?

The television across the room spat out stock numbers, but try as he might, Mr. Walker could not concentrate on them. Especially now, when his Lordship had only just slipped out of his grasp, was it more important than ever for him to make the most efficient trades possible, but the very same reason it was so important that he did concentrate on his business decisions was the reason he couldn’t: because he wasn’t Lord anymore.

He slammed his hand on the bed, sending his beautiful bulbous stomach jiggling in anger. That asshole Douglas—the Hand take him and all his holdings—would pay for this. With more than money, too. A simple wealth transfer wasn’t enough. A wealth transfer would be necessary, of course, but not sufficient. If Mr. Walker was ever going to be Lord again, that went without question. All those years on top—an entire lifetime or two—had made Mr. Walker grow complacent, lazy. It was high time he shook things up, stirred the pot—so to speak—and Mr. Walker knew just the spoon to do it with.

A knock came at the bedroom door and Mr. Walker groaned. “Open it, you fool!” he called. “How many times do I have to tell you? Just open it already!”

The door swung open and in swept Haley, carrying a tray of breakfast over her shoulder. By the smell of it, at least, it seemed like she had finally remembered to hand prepare his food. How it could take a robot so long to learn something so simple he had no idea. He didn’t remember it taking as much effort for the original Haley to get the task right, but then again, that was so long ago he couldn’t really remember it at all.

“Here you are, sir,” Haley said with a curtsy. “Fifth breakfast.” She crossed around the bed to Mr. Walker’s side table and lifted the empty tray off his lap to replace it with the newly filled one from her shoulder, knocking his empty mug to the floor as she did.

“Now you see what you did you clumsy fool?” Mr. Walker yelled as she bent to pick it up. “What if that cup had been full of hot coffee? What then, huh? Do you know how that would feel?”

“No, sir.” Haley curtsied.

“It would burn, sweetheart. It would be painful. It would—it would hurt!” He shook his head. “What am I saying? You have no idea what I’m talking about. You’re a simpleton, a robot. You know nothing of what it means to be human and you never will.”

“No, sir.” Haley shook her head.

No, sir. Yes, sir. Whatever you say, sir,” Mr. Walker mocked her. “You see what I mean? You have no independent thoughts. You are a dependent. So just listen to me when I tell you to be careful and do better next time.”

“Yes, sir.” Haley curtsied.

“Good. Now change the channel. I’ve had enough of work for this morning. It should be close to time for my infernal meeting anyway.”

“Yes, sir,” Haley said. “What channel, sir?”

Ugh.” Mr. Walker sighed. “The reality network, dear. The same channel I watch every morning after breakfast. Honestly, honey, it’s not that difficult, your job, and if you’d like to keep it, I suggest you get better at it fast.”

“Yes, sir,” Haley said, curtsying and changing the channel. “Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”

“Leave me be so I can eat in peace,” Mr. Walker huffed. “And get my tuxedo ready for the meeting. We’ll be leaving soon.”

“Yes, sir,” Haley said, curtsying without leaving the room.

“Well? Get out! Leave me alone!”

“Sir, yes, sir.” She scurried out and slammed the door behind her.

What incompetence. Mr. Walker stuffed his mouth with toast and almost gagged because it was burned black. Who had ever heard of a robot that couldn’t even cook? It was just another sign of the universe’s insistence on giving him the shit end of the stick. Still, no matter how much the Hand stacked the deck against him, Mr. Walker would come out on top. He always had and he always would.

The picture on the TV screen changed from lines of assembly line workers to commercials, and Mr. Walker chewed his too crispy bacon. He had stopped paying attention for a bit, but something caught his eye. A tall dark actor, with bright red lips, was on screen, dressed in all black and leading a huge congregation of the most famous celebrities in a prayer to some god named Fortuna. They were all dressed in various shades of black, looking at the floor with teary eyes, and every word the tall man in front spoke elicited a new reaction from the crowd, as if his voice was the remote controlling the mass of robot actors, but robots they were not.

Then Mr. Walker realized what they were doing. They were mourning a death. Not just any death, either, but the death of Russ Logo, one more piece in the universe’s conspiracy against Mr. Walker and probably the biggest reason why he was no longer the Lord of Outland. Mr. Walker had invested a lot of money in Logo and the life insurance payments alone were nowhere near the fortune he should have been worth. Still, it gave Mr. Walker an idea on how to accelerate his climb back to the top where he belonged. Maybe the old clown could be worth a little something even in death.

A knock came at the door but it cut itself short before Haley burst through, carrying Mr. Walker’s pneumatic pants. “Ahem. Are you ready to be dressed, sir?” she asked with a curtsy.

Mr. Walker fumed. He wasn’t even halfway through his meal. No, he was not ready to be dressed. But he contained himself, taking a few deep breaths before stuffing more bacon and eggs into his face. It was a happy mistake, this one. He did need her even though he wasn’t quite ready to be dressed yet. He tried to convince himself that Haley had only come in because she knew he wanted something, even if she didn’t know exactly what that something was.

“No, dear.” he said through a full mouth. “As you can see, I’m still eating. But you can do something else for me. I need you to take a quick run to the market and open up bidding on Jorah Baldwin. We’ll take all the stock at any price. You got that? If he’s taking Logo’s place in Three—which it looks to me like he is—we’ll want him on our payroll. So go on and buy him up as soon as possible.”

“Yes, sir,” Haley said. “But the meeting, sir. Can’t I just order the stocks remo—”

“Don’t even say it!” Mr. Walker raised his hand to stop her, flinging some eggs onto his bedspread with the motion. “Do not even speak those words. We do things the old fashioned way around here. Just like cooking, you see. And if you leave right now instead of arguing with me, you’ll be there and back with plenty of time to spare. Now get!”

“Yes, sir,” Haley said, curtsying as she hurried away.

Mr. Walker sighed, stuffing his face fuller and fuller. It was never enough. Try as he might, he could never drown out the stupidity and jealousy of those around him. If they weren’t against him in theory, everyone was against him in practice with their complete incompetence. It was a wonder he had managed to remain Lord for as long as he did.

He growled, throwing a mostly full plate of food against the wall and spilling it all over the bed and floor. It wasn’t a wonder that he had been Lord for so long. He was surrounded by idiots. It was a wonder that one of them had somehow managed to surpass him. He had underestimated those little misters that surrounded him, and he had to keep on his toes if he ever wanted to be Lord again.

“Stock Market Report,” Mr. Walker said and the TV changed channels. He stared, and studied, and did math in his head as he ate the last plate of fifth breakfast. There was no more time for entertainment. He was at war. He had forgotten that in his years of ease on the top of the food chain, but now that he remembered it, he knew exactly what he had to do to get back to the top of the economic pyramid. He ran a few more numbers in his head as he licked his last plate clean. It was going to be tight for sure, especially considering who owned the stocks he needed, but Mr. Walker was confident enough in his negotiating skills to believe that he could do it and come out on top in the long run.

A knock came at the door.

“Come in, come in. By the Invisible Hand, come in  already!” Mr. Walker yelled.

Ahem, yes, sir,” Haley said, coming in with his pneumatic pants and tuxedo in hand. “I did as you asked, sir. We already own eighty-five percent of Jorah Baldwin shares.”

“Good,” Mr. Walker said, clapping his hands together and tossing his platinumware on his plate with a clatter. “Great. Then get this garbage out of my bed and get me dressed. We have an important meeting to attend.”

“Yes, sir.”

This was the worst part of breaking in a new robot. She was so slow and clumsy with the pneumatic pants. She could never get them up without pinching his skin, no matter how much he tried to wiggle and squirm to assist her. Then, when she finally did get them on, she took so long to button on his vest and tie his tie that he thought he would die of boredom.

“Okay, okay,” he said, guiding his pants out to the garage. “I’ll get my hat and monocle in the car. A cane, too, please.” The pants carried him up into his white stretch hummer and sat him comfortably in the backseat.

Haley came in moments later, pushing the top hat and cane back to him. At least she knew enough to sit in the driver’s seat instead of trying to ride like an honored passenger in the back with Mr. Walker. “Douglas Towers,” Haley said and he groaned.

The Hummer pulled out of Mr. Walker’s pristine garage and into the general parking garage for Douglas Towers, owned of course by Lord Douglas. The place was so cheap that it didn’t even have designated parking for distinguished guests. Not to mention the fact that the parking spots were so small Haley had to drive them all the way out to the bus lot to find one that fit the Hummer. Mr. Walker groaned and griped the entire time his pneumatic pants carried him from the Hummer to the elevator. The sooner he became Lord again the better. Then the Fortune Five could resume meeting in style.

“Penthouse Conference Room,” Haley said when the elevator doors slid closed. The floor fell out from underneath them, then the elevator doors opened onto a long gray hallway.

Ugh. Mr. Walker understood that this was a place of business, but a little class went a long way in making work more enjoyable.

The hall ended at a big rectangular room with a big rectangular wooden table. Mr.—erLord Douglas was already seated at the head of the table with Mr. Angrom at his right hand. Mr. Loch was late, as usual, and Mr. Smörgåsbord would no doubt be right on time but there were still a few minutes before the meeting was officially supposed to begin.

Mr. Walker took a seat on the far end of the table with a big smile, saying, “Well, boys. This is a classy venue, isn’t it? No windows to distract us from each other’s pretty faces. And what do you call that color? Industrial grey? I adore it. Truly.” He grinned, peering this way and that between Mr. Angrom’s sneer and Lord Douglas’s usual look of indifference.

“I’m glad you like it,” Lord Douglas said. “I designed it specifically with your tastes in mind. Everything I thought you would love, I did the exact opposite.” Mr. Angrom laughed. “In fact, that’s how I make all my decisions in life,” Lord Douglas went on, enjoying himself no doubt. “I figure, it’s gotten me the Lordship, why stop now?” He laughed along with Mr. Angrom now.

“I’m glad to see I hold so much—” Mr. Walker started, but Mr. Smörgåsbord came in followed by a clearly drunk Mr. Loch whose ruckus sitting down cut any possibility of audible speech off. It was probably for the better, too. Fighting with Lord Douglas now would only make negotiations with him that much more difficult later on.

“Watch where you’re going, sir,” Mr. Smörgåsbord complained, taking his seat at Lord Douglas’s left hand. “And please be sober for our next meeting. It’s simply unprofessional.”

“You wash where you’re going,” Mr. Loch slurred, plopping loudly into the last seat at the table, to the right of Mr. Angrom. “I do what I want.”

“Okay, okay,” Lord Douglas said, clapping his hands. “Enough. We’re here to do business. Can we get on with it?”

“Precisely my point,” Mr. Smörgåsbord said with a satisfied smile.

“Proceed,” Mr. Loch said, raising a flask then tipping it back for a drink.

“Yes, Lord,” Mr. Walker said with a grin. “Lead us, please. What did you bring us together for today, oh magnificent one?”

“Simmer down, Walkie Talkie,” Lord Douglas said, raising a hand. Mr. Walker ignored the insult and let him continue. The negotiations to come were more important than the mundane showmanship of a general meeting so he could bite his tongue for now. “This is a routine meeting. We’ll follow the same agenda we always follow—or the agenda we were supposed to follow, that is. You know, the one you ignored throughout your entire Lordship, Mr. Walker. Do you remember?” Lord Douglas chuckled and Mr. Angrom joined in.

Mr. Walker just held his breath, though, biding his time.

“Well then,” Lord Douglas went on. “Smörgåsbaby. The floor is yours. Go ahead and give us your run down of the market numbers, if you’ll please.

Mr. Smörgåsbord read off the net worth and major holdings of each member of the Fortune Five and the next five wealthiest owners in succession. These were the same numbers Mr. Walker had gone over for himself before coming to this stupid meeting. This type of thing was exactly why he preferred having these meetings at a restaurant or bar rather than some office building. That way he could at least have a drink in his hand while they presented him with information that could better be sent through email. Still, he used the time it did offer him to do a double check of his math from earlier and smiled, more than certain now that he could pull off his plan to become Lord again after all.

“Do you think that’s funny?” Mr. Angrom asked, slamming a fist on the table and snapping Mr. Walker out of his daydream. “Let’s see how funny you think it is when it’s your companies that go dry first after the shortages hit.”

“Woah there, Angry-Poo,” Mr. Loch said, swinging his flask as he spoke and sloshing pungent alcohol everywhere. “I’ve got my own supply trains. You watch your mouth.”

“So you and the Walrus are still colluding, huh?” Mr. Angrom shook his head. “I should have known.”

Tuh.” Mr. Loch chuckled. “Okay, Mr. Right Hand Man. Why don’t you—”

“Alright, alright, boys,” Mr. Smörgåsbord said, raising his voice uncharacteristically loudly. “That’s enough. And it’s not the end of it. Now, Lord Douglas, if you don’t mind, I think it’s time for you to take the floor.”

Ahem… Yes,” Lord Douglas said with a smile, fixing his tie. “I agree with Mr. Smörgåsbord. In fact, perhaps it’s time for me to take more than just the floor.”

Mr. Walker scoffed. Who did he think he was? Lord for a week and already so high and mighty.

“I’m sure you don’t agree, Wally Boy,” Lord Douglas went on, “but your opinion hardly matters these days. The world  has gotten out of your control and now—”

Ahem. Lord Douglas.” Lord Douglas’s secretary stepped up from behind him, interrupting the meeting. Mr. Walker would have taught her some respect right then and there if it was Haley that had interrupted him, but Lord Douglas just groaned.

“It’s happening,” the secretary said. “As we speak.”

“Well,” Lord Douglas said, shrugging her off. “It looks like our show is kicking off a little sooner than expected. Fellow owners, members of the Fortune Five, dare I say friends? Behold. This is what a world run by the former Lord Walrus Ass looks like. Video up.”

A holographic video popped up in the middle of the table. Dirty clothed imps, carrying nothing more than two-by-fours with nails driven through one end, came spilling out of white walls and running, unimpeded, through the halls of what looked like a protector’s precinct.

“Wha—where did you get this video?” Mr. Walker demanded, the only person there besides Lord Walker who was able to formulate a reaction beyond slack-jawed awe.

Lord Douglas laughed. “Security footage, Wally. Security footage from a protector’s precinct under your ownership. Now what are you going to do about it?”

“No,” Mr. Walker said, shaking his head. “It can’t be my precinct.” He saw his plans dissolving before his eyes. “That—I would know. It has to be one of yours. They were—”

“Mr. Walker,” Haley said, stepping up from behind and putting a hand on his shoulder. “I’m getting messages from precinct zero seven five three, sir. They’re saying—”

Enough,” Mr. Walker said, pushing her hand off his shoulder and slamming his own hands on the table. “You knew about this, Lord. You did nothing. You’re complicit in this attack—if not responsible.”

Lord Douglas laughed. Everyone else kept watching the video as the ragged imps went for an unguarded gun cache, taking everything their greedy, jealous hearts could force their tiny hands to haul away.

“No,” Lord Douglas said. “I’m neither complicit nor responsible. I’m simply in the know. And we’ve already sent our response to pick up the pieces you left for us—again. Look. Here they come now.”

A small crew of armed and armored protectors came into view of the camera, shooting into the armory as they approached. One or two bodies fell, but most of the imp thieves scattered away, only to disappear back through the walls, exactly the reverse of how they had arrived.

“What the fuck was that?” Mr. Walker demanded. “What did you do?”

“You tell me, Wally,” Lord Douglas said. “You saw it for yourself. You should know what’s happening in your own precinct, shouldn’t you?”

Mr. Walker looked to Haley then back at Lord Douglas with a sneer. “I know you had your hand in this,” he said. “You’re trying to kick me while I’m down, trying to make sure I stay down. You’re scared.”

“Kick you while you’re down?” Lord Douglas laughed. “That’s nonsense. You saw the video. Those were Sixers if I’ve ever seen them. Maybe some Fivers, too, now that there’s not much of a difference between the two worlds. But either way, how could I have any hand in that? You think they’d listen to me? Have you ever tried talking to one?”

“I shay yous did it,” Mr. Loch slurred.

I say you did it,” Mr. Angrom mocked him. “Prove it, then. Otherwise all I see is incompetence.”

“Incompetence, yes,” Mr. Walker said, grinning. “Our Lord Douglas’s incompetence. What incompetence must it take to know the threat of an attack, even to go so far as to record it and set up a live stream, but yet still do nothing at all to prevent said robbery’s success?”

“Right,” Mr. Loch said, taking a swig from his flask. “Incompetensh.”

“Do nothing? Ha! You saw what I did. We all saw it. Those were my men bailing you out. My boots, my masks, and my guns, all saving your soil. The real incompetence is not knowing when there’s going to be an attack on your own precinct, Wally. That’s incompetence.”

Enough,” Mr. Smörgåsbord said, standing from his seat. “Pardon me, Lord, but that’s enough. We’re not here to argue whose fault this is. Are we? No. We’re here to discuss the occurrence, tally up the damages, and figure out how to solve the already created problems. Now, if y’all don’t mind, I’ve wasted enough of my precious time with your petty arguing, and I’d like to get this meeting on with.”

“Well said,” Lord Douglas said, clapping his hands. “Well said, Smörgy. Better than I could have ever put it. You see, it doesn’t matter who’s at fault here. No. What matters is who’s in charge. How that person will respond. And—as standing Lord of the Fortune Five—I think there’s a good case to say that person is me.”

“Over my dead body,” Mr. Loch said.

“That could be arranged,” Mr. Angron muttered.

“Now now,” Mr. Walker said, raising his hands in defense. “Slow down there, Lord. Last I checked, this was still a free market and I still owned a majority share in the protector force. Now, unless those facts have changed, or unless we’ve somehow become some sort of Fascist state which presumes to take control over the private property of owners, I think there’s a better argument that I should be the one making the decision.”

Mr. Angrom scoffed. “After you let them ransack your armory? As if.”

“After your Lord let them ransack Lord Walker’s armory,” Mr. Loch said.

“I don’t think so,” Lord Douglas said, shaking his head. “You’ve made too many mistakes, Walker. There’s precedent for me to take control of the entire protector force because of that. When the incompetence of one owner threatens the safety and wealth of the rest, as I think it’s obvious this incompetence of yours has done, Lords throughout history have used their powers of eminent domain to put right what was wronged.”

“Now wait—” Mr. Loch said.

“Hold on,” Mr. Walker stopped him. “I’ve never heard anything like this before. Smörgåsbord?”

“It’s true,” Mr. Smörgåsbord said, nodding. “Though the circumstances were quite different than they are today. It was only done because one owner was using his protectors to—”

You see,” Mr. Walker said, not caring about the rest of Mr. Smörgåsbord’s boring speech because he had already gotten what he needed from it. “The circumstances were quite different. Right out of the mouth of a neutral party. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll handle the protectors’ response to this outrage myself. We can move on to other business now. Thank you, good sirs.”

“Very well,” Lord Douglas said, crossing his arms on the table. “We’ll table this issue for now. But I want all of you to mull this little episode over in your head and be ready to come back and vote on the issue at our next meeting. Maybe by then you’ll all be able to see the consequences of Mr. Walker’s blunder as well as I see them already.”

Mr. Loch scoffed, standing from his chair and knocking it to the floor. “Ish that all then, Lord?”

Mr. Smörgåsbord looked to Lord Douglas expectantly. “I do have some work to tend to, Lord.”

“Very well,” Lord Douglas said, rubbing his hands together. “This meeting is adjourned. You can all get back to whatever is you think is so much more important than our economy. But remember what I said about the protectors response. And remember what has been done already—in both the present and the past. Think it all over well, comrades. This is your life on the line with this vote as well as it is anyone else’s.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Mr. Loch muttered under his breath as he stumbled out of the room.

Mr. Smörgåsbord packed his notes and left close behind. “Very well, Lord,” he said as he did. “See you next time.”

Mr. Angrom sat staring at Mr. Walker who didn’t move. Lord Douglas didn’t move, either, it being his office building, but he was smiling instead of sneering.

“So, Wally Boy,” Lord Douglas said. “Is there anything else, or have your pneumatic pants broken down on you? I can have Rosalind carry you out if that’s the case.” His impudent secretary scoffed behind him.

“I bet it was the pants,” Mr. Angrom said with a grin. “Walker’s fat ass finally wore them out.” He chuckled alone to his own joke.

“No, Lord,” Mr. Walker said, shaking his head and trying to put on his most respectful face. “My pants are just fine. I simply had some private business I wanted to discuss with you, and I was waiting for the rabble to clear out before I did.” He sneered at Mr. Angrom.

“The only rabble here’s you,” Mr. Angrom snapped.

“Alright now,” Lord Douglas said. “It’s okay. Move along, Angry. I had some personal business I wanted to discuss with ol’ Wally here anyway.”

“But, sir,” Mr. Angrom said, red faced. “We were supposed to— You said—”

“It can wait, Angrom,” Lord Douglas snapped. “Now git.”

Mr. Angrom put on a sour look, standing slowly from his seat and eyeing Mr. Walker the whole way up. “Yes, sir,” he said. “But I don’t like it.”

Mr. Walker chuckled as Angrom ambled out of the room.

“Well, then,” Lord Douglas said, clapping his hands and rubbing them together. “What is it that you wanted to discuss, Wally Boy? Why do me the honor?”

For a second Mr. Walker considered spitting in Lord Douglas’s smug face right there and leaving without even trying. His plan was probably pointless anyway. Any deal he could come up with would no doubt be shot down by Lord Douglas for the simple fact that it came out of the mouth of his arch nemesis and biggest competitor, Mr. Walker. But still, it was a good deal he was offering, and Mr. Walker had no choice but to try.

“Go on,” Lord Douglas said. “I’m waiting…”

“Well—uh…” Mr. Walker said, gathering his thoughts and choosing a line of attack. “You see, Lord, I really just couldn’t help noticing that you’ve taken quite a hit on your profit margins with your protetor costs as high as they are ever since all these shenanigans started.”

Lord Douglas chuckled. “Yes, well, not quite as hard of a hit as you’re taking, though. Eh, my boy?”

Mr. Walker shook his head in earnest. “No, no. That’s true, Lord. I own a slightly larger percentage of the force so of course I take a slightly larger hit than you do. You’re dead right on that point. But what if I told you that I could eat even more of those costs for you? Huh? How would you like that?”

Lord Douglas narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “What did you have in mind, Mr. Walker?”

Mr. Walker smiled, happy to hear the Lord use his formal name for once rather than the ridiculous nicknames he had become so fond of since taking his new title. It might mean that Lord Douglas was willing to play some ball after all. “Well, I thought I’d just go ahead and buy up some of your protector holdings so you wouldn’t have to worry as much about all this hubbub,” Mr. Walker said, shrugging. “That’s all. A friendly gesture for my new Lord.”

Lord Douglas chuckled. “I think I’d be more worried knowing it was you who was in charge of so much of my safety.”

“Now, now.” Mr. Walker shook his head. “You and I both know there’s no way I could have figured out about your little attack before you pulled it off. That was no fault of my own.”

Lord Douglas laughed heartily now, slapping his hand on the table. “You kill me, Walker. Even if that was true, even if I had orchestrated that little attack, it wouldn’t excuse your continued failure to calm Two or determine the source of the Christmas attack. You’re incompetent when it comes to security—among other talents you direly lack—and there’s no arguing against that.”

“Okay, enough,” Mr. Walker said, standing from his seat in a huff. “You haven’t even heard my offer and all you do is insult my character.”

“I don’t need to hear your offer. No amount of money would lead me to hand over further control of the protector force to you. You’ll have to pry this force out of my cold dead hands.”

“It’s your funeral,” Mr. Walker said as he stomped out of the room, down the hall, and to the elevator with Haley close in tow. He didn’t wait for her when the elevator opened into the parking garage, and she had to jog to keep up with his furiously working pants.

“Hurry up!” Mr. Walker yelled from the backseat of the stretch Hummer as she climbed into the front, and at the same time his phone started to ring. “And answer that,” he added with a huff

“I—yes—” It took Haley three rings to finally climb into the car and say, “Answer phone.”

“It’s about time sweetheart,” Mr. Walker said to the air, knowing who would be on the other end of the line. Laura’s portion of the plan was only important if Lord Douglas actually ended up cooperating, but Mr. Walker wasn’t ready to give up on that just yet—negotiations had only just begun—so he would have to continue with the charade anyway.

“It’s done,” Laura said, her voice sounding cold all through the Hummer’s heated air.

“Good,” Mr. Walker said with a smile she couldn’t see. “Very good.”

“Yes,” Laura said. “I’m calling about Loch Ness Studios Lot thirty seven. This is Laura Concierge.” She was obviously speaking in code because others were there who she didn’t want to overhear the conversation. A rather intelligent little operative, this one was.

“Yes,” Mr. Walker said. “Very good, child. Keep up the charade. Tell me what happened.”

“Yes, sir,” she said. “Lot thirty seven, sir. We were filming a shoot when one of the studio lights fell on top of our star. He was knocked unconscious, sir. We’re not sure he’ll ever act again, and we only had the lot for a limited time at that. This is your responsibility, and we demand a refund and credit for more time in the studios as reparation.”

“Very good, child. I assume you mean Emir when you say star, of course..”

“Yes, sir. He… He doesn’t look good. We need a doctor. Someone to tell him just how bad it is, sir.”

“I’ve sent someone already. My personal doctor. She’ll give you the diagnosis you seek. And I expect to see you shortly, dear. In my office as soon as you’re done there. You know the way.”

“Yes, sir—” she said and he hung up the phone.

“Haley,” Mr. Walker said. “Is Doctor Smith on standby?”

“Yes, sir,” Haley said, holding the door to the now parked Hummer open for him to exit.

“Send her to Loch Ness Studios, lot thirty seven.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And get me Jorah Baldwin—in person. We have some business to tend to.”


#     #     #

< XLVIII. Ansel     [Table of Contents]    L. Nikola >

And there you have it. Te seventh chapter in book three of the Infinite Limits tetralogy. That means we’re 1/3 of the way through this novel and we’ll to start returning to characters we’ve already joined starting next week. I hope you’re enjoying the story as it continues. I’ll be hard at work finishing book four either way. So until next time, enjoy yourself, dear readers, and always remember:

We do nothing alone.


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