Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers - Chapter 8

Chapter Eight

“What do you mean the company is being stabilized?   Who bought all the shares?  I thought the owners were stripped of available cash?  What happened?” Gunter’s voice was a roar, his brow knitted in anger and the whites of his knuckles showing as he gripped the cell phone in his massive hand.  Who dared to interfere with his plans?  They would pay.  Expansion was crucial.

“Waterbury Enterprises is purchasing the stock.  Just bought three million more shares and the CEO of Waterbury Enterprise held a news conference ten minutes ago pledging support to Akron Pharmaceutical due to their philanthropic endeavors.”  Willow paused to let her words sink in.  “You do know who owns Waterbury Enterprises?”

“Yes, I know who owns the company.  I’m not an idiot.  Shirley Waterbury.  Markets that desalting machine her brother invented.”  Gunter was outside in his yard and he turned to stare back at his mansion.  So close.  “Why is she getting involved?  This is not her normal acquisition.”

“I believe she is friends with the owners of Akron.  They may have turned to her for help.”  Willow let her voice die down.  Gunter was impossible to deal with when he was like this.  Rational thought or comprehension was no longer an option with him in this heightened state of instability.  “I understand a second press release is imminent.  She is going to publicly offer her support to Akron Pharmaceuticals and ensure investors Akron is a stable, high yield investment worthy of investment.  With her support the company could not only remain solvent, but may become the stock pick of the week or month.  Apparently she is involved with their charity and wants to make sure they remain solvent.  The price of the stock could soar on her word alone.”   

Gunter paused before he responded.  Why would Shirley Waterbury make a public statement and at this time?  Coincidence?  He did not believe in chance circumstances in the business world.  Finally he spoke.  “We cannot match her capital strength.  She has the resources to play this out to her desirable outcome when she chooses.  We would go bankrupt trying to force a take over.  Waterbury Enterprises generates too much revenue on a monthly basis for us to even consider a one-on-one duel for ownership of the company.  She could buy the company and never recognize a change in her considerable holdings.  Her portfolio would be unaffected, other than acquiring a pharmaceutical company I desperately want and need.”  Günter let his voice sink low, but could not help but admire the financial scenario of his ‘competitor.’

“Why don’t we pursue another company?  There are others out there…”  Willow was cut off and she regretted the words she had spoken the second her boss interrupted her.

“No!  Nien!  I want…I need Akron Pharmaceuticals!  They have the distribution capabilities we desire and they would position us to launch our new products in America.  They’re established, not the largest, but still good for growth.  And the company is a key piece to my marketing strategy.  With our push they’re the perfect piece to complement want I desire to achieve.  I’ve spent months considering them and I’m convinced they hold the key to expansion.”  Günter was screaming again and started to pace.  His two dogs retreated from his side and sought the sanctuary of the porch.  When their master was riled no one was safe and that included them.  They each entered an igloo shaped dog box and peered tentatively out at him. 

“What about a partnership?  Perhaps Akron Pharmaceuticals…”  Again Willow was stopped.

“No!  I know how to deal with people who meddle in my business.  She may be the richest woman in the world, but I’ll show her what happens when she sticks her nose in my affairs.”  Without another word Günter snapped his phone shut.  Shirley Waterbury.  The darling of the capitalist world.  Young.  Smart.  Lost her parents and sibling and formed Waterbury Enterprises based on the genius of her brother Billy.  Maybe she should join her family.

 Günter flipped his phone open and called a familiar number.  It was a risky game he was playing, but only the brave would rule the world.  It was his time.  There were none braver.  The phone on the other end was answered on the second ring.

When the connection was made, Günter had to hang up and call a second time as the voice on the other end was muffled, undistinguishable.  The line was free of static this time and he was able to hear without it sounding like the words on the other end were being yelled into a wind tunnel.

“I have a job for you.  Need it done by next week.”  Günter paused to let his contact catch up.

“Who is it?”

“Shirley Waterbury.”  Günter let the words trail off his lips without the slightest hint of concern.

“Are you crazy!  Have you lost what sense remains in that German mind of yours!  There is no way we can hit her!  Too well connected and too well protected!  It would take an army…”  

Günter cut the man off and his anger burst across the air waves.  “Then hire an army!  I don’t care how many men or how much!  I want her dead!  Dead!  Do you understand?  I have plenty of sense in my mind!  Don’t lecture me on this!” Gunter was again screaming, his emotions spiraling to new heights of frustration.

“Calm down, Günter.  I’m not one of your underlings who fear you or run scared.”  Hector Oglavin spoke slow and deliberate.  He had killed the last man who had yelled at him; a small caliber bullet between the eyes had done the trick.  Later he had tossed the body into the river to join the fish.  “I take the risks, not you.  It is I who must design the hit and decide if it is doable.  It is I who runs from the authorities and keep secrets like yours safe from the rest of the world.  Do we understand each other?” The words were hissed out of clenched teeth.

“We understand each other, Hector.  I want her dead.”  Günter had regained some control, but his hands were shaking.  Pain had started in his head again and he could feel his pulse racing as tiny lights danced behind his eyes.  It was early this time, starting to build.  He only had a little time before he had to ‘deal’ with the problem.  

“Let me evaluate the situation.  It would be nice if she met with an ‘accident’ that would remove any criminal investigation.  She is very well protected.”  Hector had let his voice drift lower, barely audible.  What Günter was proposing was not impossible, but was fraught with danger and the likely possibility of capture if not handled properly.  “Is there immediacy to this operation?”

“Ya.  She is meddling in affairs that I need her out of.  The sooner the better.”  Günter felt a rare chill sweep through his body and he glanced at his watch.  He was overdue.  His body was beginning to react. 

“Very well.  I will call you tomorrow with a proposal.  It may be high, very high, and I dictate the number of personnel and the amount or no deal.  Agreed?”  Hector was already scribbling on a piece of paper. 

“Agreed.”

Both men terminated the conversation.  Günter snapped his cell phone shut and turned to hurry inside his house, an expansive mansion nestled amongst an old growth of evergreens atop a small hill. The sprawling estate had been designed to resemble the castles of old Europe and the sweeping entrance spoke of wealth, creating the aura the eccentric German had desired.  A slight breeze rustled the leaves on the trees and could be heard whispering up the hillside as the ruthless owner hurried through the entrance.

Once inside, Günter proceeded to the basement and approached a corner of the remotest room, one cast in perpetual shadow, though not dark.  Oaken shelves lined the wall, full of beer steins, their colorful art work adding brightness to the interior.  The color was much needed.  The room was a game room, complete with billiard and card tables.  A prominent wine rack and liquor bar dominated the center of the floor, sweeping in a curved arch like a horseshoe, the rich luster of the wood standing out in stark contrast to the rest of the furnishings.

Reaching the far wall, Günter looked around to make sure his maid or butler was not present.  Satisfied he was alone, he tugged on the center book shelf, pulling it gently toward him and then shoving it slightly upward and back.  The hidden lock could be heard moving and the shelf swung open on silent hinges allowing its owner to step inside.  Deftly Günter closed the concealed door, sealing himself inside the hidden chamber.

Reaching for the wall, Günter flipped on a light switch, its location committed to memory as his fingers found the hidden receptacle in total darkness.  A shallow corridor was exposed, leading him to a second set of doors, which opened conventionally.  Walking inside this second room, Günter hurried over to a large commercial refrigerator, complete with an interior light and glass front panel.  Lying on the top shelf was a set of syringes, lined in perfect order.  Selecting the one nearest him, Günter closed the storage unit and proceeded to a low stainless steel table in the middle of the small enclosure.  The room was not large and the table and refrigerator dominated the space.

Removing his shirt, Günter selected a small piece of rubber hose and tied it around his left arm, using his teeth to hold one end as he pulled the strap tight.  He rapidly opened and closed his fist as tiny beads of sweat popped up on his forehead.  Within seconds the vein in the crook of his arm rose to the surface.  Günter removed the plastic covering from the syringe and slipped the needle into his vein, using his teeth this time to remove the rubber tourniquet.  Shoving the plunger down, he watched as the clear fluid disappeared inside his arm. 

Dropping the syringe, Günter collapsed in a chair near the table and patiently waited.  He could feel the burning sensation warmly coursing through his veins and into his body.  In less than a minute he could feel his face becoming flushed and then the clarity, the absolute feeling he so desired enveloped him.  Günter sat for several more minutes, reveling in his new found power.  God had made some men mentally gifted.  Gunter knew he had exploited this trait and could enhance the mental capabilities of the gifted.

Flipping open a journal on the table next to the syringe, he consulted his notes and made an entry on the page.  The dosages were required with added frequency and the with-drawls were occurring sooner and more violently.  It was cause for concern, but he had just completed a physical and had been pronounced in good health.  Still he made a note to consult Dr. Hammermill and have him evaluate these new conditions.  Perhaps he needed to alter the formula to compensate for the effect of the combination of drugs.  Dismissing the thought as a minor annoyance, Günter closed the book and dropped the pen down beside it.

Rising from his chair, Günter disposed of the empty syringe and moved over to a small computer.  This was not a computer monitor for conventional systems employed to display information.  There was a small scope, like the ones eye doctors use to test a patient’s vision, and Günter leaned forward resting his chin in the small rubber holder to support his head.  Wiggling his cranium, he adjusted his position until his eyes were glued to the eye piece.  On the inside was a small screen and he waited while his eyes were scanned by an infrared light.  Once the machine indicated all was well, a small ‘GO’ icon appeared in the lower left corner.  Günter maneuvered the mouse until he was able to click on it.

For the next three and a half minutes, Günter watched the screen as a series of mathematical probabilities flashed before him.  In each instance he had only fifteen seconds to select the correct answer and to indicate his decision by clicking on it.  After the mathematical exercise, the computer moved him through five languages, science, humanities and complicated theoretical engineering questions.  The total exercise took less than an hour and he was sweating slightly from the exertion. 

Leaning back from the scope, Günter waited while the results were printed out on a small piece of paper.  Scanning his scores, he smiled and then leaned back in his chair staring at the ceiling.  Incredible.  His results were improving each time he administered the mind cocktail.  He had almost scored perfect on the random series of questions and was over ninety-seven percent accurate.  Unheard of.  Günter walked over to the journal and entered the latest data, reveling in the knowledge he was superior as he reviewed the positive progression of his tests. 

Leaving his hidden chamber, Günter had a new found exuberance surrounding him.  There was no way he could not achieve that which he so desired.  He was mentally smarter than all but the very brightest in the world and he could have anything he wanted.  His smile faded somewhat when he remembered he only had enough dosages for the remainder of the month.  He would have to order more from the island. He could not afford to run out this late in the venture.

Mentally retracing his steps, Günter left as carefully as he had come.  Securing the outer door masquerading as a shelf, he laughed only to himself. The secrets in the refrigerator were safe and known only to him.  The outside world would learn of his brilliance soon enough.    

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The flight back to Florida had been done quickly and Slade found himself driving to Cedar Key after landing at Jacksonville International Airport amid a slight rain, the tiny droplets cascading onto the windshield and slipping off the hood of his Jeep to the road.  Steam was rising from the asphalt and he adjusted the air conditioner to stifle the humidity.  Even when it rained in Florida it was still hot, suffocating.  That was why he preferred the coast; there was always a breeze blowing in from the sea giving, if nothing else, the illusion of cooler air.

Slade had called Katherine from the airport and told her he how he had lost his phone.  Katherine had told him about Bubba and June and the incident in Sanibel.  After a dozen questions, Slade was satisfied they were both okay and had told Katherine he would be home as soon as he could get there.

There was one stop Slade had to make.  Paul Spivey owned a jewelry shop in Gainesville called The Calico Gator.  A master craftsman, the artistic owner had designed an engagement ring that had finally met with Slade’s approval.  It was a lovely three carat solitaire set in a white gold setting, slightly raised with smaller diamonds flowing down the band on either side of the central stone.  It was exquisite, eye catching and he hoped to win the heart of an artist with it.

After paying for the ring, Slade sat in his Jeep for over ten minutes staring at the master piece and thinking about Katherine.  So much had changed for him.  From the lonely existence on LAPD, where he had avoided marriage and dedicated himself to the job, to living in Cedar Key and falling in love with the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  She was as extroverted as he was elusive and distant; as expressive as he was quiet.  They seemed opposites, but they held so much in common they were the perfect fit.  Slade felt his heart flutter and the blood rush to his face.  Smiling to himself, he snapped the jewelry box shut and fired up the Jeep.  Now he needed to decide how he was going to pop the question.  He wanted it to be something Katherine would remember the rest of her life.  Slade started to laugh.

The ride down the two lane road leading to Cedar Key was done amidst a blast of music from his stereo.  A combination of the Bee Gees and Taylor Dayne, with a healthy dose of Elvis reverberated throughout the cab of the Jeep and he sang along to some of the songs.  Life now was so enjoyable and complete. 

The ride gave him time to think and regroup.  So much had occurred in so little time, he had not had the slightest chance to evaluate the set of circumstances that had transpired.  Who had killed Stanley Watchman?  And Stanley’s parents were murdered?  What did the killers think the young doctor had known and had told his family?  Had it been that important?  Why Stanley? There were other ways to silence someone.  So many unanswered questions.

When Slade drove into Waterbury Enterprises, he parked in his familiar spot and walked inside.  Katherine had told him to meet in Shirley’s office and they were all there when he let himself in.  Katherine met him at the door and gave him a big hug and kiss.  Slade allowed himself to be led to the conference table and he slipped into a chair.  His friends were already seated.

“Seems like we walked into a good one this time.” Bubba tilted a glass of tea in Slade’s direction.

“Seems like it,” answered Slade, glancing over at Bubba’s leg.  “You okay?”

“Absolutely.  Got a little slow.  Age catching up to me.”

“Nothing from the guys in St. Augustine,” commented June, glancing over at Slade as he spoke.

“Then we start back at the beginning.  Maybe we overlooked something.”  Slade stared back at his friend.  None of them were going to let the death of a man who had called for help end without finding the answers.  Especially after the killers had tried to move them to the world of the dead to join the young doctor.

“Let me tell you what we’re working on, before you guys jump into your investigation.  I know ours lacks the pomp and danger of your investigation, but it’s still thrilling and exciting to us.” Shirley had spoken for the first time.  When they all turned to look at her, she continued.  “Harry you can brief them better than I can.”

All eyes turned to stare at the accountant as he started to talk about Waterbury Enterprises’ attempts to thwart the hostile takeover of Akron Pharmaceuticals.  He, like everyone in the room, was unaware a death warrant had been issued for them.

Read Chapter Nine