Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 57 (Eddie Gets Info Too Late)
Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 57 of the my online book "Excited Delirium". Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index
Edward Manchester comes from a long line of Manchesters that have had a hand in influencing the economic and political direction of America and Canada since the early days of both countries. His family has a history of having a hand in all kinds of popular activities, like rum-running to the Chicago area, funding both sides of the army during the US civil war, arming resistance movements in socialist or communist Latin America and printing the one and only newspaper in several Canadian towns, leading to a very controlled and myopic view of certain issues.
Eddie Manchester had some vague knowledge of this history, but the reality was, it was extremely limited. And for good reason. His parents made a decision early on in his life that he would be sheltered from the family’s dark past and would go to school, run a business or work for a successful company and live his life blissfully ignorant of the duality of his family’s history.
This duality is what many of North America’s families face as their children look in the mirror every morning. While many rebellions and wars were meant to free everyone from the European aristocracy, all they did was help reinforce them by giving them a cause to profit from. As long as these established and well-financed families had the opportunity to get on both sides of the battle, it never mattered who won, only because they’d always be pulling the strings.
In time, this will change. It has to change. If it doesn’t, people won’t be making decisions for themselves. These decisions will be made years or decades in advance by an elite few who meet, greet, agree and act long before someone even knows what career they’re going to have.
In time, prodigy like Eddie will look in the mirror and loathe what stares back at them. They see the blood on the fingers, deeply ground under their nails, impossible to scrub away. They see the fate that they have chosen for so many people and resent it because it’s not the kind of hate and disrespect that they want to project.
Today, Eddie sat at his desk and reflected on what he was doing here. He wondered at his success, the changes and sacrifices that he’s had to make and contemplate his next steps.
Up to now, Eddie had survived in this industry because he had two characteristics that most other senior-level managers possessed. First, he could bully with charm. Because everybody wanted to be with a guy like Eddie, he had a lot more latitude when he pulled rank and belittled fellow employees. He was always the first to identify the sheepish or shy new manager and when he set his target on someone like that, they usually didn’t last more than six months.
It would always start with seemingly insignificant moments, like when he’d make fun of the belt or shoes that an employee was wearing. Or a hair style. Or a sweater that their mother had made for them. His approach was less then subtle, it was always delivered with the humour and charm that actually inspired everyone around him. Except for his target.
He was a great prankster in university and he leveraged this talent to the hilt in his current environment. One time, he used an employee’s HR picture in a series of presentations. Within a week, everyone was finding createive ways to integrate that and other pictures of said employee into their ‘decks’ or their powerpoint presentations. A week after, the employee quit because HR wouldn’t heed his complaints of harassment. No one with the OMNINet today could tell you what happened to that person, but then, what did they care? They were still in the presence of exuberant people like Eddie.
Eddie and his posse were riding the wave and they didn’t worry about anybody but themselves.
It was his ability to bully with charm that made him the best fundraiser in the organization, and that worked well for all those involved with the Univist Church, the organization that regularly had its hand out at corporate functions, client meetings and almost always with folks who chatted around the proverbial water cooler, even though the OMNINet made employees buy their own water.
Most of these fund-raising activities were not specifically aligned with the church. They included things like Children’s Camps, African Water Funding Campaigns, International Child Adoption Centres, and so on.
What all of them had in common is that they lined the pockets of the ministers involved. They ensured that all of these greedy bastards had 5,000 square foot homes planted on ranches in places named after the Indians that were slaughtered two-hundred years ago, like Winnetka, Illinois, Chappaqua, New York or Briarcliff Manor, New York.
Of course, it was his fundraising skills that gained him considerable favour among the C-level executives at the OMNINet, reinforcing his behaviour as the lovable tough guy. Again, it was a mindset that all industries reinforced: make money, usually regardless of how, and you’ll be working for your corporation forever. Respect people’s rights to come to work without being harassed and you’re out on the street.
Each and every year, Eddie was responsible for bringing in more than $30 million to various Univist organizations, either from badgering employees, challenging clients or collecting it from other events and organizations related to the OMNINet.
The second characteristic that set Eddie apart from others was that early in his career, he showed a clear love and talent for the game of golf.
Starting early in the 20th century, no other activity cemented the relationship of corporate and government representatives than the game of golf. Decisions to act on certain political or economic agendas are usually discussed on the golf course and now that we’re entering the wireless age, most are implemented there as well.
For someone like Kite, there are a multitude of reasons why he never came to appreciate the game of golf. In the last 50 years, more than 30,000 golf courses have been added to the planet, and they are growing at a rate of more than 1,000 per year. 18,000 of these courses, or more than half of the total, are in the US and Canada. In the last few decades, more property in North America has been devoted to golf courses than retirement homes, hospitals, schools, athletic facilities, government offices and social service institutions. Combined.
Of course, golf is an unstoppable train. According to some, it contributes more than $50 billion per year to the economy. Thankfully, some people are starting to question the benefits of golf and are finally starting to point to some of the environmental and social concerns that golf courses and the practice brings to the world. In the US, golf courses cover more than 2 million acres of land and require more than 20 billion litres of water per day to keep the nice greens and tees lush and fresh.
Twenty billion litres of water per day would be more than enough to supply the entire world with three litres per person. This volume of water would end world thirst, but it is instead poured over fairways so that golfers won’t have to look at brown courses.
Now, if you ever actually try to consume that water, you’d probably choke on it instantly because of the toxic brew that is created and dumped back into the water table by negligent golf practitioners. Very little information is available on the use of pesticides and herbicides with golf courses, but the guess is that more than a billion litres of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and algicides are dumped onto the millions of acres of golf courses on an annual basis.
Some people guess that the level of pesticide use for golf courses has increased 50 fold in the last few decades, but very little research is compiled on the industry because it’s worth hundreds of billions of dollars every year and a percentage of that revenue is investing with the extremely important strategy of lobbying, modifying educators and researchers behaviours and spreading the good word about how important chemicals are to our survival.
Of course, pesticides are killing us. They’re causing children to enter puberty earlier. They’re significantly disrupting the eco-system because they kill frogs, birds and other marsh-land inhabitants, increasing the need to use insecticides. Deformations and cancers are the norm for anyone who lives within proximity to golf courses, the largest users of all of these chemicals, largely because they’ve earned exemptions to any regulations forbidding the use of unnatural treatment.
Every year, golf courses consume more than 1,000 natural habitat areas, largely because the developer model of building a course with estate properties surrounding it is much more effective when everything is bulldozed flat. Including a swamp with a course would be economic suicide because of the smells and pests that would continue to arise from it. The only things that remain after a golf course goes in are things like fox and wolves, animals that get out of control and attach humans because they no longer have anything natural to prey upon.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland disappear under the plow to make room for elitist and expensive hobby centres that boomers and executives treat as their playground. In Ontario, the most productive arable land in the world is disappearing at a rapid pace so that businessmen can do deals under the sun rather than in a big old stuffy office that the rest of us have to drag ourselves into.
Everybody on a golf course pretend that they’re doing their thing for the environment by driving electricity-powered carts, but what about the maintenance staff? When you run a lawnmower for an hour, it produces the same CO2 emissions as an SUV driving for 160 kilometres. The same with weed whackers, leaf blowers, trimmers, edgers, and other machinery that’s routinely used on a course. Now, multiply that by 30,000 and you can start to appreciate that a day’s activity on a course is similar, if not worse, than the morning commute in a couple of dozen major cities.
Finally, consider the social implications of golf courses. There’s the lost productivity in business time, but that’s made up for with the deals that are struck in this locale. What tips the scales against golfing is the impact it has on other people and the economy. More people rationalize that they need another SUV or other gas guzzler to hold their bags and other accessories. After a hard day’s work on the links, the incidence of DUIs is highest on the roads surrounding courses because most men are emboldened by the celebrations at the 19th tee after a tough day’s work on the greens. More pedestrians are killed ever year by drunk golfers than any other type of road incident.
As more and more courses become a fortress of solitude for the retirement community, they become bastions of folks who are oblivious to the world around them as they play their games, waiting for God to take them away.
But all that’s OK because golf courses are a great place to do business.
If you can’t get to know someone after four hours of blasting a shitty little white ball around, or understand their character after watching them cheat on every hole (which most amateurs do when playing with others), you probably never will.
Eddie translated his love of golf into a huge corporate office in the Garamond building, a small price as far as he was concerned. Lord knows, he didn’t have many other talents.
It was this train of thought that finally pushed him to a point of realizing what a chump he had been after all these years. The only person he’d been capable of showing love towards was dead, largely because of his selfishness and uncalled-for indifference. He wanted to blame anyone, including his newly described, yet long-lost acquaintance Kite, who he probably would have killed if he didn’t have irrefutable evidence concerning the plans of Griffith Garamond and Simon Hadlock. Garamond, who became his mentor and guide through the Univist Church. Hadlock, who consistently dropped ridiculous projects on Eddie’s desk, be they lavish plans in Asia or elsewhere, all designed to basically camouflage OMNINet activities, or to buy out several pharma companies only to bury their promising AIDS, cancer, malaria or other programs simply because cheaper treatment would translate to lower margins for OMNINet suppliers.
Eddie Manchester’s world was collapsing one realization after the other and he was realizing that he – and only he – was responsible for his feeling like an empty shell.
He sat at his over-sized mahogany desk, feeling alone, damaged and abused. Everything he had known to this point was a lie. He wanted to cry, but the bully in him would have to beat himself up if he did. He wanted to run, but he had nowhere to run to. He wanted to call someone, but there would be no one on the other end.
Of course, Kite was right. The OMNINet and the Univists, lead by Garamond and Hadlock, were evil and they had to be stopped.
He snapped out of his funk and finally decided to focus on what he would do next. He thought about everything he’d worked on related to China and started poking around his office for some physical documents that might shed a little light on his situation. He found some bits and pieces about subsidiaries of subsidiaries of privately-held companies – a standard practice for anyone that doesn’t want the world to know that you’re involved with something – and didn’t find much to his satisfaction.
He knew that his computer would unveil some of the secrets to the mystery of Garamond’s plans, but he loathed computers. He was the last of a dying breed of dinosaurs that believed that his job should include a secretary or assistant that would support him in all kinds of ways. It was the computer that was bringing that need to an end and he was one of the few employees with the OMNINet that still relied on someone else to process his documents.
With that in mind, Eddie had to admit to his new found friends that he didn’t use his computer much so Kite had to give him some notes that would walk him through his PC and the network server.
He turned the computer on, waited a few moments and then waited again. He thought to himself while he waited that a TV didn’t take this long to turn on. “Why the hell are these things so freakin’ popular?”, he thought again.
As he waited for the computer to come to life, he read the list a few more times and desperately wanted to call Kite. Of course, he couldn’t because they argued that the OMNINet was keeping a close on both of them now that they were getting closer to the root of this plan that Garamond and Hadlock were behind. To communicate directly at this stage from the office would be suicide.
Within a few minutes – which seemed like an eternity to Eddie as he watched the computer start – he was finally offered a login screen. He typed in his information and the machine whirred again to bring him to what Kite called the desktop of the computer.
Eddie’s phone rang. He jumped, he was so tense. After three rings, he picked up the receiver.
“Mr. Manchester!” shouted a cheerful voice, with a depth of sarcasm that was missed by Eddie.
“Forest? Is that you?” Eddie asked.
“Of course it’s me. Who else would it be?”
“I … I don’t know. What can I help you with,” Eddie asked tensely.
“You’ve just logged in and you’ve been flagged for a call from security in the event that you accessed any OMNINet hardware,” Forest Samson, the security guard announced.
“You mean you can track all of that?” Eddie asked naively.
“You don’t want to know what we can track, man. Anyways, what brings you to the cyberworld?”
“I’m just looking for some files on Sash,” Eddie explained. He was starting to feel extremely paranoid now, coming to realize that every action was being scrutinized by someone else.
He paused for a moment and then asked “Hey Forest?” Another pause. “Can you help me with something? I’m a little lost,” he pleaded sheepishly. It was quite possibly the first time Edward Manchester sounded weak and for anyone who knew him, his fragility was exceptionally unique.
“You are indeed,” Forest suggested. “I can help, but this will get me fired if anyone finds out that you’re accessing anything on our servers.”
“Then let me do it and pretend you didn’t talk to me. I have to find out what happened to Sash,” Eddie asserted with determination.
“OK. What do you need?”
Forest helped Eddie get to the file search function on his computer and helped skip about eight steps on Kite’s list. He even helped Eddie go through a few examples so he’d get the hang of things.
It took them both about 20 minutes to find what Eddie was looking for, and ultimately, Eddie chose to reveal the details of what he was seeking to Forest, mainly because he needed someone to help him, but also because he knew Forest was a kindred spirit. Eddie was realizing that the people he knew in the gay community were much better people and could be trusted with his life. The people that surrounded him in the corporate world would sell him out in the blink of an eye, just like how he had sold out Sasha.
“Whatever you do, never and I mean never search on the names ‘Hadlock’, ‘Garamond’ or some of the specific names that are associated with them. A rocket wouldn’t send the alarm more quickly to them that someone is trying to access their information. Instead, I’ll help you find a few back-door ways to get in.”
“I’m sure you’d love that,” Eddie joked, feeling much more relaxed despite the fact that he was now committing corporate espionage and would not be working tomorrow.
“You bet I would, but let’s not talk about that now.” Forest paused and then said “Eddie. I’m going to hang up. In a few minutes, I’m going to call you back from a secure line and then I’m going to help you get to the bottom of why Sasha was killed.”
“I can’t let you do that. You have to hang up now and pretend that you never spoke to me. Too many people have been damaged by what’s happening and I can’t let you get dragged into this. Just watch my back while I’m here and then help me get out when I’m done.”
“No problem, Eddie. If you need anything or you hit too many barriers, just call me, OK?”
“Definitely. Now hang up.”
“Oh hey … wait a second,” Forest shouted as Eddie started to hang up the phone.”
“What?” Eddie asked.
“Early tomorrow morning. It’s the launch of the Olympics. We’re going to get together at Carter’s (Sasha’s favourite bar) to have the watch the opening ceremonies. You remember how much he loved the Olympics, right?”
Eddie laughed. “He used to drool when the swimming challenges were on. His favourite was when they did the butterfly. He actually made me a little jealous on a few occasions.”
“I know it’s late notice, but it’ll be like a wake for him. He would have loved it. And we’d all love to see you there.”
“I’ll be there,” Eddie promised as he hung up the receiver.
He started a few searches, using the guidance that Forest provided and the notes from Kite that he continued to clutch in his hand. Within a few minutes, he was pulling up some files on the following subjects:
Chinese corporate activity
Chinese exploration companies and activities
Chinese drilling companies and activities
The good news with all of these documents is that the names of Garamond and Hadlock were nowhere to be seen. This was because neither senior OMNINet employee wanted any association with China, nor did they want their names on any of the documents related to their plans.
The first search – China – brought up about 6,000 hits, a surprising number for a company that had always claimed it had no activity in China.
Eddie never really questioned that desire to associate with this nation, but he was beginning to understand the reluctance on the part of his senior employers in having anything to do with this great unknown nation.
He realized that, despite how little he knew about the country, China was the last frontier of sheltered economic activity. The people that ran the country were exceptional bureaucrats, but more importantly, they were all human. They still had a capacity for greed, a thirst for power, a hunger for attention.
They were Communists, which meant that they were void of religion. Two massive strokes against them as far as the OMNINet powers that be were concerned.
He didn’t have time to scour through 6,000 documents, so he explored further. He eventually found a series of files related to privately held companies that had a history in China. Eddie was astounded by the level of detail that was provided about certain companies in industries as far ranging as toys, dog food, paint suppliers and others were actively destroying the Chinese reputation (if they had one) for quality product.
As he read on, he came to understand that the dozens of stories in the past year were all conveniently planned and announced to the American public with one and only one intent: destroy the credibility of the Chinese.
He couple this new-found knowledge with his understanding of the Chinese economy. Over the past few decades, China had become the single largest holder of US currency in the world, making it the single greatest economic threat to the American economy if it chose to be.
Recently, the Chinese leaders had even gone so far as to make veiled threats that they would start to invest this money in other countries or enterprises, buying up oil and gas and other natural resource assets around the world, but the US leaders simply smirked and laughed off this blackmail.
As far as everyone was concerned, the cycle would continue. Americans would buy cheaply produced Chinese goods from companies like Wal-Mart and others that depended on near-slave wages in nether regions of the world that Americans couldn’t even pronounce, let alone spell the names of. The flow of funds would go from the US for this trinkets and baubles and would then wind up in the hands of Chinese investors that would buy American debt which would allow us all to continue our shopping binge at an all time low credit rate of 6.9%. What most of didn’t realize is that if they decided to turn their backs on us, our days of shopping in malls that were once farms would stop cold when the house called in the debt.
North Americans were economically fucked beyond belief and it was just a matter of time before the Chinese turned the tables on us and made us their slaves.
It was all starting to make sense. Garamond’s desire to destroy China. A subversive history of undermining the credibility of the economy, both through actions, but also through media reports and stories about negligence, environmental destruction, smog, and slavery. The impending economic doomsday scenario that should be so obvious to everyone. Connections to the Univist Church and their overwhelming desire to create an army of people that would not act in the name of God, but who would be the next big labour force for companies like the OMNINet when relations with China and other countries with plenty of labourers went sour.
The scenario made sense, but Eddie still had to tie up one loose end. He knew the catalytic event would be when the Chinese were faced with an earthquake manufactured by an OMNINet subsidiary. What he didn’t know was when it would happen.
He felt like he was the only person on the planet that was able to understand this mystery. He was not used to feeling overwhelmed, but here he was, staring at his computer screen, poking around certain file folders, finding more and more evidence that the world he lived in and supported was a sham. That the people who surrounded him and pretended to help him find God were nothing more than hucksters and scam artists.
He followed instructions from Kite and Forest to a tee, knowing if he tried anything he wasn’t familiar with, he’d be screwed. Explaining himself was something he wasn’t keen on doing.
He tried searching a few additional terms related to China and still came up with too many files related to the terms. He moved down his list of terms and tried “Hebei”, the province in which Beijing, the capital of China exists.
He thought back to his conversation with Kite earlier in the afternoon.
“We’re looking for heavily populated areas.”
“We should make a list now,” Eddie said to Kite as they moved towards Kite’s laptop. Kite did a little typing and then produced a list of China’s 20 largest cities.
“I think we should try to tie this to specific events,” Kite said as he printed off his first list. Within a few moments, he was looking at a calendar of events.
“Man …” Eddie said slowly as he read over Kite’s shoulder. “It’s going to be a busy year in China!”
The list that Kite had pulled up had at least 8,000 conferences, events, trade shows, business forums and annual meetings scheduled and they were scattered all over the country. Finding the right event in the right city would be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Eddie was feeling closer than ever. He was getting excited and was finally starting to feel a little more doing the search and finally came up with 20 related to Beijing. This was good, because for Eddie, it was the idea of less work that excited him. He had a limited amount of time and needed to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.
A number of files were in a folder titled “Exploration”, which he knew was a key function related to the planned disaster.
He opened a few files and came across a requisition/action request:
As Eddie read the request to drill within the city boundaries of Beijing, he shook with horror as he saw his signature and the signature of the Chinese Minister of Trade. He had never seen this request, but that didn’t mean anything in an age of Photoshop and fraudulent documents.
It was obvious now where the activities would take place. Beijing was one of the largest cities in the world, let alone in China. The area surrounding Beijing was extremely densely populated and a quake in that area would probably kills hundreds of thousands of people. Most importantly, Eddie realized, is that Beijing is the centre for power and government administration in China. A quake in the area would likely result in seismic aftershocks related to the management of the country.
The big question remained: when .
He copied the file that he had opened and the remaining files to his USB key.
Only three files remained that Eddie didn’t dare touch because they obviously belonged to Garamond because of the name of the folder. They were titled “2Thes28-1”, “2Thes28-2” and “2Thes28-3”. He wanted to open them, mainly because he could see that the last edit date on all of them was August 6, 2008, just yesterday.
Eddie called Forest and called in one last favour.
“Those are toxic files, dude. Are you sure you want to see them? If you do, your life will do a serious u-turn. No more Thursday night tee times, because you probably won’t be able to swing.”
“Hey Forest, I get it. I’m done. But I have to get this information. I need your help.”
“OK. Here goes. In a minute, I’ll put a temporary permission on your actions so the rest of the brown shirts around here can’t see what you’re doing. The problem is that it’ll only last 5 minutes before the files get shut automatically and they get chewed up by our server. It sounds crazy, but the security is set up to recognize ‘file management issues’, which almost always involve low-level folks copying files that belong to senior-level employees. Why do you think I called you in the first place?”
“That’s fucked up,” Eddie said, mostly in awe of how vast security issues were. “How often does that happen?”
“Much more than you’d believe,” Forest responded. “On Fridays, which are our busiest days, we register hundreds of alerts. It’s why most people are fired on Mondays or Tuesdays now.”
“What’s that all about?” Eddie asked.
“Everybody hates us,” Forest said matter-of-factly, “and they’re happy to do pretty much what any outsider asks, which almost always includes getting a tonne of files from our servers. That, or they’re just ready to bail on OMNINet and want to keep a few momentos that can be used later on”
“Wow,” was all Eddie could muster.
“Yeah. Now, look. I’m going to tell you when the kill switch is off. When I do, open the files, print them and then shut the files as quickly as you can. I’ll stay on the phone to help with any tech issues,” Forest coached slowly.
“Thanks man. I appreciate it.”
“OK. Ready? Done. We’ve got a little less than 5 minutes. Now,” he said calmly, “highlight all three files. Hold the ‘Control’ key and click on each one. Are they all blue?”
“Yes,” Eddie answered tensely, not used to following orders.
“OK. See the little button on the right-hand side of the mouse? Click on that.” It was overkill in terms of instructions, but Forest knew that Eddie’s tech skills were just a notch above remedial.
“Great. Now click on ‘Open’ and you should be able to see the files.”
“Done. Uh oh,” Eddie said as he realized that it couldn’t be that easy. “I think these files are password protected.”
“That’s OK. Your operating system pretends that it can protect files that are on its server, but all you really have to do is open the files in NotePad. Here’s what you do. Press ‘cancel’ for all of the files. Go back to where you highlighted them and then right click and choose ‘Open With’ and then select ‘Notepad’. You won’t get all the pretty formatting, but you will get the content.”
“All right. They’ve opened. I’m going to print them now.”
“Wicked. You’ve got about 45 seconds left,” Forest added calmly.
“Jeez, man. Time flies when you’re committing corporate larceny.”
“I didn’t hear you say that. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“What’s going on … oh yeah,” Eddie stopped as he reminded himself about Sasha’s wake. “Definitely. I’ll see you bright and early. Thanks for your help.” With that, he hung up the phone and started to print the documents. He then closed them one by one as the print job reported that it was complete.
As the documents were spit out of the printer, he grabbed them and shoved them into his briefcase. He also started grabbing a few of his other personal possessions, files and miscellaneous possessions, knowing full well that he would never return to this office again.
Before shutting down his computer, he inserted the USB key into the computer’s slot and started to copy a file that Kite gave him, again following his instructions so that it would be done correctly and painlessly for Eddie.
(Note: "Excited Delirium" is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .