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Vendetta Dark | Chapter 3

Cover of Vendetta Dark by Josh Pederson

Cover of Vendetta Dark by Josh Pederson

Josh Pederson, Author

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The first time she laid eyes on the man, she felt her stomach turn. He was the devil in a black suit and red tie, a man without a soul or a conscience to guide it. His smile was as cold as his icy heart, and everything he said was covered in lies. The skeletons in his closet were so numerous they resided in an ocean of bones. For this reason, Sebastian Carmichael was the perfect person to run Eden Pharmaceuticals. He was a man of action, who gave little or no thought to the consequences. He kept the machine rolling forward, letting nothing stand in the way of progress. He viewed morality and public perception as being inconsequential in the greater scheme of his plans. Why should lions bow to the whims of the sheep? Every choice he made was guided by a ruthless greed that extended far beyond a desire for money.

Cali Schreiber followed him through a maze of glass walls, which seemed to wind around the complex like the passages in a honeycomb. Each lab contained men and women in white coats and hazmat suits, carefully mixing chemicals and sitting at computers, analyzing percentages and compounds. The liquids they handled came from glass beakers of different shapes and colors. She couldn’t help but be amazed at the graceful manner in which they conducted themselves, careful and efficient. She also wondered what type of health insurance policies the employees had. Working with disease samples was dangerous work. In a way it was like tempting fate. All in the name of human longevity is what Carmichael kept repeating over the course of their interview. He rarely looked at her, but when he did, his jet black eyes scrutinized her. She could feel it. It was as if he considered himself beyond reproach, like a king or a god. His word was stone and his will would be done. Each question she asked was met with a slight rolling of the eyes and a twitch of impatience. A mutual hatred resonated between the two of them, like the ringing of bells in an enclosed space. He could tell by the tone of her questions that she despised him, and she could tell by the way he answered that he felt the same. Neither of them was there because they chose to be. There was always somebody else pulling the strings.

“In these rooms,” he said, “we mix the various components needed for our drugs and vaccines. We create them on a case-by-case basis. This is what separates us from the rest of the pharmaceutical companies out there. We design our products specifically for the diseases they’re meant to fight. Take for example the many cases of bird-flu or Avian Influenza, if you want to be scientific. Just because it’s known to be carried by birds, that doesn’t mean that every strain is exactly the same. There are many species of birds that come from many different places. A duck from England and a turkey from Wisconsin can carry two completely different strands of the same disease, but that doesn’t mean that the disease is, in fact, the same. However, they do share one common trait, and that’s their ability to be passed on to a human. And that’s where we come in. We not only find a way to cure the disease, but we also find a way to adapt the body in order to prevent any future contractions. All of this, we do in the name of human longevity. By improving the quality of life one lives today, we can create a better tomorrow.”

Cali tried not to laugh at his sales pitch, which didn’t take very much effort because the man terrified her. It wasn’t so much his words that made her feel uneasy; it was the way in which he said them. They sounded so smooth and convincing, like the gentle caress of a lover’s whisper. It was like standing in front of Hitler during one of his speeches about the evil of the Jews. Despite the obvious ethical questions and the wrongness of it all, you couldn’t help but feel convinced of its truth. Even Cali found herself treading the high wire of momentary inspiration. There was also his overall presence, that thing about him that you knew was there but couldn’t quite place your finger on. How could a man be so evil and be loved so much? His charisma was unlike anything she’d ever seen. It was rumored that he planned to run for mayor, and the odds of winning were well in his favor. Like the Roman Emperor, Caligula, he was adored by the entire city, and they would gladly follow him into ruin.

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Josh Pederson, Staff Writer

Josh is a contributor to the Herald and a student at National University in the Undergraduate Journalism program. He is already a published author and...

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Vendetta Dark | Chapter 3