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Vendetta Dark | Chapter 4

Cover of Vendetta Dark by Josh Pederson

Cover of Vendetta Dark by Josh Pederson

Josh Pederson, Author

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A long white corridor extended before them. There were no more glass windows to provide views of the interior of these labs, only solid walls and doors that required keycards to access. On the other side were things that were meant to be kept secret, the things which Cali had hoped to catch a glimpse of sometime over the course of her interview. As in all corporations, there were things going on behind the scenes that most would consider less than virtuous, and there were many allegations circling the web on exactly what those things were. While she was sent there to do a job, the thought of finding something incriminating against the CEO of Eden Pharmaceuticals would be just as good. It wasn’t anything her boss would publish in the magazine without solid proof, but there were others that would. She suddenly felt claustrophobic and trapped. Carmichael must have noticed her discomfort when he asked, “Are you okay?”

She took a few deep breaths and nodded, telling herself to think of wide-open spaces. She’d never been fond of confinement. Elevators, hallways, even some restrooms made her uncomfortable. The lack of fresh air always set off alarms in her head, and they traveled down to her stomach, leaving her with an intense feeling of nausea.

“Yeah,” she replied, “I’m fine.” She took that moment to change the subject. “Your company was recently accused of experimenting on animals. I know your lawyers have since cleared the air on that subject, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.”

Carmichael puffed out his chest and exhaled. It reminded Cali of those old cartoons where the bull would get angry at Bugs Bunny for taunting it, and start to blow smoke out of its nostrils. She’d obviously struck a nerve. However, just as soon as his irritation surfaced, it was

gone. The amount of control he had over his emotions was truly impressive.

“You’re no doubt referring to the photographs that were leaked last week,” said Carmichael. “I assure you they’re forgeries and completely false. Let me ask you something, Ms. Schreiber, did you see any animal experimentation taking place during our tour, or hear any sounds that might lead you to believe such things?”

She shook her head, knowing that there could be any number of reasons for that. The photographs were something that made headlines for several days, appearing in many different newspapers across the country and beyond. One photo depicted a lab full of different animal species locked up in cages. They weren’t just your average mice, rats, and guinea pigs. No, a lot of these animals were exotic creatures from all over the world: apes, tigers, lizards, even a cheetah. It set the activist community alight, prompting strikes outside of drug stores and even on the steps of Eden Tower. PETA threatened a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Even a few eco-terrorist groups issued some threats.

“And as you’ve no doubt deduced with your keen observations skills,” he continued, “all of my employees wear the logo for Eden Pharmaceuticals somewhere on their persons at all time. In those photographs did you see the logo for my company on any of the people in that room?”

Feeling like a child being lectured by an adult, she shook her head again. “That doesn’t mean . . .”

He interrupted her with a wave of his hand.

“It means a great deal, actually,” he said. “It means that there’s no proof that those are my laboratories except for the word of a disgruntled employee. There are plenty of other pha

rmaceutical companies out there, Novartis, Roche, Pfizer, to name a few. How do you know those photographs weren’t taken in any of their labs? You journalists are all the same. Your profession no longer revolves around integrity and the spreading of ideas, but instead around the slandering of hardworking individuals and innovation. You love the idea of a witch-hunt. Do you know how many lives I’ve saved with the drugs we make here?”

“You mean how many lives your company has saved?” Cali asked, throwing herself into the heat of their verbal brawl. She’d been sent to restore Carmichael’s good name after his difficult battle with the media, but she couldn’t bring herself to find anything redeeming about the man. He was about as likeable as the diseases he claimed to cure. While he was correct in saying that their tour was lacking in animal experimentation, he didn’t give her any proof to the contrary.

Carmichael smirked, running his fingers through his thick black hair. “Ms. Schreiber, I am this company. If history has proven anything, it’s that progress requires sacrifice. Yes, the world is full of terrible people who do terrible things. However, every once in a while, a little evil is required for a greater good. You can quote me on that if you’d like; I’ll just call your editor and threaten a lawsuit if they don’t remove it.”

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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 4