Chapter the First

Adolf Hitler – 1916-1965 – Failed Austrian artist who elected to pursue a career punishing all other European artists. After years of uselessness trying to work his way up in the German military post-World War I, Hitler discovered he had a strong oratory talent, which he used to bring a minor political party to power in Germany. His attempt at global domination failed due to a bout of great depression brought about by failing to win anything in both the 1944 World Art Showcase, and the 1943 World Domination Awards.

In 1998, the award for Financial Domination, Class Seven (Billion-Dollar Industries) went to a little known American named Billy H. As a response, the first runner-up, a Albertus G., vowed to destroy everything built up on top of the global internet he had invented. This led to the failure of dot-everythings around the globe. Unfortunately, Billy H.’s investments were not overly affected by this, so he took the award again in 2003. Albertus was nowhere to be seen.

Paul T. was not eligible in 1998. His eighteenth birthday had yet to pass. However, he knew that one day he would be competing. High school hadn’t trained him for taking over the world, but he figured – rightfully so – that the best way would be to learn by doing. In 2003, he got his first chance. He didn’t win any awards – but he did receive an invitation, which is an honor in and of itself (the fact that everyone who applies gets invited is besides the fact – if you could find out how to get invited, it was safer to invite you than to not).

* * *

Paul mulled his choices as he strode through the street towards his office. A few well-placed deals early on had ensured that he could get the building he wanted, simply by offering to develop it into a local business center. A sandwich place downstairs (not his first choice, but no one had offered to put in a Chinese restaurant) was convenient for quick snacks, and the movie theatre on the ground floor was perfect for getting a little bit of R&R. Some shady paperwork between unknowing lawyers set up a lease agreement that Paul could use to easily launder money – he leased the entire top floor of the Landmark Center back to himself. Clever construction made it appear that multiple businesses rented various offices on the floor, with sliding walls and secret doors enough to amuse even the most jaded of Evil Geniuses – and Paul wasn’t that far gone yet.

The guards didn’t snap to attention as Paul walked by – he wouldn’t have wanted them to. The bum loitering outside the building hadn’t as much as blinked. He deserved a promotion to a bit more dignified position, Paul decided, perhaps to a janitorial guard. The secretary continued her typing without looking up, although Paul noticed her eyes glancing rapidly towards him. He would have to have her replaced. Two businessmen continued reading their papers without looking up – but Paul would have been surprised if they had. Juan Valdez and Hotz Schider had been with him nearly three years – they could probably identify him by the squeak of his shoes. Paul calmly placed his hand against the doorknob to his office. He didn’t even wait while turning the handle – he had devised the defense system himself, and knew it would identify him fast enough to disable the self-destruct mechanism. Four former associates had not noticed the palm-lock on the door, and had cost Paul his four former headquarters – and the first time some pride, as Paul had had to live in his parent’s basement for the summer while Headquarters Two was constructed.

The heavy oak door slammed shut behind him, and as he strode to the center of the room, reinforced steel walls were pushed by pneumatic slides, sealing entrance to the room. Rotating blinds twisted in place, letting in just enough light to see by, without causing Paul to wince. He paused as he passed the leftmost wall, just long enough to fill a cup with hot water, and mix his own hot chocolate – one could never be too careful. He pulled out his chair and slid into his desk.


“Goooood morning, sir! And a pleasure to have you back here this morning! It’s a be-a-U-tiful day here in Boston, Massachusetts! Today is October 27th, 2003, and the current ti-”


“Yes, sir! It’s such a pleasure to have you-”

“Eddie off. Damn computers. It’s too early in the morning for that… Hal!”

“Good morning, Dave.”

“You’re funny, really.”

“What are you doing, Dave?”

“Manda, what are you doing today?”

“Oh, come on, boss. I’m just having a little fun!”

“I realize that, but…” Paul finished the sentence by gesturing at the low position of the sun. “You know how I feel about mornings.”

“Of course, sir. What can I do for you?”

“My schedule for the day?”

“You have a telecine conference with the Irishman at 10:30am, an hour for racquetball, an hour for”

“Manda, I hate racquetball.”

“Yes, but Terry will be there, and I know you wanted to… talk to him.”

“Ah. Racquetball it is. Very dangerous sport… make arrangements for Lay to join me.”

“Very good, sir. Shall I continue?”

“Yes, please.” Paul listened with half an ear while AMNDA finished reciting his day’s schedule. Most items were fairly mundane, contacts with appropriate family men, reviews of ongoing projects, and no visits to the lab for the day. Paul had designed and built the Artificial Memory Nuerosystemic Distributed Aide – with some help from some bright young recruits who didn’t quite know who Paul was – but they certainly appreciated the amount of funding they received from the Entities for Vilifying Illegitimate Lawsuits. After two years, Paul didn’t know what he had done without her – the system kept track of his entire schedule, personal contacts, and through a cellular link to his personal digital assistant, made sure Paul was talking about the right companies to the right legal representation. Paul was really thankful—

“What was that last?”

“Well, you had been complaining about a lack of sleep…”

“Manda, repeat it back.”

“Well, I was experimenting with research techniques and different Internet search engines, cross-referencing results, experimental language processing…”


“Well, you’ve been looking more tired, and your sleep patterns indicate an unusual amount of dreaming…”


“4:30pm appointment with Dr. Marlin Spike for psychoanalysis and dream interpretation.”

Paul sighed. As long as the only problem with an artificially sentient assistant was an overwhelming desire to held avoid problems becoming disasters, Paul was willing to deal with the issues that so arose.

“Bring up the files on the Irishman.” AMNDA dutifully displayed the complete files on the Irishman, highlighting his most recent dealings, so that Paul could be fully up to date before opening contract renegotiations.

* * *

Doctor Spike had been on the payroll of one of Paul’s shadow corporations for some six years – since before it became a shadow corporation. Global Enterprises still was a money-maker, despite the fact that it was now funneling money into Paul’s more nefarious enterprises. AMNDA had created a cover for Paul within the hierarchy of Global Enterprises – human resources now had complete records for Paul Thomas Winswyrd dating back for three years. As much as possible the records matched Paul’s real background, with changes in states, but phonetically similar names for all schools, and even similar parental backgrounds. Paul reviewed his identity on his way to the meeting – Paul Thomas Winswyrd had done well for himself, as one of the founders of a company Global Enterprises had absorbed only a few months previously – as such, Mr. Winswyrd wouldn’t be well known in the main offices, and had the nebulous title of Vice-President of Corporate Development Relating to Technical Advancement, the perfect cover to provide Paul with any desired medical aide should the need arise.

Mr. Daisy dropped Paul off in front of Global Enterprises and then drove the sedan back into traffic – he would be near enough to retrieve Paul at the conclusion of his appointment, which in Boston traffic, was quite a feat. Paul entered the office building, and flashed a badge to get past security. As the elevator responded to its summoning, Paul glanced at the business card in his hand – 34th floor, office 3413. Walking with eyes straight ahead and an even pace, the floor receptionist didn’t even think to stop Paul as he walked into the secured floor. Three wrong turns and several sub audible curses towards AMNDA later, Paul arrived at the door to 3413. A knock of the door met with immediate response, and Paul was greeted by the man who matched the photos AMNDA had provided.

“Mr. Winswyrd, I presume? I’m Doctor Marlin. Please come in.”

“Thank you,” Paul said as he entered the room, one hand in his pocket. He walked into the room, and wandered around the outside edge, nominally examining the various certifications on the walls. Dr. Spike returned to his desk and waited while Paul finished his circuit around the room. The lack of vibration signaled the corresponding lack of recording devices, leaving Paul feeling a little more comfortable.

“Well, do you think I’m experienced enough to assist you?”

“Oh, certainly.”

“Well, please, sit down.”

Paul walked over to the chair opposite Dr. Spike’s desk, and sat carefully down, cross-legged, straightening his pant leg as he did so. He left the detector running in case Dr. Spike would start recording while “in session.” Paul took off his sunglasses, and placed them inside his right breast pocket. He folded his hands in his lap, and waited.

Two minutes went by in silence. Paul regarded the doctor silently. For once, the person on the other end of his silent stare did not begin to sweat in panic and terror. It was almost refreshing – of course, Doctor Marlin did know who he regarded.

“Well, Mr. Winswyrd. I understand you’ve been having some trouble sleeping.”

“The appointment was made in a moment of worry. I really doubt that there’s anything you can do to help.”

“Well, how about you just tell me whatever is on your mind, and maybe it will help, and maybe it won’t.”

Paul considered his options silently. With a mental shrug, he decided to take a gamble.

“I’ve been having dreams that are causing me some… distress.” Paul continued to recite his most recent dreams to Dr. Spike. No vibrations triggered in his pocket, and the sun slowly sunk outside Dr. Spike’s office window as Paul spoke.

Some time later, Paul came to a slow finish.

Dr. Marlin had continued writing throughout Paul’s recital. Paul had avoided mention of any of his personal endeavors, but felt that his dreams might be a wee bit suspicious.

Dr. Marlin waited until he was certain Paul was finished before speaking. “Mr. Winswyrd, I am certainly glad you felt you could open up to me. Your dreams certainly provide some indication of what might be causing you difficulties sleeping, and I have a few ideas that might relieve some of your stress, allowing you to sleep a little better.

“First, Paul – may I call you Paul?” Dr. Spike didn’t wait for Paul’s nod before continuing, “I couldn’t help noticing a recurring theme in your dreams that seems to indicate abandonment issues. Perhaps it’s time to forgive your father for not being there for you.”

Paul sat unfased by this completely off-base comment, deciding to let the quack finish in case he had any useful insights.

“Your dreams show recurring attachment issues as well, I think we should spend our next session discussing your friends. Finally, do you keep a diary?”

“A diary?”

“Yes, a journal, reflecting on your day?”

“I prefer not to keep permanent records. If a competitor were to get his hands on them…”

“Oh, I’m not speaking of your professional day. Your personal thoughts. Your ideas. Your feelings. Keeping a diary might provide sufficient distance from your day and clarity of your life to make your dreams a bit less… disconcerting.”

“I don’t know, keeping a diary seems slightly, well, thirteen-year-old girl writing down who her current crush is.”

“Then call it a journal. I think it would really help. Why don’t you give it a shot, and we’ll see if it works out,” Dr. Spike finished as he stood up, a not so subtle indicator that Paul had gone well over his session length. Paul rose as well, and shook Dr. Spike’s proffered hand.

“Thank you, Doctor.”

“My pleasure, Paul. I look forward to seeing you again.”

Paul left the building, meeting Mr. Daisy at the base of the steps to the building. Paul glanced back at the building as he left, and caught the eye of one of Global Enterprises janitorial staff who was on a smoking break at the moment. Moments later, the janitorial engineer walked back into the building, as Mr. Daisy drove Paul home.

October 27, 2003

My meeting with the Irishman went smoothly. In this town, it’s even more important to have his cooperation than it is the Russians or Italians. He agreed to a small reduction in per-hit fees, in exchange for a guaranteed minimum number of contracts over the next year. I also got an invitation to his Saint Patrick’s Day party, which almost makes the extra costs worth it. His people are the best, after all – and he doesn’t try to lock me in in other markets, which the Sicilians and Moscovians both consistently attempt to do. I’m not a market for them to fight over – if they want to have a turf war, fine. Turf wars and family business are outside of the WDA, however, so I do wish they would allow me the same distance I give them. The family heads know, but the underlings – Gah. If I have one more wiseguy think he can nickel and dime me for contracts simply by inviting me “into the family,” there will be a much, much smaller family.

Cauffey and I went to see Terry while he was playing Racquetball today. We had a lively discussion about his failure to deliver as promised, and ended up agreeing that I should seek an alternate vendor. Racquetball is really a dangerous sport, I do wish he would be more careful when playing. He could so easily get hurt…

Most corporate programs are going well. Some money may need to be redirected to ensure that certain slumping enterprises stay afloat, but I haven’t dropped out of the running for Financial Category 3 yet. I’m looking forward to reviewing lab progress tomorrow – they always have the most wonderful toys for me!

Manda insisted on my going to a shrink today in order to help me get better sleep. I have been having problems in that regard, so I decided to humor her – me, humoring a computer! But AMNDA has been most useful, and is my most faithful assistant – as loyal as a dog, but without the need to walk or feed her. Although her bandwidth bill is getting a bit expensive… she’s worth it. The good doctor was mostly useless – he claimed my father left me feeling unloved or some such – I wonder how he came up with that nonsense! My father was one of the best men I ever knew, and was always there for me. Stupid quack should be careful who he insults… The doctor also suggested that I start this journal in order to try to improve my sleep. Well, here goes.

Note to self: Global Enterprises will need to remodel floor 34, in light of the fire there this evening. Ensure that Geraldine Carpentry and Repair gets the contract.

PS: Remember to send flowers to Marlin’s funeral.

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