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F for Fear
The dead are all around me.
I can feel them wandering around every time I breathe. It’s something I cannot – don’t want to – avoid. I like to enjoy them roaming through the confines of this place, forever trapped. It's the one and only time when I can afford to feel truly relaxed. The one and only place where such a thing is even remotely possible.
Sitting on the cold tiled floor, with my legs crossed, I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Most of the residents here – albeit in a temporary basis – are here because of my actions. They died because of me.
Feels good to have such power.
I take another breath.
At this time of night all the Centre’s staff is long gone. Probably there are still some orderlies at the upper levels, but no one with a valid good reason to come down here to the morgue.
These walls, these cabinets, they all bring back memories. I remember when I first came to work here – still unaware of my true relationship to this place. I thought I was going to be a medical examiner for the rest of my life, but all that changed when I discovered my adoption papers.
I was Carl Parker’s son and a legitimate heir to The Centre.
The idea of becoming the leader of The Centre quickly seduced me. I already missed count of how many times I tried to seize power from big brother Cain. Funny thing. And ironic. In the Bible, it is Cain who kills Abel. In our case, the desire to see the other one dead is equally distributed.
Cain and Abel. Mr. Parker and Mr. Raines. Biblically speaking, one good, the other one bad; reality, however, has very few resemblances with the so-called good-book.
Even though I’m now the Chairman, I still enjoy – still need, as a matter of fact – to come here at least once a week. Like I said before, it relaxes me. It gives me time to think, to reflect upon pertinent issues.
Inheritance, for one.
Tomorrow’s my seventieth birthday. More than enough time for a long time due retrospective.
I have to wonder: am I proud of everything I did?
As proud of everything I still have to do.
I don’t regret any of the lives I took; I don’t regret the pain I caused. I don’t regret any of that because that served a purpose – it helped me to climb the ladder to the upper echelon. And now that I’m on top, I have to choose my successor.
The obvious choice would be Lyle. I know he has the necessary cold blood and intelligence to see that our most delicate projects come to an end. Plus, he used to sit on my chair. He's familiar with the way things work. It’s his other interests that make me apprehensive. I know how Lyle behaves when he’s given full power – he looses sight of what's important. I don’t need, don’t want, someone who isn’t capable of controlling his urges. He still has his qualms with Jarod. If I nominated Lyle as my successor there’s no telling how much of the The Centre’s fund he will spent to fulfill his wish. And after he’s done with Jarod, her sister and her team will be next.
My second choice is, although somewhat reluctant, Miss Parker. The Ice Queen, as everyone calls her. I haven’t always agreed with her – she’s too much like her mother – but I have to admit she’s clever. More clever than Lyle. I have the tests to prove it. She’s also more determined. I know that her lack of results in capturing the still on the run Jarod is not due to incompetence on her behalf.
According from the reports and the DSAs, it’s obvious that something happened between Jarod and Miss Parker. Something only they know about. I don’t think Sydney knows it either, and Sydney knows them better than anyone.
She’s capable of keeping The Centre at the top of the food chain, of that I’m sure. Unfortunately, I’m also sure that she will have no hesitation before shutting down my most precious projects.
Which brings up the question or irrational perseverance against blind determination and the realization that there is no easy choice.
Why can’t I choose Cox?
He would be perfect as my successor. He has Lyle’s coldness and Miss Parker’s determination, not to mention his intelligence. Sort of reminds me when I was his age. If it wasn’t for the fact that a contract we made with The Triumvirate stipulates that The Centre has to be run by a Parker at all times, things would be much easier for me now. I would gladly dispose of Lyle, Miss Parker and Sydney and I would put Cox in charge.
The irony here is: they’re neither my sons, nor my brother’s. For someone so smart I wonder how they haven’t discovered it yet. Who their real father is, who their other brother is. In Lyle’s case, I think his desire for power would easily overcome most if not all blood ties that he might find. I trained him to be like that. Miss Parker, however, wouldn’t let things go that easy if she knew the truth.
She and her brother are a powerful force separated – I fear what could happen if they decided to conceal efforts. I’m more inclined to believe in Miss Parker joining forces with Jarod than with Lyle. But I could be wrong.
If young Joseph were a few years older, I could nominate him Chairman and appoint Cox as acting Chairman until he reached enough age to rule The Centre on his own.
Mr. Parker’s idea of creating Joseph was a very smart move – one that is proving very profitable now. Joseph is even more than talented than his father was – no doubt his mother genes had some influence there as well – and without a Sydney around there are no restrictions in terms of morality.
He has a future here.
But only to a certain point.
If only we had Jarod. With Jarod in our possession, we could use that leverage to cut all ties with – perhaps even overcome – The Triumvirate. As long as he doesn’t find his mother, there’s still a chance of that. And with the Triumvirate gone I could finally ignore the contract and appoint Cox as my successor.
I take a deep breath. It’s frustrating really, but despite my position of power, I’m unable to choose. My hands are tightly tied. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow’s a new day. And here at The Centre there are never two days alike. Something will happen tomorrow and that will decide this company’s future.
For better, or for worse.
Returning to this story was not easy, but writing about Mr. Raines is never easy.