Between Seconds

Written by Stephen McLean |
Published on:

Stewart McClure, a boyish looking forty year old, reaches over from the warm comfort of his king sized bed and turns off the alarm. The time on the digital clock reads 4:00 am.

With the projections and numbers for his presentation flooding his mind, he lays motionless staring toward the ceiling in the dark bedroom. Slowly sliding back the covers, Stewart sits up in the dark on the edge of the bed, dressed only in boxers, staring downward thinking to himself out loud.

“These numbers are way too aggressive. The calculations need testing. Robert will never make these targets, and the board will know it. I need to formulate a new projection. But the meeting is at nine sharp. We are going to have to go with them.”

Shaking his head awake, Stewart turns on the night table light, grabs a towel draped over the leather desk chair, and heads toward the shower.

Robert Langley, a tall heavy set black man smooths out the red tie that is accentuating his charcoal grey suit. Standing in front of the mirror grinning smugly, he agrees with himself that the light blue shirt was a perfect choice for the board meeting. He smiles the perfect smile, hoping the board will be more than amazed with Stewart's presentation.

“Stewart assures me his calculations are on point. But, if Stewart screw's up – he's fired. Actually, we are all out of a job because they will shut us down.”

Picking up the keys from the hallway table, Robert heads out of his 4000 square foot perfectly furnished condo with the full knowledge the board, and Edward, will agree with the projections and numbers once presented by Stewart.

Elizabeth (Liz) McNeil stands dressed in a tight black leather skirt and red bra, stands staring at the three blouses laid out across her bed. Her long red hair lays on her bare freckled shoulders. The floor to ceiling fireplace shimmers and glows behind her, reflecting dark shadows of a perfect silhouette. Liz picks up the white blouse and puts it on. A hint of her red bra and perfect tanned body filters through slightly. Buttoning the blouse, Liz turns and studies the reflection in the full wall mirror.

“Hopefully the board of director cronies will be more interested in me than worrying about Stewart's numbers. That will give Robert a little edge in the meeting.”

Liz picks up her purse and heads out the door.

Edward G. Cameron, billionaire, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the corporation G.O.D. (Genetically Ordered Design), stands in his financial media room adjusting his cufflinks while watching the twelve sixty inch led monitors. The major stock markets and prime news channels fill the screens.

At forty-two, Edward's six foot frame is beyond it's years, ravaged with Werner Syndrome, his skin wrinkled with premature ageing. With hair long lost to the disease, Edward slips on a black New York Met baseball cap to cover his bald head.

“This employee of G.O.D., Stewart. better be everything Robert says he is. Time is running short for me. The algorithms and calculations need to be correct now more then ever.”

Picking up his cell phone, Edward selects the conference app.

“Fred, bring the car around.”

Edward gingerly exits the million dollar condo, heading to the board meeting.

Stewart, walking toward his perfectly restored '67 Camero, tosses a quarter in the air.

“Heads I do the presentation with my numbers. Tails, I quit and walk out leaving Edward to rot and die.”

Stewart catches the quarter and slaps it hard on his wrist. Lifting his hand, it is heads.

“Shit! Well, heads it is.”

Thunder echos loudly signalling an impending storm. Stewart shrugs and lipping behind the wheel of his Camero, backs out of the space and squeals out of the underground garage. Exiting onto the street, the rain appears as wall of water, pounding hard against the hood of the car. Wipers on full, he edges cautiously into the traffic.

Turning the wipers on double speed, Stewart can barley see the lights of the vehicles in front of him. Peering through the pounding rain, the truck in front of Stewart, slamming on the breaks, stops abruptly in front. Hitting the breaks, swerving, Stewart slides into the other lane as a transport slams hard into the Camero sending it over the guard rail and down into the ravine.

Laying on the roof, the wheels of the battered car spin silently in the pouring rain.

Robert paces in the boardroom of G.O.D. Incorporated. He stops and stares at the blank writable walls, usually covered with Stewart's equations and formulas that he never really fully understood. He glances down at his watch

“Eight fifty five, Stewart was supposed to be here a half hour ago.”

Robert watches through the glass walls as the staff flows in for the working day.

“Five minutes. Where the hell is he?”

Liz exits the elevator and walking down the hallway, sipping her coffee, bursts through the main glass doors past the Reception desk.

“Good morning Ms. McNeil.”

“Save it Sarah. I am not in the mood this morning. A lot is riding on this board meeting, and Stewart.”

Strutting boldly through the office, Liz, entering the board room, sits down in the head of the large cherry wood table and slams her take out coffee on the table.

“So, Robert. Where the hell is our boy genius?”

“I don't know. But if he does not show, we are screwed. And all our ass's are fried.”

The paramedics gather their gear as the firefighters traverse the ravine toward the mangled and twisted object that used to be a vehicle.

A police car appears, then another as the paramedics prepare the stretcher. The lead firefighter waves and shouts up the ravine as the police block off the highway.

“It looks like he is still breathing. Get the jaws down here.”

Edward, riding in the Limo, checks his watch.

“Eight forty five. I could be thirty minutes away from firing Robert if these equations are not accurate. Then the rest of his team. Time is not on my, or his side.”

He sips an espresso and watches the pounding rain through the tinted window.

Stewart pulls himself from the wreckage through the drivers side window, stands and brushes himself off. Looking around he sees the shredded guard rail above and the bent and twisted metal that used to be a car behind him. The surroundings around him are eerie and silent. The sky is heavy with dark clouds and moist , almost saturated wet air. Yet no rain is falling.

He looks back at the lump of twisted metal.

“I will have to worry about this later. I have a presentation to save our company, and everyone’s positions. I think I am only ten minutes from the office .”

Stewart climbs the ravine embankment, and walking on the side of the highway, heads toward the office, glancing down at his watch.

“Eight fifty five. I am going to make it, just a little late.”

The jaws of life slide through the twisted metal of the cars metal causing the driver door to crash down on the muddy floor of the ravine. The firefighters slice through the drivers air bag and cut off the seat belt. Turning his glance up the side of the ravine, he waves to the paramedics to come down.

“He is all yours now. Get him out of here.”

Stewart pushes through the revolving doors into the lobby of G.O.D., and wave at Frank the security guard sitting behind the administration desk as he presses the elevator button. Frank remains motionless. The LED screen on the elevator remains fixed. It remains on floor 3.

“Damn! Elevators are down again. Well, stairs it is.”

Pulling open the door, Stewart takes the stairs two at a time to the sixth floor office.

Freddy, the company tall lanky geek walks into the boardroom and tosses a box of a dozen assorted doughnuts on the table. He pushes back his thick glasses and adjusts his burgundy bow-tie.

“So, where is the honour man. Let's get this show started.”

He takes a chocolate glazed doughnut from the box, places it on a napkin smiling, and slides it across to Liz. She pushes it aside.

“First off Fred, I hate chocolate. Second, Stewart is not here, and neither is Mr. Cameron yet. Hopefully Stewart gets here first. But if he does not, sit down and be prepared to fill in for the presentation.”

Freddy, totally unprepared, slowly sits at the table.

The paramedics strap the lifeless body to the stretcher, securing the head, and guide it as the winch pulls it up the ravine slope. Once at the top, they load it into the truck and head toward the hospital, sirens blaring.

Stewart reaches the top of the stairs and flinging the stairwell door open, swipes his access card and almost running, grabs the laptop from his office. Rushing toward into the boardroom, he falls into a chair, and fires up his laptop. He hooks it up to the seventy inch LED TV, and brings up his formulas. The TV screen remains blank.

Except for Stewart's heavy breathing, the boardroom is quiet.

Lifting his focus from his laptop screen, Stewart glances around the room. Everything appears fixed in time. Leaning back, looking out the boardroom door, not a single person in the office is moving. Stewart slides his laptop forward and stand up from the chair.

“Okay, this is kind of messed up. This is freaking me out.”

Freddy is sitting, his hands resting on each side of his bow tie as if he was fluffing it out. Liz, a tense frown caught in time, is stuck sipping her six dollar coffee. Robert is standing, frozen with arms out as if in the middle of a speech to Liz. Stewart, eyeing the chocolate doughnut, picks it up and takes out a large bite.

“Well, lets get this party started then. Good thing we have writable walls.”

Stewart puts down the half eaten doughnut and picks up a marker.

Almost running through the hospital corridors, the paramedics push the lifeless body laying on the gurney toward the emergency operating room. The hospital staff take over a rush Stewart into the operating room for emergency surgery.

Patricia Sullivan, a tall brunet with striking Irish features and head doctor for the hospital emerge, preps for emergency surgery.

Edward gets out of the Limo, adjusts his suit and motions to his driver Patrick.

“Patrick, I am feeling tired this morning. Please assist and accompany me.”

With Patrick assisting Edward, the two step into the elevator, pressing the sixth floor, proceeding to the meeting.

Robert, pacing the boardroom, arms open at his sides, is visibly stressed. Looking at his watch, he turns and stand in front of Liz.

“It is now eight fifty five and he is not here. I am sure Edward is on his way up right now ... he is precise and always on time for everything. We are so screwed”

Freddy looks about the boardroom, eyes wide open.

“Ah, Robert. You might want to have a look at this.”

Stewart looks about the boardroom and smiles at the writing on the walls. He tosses the marker on the table and slides Freddy's laptop to one side. He places his in front of Freddy. Taking his hands from his bow-tie, and places them on the keyboard.

“Not too sure what is going on here, but, do me proud my friend.”

Patrick, guiding Edward, enter the office of G.O.D. and head straight toward the boardroom.

“Patrick, stay with me. I am sure this will be a very short meeting.”

Roberts eyes move slowly around the boardroom. The walls are covered with formulas and equations. Algorithms and hand drawn charts. Not one inch of space is left untouched.

“Where the hell did all this come from?”

Freddy looks down and realizes Stewart's laptop has replaced his. He has total access to all of the research data. A computer yellow sticky in the top right hand corner of the screen reads – 'you can do it, I have faith in you - take control.'

“Sir, I do not think Stewart is coming.”

Patrick leads Edward into the boardroom to find Robert, Liz and Freddy sitting at the head of the table. The walls are covered with numbers he does not understand. Simulations play on the seventy inch LED TV behind Robert.

Glancing about the room, Edward realizes Stewart is not there.

“No Stewart. I guess this meeting is over.”

Freddy stands, pulls out a chair and motions to Edward.

“Actually sir, I think it is just beginning. Please have a seat. The cure is at hand.”

Edward and Patrick sit as Freddy starts the presentation.

Standing at the end of the hospital bed, Patricia is reviewing Stewart's chart when slowly he opens his eyes.

“I guess the meeting went well.”

Stewart smiles, closes his eyes and slips back into the coma.

Copyright ©

Author: Stephen McLean
Hi, back in the 90's I was heavily involved in the arts ... several short stories and cartoon published ... even was the lead in a stage play, but, then life got in the way. Well, now is the time to re-enter the field. I am heavily into SciFi and the sciences and am looking toward building on that in my writing. And in real life I am an Analyst, so, pretty good with numbers.


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