Greg Cum Ira

By Kelly D. Tolman

The great advantage of being a scientist is that you see the world for what it is, as it is, and you maintain no bias one way or the other about how it is. The great advantage of believing in something is that no matter what you see or hear or are told, you will find what you are looking for. Greg's advantage laid in a unique combination of belief and science sometimes labeled insanity. A thin, elderly man with only a few strands of gray hair, thick glasses, and a penchant for polo shirts; Greg hardly presented an imposing figure.

Seventy-three years is not too long a time to spend conquering a planet. Nearly everything imaginable had been invented during his lifetime, and each new product both created a new niche in his plan and fueled the fire of his disappointment in humanity. A race of people willing to spend their lives in front of a little box of glass and plastic is not fit to govern the planet I live on, or so he believed. The television and personal computer, however, were wonderful devices for restraining humans and Greg had every intention of utilizing them to their fullest potential.

The major side effect of wanting to dominate a planet populated by six billion people is that you either have to delegate some of that power, or you have to limit the numbers of slaves. This particular point had bothered Greg for several decades; at times even affecting his ability to work. Killing people (or anything else), was not something he was good at; it wasn’t even something he had ever done. In then end, however, he had given way to human nature and decided on the easy way out; eliminate the excess. So, down to brass tacks, start by eliminating (without destroying the planet) approximately six billion people. Step two; convince those who remain that you are the rightful ruler of the planet. Step three, live happily ever after.

Step one, as Greg viewed it, was the most difficult, (after all who wouldn't want to follow him after everyone else was dead). Naturally if he didn't plan on keeping anyone alive it would be much easier. Of course it would have been even easier still if he had amassed a following of individuals to help him. Once more the problem of working alone on such projects with a limited budget remained unsolved. This time, however, it would definitely work.

Greg had great faith in human incompetence, having experienced it first hand on several occasions. There is no fool like the one who believes the system works, he had often taught his children. Despite his efforts, however, they still paid their taxes and held down regular jobs.

Once more Greg worked furiously at his basement computer, attempting to simultaneously monitor the working of the World Health Organization (WHO), and NASA. Launching your own satellite into Earth's orbit can be difficult; doing so undetected and without cooperative outside help took nearly a decade. Doing it twice more was, as Greg put it, "beautiful." Others may have dubbed it insane, but then their vote didn't count much at this point anyway.

With a nudge here and there, he had managed to keep news of his biological attacks in South America and Africa sufficiently shrouded in confusion as to render the opposition incompetent. Developing the proper virus to do the job was almost as difficult as launching satellites. Information is plentiful and easy enough to gather, but acquiring the proper chemicals can get you arrested, and Greg was passionate about his spotless criminal record; not so much as a parking ticket (not that he drove much these days).

Greg's attention diverted from the WHO to the internal proceedings at the European Union, and the United Nations. Cracking the control of a single government was easy enough; he had, after all, helped to break and build several countries over the years, but simultaneously eradicating government heads around the globe was a true challenge. The first key is unrest, always unrest. Start with the people and then slowly let the level of discomfort rise until those at the top could feel it; then remove the top. Full-scale cyber-attacks on the European and Asian economy would begin tomorrow. He had tested his methods in the past, gradually fluctuating the worldwide economy; a lifetime of preparation for this moment.

He smiled to himself, scratched his scraggly beard and balding head, and pressed the enter key.

To continue to divert attention away from events in the third world, Greg unleashed a pair of new electronic viruses that would distribute themselves throughout developed countries, keeping businessmen and employees equally busy for a few days. He transmitted an email to a doctor in the Congo (who by now was certainly carrying the biological virus), recalling him to his home in northern Europe. A similar message found a doctor in Nicaragua, and the doctor returned to Australia. Greg reached for his coffee mug, empty. All right, get some coffee and then tackle North America.

Greg got up from his swivel chair, his thin frame leaving a shallow impression, and stretched his arms and back. Books lay stacked all around him, notepads, pencils, files containing all imaginable information; and over all of it sat the strong odor of coffee and meticulous malice. Greg whistled quietly to himself as he skipped up the stairs. Eighty-six and still more fit than any television raised punk. At the top of the stair he met his daughter. "Going on a coffee run, you want anything," he asked.

"Dad, its midnight, I was just headed to bed. Don't wake the kids when you come in, ok."

"Sorry, Mandy, I'll be quiet when I come in." Grandkids were great, if only their parents weren't so annoying.

Thirty years ago a doctor twenty years his junior told him to give up the coffee, alcohol and late nights (he never did smoke). Greg sent flowers to the doctor’s widow, but secretly he didn't feel much remorse. Destiny decides how long you live, and you decide how much you enjoy it. Greg was destined for greatness, and immortality. The garage was full of the keys to immortality. Experiment upon experiment latched together in a careful chain, all to produce panacea. The rats, dogs, and neighborhood bums who were now cured (one way or the other) of their ill health were all greatly appreciated. A super immune system combined with genetic anti-aging created an agent that cured just about everything, including the common cold and cancer.

The Go-mart, or whatever they called the place these days had the best coffee available at midnight (or any other time), and Greg found the crust on the nacho cheese particularly appetizing. The hired help, as usual, reminded him of the reasons behind his never-tiring quest, but then so did pretty much everyone else he met. He used his credit card to pay for the order, after all the transaction would simply 'disappear' by morning anyway. Greg sipped his coffee smugly on the way home.

Back at the lab he checked his resources and progress. He didn't have enough money to manage a full-scale release of the virus in North America, or Europe, and a partial release would only give the Americans time to find a cure, so an alternative must be found. Fortunately, a lifetime of planning allows one to consider these possibilities beforehand. Greg rummaged around in his desk until he found the correct set of cables, and connected a small device to his computer. He quickly loaded a new program, and giggled slightly as the green light on his gadget sprang to life. Radiation emissions on computer and television screens around the world, but most heavily concentrated in the United States, would now reach toxic levels. By the end of the week video game geeks would be dropping like flies.

Enough damage for the moment, he decided. Time for a drink and some light reading. He found a bottle of beer in the mini-refrigerator, and opened a thick file labeled space exploration. The improbability of humans discovering extra-terrestrial life always amused Greg. If only they really tried. Of course, if they really tried I could stand them. Greg continued to peruse his various files for over an hour, lost in the possibilities of what could be. The world was finally becoming a unit bound by more than just gravity. The potential for world cultures to merge, language and customs to join, and new leadership to be defined was being fulfilled. All too slowly. With the right people, living forever, all of the waste and laziness and destruction would be eliminated. Six billion to find a few thousand; at least he had good odds of finding decent help.

Time for more nachos. Compulsively, he swiveled the chair around to check the progress. His chair bumped against the transponder, and the device fell to the floor. "Damn!" he exclaimed. Greg picked up the box, noting that the case had cracked. He shook it a couple of times. The rattling told him soldering was in order, and Greg let out a soft sigh. "I'll fix it when I get back." He left the broken equipment on the desk and stopped at the bathroom on the way out the door. The convenience store was only a few blocks away, and the night was warm, Greg walked, as usual. For a change, there was another customer, obviously in a hurry. The engine of their beat-up Toyota was still humming, and the lights were on. Some punk kid, as it turned out, harassing the clerk. Why don't people just let people do their jobs, he thought. Greg opened the door and headed to the coffee.

"Hey old man, where you goin'" the punk accosted him. Greg gave him a stern look, failed to see the gun, and proceeded to the coffee. The clerk screamed, the punk fired, and Greg's panacea failed to stop the bullet.

In other news, a doctor in the Congo discovered a cure for a mysterious virus believed to have been transported through insects in third world countries, saving the lives of thousands. He had received a message recalling him earlier, but stayed to finish the job anyway. NASA discovered yet another mysterious satellite, believed to have been launched by a terrorist group, and destroyed it. The department of defense announced a new cyber-security system. The European Union managed to quell fears of instability, and the United Nations reported that political unrest was at an all-time low.

Prospects for the world in general looked good, although crime in some suburban areas appeared to be on the rise.

The End

Copyright © 2003 by Kelly D. Tolman

"I have worked for the past few years as a video game designer, and have a deep and life long passion for the fantastic. Magic is as real to me as brushing my teeth, and I don't have to see it to believe it. I currently reside in the Rocky Mountains, passing the time watching the snow fall. I love to garden, cook, and spend time with my beautiful and ever loving wife Jenny."



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