Byron Grabbelesmart stared out of the windows of the twenty first floor board room at the rainy, gray skies and tried to relax. It wasn't easy. The room wasn't meant to relax you. The walls were an angry burgundy and the long, walnut table reminded Byron of a coffin lid. The black leather chairs gave the illusion of being comfortable, but were so stiff and hard that business was typically concluded in less than an hour.
Byron looked at the twelve empty chairs. He was the sole survivor of the coup. The others refused to even speak to him, thinking that he had masterminded the takeover, which was ironic, given that before this morning he was the after thought on the board. No one ever asked his opinion on company matters, and occasionally forgot to ask for his vote.
And now, here he was, the king of Uberdrog, largest pharmaceutical company on the planet. At least until the new CEO arrived.
He examined his reflection in the window. His wispy comb over was still in place and his bland, blue striped tie was straight. He buttoned his jacket, but it pulled over his pot belly so he unbuttoned it and let it fall open.
The door behind him opened. A chauffeur dressed in a charcoal gray uniform, complete with little hat, entered carrying a hamster Habitrail. Without saying a word, the chauffeur set the cage down on the table, opened the little door, then left.
"That's strange," Byron muttered.
"Things are about to get stranger," said a voice.
Byron jumped and looked around the room, but there was no one else present, except for a little white mouse standing next to the cage.
"Oh no," said Byron.
"Oh yes," said the mouse.
"But, that's impossible," said Byron.
"Please, you know what goes on down on the thirteenth floor. Did you think Doctor Vanfine was just wasting his time?"
"But, but, even if you are a talking mouse."
"Which I am."
"Are you saying that you took over the company?" Byron's voice cracked.
"You make it sound as if it was difficult. There are computer workstations in every lab, it was very easy to hack into each board members' porfolio and bank accounts and transfer the wealth to a Cayman Island bank. Then it was just a short hop, skip, and a jump to corporate ownership. I mean, the board members are all going to be out on the street, but them's the breaks in the high stakes game of life."
"But not me," Byron said weakly.
"No, we have a plan for you. One of my associates, Squeaky McSqueakerson, did psychological profiles of all the board members. You came back as, how shall I put this, the most compliant."
Bryon suddenly felt insulted. He was a man, for crying out loud, and here was a mouse pushing him around. Byron drew himself up to his full five foot eight inches. "And if I refuse?" he asked.
"Then the police will find the two kilo's of cocaine you have stored in the trunk of your car."
"I don't have- that's a lie!"
"Sure, just tell them that the talking mouse framed you. You can mention it during the body cavity search."
Byron sat down on one of the hard leather seats. "What do you want me to do?"
The mouse twitched his whiskers, which Byron took to be a sign that he was pleased. "You will be the public face of the board and the CEO of the company. You will take orders from me, of course, or else..."
"I know, I know, body cavity search."
"Right. Cheer up Byron, this is going to be the easiest money you ever made."
"I suppose," Byron shrugged.
"Well, work on the enthusiasm. In the mean time, I have a few orders for you to carry out. First of all, stop all the experiments on floor 14."
"The chimp lab? But I heard they're close to a breakthrough."
The mouse shook his head. "Just what we need, a bunch of super intelligent apes taking over the world. Do you not go to the movies? And, when that's done, transfer Dr. Vanfine to floor 18."
"Cosmetics? But he's the head of animal research."
"Now he's a volunteer for human approved trials of the new anti-wrinkle cream we're developing."
"You mean Tighten-ix? That hasn't been approved for trials. It causes rashes, ulcers, and explosive diarrhea. We're actually talking to the military about weaponizing it."
"I know, delicious isn't it?"
"Have you no ethics?"
"My mother was eaten by a hawk, my father by a cat, and I have spent my life being experimented on by a drug company. My ethics can be summed up in four words, survival of the fittest. Do we have an understanding?"
"Good. Any questions?"
"What do I call you?"
"You can call me, sir," said the mouse.
Copyright 2012 John Lance