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Staggering Stories Podcast #259: British Robots Invasion of Earth 2150AD
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 26 Mar 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review the 1966 film Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. and the 2017 film The Lego Batman Movie, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:15 — Welcome! 02:01 – News: 02:20 […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #258: That Osgood and Kate Sound
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 12 Mar 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler and the Real Keith Dunn discuss possibilities for the next Doctor on Doctor Who, review the first three Big Finish UNIT New Series boxsets, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:20 — Welcome! 01:42 – News: 02:04 — […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #257: Holistic Double Banking
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 26 Feb 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller discuss BBC America/Netflix’s ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ and Douglas Adams’ time on Doctor Who, play some games, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:20 — Welcome! 02:14 – No news […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #256: The Double Whammy
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 12 Feb 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller discuss Peter Capaldi’s departure from Doctor Who and the legend that was John Hurt, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:25 — Welcome! 02:09 – News: 02:20 […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #255: The Six Idiots
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 29 Jan 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins, Fake Keith, Jean Riddler, the Real Keith Dunn and Scott Fuller review the Big Finish Doctor Who boxset ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters: Vol. 1’ and Sherlock Series 4, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:35 — Welcome! 02:49 […]


Staggering Stories Podcast #254: Bad Awakenings
by Staggering Stories Podcast
Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:00

Summary: Adam J Purcell, Andy Simpkins and the Keith Dunn review the 1966 Doctor Who story ‘The Power of the Daleks’ and the 2016 film ‘Passengers’, say what we’ve been up to recently, find some general news, and a variety of other stuff, specifically: 00:00 – Intro and theme tune. 01:14 — Welcome! 02:18 – […]

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The Carrot of Doom Presents... Logo

The Carrot of Doom Presents...
The Control Man

Demolished by Adam J Purcell


"What's going-" the old man stopped sharply, his voice barely audible over the din of the alarm system "Reich!" he hissed at the intruder in his mansion study.

"Time to pay for what you've done to me! What you've done to my company..." the younger Reich snarled back and pulled out a pistol from one of the large pockets in his black jumpsuit.

"Wait!" shouted the other business magnate, is eyes darting to the closed oak paneled door and the only escape from the room, except past Reich and through the smashed window.

Reich walked up to his competition, a calmness and certainty of action taking control of his his very being. The old man backed off until the wall stopped him going further, his frail frame shuddering rhythmically as Reich placed the gun muzzle in his mouth.

 

*****

 

"Relax, Mr. Reich"

"Sorry, I'm not used to this, doctor? I don't even know what to call you!"

"Doctor is fine, that's what most of my clients call me. If you'd prefer you can call me Mister Powell or just Powell, whatever you feel most comfortable with, Mr. Reich. You won't believe how many things people have called me over the years!" the psychiatrist said reassuringly.

"Thank you, Dr. Powell. You were recommended to me by a business associate of mine, Mr. Tate. He said that after seeing you his entire life improved! You can't get a much better recommendation than that, can you?"

"Well, I've very glad to hear Mr. Tate is now enjoying so much success, though I'm not sure his rise to power can be attributed entirely to my work, Mr. Reich. Don't expect miracles from me but I'm happy to listen to your problems. Please, tell me about yourself, Mr. Reich."

"No doubt you've heard of me, I own and run Sovereign Utilities and Resources, Inc. - one of the largest and most successful companies ever to exist."

"Of course I know of you Mr. Reich, who doesn't? But what brings you here? What brings you to me? You are one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world. You have monopolies on health care in several countries. Why come to an independent?"

"I didn't want someone who would feel intimidated by my power over them, my employment of them." Reich said before getting onto the real reason. "This cannot show up in any Sovereign documents, not even hidden away in an obscure office from my medical division."

"I see. So you feel any information you give is safer hidden away from your employees? Well I can assure you everything you say to me is in total confidence, Mr. Reich."

"Thank you, Dr. Powell. I was sure that would be the case."

"Please, continue. What is troubling you?"

Reich hesitated, trying to size up Powell again, can he really be trusted? Powell could sense the other's uncertainty and waited patiently for Reich to make his decision.

"Okay, Dr. Powell, I've decided to trust you." Reich proclaimed. He hesitated again, this time weighing up how to tackle the next subject. As was usual he decided on the direct approach. "I assume you have heard about the death of D'Courtney?"

"Yes, it happened two days ago? He ran the D'Courtney Cartel, you're biggest competitor by far. Is that correct?"

"Yes. He was beating me." Reich said bitterly. "I was losing the fight in every sector, Advertising, Engineering, Research, Public Relations, everything..."

"I can see how much this was getting to you. You clearly have feelings of failure and responsibility to your company's situation. How does his death make you feel?"

"Don't you understand? I killed him."

"I see." Powell said in that professional, unsurprised, 'tell me more' manner. There was a lengthy pause whilst Reich let his own admission sink in. Powell decided his new client needed another push. "If you are seeking forgiveness then you've come to the wrong place, Mr. Reich." That should provoke a reaction, thought Powell.

"Forgiveness!" laughed Reich. "No, I don't want forgiveness - I'd do it again in an instant."

"Then what?" Powell asked neutrally.

"I... I..."

"Yes?"

"I can't get the image out of my mind!" blurted out Reich.

"Your conscience is troubling you?"

"Yes, my conscience is troubling me. What'd expect?" Reich said angrily.

"Calm down, Mr. Reich. I'm not here to judge you. I'm here to help you. That's what I do."

"Sorry..." Reich said and rested his face in his hand, propped on an arm rest. There was another lengthy pause while Reich gathered his thoughts. "I have a theory Dr. Powell." Reich said, waiting for a response.

"I'd like to hear your thoughts." Powell prompted sensing the other's need for acknowledgment.

"Everything we do is selfish. Everything that everyone does is totally selfish."

"An interesting theory, Mr. Reich, but does that stand up in reality?" Powell asked, his interest suddenly peaked.

"Of course. It may look like we do selfless things but if you look closely enough you'll find they are for selfish reasons. You might go out of your way to do something kind for someone but there is usually an ulterior motive."

"Usually?"

"All the other times it is down to conscience. In other words, we are doing it purely so we don't feel bad at not doing something."

"I see..." Powell said digging for more.

"You might help someone to gain favor, be owed a debt or to get out of such a debt. It is always selfishly motivated."

"What about charity - people who freely give money or time?"

"Conscience for the most part. It niggles away at them - that they are so well off, in whatever way, whereas others aren't. Some are in it for something to do, in this case something that helps their social standing, perhaps. A few even like the feeling of power they have other the recipients of their charity."

"You famously, personally, donate millions to various charities each year. Which category do you come under, Mr. Reich?"

"Definitely the latter! It helps my image, as well, but mainly to have these tin pot organisations in my debt! Most of them have become so dependent on me that they'd shut down overnight if I withdrew my support. That gives me power with their country's governments and, more importantly, it gives me an army of 'good upstanding citizens' to say good things about me and my company!"

"So your conscience has no problem with using people who depend on charity and those that support them?"

"No, I can see human nature for what it is, Dr. Powell, as I'm sure you can. There is no such thing as 'a good person'. There is always motive behind all good actions, clear or otherwise. My conscience is like anyone else's but I control it better."

"Do you? Trouble with your conscience brought you here, didn't it?"

"Yes..." Reich replied coldly, as if he were talking about his worst enemy. "I want to be rid of it!"

"This latest upset or your conscience in general?"

"Yes."

Powell paused before altering tack slightly. "As I said before, everything you tell me is in the strictest of confidence. I am asking this only to better understand you." he said in preparation. "You say you mur- sorry, killed, Mr. D'Courtney. Why didn't you have someone else do it for you, you could have saved yourself much of this conscience trouble?"

"I couldn't trust anyone else to do it. It might have got out, he may have botched it and been caught. No, I had to do it, it was the only way to be sure. Besides, this was my score to settle - D'Courtney had to see it was me that finally defeated him, not some hired gun!"

"You aren't afraid to get your hands dirty? Good. I can see you are a man who takes responsibility for tough actions upon himself. Do you feel your conscience is limiting your full potential, Mr. Reich?"

"Oh, yes. If I could do anything I needed to and still sleep easy at night..."

"We're see what we can do, Mr. Reich..."

 

*************

 

"Driver, stop here for a minute." Reich said, nodding with his head towards a vacant and now rather dilapidated warehouse.

Reich's expensive chauffeur driven vehicle came to a stop at the edge of the large tarmac area, in the shadow of the vast warehouse. A short distance away another vehicle stopped, inside a plain clothes policeman watched Reich make his way towards the empty building on foot.

Short weeds had ruptured the once pristine tarmac creating a patchwork of cracks. Reich slowed his pace and took in the state of the ground around him, careful not to look anywhere near the spying policeman. He was sure the policeman knew that he knew he was being followed but it amused him to keep up the pretense of not realising. Reich had considered letting on several times in the past four days. The longer it went on the less he enjoyed the game. Did they really think he wouldn't instantly know of their watching him? Virtually all day he was surrounded by people - his people. He had to make a concerted effort to be free of those wishing to gain his attention. Sometimes, like now, he just had to drop everything and get out of the office and away from his simpering employees. He'd almost forgotten that he'd be followed away from there. He fought back an urge to look directly at the policeman in his parked vehicle. He stalked off towards the old warehouse.

The old door creaked as he pushed it open, it's lock had been forced years ago, probably by curious kids. It swung closed behind him as he entered the gloom of the vast enclosed space, the only light fighting its way through high up windows around three of the walls of the rectangular building. He gazed around at the decaying place for a couple of minutes, as he had done so many times in the past.

Policemen might be known for their flat-feet but even Reich was surprised by how much noise was generated as this policeman sprinted towards the warehouse, desperately worried he might be missing out on some vital evidence to connect Reich to the D'Courtney murder. Reich tiptoed to the side of the door so he would be behind it when it opened. The policeman eased the door open just enough to take a peek inside without, he hoped, revealing his interest to the man inside. Reich stayed absolutely still, painfully aware of the noise generated by his breathing and his now rapidly beating heart.

Throwing caution to the wind the policeman opened the door, deciding he needed to get over to the brick office area on the far side of the warehouse. Before he knew what had hit him Reich rugby tackled him to the ground. They struggled but the element of surprise and the superior fitness of Reich won out. Easing himself off the floor Reich reached into his suit jacket and produced a pistol, which he trained on the policeman.

"If you want to follow me to lunch, fine. If you want to follow me dinner, that's fine too. You want to follow me to my tower or mansion, go for it - knock yourself out. Do not ever follow me here. Not ever!" Reich said angrily, slightly surprised that the trivial fight had summoned up so much adrenaline.

"Just doing my job, Reich!" the policeman shot back, now propping himself up on his elbows.

"Really? ID." commanded Reich.

"I'm a policeman." he demanded, unsure if Reich knew this already or not.

"ID." repeated Reich sternly.

"Okay!"

"Carefully..."

The policeman somewhat clumsily reached into his back pocket and produced a small leather wallet which he reached up and offered to Reich. Not taking the gun off him, Reich leaned forward and snatched it from the policeman's hand. He flipped it open and quickly glanced at the identification card inside.

"Yes, I thought as much. You work for D'Courtney, Officer Beck."

"Certainly not! The D'Courtney Cartel sponsor us, nothing more, I assure you." Beck countered.

Reich cursed the day he let the local national government pass a law that prevented businesses sponsoring police departments in areas they had significant interests in. At the very least he should have lobbied to prevent major competitors from sponsoring areas largely owned by their rivals. In reality sponsoring had mutated into complete outsourcing of police services to private corporations. The theory had it that the state had ultimate control but in practice they preferred to let others spend their time managing the service, from funding right down to recruitment. The politicians would take credit when things went right and have a perfect non-governmental scapegoat when things went wrong. The corporations made sure that things were never seen to go wrong by using slick marketing techniques and spin doctors. The system appeared to the public to work well, though justice was, in reality, low on the list of priorities.

"Ha!" Reich mocked.

"Can I get up? This concrete floor is rather chilly." Beck said with attitude.

"No." Reich said flatly.

"What - you're going to keep me prisoner here?! Come off it, Mr. Reich..." Beck said looking directly in Reich's eyes. Something cold stared back at him and he felt the colour drain from his own face. "Don't be silly, Mr. Reich, just let me go..." Beck said, trying hard to suppress rising panic.

The two of them stared at each other, silently for a moment. Reich could feel the adrenaline start to subside but the rage did not dissipate along with it, not fully.

"What is this place? What's so special about it?" Beck said carefully, hoping to buy time, knowing that in all likelihood his colleagues were already racing to the scene after his call-in that he was about to follow Reich into a potentially dangerous situation. He knew they would keep out of sight and only move in if they got a signal, heard a gunshot or something similar.

"This is where it all began, Officer Beck, all those years ago. Getting this place was the biggest struggle of my life. You have no idea how hard it was to get finance for a small up-start firm like Sovereign back then. Look at me now - entire countries depend on finance from me! By comparison everything after this place was easy."

"What about D'Courtney? The war with him, I mean." Beck quizzed, surreptitiously trying to get a hand to his radio to signal for help.

"They can't win, not now. He got what was coming to him - did he really think he could take me on and win?" Reich said incredulously. It was then that Reich noticed Beck trying to reach something in his jacket pocket. Reich pretended not to notice. "It's amazing, you know?"

"What's amazing?" Beck said in a deliberately neutral tone.

"I was saying to someone the other day about how my conscience has always held me back. How human behaviour is entirely selfish and only held in check by conscience. The funny thing is, ever since that brief introductory meeting I've felt like I've been freed of it. Recently I did something that nagged at my conscience like you won't believe. Now, it's gone. I really think I can do anything I like now..."

Beck sensed events had suddenly turned very much for the worse. In the blink of an eye he decided to simultaneously go for his radio and roll out Reich's aim. Reich saw that decision pass over Beck's face.

The assembling Police Rapid Reaction team heard the gun shot and with professional ease sprang into action, storming the building, swinging through the high up side windows and blasting a large hole through the back of the warehouse.

 

***********

 

"Why me, Mr. Reich?"

"I don't know what you did, Dr. Powell, but ever since our meeting a few days ago I... well, I got what I wanted - my mind is free to think the unthinkable. I am free to do anything I wish!" Reich said, rubbing his still sore eyes after being on the receiving end of a rather nasty incompacitating spray.

"That's as maybe, Mr Reich, but wouldn't you be better off with a lawyer?" Powell asked as he sat next to Reich on the small bed in the holding cell.

"A team of my lawyers are already on it. They don't need to actually talk with me to do their job. Unfortunately D'Coutney's mob have got this place firmly under their control, I'm obviously their most valued at the moment - look how quick they were to get that assault team in on me, they must have been waiting around the corner." Reich said bitterly. "I'm sure my people are trying to get one of my judges to look at the case instead of D'Courtney's."

"You don't sound hopeful."

"These things tend to take time to win. I've been waging war against D'Courtney in the courts for over a decade now. Suits and counter-suits. Patents, anti-competitive behaviour, poaching, dumping - you name it. At the moment we have over a thousand cases going through the system. If anything we've battled more intensely in the courts than the market place! Do you know what the average case length is? Over three years! D'Courtney could easily drag this case out - well his people could, he's a little indisposed right now..."

"So, what can I do, Mr. Reich?"

"I don't know. I suppose I just wanted to talk with someone. They know I killed that Beck idiot and they are pretty sure I killed D'Courtney. My lawyers can get me off both charges, given time." Reich paused to rub his sore eyes that were watering again. "I don't know... I really thought that being free of a conscience would be enough. I'd be able to do anything I liked."

"You want to be free of the law as well? Is that is Mr. Reich?"

"Yes, I suppose I do. Me personally, that is. I'm not so worried about Sovereign, in fact I want to continue to take D'Courtney to the cleaners in the courts. Yes, just me, nothing could hold me back..." Reich said wistfully.

"You don't want much, do you, Mr. Reich?" Powell said looking down at his watch. "You're a man who wants to be free to take control of everything and treat the world as you desire. You can feel how close you are and it burns you, yes?"

"You make me sound like some kind of monster in the making, Dr. Powell. I just want to be free to control my own life, my own destiny. No interference from anyone else. If the law didn't apply to me I would finally have that freedom."

"Indeed? You're a fascinating individual, Mr Reich. Unfortunately I've got to go, and no, before you ask, I won't postpone my next appointment - no matter how many million you offer me!" Powell said in a jocular fashion, though being entirely serious. "I'll do all I can for you, Mr. Reich."

With that Powell stood up, crossed the few paces to the whitewashed metal door and banged his fist against it. An armed guard, a civilian security guard in D'Courtney company colours, opened the cell door and let Powell out. Reich sat there glumly as he saw the heavy metal door slam shut again.

For ten minutes Reich sat there wondering if his people could get him released from the tiny cell on grounds that the entire detention block was run directly by the D'Courtney Cartel, contracted out by the local Police. Surely the conflict of interest would be enough to have him bailed? It was then that the door was swung open and in stepped the local police chief.

"My name's Crabbe, Mr. Reich." the large man said, offering his hand to Reich.

"Yes, we've met at a few functions, I believe." Reich said, standing up and shaking Crabbe's hand.

"So, we have." replied Crabbe, slightly surprised that Reich remembered him. "So sorry for your treatment, would you like to see our doctor?"

"No, thankyou." Reich said, who started to bring a hand up to rub his eyes again before deciding against it.

"I understand, you'd rather have your own people. Well, I won't keep you then, you're free to go, Mr. Reich." Crabbe announced, pulling Reich's wallet, phone and gun from one of his large suit jacket pockets and handing them to Reich.

"What?! Just like that? What about Beck?"

"Yes, we're sorry about that. He should never have followed you. Please accept our fullest apologies."

"Apology accepted..." Reich said, wondering if this were some kind of trap or trick. Perhaps his lawyers really had gotten him out, between them D'Courtney and himself employed the best legal minds in the entire world. "When do you need me to come back?" Reich asked, expecting to have to return for a court hearing.

"You don't. Not ever. Again, we are so sorry to have inconvenienced you, Mr. Reich."

 

*********************

 

"It's a media frenzy, out there, Mr. Reich." Tate said after having just poked his head around the corner of the large stage curtain.

"Not surprising, this is the first press conference I've given since D'Courtney's death." replied Reich as he smoothed down his immaculate new black suit (he never wore the same one twice).

"Good luck." Tate said in response to Reich's curt nod that indicated he was about to step out. Reich didn't respond.

A quiet descended the large auditorium as Reich calmly walked towards the raised dais. It wasn't often that Reich himself would conduct a press conference, usually leaving the hundreds of presentations a year to his army of media consultants and specially groomed actors. Rumours about Reich's involvement in D'Courtney's death were rife, even in the media outlets owned by Reich himself.

Stepping up to the podium Reich stopped for a moment and took in the sight of the many hundred reporters before him, looking up at him expectantly. He smiled to himself as the last of the stragglers took their seats and quietened down.

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen." Reich's voice boomed thoughout the auditorium. "I know you are more accustomed to seeing one of my press officers here instead of me. I can only apologise that I don't have their, er, skills!" he joked and the audience gave muted but polite laughter in return. "It is important, I feel, that it is I who address you today. One week ago my long time business rival, Mr. D'Courtney, of the the D'Courtney Cartel was murdered." Reich paused for dramatic effect. "There are rumours circulating that the Police believe I was involved. I can confirm that this rumour is true - the Police were investigating me. I can further confirm that D'Courtney was murdered and that I did it." Reich said clinically as the hardened hacks gave an uncharacteristic group gasp.

Tate rushed onto the stage and towards Reich on the raised dais. The audience had erupted into chaos as the reporters jostled for a better position, quickly called in the shock news to their editors or tried to shout questions to Reich. Reich stood looking down upon them, amused by the reaction. He was aware of Tate rushing up to him in his peripheral vision but did not turn to acknowledge his assistant.

"Mr. Reich - you must stop this now, we can still save this - somehow..." Tate whispered urgently into Reich's ear.

Reich looked at Tate through the corner of his eye and hissed back "Don't be a fool - why do you think we are doing so badly - D'Courtney, yes, but it's more than that. Our people need to feel we've beaten D'Courtney directly, I can't have them thinking his death was nothing but a lucky happenstance for us - we need to get them fired up again!"

"But the Police will demolish you! Please, Mr. Reich!"

Reich pushed Tate away with one hand and addressed the audience again. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you please..." the press quickly settled back down to hear what else Reich had to say. "I have dealt with D'Courtney and his Cartel will crumble before the year is out. There is only one thing preventing this now. There is a spy at the top most levels of Sovereign who has been helping D'Courtney gain the upper hand. That will stop. Now." Reich proclaimed as he pulled a hand gun from within his jacket and aimed it at Tate.

At first Tate didn't realise what was happening and by the time he had it was too late to react. The sound of the gun shot echoed around the auditorium as Tate dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes. Reich looked down at his friend and shot him again for good measure. The reporters went absolutely wild this time. Most of them didn't even consider any danger to their own lives as they rushed forward to get pictures of the aftermath. Reich, with his message given, stepped over Tate's body and strolled off the stage, leaving bloody footprints in his wake.

 

*********************

 

"Thank you for seeing me, Dr. Powell" Reich said urgently.

"How could I decline, Mr. Reich, after your performance to the press three days ago." Powell said oddly cheerfully.

"Yes, I was trying to get my people back behind me. Get their loyalty and all their efforts again." Reich said, calming down already.

"I see. Did this work?"

"Yes, I believe so. They believe we can now make a fresh start to take down the D'Courtney Cartel. They have a scapegoat in Mr. Tate - what with our spy eliminated and Mr. D'Courtney along with him they can see nothing to hold us back anymore."

"I was sorry to see Mr. Tate's demise. Has it given you any problems?"

"You could say that. The Police haven't even attempted to question me about it and I must say it is an incredible feeling to have no remorse about the act, except..." Reich hesitated.

"Yes, Mr. Reich?"

"Side effects! Damn side effects!" Reich almost shouted.

"Side effects?"

"Yes." Reich said through clenched teeth. "The press, the public - even those pathetic money grabbing politicians are turning against me!" Reich reigned in his anger while he covered his face with a hand. After a few seconds he continued. "I've got my own media outlets working overtime to get the public back on my side but no one is taking any notice. What's wrong with them - can't they see how strong this makes Sovereign, everyone knows a company can't be successful without strong leadership. They should admire me!"

"What do you want from me, Mr. Reich?" Powell said disappointedly.

"You done the impossible for me twice before - do it again, one last time."

"This will be the last time, Mr. Reich. You want there to be no side effects to your actions, is that it?"

"I want there to be no consequences, Dr. Powell." Reich nodded.

"Yes, I think that is exactly what you need, Mr. Reich. I had such high hopes for you, too."

 

*********************

 

"What the hell's wrong with you people?" yelled Reich at the other members of the Sovereign board who were gathered around a large oval table.

The management team paused long enough to look at Reich, who was siting at the head of the table, and then returned to their heated exchange on the future of Sovereign as if they had already forgotten the interruption.

"Are you going to just ignore me? You may not be happy with my recent actions but don't forget I still own this company." Reich shouted over the chaotic scene.

Again, the others turned to give a vague look in his direction and then instantly forgot his interjection and continued the debate without him.

Ever since he had left Dr. Powell's office it was if the entire world had decided to send Reich to Coventry. Reich didn't understand what was happening but was becoming extremely irritated by it very quickly indeed. He wasn't taking this anymore. Reich stood up sharply. The others took no notice what-so-ever this time. He grabbed a pile of papers in front of his Chief Financial Officer, who was sitting to his right. Reich threw the papers up into the air and watched them rain down over the attendees and the desk in front of them. Several of them stopped, briefly, to look up at the shower of paper. Reich glared at the CFO.

"There, you can't ignore that! Look - all of your carefully collated papers strewn - " Reich hissed at the CFO before stopping suddenly as he noticed the pile of papers in front of his financial wizard. "Aren't those the same papers?" thought Reich. He jerked his head around to survey the table. He was right, the papers he had just thrown were impossibly back in a neat ordered pile, exactly as they had been before he picked them up. Reich stumbled back from the table in horror. "This is impossible!" he muttered to himself.

"No more!" bellowed Reich as his hand went into his jacket to retrieve the hand gun that had barely left his side ever since he murdered D'Courtney. Without warning he began shooting wildly into the group at the table. It was a scene of carnage. In the short time it took him to empty his gun of the fifteen shots it carried eight of the twelve were dead or seriously wounded. Some had slumped onto the floor and the others had collapsed onto the desk. Reich felt strangely soothed by this - he could get their attention after all, he could interact with them, except... the remaining four continued the meeting amongst themselves as if nothing had happened. Reich couldn't believe his eyes. What was wrong with everyone?

It was then he realised that everyone was back on their chairs, uninjured, and continuing the meeting as if he hadn't just shot most of them dead. He didn't even see the dramatic change happen - there wasn't an instant where they were dead and dying and then suddenly back as they were. It hadn't just flicked back to how it was as you'd get with a video edit. Somehow, inexplicably, almost as if suddenly noticing a detail you hadn't spotted before but now can't ignore no matter how hard you try, it was back as it was.

Reich ran from the room, across the hall and jumped in a lift just as the doors were closing. It was heading towards the top level of Sovereign Tower - the transparent domed arboretum and viewing gallery. He burst out of the lift just as the doors had opened enough to let him through. The other occupant of the lift he had barged out of the way appeared barely to notice his presence. Reich sprinted towards the door out to the open air tabled area. He tripped over the leg of a wooden chair, crashed to the ground and slid into the rail that stood between him and a two thousand metre drop.

Easing himself into a seated position, with his back against the rail, Reich watched two members of the public exit from the domed area and sit down at the table he had just disrupted - sure enough the chair he had just sent flying was back in its original position and now being sat down upon by an eight year old girl who was eating an ice-cream with her father, despite the somewhat chilly and overcast weather conditions.

The girl screamed and dropped her ice-cream as Reich grabbed her and heaved her from the table. Her father appeared not to notice, instead continuing a conversation with her. Reich dragged the girl to the rail and, with all his strength, launched her over the side. He watched as she fell. With the blood curdling scream slowly being lost to the immense distance of the fall Reich turned to look back at her father. He was sitting there eating his ice-cream and talking with his daughter who was again siting across the table from him. Reich turned around and looked down the side of the tower and listened. There was no sign of anything falling.

Reich snapped. "I've had it! I'm not playing your game anymore!" he called out at the sky. He pulled the clip out of his gun and noticed that, impossibly, it had some ammo left. He pushed the clip back in and jumped up onto the rail. He balanced there for a second, long enough to mutter to himself "This will end it one way or another...". He put the muzzle of his gun into his mouth and simultaneously jumped and pulled the trigger. He felt the searing pain and heat of the gunshot as it blasted a hole through the back of his head. His lifeless body bounced off the side of the tower and fell the two kilometres onto the pavement below, leaving a considerable impact crater.

 

*********************

 

"Where's Dr. Powell?" demanded Reich to the receptionist.

"Who, sir?" she asked.

"Dr. Powell - this is his office, or it was a few days ago..." he said looking at the name on the door which had now changed to Dr. De Santis.

The receptionist had returned to reading her glossy magazine, apparently having forgotten about Reich's existence.

Reich stormed into the room now claiming to be home to Dr. De Santis. Sure enough the man behind the desk of the otherwise identical room was a complete stranger. The man was alone and reading through a case file, presumably belonging to his next patient.

"Where's Dr. Powell? I need to see Dr. Powell!" Reich ordered Dr. De Santis, who completely ignored him.

"Listen to me! Listen will you!" Reich shouted. "Nothing I do has any effect - get me Dr. Powell, get him to reverse this. I can't even kill myself. I can't even kill you!" Reich said threateningly but to no effect. "I can't live in limbo like this... Please... Dr. Powell..." Reich pleaded for the rest of eternity.