Brain Power by Rhys Clarke
Chapter Four: The Bargain
‘He’s mad,’ barked Harold Slater, Byron’s much put-upon Financial Advisor. Broderick flashed Slater what he probably hoped was a friendly smile. Slater shuddered, his thick cheeks wobbling in disgust at the giant’s enormous fangs.
‘I don’t know,’ muttered Edward Roper, Byron’s ageing lawyer. Roper tapped the end of one long, manicured nail against the glass dome of Brain X, ‘it looks real to me.’
‘That just makes things worse,’ spat Slater in disgust, ‘if that’s a real brain in there-an actually human brain, then this guy really is mad, isn’t he? Who else but a madman rocks up to someone’s house, carrying a brain in a jar, asking for a quote? No, no we shouldn’t go along with this. This is obviously a terrible idea. The fact that we’re even debating this-’
‘Well,’ murmured Roper, ‘that’s really down to Mr. Whittaker to decide, isn’t it?’
Slater licked his thick, grey lips and threw a nervous glance in the direction of his employer. Byron Wittaker was crouched on his hands and knees, gaping with wonder at Brain X.
‘I mean,’ said Roper, ‘let’s just suppose that this is going to work the way Mr. Broderick claims it does-that this Brain X really can act as a sort of…surrogate mind for Mr. Whittaker when it comes to his future business decisions…I mean, are we just going to ignore the fact that Mr. Whittaker is in desperate need of a change in his current practices regarding Whittaker Incorporated?’
Slater bit his tongue, mashing it between his square, tobacco-stained teeth. Roper’s words had clearly struck a chord with the long-suffering Financial Advisor. Slater was only twenty-nine years old but he had the face and body of a man in his late fifties. The stress of mopping up after Byron’s dreadful spending binges had certainly played its part in the poor chap’s premature ageing.
‘I’d like to just add something,’ said Broderick, raising a thick, hairy finger to accentuate his point, ‘the price I’m asking for the renting of Brain X is very small-fifteen hundred a month, hardly a stretch for a man of Byron’s resources! Now, I’m more than happy to make the following deal. How about I loan you Brain X for the first month, without charge? And, if you chaps don’t notice any discernible change in Mr. Whittaker, I’ll take Brain X back and be on my merry way. Honestly, gentlemen, what do you have to lose?’
After a brief discussion, Roper and Slater agreed that Broderick’s deal was very reasonable. The deal was made and Brain X was left in the spare room, alongside a small book of instructions for the men to follow. Byron scarcely seemed to notice the deal that was being carried out beside him. He was utterly entranced by the strange, alien device that the giant had brought him. Samantha watched Broderick shake Slater and Roper by their hands and slip, grinning out of the door. Her heart sank and Slater picked up the instruction booklet and started skimming through it, frowning. She had a very bad feeling about this…