Brain Power by Rhys Clarke
Chapter Five: Byron’s New Brain
It took several days for Samantha to notice any change in Byron. The first thing that caught her interest was the shift in her employer’s eating habits. Breakfast for Byron usually consisted of a pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice and two giant bowls of chocolate flavoured cereal. By the second day of the trial period concocted by Broderick, Roper and Slater, this had changed. Byron staggered down, dressed in his usual silk pyjamas, scratching at his mop of curly blonde hair. In one hand he held the glass dome that contained Brain X, and the wire was attached to the side of his head. Byron took his usual place at the head of the table, paused for several moments, before calling out to Samantha:
‘I think I’ll have some bacon today.’
‘Bacon, sir?’ cried Samantha, losing her professional composure. Byron frowned. He hated having to repeat himself.
‘Yes, Samantha, bacon. With two eggs. Scramb-’ Byron froze, his blonde head tilted to one side, ‘sorry, fried. And some toast, if you don’t mind. I feel like something a bit more…’ again, Byron tilted his head. He licked his lips, his eyes narrowed with concentration, ‘substantial than cereal today.’
‘Of course, sir,’ said Samantha, ‘bacon and eggs it is!’
After that, the changes grew more and more apparent. Byron had never been an early riser. For him, a punctual start to the day meant getting up at half twelve, just in time to take an hour long nap. By the end of the first week of his trial run, however, Byron was usually in the dining room, ready for his breakfast by half past eight. Then came the change in dress. When he could be bothered, Byron dressed expensively, but without care, wearing designer clothes day after day, without bothering to wash or iron them, until they resembled little more than gaudy rags, dread over his thin frame. By the second week of Byron’s trial run, he had purchased a whole new wardrobe. This change in appearance had taken Samantha completely by surprise. One afternoon, Byron had simply emerged from his bedroom, dressed in a tailor made navy blue suit with a striking red tie. Samantha had blushed like a tomato-Byron really had looked rather fetching in his new suit.
‘You look very well today, sir!’ she had spluttered.
‘Thank you, Samantha,’ replied Byron, tilting his head once again, ‘now, could you do me a favour? Call the executive board of Whittaker Incorporated and tell them that I want to hold a meeting downstairs, at three o’ clock, sharp. I have some ideas regarding future investments. Oh, and you had better ask the kitchen staff to prepare some sandwiches for them. Don’t want them going hungry, do we?’
Byron had rarely concerned himself with business meetings. On the rare occasions his executives arrived to discuss the abysmal state of his company, Byron had simply leaned back in his chair, nodded without listening, before plunging head first into another disastrous spending spree. On that afternoon, however, Samantha observed that Byron was very much a changed man. As his executives rattled off numbers and statistics to him, one after the other, her employer made a great show of paying them great attention. He leaned forward in his chair and balanced his chin on his long, slender fingers, asking the occasional question for clarification. His speech was polished and refined and so wonderfully CORPORATE that it brought actual tears of joy to the eyes of Slater, who excused himself in order to sob in private. Slater caught sight of Samantha, lurking as she always did, just outside the door and took her hands in his. His whole fat face was glowing with delight.
‘Broderick’s a genius!’ cried Slater, ‘I don’t care how much he asks for-give it to him! That Brain X, it’s a marvel! Byron’s a new man!’
Yes, thought Samantha to herself, he is.
Then came the investments. Oh, the wonderful, wonderful investments. Byron diverted his company’s finances into the development of several new apps, one of which, curiously, was an app that claimed to be able to raise one’s IQ through rigorous online testing. Byron Whittaker doubled, then tripled the amount he’d originally invested. The executive board of Whittaker Incorporated were most impressed. In a single fortnight of investments, Byron Whittaker had dragged his company out of what had once seemed like inevitable financial ruin.
During this time, Byron suddenly took an interest in physical exercise. He hired a Personal Trainer, a very tall, bug-eyed fellow called Alec, who imposed on Byron the strictest training programme imaginable. Sit ups, push ups, squats, sprints, weights-Byron embraced all of this without hesitation. Samantha caught sight of the pair of them one afternoon, in Byron’s (previously abandoned) private gym. Byron was dressed in flashy orange shorts and a white vest. He was bouncing, up and down, squatting so fast that he was almost a blur. Alec was hopping from foot to foot, barking encouragement at Byron, with one eye on a little silver stopwatch. On the floor, just beside Byron’s water bottle, was Brain X. The wire, as always, was jammed firmly on the side of Byron’s head. Byron’s eyes bulged with pain as he bounced, up and down, up and down, his head tilted to one side, always listening to Brain X.