Brain Power by Rhys Clarke
Chapter Six: Broderick Moves In
‘So, gentlemen,’ said Broderick, balancing one mighty knee in his lap, a tiny porcelain teacup clasped between his sausage-like fingers, ‘what do you think?’
Broderick had taken up the head of Byron’s vast dining room table. On the opposite side of the table sat Byron himself flanked, as always, by Samantha. Brain X sat directly in front of Byron, it’s great glass dome partially obscuring Broderick’s smug grin. As always, its wire was attached to the side of Byron’s temple. Roper and Slater had seated themselves at Broderick’s right hand, bouncing on the edge of their seats like excitable children.
‘I think it’s amazing!’ yelled Slater, welling up with reverence, ‘he’s like a changed man. That brain-Brain X-I don’t care how much you’re asking, we want it!’
‘We’re more than happy to start discussing your price,’ added Roper, with slightly more restraint than Byron’s fat Financial Advisor, ‘but it can’t be denied, we’re all very impressed with what Brain X has been able to accomplish. Aren’t we, sir?’
Bryon nodded once, his head cocked to the side, making him look curiously dog-like to the old Lawyer. Roper frowned, a spasm of concern rearing behind the black slits of his eyes.
‘That being said,’ murmured Roper, ‘there is one thing we haven’t considered. Is there a…limit to how much Mr. Whittaker should be wearing that thing? It seems like he wears that wire constantly, these days, and I’m not sure that’s…healthy for him. Perhaps we should-’
‘I’m fine,’ said Byron, suddenly sitting bolt upright. His usually bright eyes had withdrawn into a pair of dull, narrow windows, his jaw was a grim, jagged line. Roper leaned forward in his chair, frowning. The old man had just detected the faintest of tremors, rippling in the underside of Byron’s chin. Roper opened his mouth to ask his employer whether he needed a lie down, only to be interrupted by Slater.
‘See? He’s fine, he’s fine. Now, Mr. Broderick. What can we give you that means we don’t ever have to part from this wonderful, wonderful brain of yours?’
‘My needs are very simple,’ said Broderick, ‘firstly, I’ll accept a payment of seven thousand pounds for the continued use of Brain X. I’d be more than happy to accept this payment in smaller instalments, if that would be-’
Slater snorted and waved his hands in dismissal. Broderick’s grin grew until the sharp corners of his mouth brushed the thick lobes of his ears.
‘In that case,’ whispered Broderick, ‘there’s only one more thing I’d like. You see, Brain X is…the most recent in a long line of…experimental services I provide.’ Broderick’s face twitched and, for a fraction of a second, he looked a lot more threatening. Even Slater’s jubilation faded, as Broderick’s manic smile was displaced by a vicious snarl, his long tongue snaking and curiously pointed. Then, before Slater could properly reconsider his celebratory attitude, the smile had returned.
‘I’d like to stay here, with Mr. Whittaker, just for one more month,’ said Broderick, ‘just while I observe Mr. Whittaker’s continued…interactions with Brain X. To see that everything carries on as smoothly as it has been.’
‘Why?’ asked Samantha, her voice ringing throughout the dining room like the bells of a church, ‘Are you worried? About what Brain X might do to Mr. Whittaker?’
There was a short and uncomfortable silence. Broderick stood up, his immense torso throwing Slater and Roper into darkness.
‘If that’s how I’m going to be spoken by THE HELP,’ said Broderick, still smiling, ‘I think I’ll just be on my way…with Brain X, of course-’
‘No!’ sobbed Slater, falling to his knees.
‘Mr. Broderick-’ spluttered Roper.
The two men were interrupted by a deafening bellow, one so loud that it almost knocked Slater onto his back.
‘SIT DOWN!’ shouted a voice, with so much authority that it could have belonged to God himself. It took Roper and Slater several moments to realise that the terrible, powerful command had come from the lips of none other than Byron Whittaker himself. Byron sat in his chair, stiff and unblinking, his chin quivering with indignation. Samantha stepped forward to comfort her employer, only to be silenced by a sharp gesture of Byron’s left hand.
‘I don’t recall asking for your opinion,’ spat Byron, coldly. Inside its glass dome, Brain X wobbled with delight. Samantha retreated back against the wall, doing her best to obscure the tears falling from her eyes. Byron leaned forward on his chin, head cocked to the side.
‘Mr. Broderick,’ said Byron, ‘I would be more than happy to invite you into my home. You’ve changed my life in such a short span of time. I can see a beautiful friendship growing between us. A beautiful friendship indeed…’