One per cent
Giles Morgan was riding on a high. Today was one of the most successful days of his career. He had just made a deal that would allow him to live in comfort for a very long time. Of course he had no intention of stopping work; he loved his job too much. The trick was to see money as points in a massive game. When he was a kid he used to love playing monopoly. He hated the game now. It seemed so futile to play on a board in a room with only a handful of people when he could treat the whole world as the board and everyone as players. The worst thing about playing monopoly was that it did not involve any real money.
Actual money was the thing that tripped up a lot of his colleagues. Viewing the medium in which they worked as the same thing in which they were paid and with which they bought their homes and possessions was a massive stumbling block. They would lose objectivity. Giles had always thought of money as a point system because it made the whole affair into a game. He had never really cared about what money could buy; that was merely a bonus. What mattered to Giles was accumulation. He was playing monopoly on a massive scale and that was why he wouldn’t be trading it in for a life of leisure in the Seychelles. Leisure was for fools; to him it was his work that provided all the joy he needed.
Having said that, he would certainly be going out to celebrate tonight; today’s success meant total massed points accumulation for this year now topped out at 3.2 Billion pounds. Giles was a financial god and as such intended to go out and get the reverence he deserved from the little people who aspired to be like him.
When he arrived at the bar his colleagues raised their glasses at the same time as they raised a cheer of welcome to him. As he approached the bar he shouted out conspicuously, “Bring out the Armand de Brignac Dynastie for my companions.” Those within earshot raised another toast to him. Giles knew of the existence of the collection as he had ordered it to the club himself. The bar staff began the lengthy process of bringing out the champagne. The bar had been prepped for his arrival and the music changed as the first opaque gold bottle was brought out. It began to mount as the following bottles of increasing size were carried out and eventually reached a climax with the wheeling out in a gold plated chariot of the final 40 litre Melchizedek. The cost of the round of drinks was well over a quarter of a million pounds. This was conspicuous consumption at its most conspicuous.
The party grew even more raucous as the entire bar drank their way through the most extravagant round of drinks ever bought on British soil. Giles was not concerned with the champagne himself. He valued his wits and drank lightly as he got no kick from champagne. For him the joy of the evening was in the knowledge that tomorrow morning the purchase of this one round of drinks would be the talk of the city, along with the talk of his success on the markets today.
It was not long before Giles felt his presence had had the desired effect and that it was time for him to leave. He far preferred his solitude to spending time in a crowded bar with his inferiors. He made his way back to the penthouse that he called home during the week. As he stepped out of the lift into his front room he was surprised to see someone sitting back on his sofa staring right at him. The stranger did not look as though he was a threat. He looked fairly well educated and well-dressed but the very fact that he had obtained entrance to the penthouse without anyone’s knowledge was an indication that he was someone to be reckoned with. Giles reached for the alarm switch beside the elevator to call security. The stranger didn’t lift a finger to stop him doing so.
“No-one is coming.” Said the stranger, “it is just you and me.”
“Who are you?” demanded Giles.
“Come now Giles, you know me. Look deep inside yourself; you will remember.”
Giles began to feel giddy. The face did seem familiar. It swam in and out of focus in his mind but nothing would solidify. Maybe he had drunk more of the champagne than he had realised.
“Just relax Giles. Don’t fight it. You are going to sleep for a short while and then it will all be over.”
Giles fought the giddiness. “You don’t know how powerful I am!” He blurted at the intruder. “I own this city. If any harm comes to me I will destroy you.”
The man on the sofa chuckled in a good natured way. “No Giles. Your days of hurting people are long over now. You have destroyed too many people. Those days are at an end.”
Giles felt his legs give way underneath him. He felt as though he was falling into soft clouds of billowing velvet ink, closing in around to envelope him.
When Giles came to he was lying in his bedroom. He tried to move and found he was constrained on the bed; tied down with leather straps. He wanted to cry out but there was something in his mouth gagging him and depressing his tongue. He struggled but didn’t have the strength to fight against the straps; he doubted he even had the strength to fight against gravity. Even his eyelids had little strength to fight against gravity. He could feel something stuck to his head but he had no idea what, some kind of crown.
The stranger walked up beside him and smiled down. “Ah, you are awake. Just relax Giles. The less you struggle the less it will hurt.”
Suddenly Giles felt an agonising pain running through him. For a fraction of a second he felt as though his muscles were fighting to prevent his skeleton from leaving his body before his mind went blank. Gradually his awareness returned before the pain returned until his mind blanked out again. The torture seemed to continue for an interminable time. He did not know how long it was. Time seemed to lose all meaning. There was no existence beyond the pain and the darkness.
Giles eventually found himself wakening to a world that was not filled with pain. He felt groggy and had difficulty thinking. He was no longer strapped down and was free to move. He looked around and discovered himself to be in a small brightly lit sterile room. There was no friendliness to his environment, only pure functionality. He struggled to get into a sitting position and slide his feet off the bed on which he lay. He was no longer in his clothes. His feet were bare and he was wearing a gown. As he sat on the edge of the bed trying to stretch his muscles into wakefulness the door opened and the intruder from his flat entered.
“Why have you brought me here” Giles demanded.
“I didn’t bring you here,” replied Giles’ assailant. “You have been with us for a long time now. You only seem to be aware of us after treatment.”
“Treatment?” Giles was confused. What was this place? Again the memories came back to him of the intruder’s face. Dr Samuels. Giles remembered meeting him now. Other memories came back as well. The stock market crash; The protests; The riots; The government legislation. Everything had been taken from him. The operation of the stock market had been unsustainable. Too much greed; money for money’s sake; starvation; environmental disaster; millions of exploited poor. Giles had lost his home, his career, he had lost everything; he could not continue after the bottom had dropped out of his world. His memory had started to go first of all and he had found gaps appearing in his days. It was not long before he had found himself admitted to the hospital for treatment of his psychosis. As the memories came back he began to feel nauseous. He leaned forward and felt his stomach preparing to vomit as the clouds once again began to fold in on his mind.
Giles felt terrible. He had to get to the bathroom or he would be sick all over his silk bedspread. He stumbled out of bed and knocked his alarm clock off his bedside table in passing. He quickly found his way to the bathroom and vomited into the toilet. What was wrong with him? He had only had a couple of glasses of the champagne, he shouldn’t be hungover. What an awful night’s sleep he’d had. Nightmares. Giles stretched his mind to remember them but it was no good, he was far too hungover to recollect the awful dreams he’d had during the night. Thank god he did not need to work today. Yesterday had been such a success that if he didn’t wish to then he would never need to work again.