Part one of the Controller series.
U.S. president Richard Sinclair discovers a recluse known as Controller is responsible for his winning the presidency. Controller outlines his plans to bring peace to the world, eliminate starvation, and abolish disease. Sinclair believes his benefactor wants what is best for mankind, and cooperates, only to learn of the Controller's true agenda.
Download part 2: Obsession
Stephen sensed that something was amiss; an uneasiness that he couldn't put to rest kept gnawing at him. One or two strokes of good luck could be explained, but too many chips were falling the Sinclair/Hamilton way to attribute to luck. He saw no alternative but to confront Richard. Rarely did they have spare time, but today they were going to have a quiet, unhurried lunch together to discuss the next week's activity, and he would seize the opportunity.
"It feels good to just sit down and relax for a few minutes; this has been one horrendous week." Richard heaved a big sigh, crossed his legs and slouched in the deeply padded chair. His demeanor said much more than his words. The exhaustion was starting to show. "At least you are an old hand at campaigning. I, on the other hand, am new to this and I never dreamed it could be so debilitating. How have you managed to keep your sanity for all these years?"
"Just lucky, I guess." Stephen saw an opening and his face took on a seriousness that got Richard's attention. "Speaking of luck, doesn't it seem odd to you that we are suddenly garnering support from factions that have a history of adversity toward us? We haven't changed our campaign one iota, so why the sudden rush of new support? Is there anything I should know, Richard?"
Richard wasn't sure where Stephen was headed with this, and with obvious concern, stared deep into Stephen's eyes, "I don't follow you. What are you saying?"
"I mean, is there any possibility that somewhere down the line, we could be looking at an investigation? Our opponents are too smart not to be wondering why there has been such a shift in loyalties. They won't take this lying down; and if I'm suspicious, what do you think they're going to be?"
"You don't think that I have been doing anything improper, do you?" Richard's body language sent a message of innocence, and his voice sounded hurt; that Stephen couldn't deny.
"No, no Richard," a softening came over Stephen's face. "I never thought for one minute that you would be involved in any kind of tampering. I just thought that maybe you might know of someone who could." Stephen wasn't just telling him what he thought he wanted to hear; he really believed that Richard was too smart and straight arrow to resort to such tactics, too proud to take shortcuts.
"I guess my political naivet? has caused me to ignore my gut feelings. I don't know anyone with enough clout to pull these things off. But let me ask you a question. Can you think of anyone capable of this?" Richard relaxed slightly, settling back in his chair.
"I wish I could. If we had any idea who, we might also know why." Stephen had a worried look, a new emotion he had never before revealed to Richard. "Whoever it is, you can bet there is quite an agenda that goes with the support."
"But since we haven't solicited this help, we may be able to avoid having to repay the debt." Richard had the anticipatory look of a child hoping for some parental approval.
"As much as I would like to believe that, I've got this gut feeling that another shoe is about to drop. I'll be honest with you Richard, I'm really concerned. How are we supposed to go about our business with this hanging over our heads? No one in politics does anything out of the goodness of his heart. Somebody is going to want payback somewhere down the line."
"One thing is certain; we have no choice but to proceed with our plans. We have objectives and people are counting on us. Maybe we'll get lucky and our benefactor will be happy just to have us in office. Maybe that's been the plan all along--to ensure that we, and not our opponents, get elected. Maybe our agenda is his agenda." Richard couldn't believe how naive that sounded and wished he hadn't said it.
Stephen just stared into space "Yeah, maybe. Then again, maybe not. At any rate, we have to prepare ourselves for the worst."
"What might that be, Stephen?"
"That whoever is working behind the scenes on our behalf is going to expect something in return. Eventually we are going to be asked to pay up. It's the price that has me worried."
"How can we be expected to feel obligated when we never solicited the support?" "Take my word for it, Richard. Sometime, maybe later than sooner, we are going to be asked to redeem our IOU."