Would you be concerned if you were told that a rogue planetoid would collide with Earth and destroy all life on it in the year 7141? Probably not. It is so far off in the future that it's one of those events which can be left to our descendants to solve. It would be a 'not our problem' event.
What would happen if you suddenly found yourself immortal though? Then it would be your problem. Would the impending apocalypse be a little more urgent?
This is the story behind the 'A Vested Interest' book series by John and Shelia Chapman. The ebook of book one is free and details the moral struggles of three scientists who are developing a genetic treatment which, if successful, could greatly extend human lifespan. Their goal - the very essence of life itself.
Of course there's a lot more to a series of 9 books (more on the way) so check out the website for more details.
Donna picked up the two steaming mugs of coffee, one with milk, one with Coffee-mate and sat them in coasters on her coffee table. She glanced at her watch and grinned. Richard was late, but he was often late. She was quite fond of Richard, but Gary was right. Richard had a problem with punctuality.
Sitting cross-legged on her sofa, Donna reached for the remote and switched on her smart TV. Selecting the blue icon, she started Skype and waited for Gary. Since she and Jared had parted ways, Donna had moved back into her apartment, at Shreve City Towers.
She, Richard, and Gary had formed a habit of visiting and sharing a morning cup of coffee together. Early morning for Richard and Donna turned out to be early afternoon for Gary. No matter how many times he reminded them; neither Richard nor Donna seemed to understand Gary needed something called sleep. The six hour time difference between the US and the UK always caught him out. They called him at all hours of the night.
Donna was in deep concentration, thumbing through her stack of mail. She didn't notice when Gary came online. She took a sip of her coffee and yawned.
"Wake up!" Gary shouted.
Startled, Donna jerked the hand holding her coffee mug. "That was mean!" she grumbled. "Now see what you made me do? I've been waiting for this letter for the last three days, and now I've spilt coffee all over it!"
"Sorry baby. What is it?"
Donna's face beamed. "Probably a letter telling me I've got the job."
"What job?" Gary frowned. "I thought you were coming over here."
"Not if I get this job in New York," she smiled.
There was a knock on her door. "Hang on a second," she said. "That's probably my breakfast." She unlocked the door and narrowed her eyes. "You're late!" she teased.
Richard grinned. "I wasn't aware I was on the clock. You're in a better mood today."
Donna took the brown paper bag from him. "Yes I am. My letter came. Looks like I'm headed for the big apple."
"Still going to let me fly you there if you get the job?"
"No, she won't!" Gary spoke up. "She'll chicken out like she always does."
Richard closed the door and followed Donna to the living room. "Nobody asked for your two cents, Mr. Nosey," Donna said as she headed for the kitchen.
"Where are you going?" Gary asked. "I don't have all day for this. Some of us poor folks have to work for a living."
"To get some saucers and paper towels," she replied.
Richard sat on the sofa and grabbed his coffee mug. "Good morning, Richard," Gary said. "Are you enjoying your time off?"
"Good afternoon, Gary," Richard smirked and sipped his coffee. "I certainly am. I have something much better to look at now than your ugly face."
Donna handed Richard his breakfast, sat next to him and picked up her coffee stained-letter. "Well, go on..." Richard prompted, "...tell us what it says."
"Dear Dr. Rigden," she began. "Thank you for your application in seeking a position as head of our cardiac research centre. Blah - blah - blah..." she quickly scanned through the rest. She tightened her jaw; her eyes danced with fury. "The sorry son of a bitch."
"What's wrong, D?"
"How dare he!"
Richard slid closer. "What is it pet?"
She shoved the letter at Richard.
"We were unable to obtain references from your current employer, G.W. Forrest of Forrest Enterprises, who stated that they would not release you from your current contract..." pausing briefly, Richard's voice fell as he continued. "We are sorry to inform you, but the position... has now been filled." He exhaled and tossed the letter on the coffee table. "Dad could probably fix this for you if you want the job that bad."
Donna shook her head. "No, I don't want you getting involved with Forrest."
Richard chuckled. "Pet, I've been involved with G.W. Forrest forever - it seems."
"According to my calculations, I had less than a month to go on my contract. Because Kim Gentry decided to blow up the new building - herself in the process - I have no facility to work in, no hope of having one, for who knows how long. Forrest is still waiting for the insurance company to complete their investigation before they'll give him Jared's investment money," she paused and swallowed the lump in her throat. "Does Forrest plan on building another one? Who knows? Does he need Jared's money to do this - no! That's it - I'm done! I can't take it anymore." Donna bolted off the sofa.
"Now, where are you going?" Gary asked.
"To change. I'm going to see the bastard. I've had my resignation typed out for months. All it needs is a date and my signature," she threw over her shoulder and turned the corner to her bedroom.
Gary and Richard shared a worried look. "If she goes in his office with her gung-ho attitude..." Gary broke off.
"I think you'd better talk to Dad. We may have to make a hasty escape."
Donna switched her cell phone to silent mode. She took a deep breath and opened the door. She knew this was a waste of time from the moment she stepped into the room. Forrest had done another U-turn on her. A thick, hazy cloud of cigar smoke hovered over her head. "When did you pick up the habit again? Those things will kill you - and everybody else around you."
"Old habits die hard, Donna. We all die, sooner or later." He motioned her to a seat. "I'm a little disappointed in you. Despite all I've done for you...."
Donna held up a hand. "...All you've done for me?"
"I changed your work schedule, gave you fewer hours. I increased your salary. I built you a brand new, state-of-the-art research facility. While it was under construction, I gave you and Dr. Walton time off with pay. You were ill, and I gave you extra time off to recover from your appendectomy - when you really didn't need it. How did you manage to heal so quickly, Donna, especially since you're dying?"
Donna's mouth dropped open. "Dying?" she gasped. "What makes you think I'm dying?"
Forrest arched an eyebrow. "My doctor took a blood sample, to see if he could figure out why you collapsed. Your white blood cell count is way above normal, Donna. You have a rare blood disease. According to his findings, you've got six months - a year at the most - if you're lucky and can get a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, since you're an only child...."
"...You took blood from me that day?"
"Yes, Donna. With you being a doctor and your leukaemia being far into the final stage, I figured you knew."
"Mr. Forrest... I'm not dying. I don't care what your doctor told you. He's either one hell of a quack or has his wires seriously crossed. I am not dying, and even if I were, I didn't come here to discuss my health."
Forrest put his cigar in the corner of his mouth and examined his fingernails. "Then what did you come to discuss, Donna? How you applied for another job while you were still under contract with us? How you and Jared planned to cheat me out of my money for the building that Kim Gentry blew up? Or how you secretly tried to get rid of me?"
Donna was dumbfounded. She stared at Forrest as if he were crazy. She cocked her head to the side. "Mr. Forrest... how would Jared and I cheat you out of your insurance money? We had nothing to do with the construction of that building."
Forrest sneered, pulled hard on his cigar and rested it in the crystal ashtray, exhaling directly in front of Donna. He pushed an investment contract across the desk to her. "Pick it up and read it, Donna. Pay close attention to the signature."
Donna sighed and quickly scanned through the information. A lump formed in her throat. She blinked a few times and pushed it back to him.
"From the shocked expression on your face, I'll take it that you didn't know Jared had bought stock into your research and was responsible for all construction that went into the building?"
Donna slowly shook her head. "No... I didn't."