Part 1 - H 2 O
By Phillip Ghee (USA)
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A young entrepreneur dabbling in a novel product unwillingly unleashes a plague upon mankind.
Eddie Horatio Lin, unlike the mantle gratuitously bestowed upon most elementary school children, really could have been anything he chose. He had the stability of a prosperous family. He was privy to attend fine school and avail himself of a commensurable education. But most importantly he had been blessed with presence of mind and aptitude. One can surely make the claim that he was gifted. He was attentive, quick to digest and assimilate most any task assigned him or any subject presented to him. In fact he had only missed Mensa status by just a few points. All of this withstanding, in the eyes of Edward Sr., Eddie had made one critically asinine decision that moved him closer to moron than genius status.
In spite of the continuing diminishing of the American economy, Eddie chose love, that being the love of science, over education, careers and positions. Certainly there were many fields he could have chosen that would have afforded him a much more economically prosperous, lucrative and secure lifestyle. Adding structure to his father’s camp, all of Eddie’s friends, most of whom he had known since grade school, had made more astute and beneficial choices. Those who once held a hankering for science left it behind, like old comic books and toy soldiers, once reaching their adolescence. They had majored in the popular studies of business, trade and commerce. A few had gone into law, which no matter how useless and unproductive to the society, was still one of the most prestigious and sought after professions. The more bold ones went into the new fields birthed during the mid 21st Century. These were formed and nourished upon the culture of greed and excess. Although such livelihoods would have seemed unconscionable just a few decades earlier; they were now validated and cutting edge. Eddie’s wife belonged to this group. She was a Licensed Lottery Broker. She had graduated from an Ivy league school that was now pumping into the society new professionals such as Property Acquisition Specialist, Adolescent and Pre-Adult Labor Management and Procurement Representative and the still slightly controversial yet highly compensated PZC’s (Population Zoning Commissioners).
Eddie chose to become a scientist, more precisely, a Pharmaceutical Bio-Technology Engineer specializing in Genetically Engineered Products. In the caste/class conscious society of mid 21.st Century America, these professions were viewed and compensated much in the same way as high school teachers were in the late 20th Century.
Fields such as the sciences and engineering were no longer prized. If one was not engaged in some economic breakthrough, revolutionary product or service they would only accrue a respectable yet still a mid-level worker’s salary. Even when working for a company on the forefront of innovation, any rewards or bonuses were totally left up to the discretion of the company.
Every aspect of working as well as leisure life was economically based and stratified unlike any other time in the past. Even the Pharmaceutical Salesmen at the Bio-tech Company where Eddie applied his trade made three times his salary by marketing and selling the very same products that his genius and hard work helped to produce. Royalties were a thing of the past so there was no silver lining in his efforts no matter how profitable or socially rewarding the pharmaceutical and chemicals were. One produced solely for the sake of his craft.
The greater portion of the population had sunk to despicable depths. They had become either desolate or governmentally dependent. The ship of the future was sinking. It was the burden of a narrow band of blue collar and middle class workers to man the oars and sails. Their efforts and sacrifices helped to keep the ship afloat. The upper ten percent had throw caution to the wind. They lived lavishly and invested only in their personal rather than societal future. They charted courses of indulgence, drifting the society ever more closely to the shores of economic oblivion.
Eddie’s friends lead plush lives in the land of privilege. His wife, My Lai, would let it occasionally slip and show her contempt towards the meager earnings of her scientist husband. During the early days of their marriage she was able to keep up appearances and fully immerse herself in the activities and social venues that their friends maintained. This was due to her expertise at statistics and her crafty intuition towards her given field. Then came the Anti-Insider Lottery-Broker Laws and Regulations. The profession fell under close scrutiny and the perks of astute analysis (sometimes questionable tips) were no longer of personal financial benefit to them.
All of the financial friction in the Lin household came to head the day Eddie Horatio Lin arrived home to find his wife bitterly sobbing and doused in tears. She sat at the dining room table; a tattered envelope lay before her, its insert overturned and facedown. Eddie immediately feared disaster or some family tragedy. He was however at a loss to understand why no one had contacted him or her beforehand, by viralcell. She sensed his arrival but, lost in her tears, made no effort to acknowledge him.
Instinctively he wanted to console her but he sensed coldness in her aura that he dare not tread upon. Wait a minute, even from a distance; he could identify the vibrant pastel colors of the tattered envelope as well as the overturned insert. They were far too festive to be the bearer of bad news. He took a deep breath, stepped forward and intervened.
The card was of quality stock, peppered with heat activated aromatic sensors.
Thomas and MaryBeth Ferkle
Request your attendance at their Gala Ball
Celebrating the acquisition of their latest property The Merovingian Castle in
Montpeyroux , France
Formal Dress- Friday Night- Social Introduction and Tour
Casual Saturday- Wine and Network Gathering
Period Custom circa Parisian- 1700’s , Sunday Gala Ball
August 11-13 2036
Eddie was a little put off by the presumptuousness of the invitation, especially since this was already the third of August. Like they were supposed to drop whatever they were doing, somehow scramble to find what would undoubtedly be expensive, short notice booked, tickets to France. Not to mention they would have to cultivate elaborate new outfits to boot. But that’s how friends in their circle rolled” If you have to ask, you can’t afford it; if you can’t make it there, maybe you weren’t supposed to be there, etc. etc . He was angry but, looking at his wife’s bloodshot eyes, he caved in. MaryBeth was supposedly one of My Lai’s BFF’s. Sure it would cost them another year putting off re-roofing and as for the wind and solar upgrades to the house and car, forgetaboutit. At that moment all Mr. Lin wanted to do was to restore Mrs. Lin’s eyes to their bright clarity and faultless beauty.
” À votre sante “
The assembled group of well wishers raised their glasses to toast the hosts.
The castle was as true as the word pronounced it to be. It was a true Châteauesque architecture dating from the late 1700’s. The fact that Thomas and MaryBeth, even with their combined wealth, could afford something on this scale as an investment and solely as a summer retreat was amazing. But France’s economy was currently on the skids. Eddie was sure that American gains would be short lived at best. Once the pendulum would swing back in favor of the Europeans, he surmised the Castle would be stripped down and back on financial blocks again.
The castle's proximity to the fine wine growing region offered it access to some of the most treasured stock of wines which the host made no excuse in flaunting. Each glass raised in the toast originated from bottles valued over a thousand dollars each. MaryBeth made sure that covert strategically placed whispers would, given time, convey this fact. As if that wasn't enough, an over eager and slight intoxicated MaryBeth jumped ahead of her planned surprise and hinted to the party-goers that a special treat would be served at the costume ball on Sunday.
Ever thing about the affair was over indulgent and over the top but Eddie admitted that it was nice to get together with so many friends in such an exotic locale. His wife was in her element even if she was by in large just keeping up appearances. She simply sparkled in her gown. Money aside, he was sure her natural beauty and near perfect feminine form made her the envy of most of the cosmetically altered and chemically enhanced masses.
Then there was Buddy Lee. Buddy was one of Eddie's best friends from childhood. He was quite a character. He served as hilarious color commentator, mocking the rich and famous for Eddie’s benefit. So sarcastic were his comments and observations that one might possibly assume that he was an outsider from the group. Financially he rolled just as phat as the rest of the group, Eddie and May Li withstanding. However, he tended to amass his fortunes by less than honorable or even legal means. He wasn't a criminal per-se, just a schemer, hype-man modern carnival barker. Sometime his ruses went a little overboard and in times past he has paid the price for such incursions be it considerable fines or short jail stays.
“Psst. Eddie, make sure you don’t spill any of the grape juice; it’s about 100 bucks a drop.”
Buddy whispered to Eddie who was still holding his glass in salute. His remarks were almost self-fulfilling as Eddie chuckled, bringing the precious tiny waves of the expensive brew dangerous close to the rim of the glass.
“À la votre”
“ Hey, looks like MaryBeth had to do a little sampling before deciding
which stuff to serve.”
Eddie mischievously sniped back indicating her tipsiness.
“So what’s this crap, only about 60 years old?” Not waiting for a response, Buddy continued. “I think my uncle has some ‘Ripple’ collecting dust in his attic that’s older than that. What do ya think I can fetch for that if I viralcell it on E-bay, Eddie my boy?”
The second well-placed rumor made its way to Eddie’s table during dinner. A case of champagne, certified to have been trampled and corked during the Castle’s 1700’s heyday, would be served at the Costumed Ball. The rumor even developed its own rumor; the Champaign was said to be valued at $47,000 dollars a bottle. Needless to say this jumpstarted Buddy and served to re-energize his rant However, after receiving a stern warning stare from MaryBeth, he decided to save his wit for more private and accommodating company.
After dinner the men grouped into their own more specific gatherings. Eddie and Buddy huddled with some of their old school chums. Reminiscing about old times was fun and showed Eddie that he really wasn’t that far removed from the group. The subject of wine came up again; one of the group was a self proclaimed connoisseur of the grape. Questions flew at him as to why the alleged case should be so expensive. The connoisseur went on to explain that it had more to do with just the age of the wine, which was an important factor but, not the only variable. History was a factor, what events had taken place during its inception. Then there was the pedigree of the stock. Each wine comes from a root stock with its own unique DNA. The geography, climate and expertise of the winemaker play a critical role and so on and so on. The huddle group was fascinated by the impromptu seminar. Buddy being Buddy added his own sarcastic bend on the newly received information. Buddy nudged Eddie, much to Eddie’s annoyance; the scientist in him was really enjoying this banquet of knowledge.
“Hey! If that’s the case, you should be able to make a fortune peddling some of that prehistoric Ice Core water you use to study”. Eddie shushed Buddy and returned his full attention to the speaker. It was almost an hour later when over the thick aroma of brandy and cigars smoke and lost in the comfort of richly plumped velvet drawing room chairs; did Eddie lean forward.
During grad school Eddie had take a full semester of study at the North Pole. His rich uncle from China had made his money in various drilling and excavation projects. His company, Shenzhou Pacific Mining, provided drills, machinery as well as crews for many and diverse projects worldwide. He had tried his hand in a new venture, deep ice drilling. When he realized that the scientific interest that sponsored the contract was Eddie’s Alma Mater; he entreated his nephew to pursue some cross-study. This would allow him to bond with the American side of his family whom the rich uncle knew very little about.
“Ice core?” Eddie repeated himself. Buddy was a little perplexed at Eddie’s sudden and apparent interest in what was supposed to have been just a quick and smart humorous jab. “What did you mean by that statement Buddy?” The question was presented with all the seriousness of a prosecutor during cross examination.
“You know, what was Harold saying? The more ancient the stuff , the
Mo money, mo money, mo money it’s worth. And didn’t you once tell me that the
ice cores you guys were digging up went all the way back there to the dinosaurs
and stuff? Think about what it must have been like back in those days.
Take climate for instance, no acid rain back then, no factories. No man-made
pollution Just pure good old air, no man to f--k it up. Who was responsible
back then? Check it out, God himself, Mr. Aquarius, The Water Bearer.
Eddie thought a few minutes about what had just been said. He took a sip from the brandy snifter. He concluded that purity really was not a feasible marketing point.
“Well we can make the purest water of all in the sanctity of a lab”. Eddie was now very skeptical and dismissive and ready to move on to a new subject.
“God not a chemist, He’s a chef. What makes taste, taste, Eddie?”
With his mental gears now spinning, Buddy uncharacteristically launched into his own mini seminar. His logic was admittedly sound. He continued with the Chef and cooking analogy. Buddy proposed that an accomplished chef could create a masterpiece whereas a novice given the same ingredients, equipment and environment would at best create a weak facsimile. He concluded that water is more than H O, a chemical bond. Water takes on the essence of the life or environment that thrives, or ceases to thrive, in its presence.
“Water…from..an ice core?”
The ices themselves were cylinders of ice drilled out of glaciers and polar ice sheets. They are the main analytical tool responsible for the gathering of information on Earth’s climactic past. These ice cores can determine with clinical accuracy everything from climate, gas levels, electrical conductively as well as a bevy of other scientific data. Spectrometry and modified oscillatory analysis make it possible to determine the age of the ice within a variance of just a few years. Collected ice cores have been known to date as far back as the first Ice Age and beyond. Such ice formations also trap air and particle samples, thus allowing scientists to ascertain the quality of the air as well as the speeds of wind and possible trajectory of fallen snow.