Previously titled: World Domination
The pearl rested on the black glass of the coffee table beside a stack of magazines provided by the hotel. Ridley sat on the leather couch across from it, leaning forward with his head resting in his hands. It looked like a normal pearl – round and slightly iridescent – but it was too large; had Ridley found the pearl on a piece of jewellery he would have deemed it an imitation. But this was no imitation, though Ridley wasn’t sure it was really a pearl either.
He loosened his tie and rolled his neck, releasing an audible pop. He was jet-lagged and stiff from the long flight, but he couldn’t wait any longer. He sat up and pulled a cell phone from his pocket, pressing a button and raising it to his ear. The person on the other end answered on the first ring.
Ridley spoke, “No one is to disturb me for the next two hours. If you don’t hear from me by then, you have my permission to enter.”
He hung up before the other party answered.
He set his phone on the table and picked up the pearl, its bulk nearly concealed by his thick, but well-manicured, fingers. Then he put it into his mouth and swallowed.
The pain was unbearable at first. She had said it would hurt, but this surpassed what Ridley had thought possible. He may have screamed, but he was so overwhelmed by the rebellion of his senses that it was impossible for him to tell. His entire body felt as though it were swelling. Except his skin. His skin felt as if it were shrinking as his body grew, stretching impossibly over his muscles, tendons and bones. His brain was consumed by a fire that devoured his memories, his identity, his very consciousness.
After some indeterminable amount of time, the torture began to recede. He came to himself once more as the pain slowly seeped out of his body and left him hot and aching. He was paralyzed and blind, but she had warned him of that. She had said the entire process could take about an hour.
Fine with me, Ridley thought, so long as the pain is over.
In those rare moments of lucidity within that mind-addling anguish, Ridley had started to regret his decision. But now that the pain had passed, he felt confident that it would be worth it.
What was it that Ridley pined for? What would a man who valued his own wealth and pleasure over the lives of entire nations put himself through such agony for? The answer was simple and predictable. Power.
Ridley had plenty of power already, to be sure, but he wanted more. He wanted an advantage over everyone and everything, something more than wealth and influence. Something no one else possessed. And so, by listening to rumours, by stealing secrets, and by exploring every remote possibility, he had finally found the means to acquire it.
No one could quite agree on what she was. Some said a djinn. Others whispered that she was a demon. The people from her native Philippines called her a kapre. Whatever she was called, one thing was certain – her ability to grant wishes was genuine. A single wish to each person who asked. Her secret was dearly kept, but Ridley had immense manpower, wealth, and violence at his disposal. All of which he used to seek her out.
“What is it that you wish?” She had asked calmly. Her lack of fear had made Ridley angry, but also nervous.
“Power,” he answered, “Control.”
“You have that already.” Her voice was still level. She even smiled a little.
“You know what I mean. I want more. The most.”
“You want power over the fate of all mankind? The entire planet?” It sounded less like a question than an offer.
Men with more imagination than Ridley might have expanded upon this. They might have asked for control over the whole universe. Over all existence. Over all space and time. Ridley did not have an imagination. He simply answered, “Yes.”
“Then I will make you the most powerful being on this Earth. Without you, this small world will crumble.”
She had given him the pearl with instructions to swallow it. When she described the pain, blindness and paralysis he didn’t even hesitate, such was his excitement. Everything he had discovered so far told him this was real. The kapre always kept her promises.
Ridley could feel himself nearing the end of his transformation. Something was emerging from his back. As he flexed and exercised these new appendages, he recognized them as wings. He could feel their power and speed as his mind adapted to their use.
He felt his body strengthen and harden. He became suddenly aware of the room around him, though his vision had not yet returned. These were new senses and his brain was reforming to comprehend all of the unfamiliar information it was now receiving.
He became aware of a scent, so unfamiliar it seemed almost alien. So sweet and inviting his body shook with want. It was a need so primal it was beyond sexual. He had to find the source immediately.
He could hear, or rather feel, his heart beating at an alarming rate. Or perhaps it was only the sound of his wings beating. It didn’t matter. He had to find the source of the scent. He was powerful. He was strong. It would belong to him.
It was then that his vision returned; colours beyond human comprehension flashed all around him. For the first time in his life, he stared with awe at his surroundings. When his brain finally caught up to his eyes, he found the object of his desire.
The beauty that confronted him, igniting all of his new senses at once, was overwhelming. It called to him in glowing patterns and inviting scents. He used all of his new powers to reach it but was thwarted by some barrier. He tried again and again and again but he could come no closer. He pushed on and on as he felt his body breaking at the effort. And still he sought that prize with every ounce of his strength.
Two hours passed and Ridley’s men still had not heard from him. Fearing his temper they opened his door cautiously, calling his name. The room was empty. They searched the closet and the bathroom but he was not in either.
One of the men walked to the large patio window facing the lush gardens of the hotel. The patio door was still locked from the inside, but he opened it just in case, sticking his head out into the balmy summer air. There was no sign of Ridley.
He felt a tickle on his hand and looked down at the small creature who was crawling from the door onto his thumb. One of the bee’s antennae was crushed and it seemed confused. He shook his hand and the injured creature took to the air, faltering occasionally, but eventually landing on a tall purple flower just beyond the white stones of the patio. The man shrugged, closed the door, and continued looking for his boss.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me about this one, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to share some very important information. This is, at its heart, an environmental piece. I will be completely honest and admit it somewhat upset me that so many were confused as to the relevance of the honey bee. Not because I see it as a comment on my writing or an indication of their intelligence… but because honey bees are so crucial to the health of our planet and in such a dire state. Apparently without many people being aware of it. I was greeted with surprise many times when speaking with readers about the role of honey bees and so I feel it is important to discuss it here.
Bees are important.
1/3 of our crops and a significant amount of the world’s flora rely on the honey bee for survival due to pollination. Everything in an ecosystem is connected and losing a member of that ecosystem can set off a chain reaction of devastation. (Not to mention the economic losses involving crops, honey, and wax.) Considering the US has lost 40% of its commercial population of honey bees in the past 10 years, we should be concerned about this. We should know about it.
In many ways, the human world relies on the existence of bees.
So please, check out the link below and share your knowledge with others. Thank you. ❤