Noah Coleman was good at his job. He didn't particularly enjoy his job, but he was very good at it. There is a large level of discretion involved in his line of work. Noah is probably one of the hundred smartest people on the planet, and he ended up in this job by chance. When he was much younger, he attended Harvard for four years, followed by another six years at Oxford. It was during his time at Oxford where he met his flatmate, and ultimately best friend, Desmond Patterson – who was now his boss. Noah was probably more intelligent than Desmond, but it was the Patterson name and family history that provided the funding and ability for these two men to accomplish the things that they have.

Noah sipped on his coffee as he watched the second hand tick, tick, tick around the clock in the room. Today was a special day. Most days were pretty boring, aside from the times when he got to meet with potential clients. On an average day in the office, Noah spent countless hours reading report after report that his employees assembled for him. These reports were biographies on various millionaires in the world. However, they are not just any typical biography. Instead, they are extremely detailed lists of every major event in their lives. These major events were the selling points that Noah would use, if he decided any of these people were worth moving to the next level.

But today was an "event day" as they referred to them in the office. A client had already been approached, and an offer had already been made. The client had accepted the offer, and The Centre had already received payment. Noah remembered in the early days, when Desmond used to come down and witness the events. By this time, they had done so many successfully that it no longer interested Desmond, he just wanted the money deposited and didn't want to get up in the middle of the night to deal with things, he valued his sleep too much in his older age.

Noah valued his sleep too, but he had no choice. This was his job. Luckily, he had a very large and very comfortable couch in his office and would be taking a long nap in about fifteen minutes. The second hand moved upward and meet the minute hand at the twelve. The hour hand was sitting at the four, and Noah took one last sip of his coffee before he stood up, straightened his tie, picked up a glass of water and left his basement office. He took the elevator up to the lobby and met today's event: Nick Webber.

Nick Webber was a multimillionaire. Twenty-four hours earlier he was in his ocean-side mansion in Miami, sitting on his massive deck, overlooking the flowing water in the moonlight. He had three beautiful naked women with him, and large amounts of alcohol and drugs in his system. Nick had been divorced three times, and never really loved any of the women he was married to. He was the heir to a Texas oil company, and never really had to work a day in his life. He had some serious regrets in his life, and by this point realized that he was an epic failure to his parents and grandparents, and was the butt of many jokes told by his siblings. Nick had decided it was time to change his life, but he wanted one last night of debauchery before he made the life-changing choice that he did. His three prostitutes cost him five thousand dollars a piece, and he had purchased twenty thousand dollars of cocaine for his final night of insanity. In minutes, he would be the good, clean son his parents had always wanted.

Noah shook Nick's hand and said, "Mr. Webber, are you ready to change your life?"

Nick nodded his head. Noah took a capsule out of his pocket, and handed it to Nick, along with the glass of water, "I just need you to swallow this for me."

Noah and Nick walked to the elevator, and proceeded back down to the fourth level of the basement. Noah had two offices in this tower that sat at the corner of 39th Street and 7th Avenue. One was on the top floor, where he could easily look down 7th and see the busy lives of thousands of tourists heading in and out of Times Square. His second office was four floors below the streets of New York City.

"I'm still a little confused why we're doing this at four in the morning." Nick stated, almost in a question form.

"Trust me Mr. Webber, we've got our reasons, and we know what we're doing," was the response Noah gave him.

"You've really done this before, right? You're not just pulling my leg? Or trying to rob me, are you?"

Noah was still a little tired, and now a little annoyed. He didn't feel like answering the moronic questions, so he just remained silent. This didn't ease Nick's anxiety, and he began talking more and more, to the ire of Noah. The elevator ride felt three times longer than it should have. The door finally opened, and Noah walked as quickly as he could out into the long hallways, with its bland white walls and bright fluorescent lights. Nick trailed behind him, mumbling to himself.

As annoyed as Noah was, this was not the worst client he had even had, and he prayed that Nick wouldn't end up vomiting all over the nice walls and floor, like Mrs. Dennison had done a few months earlier. Suddenly, Noah only heard one set of footsteps, and he stopped to turn around and see Nick frozen, as if he'd seen a ghost.

"Man… I don't know if I can do this..."

Noah rolled his eyes and walked back towards to his client to give him some advice, "Mr. Webber, we already have your money. We've told you it's non-refundable. You made this commitment. You walked into my office and you told me that you felt like your life was waste, and that you had disappointed everyone in your family for not taking an interest in your family business, and instead chose to spend thirty years blowing money on women, booze, and drugs. I remember the look in your eyes when you told me that you wanted me to change your life, and make yourself into something that your family would respect."

Noah paused for a second, and looked Nick in the eyes.

"If you don't come with me, and allow me to do what you've paid me for, then you're just going to go back to the pathetically wasted life that you have. I remember the look of shame in your eyes, and I've got a horrible feeling that if I don't make your life better, you will eventually put a gun to your head and end your self-loathing of this embarrassment of a life that you live."

Another pause, just for more dramatic effect. Noah knew the next punch he was going to take, and it was going to be a whopper. At this point, Noah almost wanted to see if he could make this man cry. Sadly for Noah, he wasn't going to get the chance.

"You're right. Thank you. Let's do this."

The two sets of footsteps were once again going down the hallway, and eventually reached the door to The Chamber. Noah opened the door and ushered Nick in. There were three employees sitting at various computer stations surrounding a circular platform with wires running to three poles that were on various sides of the stand.

One of the employees walked up to Nick and took him by the arm, moving him towards the platform, "Please just stand in the middle and be as still as possible."

"Is there any preparations or anything?" Questioned Nick.

"Sir, we've done all the prep work that was needed, all we need now is for you to stand perfectly still, and open your mind".

The employee, Ridley, ran back over to his computer and started punching away at buttons.

Nick stood on the platform and scanned the rather vapid room. There was nothing aside from the platform, poles, and computers. With every passing second, Nick became more and more scared. Then he heard some type of electric humming sound, and it got louder and louder. Suddenly, his head began to feel very light, as if his skull was getting bigger and taking any and all pressure off of his brain. He tried to open his eyes, but they had fallen closed and he seemed to have no control over them anymore, it was just darkness as the humming got louder and louder, and then Nick heard a sound so piercingly high-pitched that it honestly felt like his eardrum exploded. At that exact same second, all the darkness Nick was seeing was replaced with an intense white light, so intense that it felt like he was starring directly at the surface of the sun, and that his eyes were melting.

And then it was over.

Nick's body collapsed on the platform.

Noah looked at Ridley, who gave him a nod.

Nick was obviously disoriented and confused, "Where am I? Hello? I can't see anything..." Nick repeated these phrases a few times, as he propped himself up, and eventually sat on the platform, waving his right hand around in front of him, and using his left hand to rub his eyes.

When Noah finally got to the platform, he starred down at Nick's confused body. This was the discreet part of his job that he hated the most.

Noah pulled out his 9mm Beretta 92FS from under his jacket and put one single bullet into the skull of Nick Webber.

As the three employees walked over to the body, Noah Coleman headed out of the room, and towards his office. It was time to take a nap before he had to go up to his other office.


David Monroe was only halfway finished with his toaster-made waffles, but he was ready to leave. He took larger than usual drinks of his coffee, in an attempt to finish it quicker. At this point, he just wanted to get out of his brownstone, and get to the solace of his office. He was overly annoyed with the front page of the New York Times, and had to turn off the morning news, because they were both talking endlessly about the same ridiculous story for forty minutes. It annoyed him so much that he decided not to finish breakfast, and to add a shot of Jameson whiskey to his remaining coffee, which he then downed in a single drink.

David didn’t care about the mugging and murder of some Miami Playboy, who found himself on the wrong side of 96th street and too far east of Fifth Avenue. Why would some rich fool venture up there anyways? He was probably looking for some Spanish Whores, and ended up crossing paths with the wrong people.

What annoyed David the most about his morning, was that he was trying to convince himself that he didn’t care, but because of all the media coverage, he just couldn’t take his mind off of the event. Nick Webber was some oil tycoon’s heir, who appeared to travel to New York City alone the previous day. No airline had any records of him purchasing a return ticket, which confused the police. A taxi driver had picked him up at the JFK airport, and dropped him off in the heart of Times Square. The cab driver swears that Mr. Webber had no luggage with him, another confusing fact.

David walked up two flights of stairs, to the master bedroom, where the sunlight was beginning to shine in through the massive window, and onto the bed, where he paused for a moment to look at his wife, Drea. As she began to stir, he quickly made his way into the master bathroom, hoping to finish getting ready for work before she actually awoke. He brushed his teeth, rinsed his mouth, combed his hair, and added his signature Aqua Velva scent. The Aqua Velva was something he picked up from his grandfather many, many years ago. “The ladies love it,” was what Grandpa Monroe would tell him. The irony of it all was that his wife didn’t really care for it, but David continued to wear it. Maybe it was because of the way his secretary looked at him every day? Maybe it was because of the flirting he received from Maggie and the other waitresses at Dunham’s Pub? They did always lean in a little closer and take their sweet time when delivering his pints of lager. Maybe he had just been conditioned to do it? Or, maybe it was just something he did to spite his wife? She often bought him other bottles of cologne or body spray, but he just piled them up into the medicine cabinet. On special occasions, he would wear them for her. But, on a day like today, his mind wasn’t on pleasing his wife.

When he left the bathroom, Drea was no longer in the bedroom, which caused David to feel a moment of vexation, as he realized he was going to have to interact with her this morning. By now she was most likely waking up their children, and getting them ready for school, meaning that he was going to be caught up in his home life for a few minutes longer than he was hoping. David walked down a flight of stairs to the second level, where he found his wife in their daughter’s room.

“Daddy!!!” Susan screamed, like any normal five-year-old would have, as she jumped out of bed and ran to get a hug from her father. David picked up his daughter and spun her around before setting her back down on the ground.

“Would you mind waking up Joel?” His wife asked him, as she got ready to head downstairs and begin breakfast for the kids. David nodded and walked to the other end of the hallway and found his son already awake and playing with his toys on the floor of his bedroom.

“Its breakfast time, little buddy,” he said to his son. Joel got up and walked out the room with a couple of his Army men in his hands. David rustled Joel’s hair as he walked past, but it got no reaction from his son. David paused for a minute and watched his son walk to the stairs, before he finally just shrugged it off. He was twelve years old and just going through an awkward phase where he didn’t really want to show too much affection to either of his parents. This was fine; Susan was had more than enough affection for both of her parents.

David walked to the door of the third room on the second level, and made a stop in the den to grab his briefcase and make sure he had all of his paperwork for that day. Two minutes later, he was down the stairs and in the kitchen to say good-bye to his family. He kissed both of his kids on their forehead, and then had another impassionate kiss with his wife. He supposed after twenty years of marriage, there really wasn’t much passion left, and it seemed like both he and his wife had lost the energy to fake it anymore. In the privacy of their own minds, they both admitted that if not for their children, they probably wouldn’t be together anymore. They did still loved each other, and they both loved their family very much, but there just wasn’t any more passion between them. Over time, they just drifted apart. Neither one of them really wanted to face that reality, and neither one of them wanted to admit to the world that they were just yet another failed couple, another broken home statistic. So, for the sake of their family, and their parents, and their relatives, and their friends, they put on the masquerade of a happy family. It’s not like they hated each other, it’s not like they couldn’t stand each other; they just didn’t feel the spark anymore. They hardly ever fought. They barely ever raised their voices at each other. But, they also rarely ever made love anymore. David was often out the door by seven o’clock in the morning, and hardly ever returned home before nine or ten in the evening. It’s not that he worked this late, but he often made a stop at Dunham’s Pub on his way home. It was his avoidance of his situation. Sometimes a friend, or co-worker, would join him; but more often than not, David would sit alone as he would drink away his disappointing life, one drink at a time.

After their lips separated, they looked blankly into each other’s eyes as they pulled away. David waved at his children, and walked out the front door.

Drea finished making scrambled eggs for her children, and turned on some cartoons for them to watch while they ate their Mexican-style eggs and Lucky Charms. She picked up the newspaper and started reading the front page; it was almost entirely dedicated to the murder of a millionaire. There was a picture of him in a suit, and farther down on the page was a picture of the area of Spanish Harlem where his body was found. It was just south of Jefferson Park, under the FDR, and right near the water. The police assumed that the body was supposed to be tossed into the water, but for some reason didn’t make it. Forensics told the police that Mr. Webber was not killed at that location. His wallet and all of his personals were missing from his pockets. He was identified after his fingerprints were run through their system. Like most rich celebrities, Mr. Webber had more than a few altercations with law enforcement. Mostly misdemeanors involving alcohol and public intoxication, but nonetheless, his prints were there to match.

Drea sat back and wondered what it would be like to have that much money. It’s not like she had a bad life. David made a good seven-figure salary each year, and told her that she never had to work. Even if their marriage wasn’t the greatest, he liked his wife to always be available to their children, and he didn’t mind her taking the afternoons to go shopping, or do anything else that she wanted. He never asked anything of her, and he gave her the freedom to do almost anything she wanted. If she wasn’t going to be home in time for the kids, she had a nanny that was on call for her. Lupe lived on the same block, and was the live-in nanny for one of their friends. If Drea was going to be late, Lupe was always available to get the children and take them to the Anderson’s place until she came home.

But, what would it be like to have no children, no responsibilities, no bills, everything paid for, and the ability to wake up every morning with the possibility to do anything that one wanted to do? In the article, it discussed how the Webber family had kicked Nick off the Board of Directors many years earlier, yet he still received a percentage of profits at the beginning of each fiscal year, a sum reported to be around ten million dollars. It also reported that when Nick turned eighteen, he received the inheritance his grandfather left him, a lump sum of fifty-eight million dollars – after taxes – that each of his siblings and cousins also received.

Drea compared these numbers to their own bank account, in her mind. After almost twenty years of marriage, and ten years of David being a partner at his law firm, they had almost twenty million dollars in the bank, and maybe another ten million in stocks. With the recent decline in the stock market, they may have lost three or four million dollars, but that was inconsequential to them. Their brownstone cost about four million dollars, and they paid it off in five years. They owned one BMW sports utility vehicle, which they kept in storage, and rarely ever drove; aside from their occasional vacations to visit family. The car is also completely paid off. As far as finances went, the Monroe family was pretty set, and didn’t have much to worry about.

It confused Drea, why she was so fascinated with it. Until she realized that she was fascinated with something aside from the money, what really got her brain thinking was the lack of responsibility, while still being so financially stable. Before meeting David, Drea wasn’t the most stable girl. She spent a lot of time dreaming big, and living a much more lavish lifestyle than she should have. She was a small town girl with big dream, and she didn’t make the best choices in her youth. However, she always felt in control of her life, a feeling she didn’t have any more. Everything was pretty much planned out, and she was just along for the ride now.

She put down the paper, and picked up the empty plates and bowls from the table. While she was daydreaming, both of her children had run off to get dressed for school. Drea ran the dishes under water, and placed them in the dishwasher. She made her way upstairs and found both children brushing their teeth at the same time. When they finished, they went to their respective rooms to finish getting dressed, as Drea headed back down to the kitchen to load up their sack lunches into their backpacks. Eventually, the three of them walked out the front door and sat down on the front steps together, to wait for the bus. Just like any other morning, the neighborhood kids came around and hung out in front of their place. Drea was kind of like their morning mother. It was honestly the highlight of her day, seeing all of the little kids coming around. She would talk with them, and they would tell her corny jokes that still make her laugh.

Eventually, the bus would come, and she would watch all of the children from the neighborhood cram on and leave her. She would then walk back inside, up two flights of stairs, and then slowly undress in front of a full-size mirror in her bedroom. She would look at her body, and wonder when and why David stopped being attracted to her? Even after giving birth to two children, she still looked fantastic, in her opinion. Sure, her hips might be a little wider than they were twenty years ago, but she just felt like it gave her more curves. She had worked diligently to make sure she shed all of her baby-weight and got back down to the same size she was before getting pregnant. Sometimes, while she was looking at herself, she wondered if anyone could see in the large window at the end of the room. She purposely would not close the blinds, and often hoped that someone was looking at her naked body. She wanted to feel attractive; she wanted to feel like the object of someone’s – anyone’s – attention, even if it was just a lustful stare from an unknown man. She would purposely make sexy poses, just in case.

Eventually, on this morning, Drea would crawl back into bed; under the covers, and back to her safe world. She didn’t feel like going out today. She planned on calling and rescheduling her hair appointment. Today, she just felt like lying in bed, and thinking. Thinking about how she could maybe make her life better.


It took David Monroe around one hour to walk from his front door to his office. It was roughly twenty blocks, and he could have easily made the trip in ten minutes if he would have just gotten on the subway. Instead, David wanted that time in the mornings to put his earphones in and crank his iPod while he was walking. This morning’s temperature was a cool sixty-two degrees, so he was making the trip in his suit. During the summers, he would walk in shorts and a t-shirt and change clothes once he got to his office. It was his routine. From a very young age, David had always loved the city and wanted to soak it in. He would rather walk past hundreds of buildings than ride underneath them. It’s not that he hated the subway; he probably rode it once or twice a week, depending on what he had going on. Normally, if he had a long way to travel he would just use a cab. He used a cab almost every night to get him home; twenty-something blocks was way to far to walk after a couple of hours of drinking.

As he was walking, David was scrolling through his playlists, trying to figure out what he wanted to listen to on this specific morning. After a few indecisive minutes, David stopped on a playlist called “1982”. Music means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and everyone has memories attached to specific songs. Where you were and what you were doing the first time you heard a song, or a specifically special time that you heard it. The song that was playing the first time you kissed a girl, or made love to someone you were head over heels about, or the song whose lyrics remind you of bad break-up. Music has the power to invoke many emotional responses, and David was weighing the options of choosing this playlist. He didn’t listen to it very often, because it was full of songs that would take him on many emotional roller coasters. The problem was, once he stopped on it, he almost doomed himself to it. After a few quick seconds of hesitation, he hit the play button. The playlist was filled with a collection of songs from David’s senior year of high school, and each one of them correlated to a specific moment, with a very special girl.

David passed no less than six Starbucks, before he stopped at a small hole-in-the-wall corner bakery to get a croissant and some coffee. He could have eaten it while he was walking, but this morning he decided to sit in the shop and listen to a few more songs than he normally would have gotten to. By the time he walked into the front door of the skyscraper where his office was located, he was in a deep nostalgic coma. The entire ride up the elevator, she was on his mind. He exited the hallway and mindlessly waived at the receptionist to his firm. He walked down the hallway, and briefly stopped at the desk of his secretary, Judy, where he picked up the pile of papers and envelopes from her.

“Is that a smile I see today?” Judy said with almost a flirtatious tone about her.

“Excuse me…” was David’s response without even looking up.

“I’m sorry, Sir. You just kind of have this glow about you today; I haven’t seen it in a while.”

David finally looked up at her and paused to think to himself. Was he in a better mood than normal? Maybe he was? He did just listen to almost ninety minutes of music that reminded him of the happiest time of his life. Maybe those feelings were surfacing on his face. That’s what she could do to him. That’s how she could make him feel. Almost thirty years later, just listening to these specific songs could put him in this euphoric state.

“Judy, I suppose I am in a better mood today. I just had the most amazing croissant this morning.”

After giving her that lame excuse he entered his office, closed the door, and locked it behind him. At that moment, David decided that he wasn’t going to be doing any work today. He had some other, more important, things on his mind. He set everything down on his desk, and then walked over and placed his iPod into a stereo docking station, and let this reminiscent collection of songs continue to play. He looked at his scotch collection on the table, and on this fine morning he decided to pour himself some Johnny Walker Excelsior, the most expensive liquor he has in his collection at work. David often reserved this liquor for when he sealed a large deal, or made a nice commission, or when he was trying to impress someone. However, today he felt like she was worthy of this drink. He put a single cube of ice into a glass and filled it about half full. He moved himself to one of his couches, kicked his feet up onto his coffee table, looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows of his corner office and out into the city he loved so much. It was moments like this that David treasured.

Five years ago, he couldn’t have done this. Five years ago, he was still clocking in at six in the morning, and working until all hours of the night, just to impress the partners at this firm. David constantly went above and beyond what was asked of him. Some of his previous associates would often speak poorly of David, and talk about how he was sucking up and whoring himself out to the partners. In a way, they were right about him. But, David didn’t care. He did everything he felt that he had to do in order to get where he wanted to get, and now he was there. Those other little trash-talking punks can’t say the same thing. Now, they are running around and doing the things that he tells them to. Unlike David, who is sitting in a corner office on the twenty-third floor, looking south on the island of Manhattan. On a clear day, David can almost see the Statue of Liberty with his bare eyes. Usually, he would just the telescope he had in his office. The best thing about his job was the fact that on a day like today, he could decide to push off everything and do whatever he wanted. So, he sat on his couch and looked out into the world, while slowly sipping his very expensive scotch.

Sometime around noon, after he finished his second glass, David moved to his computer and sat down to do a standard Google search. He typed in her name and hit enter. WOW! Was all that David could think when hundreds of thousands of results came back. Maybe her name was too common, could he really find her? As he scrolled through the results, he realized there were pages from Iowa, Kentucky, and even California. David didn’t think she would have ever left the state of New York, so he did a new search including “New York” this time. There were still tens of thousands of results. David looked into websites that were designed for people to find others who went to their high school, with no luck. He even spent some time on a couple of different social networking sites, but couldn’t find her registered on any of them either.

After three hours of looking through roughly a hundred internet pages, David paused to ask himself: Does this make me a stalker? Could this be considered stalking? Is this how serial killers start out? Do they start with an obsessive thought about a specific person, and then the growing desire to know anything and everything about them? Twenty-nine years ago, he knew everything about her, and they had no secrets. Now, he couldn’t even discover a way to contact her. David tried to search for her parents, but couldn’t find anything on them either.

By four o’clock in the afternoon David couldn’t do it anymore. So many websites, so much clicking of his mouse, typing in her name, and various forms of her name, and other little hints that he thought might narrow down the search results. After all this time, he was no closer to even possibly having any contact info for her. David forced himself away from his desk, and stood in the middle of his office. He’d tried to find her before, but never to this extent. In the past, when her name or memory would come up, he would call the old numbers he had for her, or do a quick internet search, but easily gave up after minutes of no answers. For some reason, today was different. For some reason, today David had an obsessive nature about himself, and he couldn’t stop himself from wanting to see her and talk to her, despite the fact that she probably still didn’t want to talk to him.

David didn’t take a lunch today, so he decided that he was going to pack up and leave the office early. Sitting down for a nice fish and chips meal at Dunham’s Pub, with a tall pint in front of him sounded like the only thing better than sitting and continuing to search for the lost love of his life.

Dunham’s Pub was a few blocks uptown from his office, and was more or less on his way home. Five nights a week David would stop here to drink and have his quiet time. For the past twelve years, Drea had never expected him home before nine. In the beginning, it was because he was working so late, now he just told her it was because he was working late. She knew that he often stopped for a drink on the way home, but she did not know that it was many more than one drink. David still had a disillusion that he was fooling his wife, and that she actually believed he was still a late-working man. The reality of the situation was that Drea knew more than David thought, but she just didn’t care.

The pub was pretty empty today when David walked in, but he knew that was just because he was so early. After five, many other lawyers, lots of judges, and swarms of law students would descend upon this building and the place would come to life. Being early today allowed David’s food order to arrive in a timely manner. He was almost finished with his food when the first wave of people showed up, which included a few of his drinking associates. David did not use the term “friends” with these people; they weren’t like the kids he’d grown up with in Yonkers. No, the appropriate term for them was simply “drinking associates”. Because all of them he’s met in this bar, and didn’t hang out with any of them outside of here. To be honest, that’s why he loved this bar so much, because he didn’t hang out with anyone outside of it. He had no friends that came over on Sundays to watch football games or cook out with him. He didn’t have any buddies to go to baseball games with; he only went now if he was entertaining a client. He had his wife and their children, and they were all he knew outside of his office and this bar.

As the night went on, and the party grew bigger, they moved from the bar and into the corner booth. They drank, they did shots, they laughed, they made fun of each other, and they just had a good time. That’s what David loved most about these people and this place; he was always in a good mood while in their company. The later it got, the more people dwindled away, walking through the threshold of the front door and back out into the “real world” where they went their separate ways. David eventually found himself sitting at table with three other guys: Mike, Steve, and Brandon. Women were most often the topic of discussion between these three men, and that held true tonight. After listening to stories of recent sexual conquests and complaints about girlfriends, David brought to the table his dilemma: his newfound obsession with his high school girlfriend. This topic sparked another two-hour discussion, three more rounds of shots, and four more beers apiece. His drinking buddies shared stories of their failed relationships and gave their excuses for why they would never consider looking up their exes. Eventually, Mike and Brandon were gone, and David asked the server for his bill.

It was at this time that Steve took out a business card, placed it on the table, and slid it across. David looked down and picked it up. He examined it quickly before asking, “What’s this?”

“You sound like you’ve got a lot of remorse about how your life ended up turning out. This is someone who can help you. His job is to make lives better, to make them what you want them to be. Just listen to what he has to say, if you’re not interested, then all I’ve done is waste your time.”

After his response, Steve stood up and began to walk away. David couldn’t lie to himself, he was intrigued. He was curious. He looked back down at the business card, and noticed one major issue.

“Hey! There’s no phone number on this card!”

Steve turned back and responded, “You don’t call him, he will call you soon, and you’d better answer the phone.”

David was confused, but he just assumed that was because he was drunk. Maybe this will all make sense in the morning. The cute server brought David his check, and he stood up to put his credit card back in his wallet. He then grabbed the business card off the table and gave it one last examination. David dealt with business cards on a daily basis, and could tell this one was printed on a nice thick card stock, and had only eleven raised letters printed on it. Before he put the card in his pocket, David memorized that name on the card, Noah Coleman.


Noah Coleman stood in front of his bathroom mirror, and finished shaving. He then stood in front of the mirror and looked at himself. At the age of fifty-seven he was still in pretty good shape. Sometime he wondered why took such good care of this body. His contract with Desmond was up in three years, and then Noah was free to choose where he wanted to go. And at that time, this body wouldn’t matter.

He walked out of the bathroom into the one room of his studio apartment. Noah was a simple man. The walls were all still painted white, despite the fact he’s lived in this apartment for the past twenty-three years. There was no artwork on the wall. There were no magnets on the refrigerator. Noah was somewhat of a neat freak, but he was also a minimalist. He hated clutter. He had a large trash can, with a paper shredder on top of it, and this wasn’t just any paper shredder, this was the most insane model known to man. If Noah received a catalog in the mail that he didn’t want, this paper shredder could destroy up to 200 sheets of paper at once, without a hiccup. Noah shredder everything before it left his building, another idiosyncrasy he’d picked up throughout his life.

As he buttoned his shirt, he stood in front of his television watching BBC One. For many years, Noah had to use cloned IP addresses, and routed websites to access the real BBC One channel in the United States. Then, a few years ago, when Desmond came to visit, he bought Noah a nice, large Plasma-screen TV, and hooked modified, to route through the internet to Desmond’s home, and convinced the television it was actually in Kensington. Noah had no interest in watching the American news, and thought that the channel BBC America was just pathetic, and never offered him what he wanted. Having access to Desmond’s regular channel line-up was probably one of the greatest gifts he’d ever received. It allowed him to watch all of the BBC channels, as well as Sky, Five, and DMAX and many more.

Desmond was born and raised in Kensington, just west of the city of London. During their time together at Oxford, Noah would spend many holiday breaks at Desmond’s parent’s house. It was during this time, that Noah would grow to appreciate and love the European lifestyle and culture. He learned about the Chelsea football club, and attended games with Desmond and his brothers. He would go to pubs and drink with locals. He would go for long walks in Hyde Park, and for a short time he courted a young girl that he met at a pub. They would have picnics in the park, or go for walks along the Chelsea Embankment. Her name was Kara, and Noah hadn’t seen her in over thirty years. It actually depressed Noah to think about the fact that she was the last girl in his life that he had been intimate with. Actually, she was the last girl he’d even kissed. Where had his life gone? Was he really this dedicated to his work? Was he this dedicated to his friendship with Desmond and their insane plan that actually came to fruition? He took a long moment to think, and wonder, exactly how hard it was going to be to find her in three years?

“Three more years,” that’s what Noah kept telling himself. Once it got down to one year, he planned on buying a digital counter that he could set to count backwards from 365. Noah justified things to himself that being a genius came with certain sacrifices. He rarely ever saw his parents after his first stint in England. He basically cut himself off from his entire family. He did make it home for his father’s funeral, but couldn’t handle the guilt his mother was putting on him, so he left after the first night. It was only two years later that she passed away, and he once again returned to Waltham, Massachusetts for her funeral. This time, it was his siblings who caused problems over the will. It was that day when he decided to completely sever ties with his previous life. It was The Centre, and nothing else. He changed his phone numbers, and then moved into this studio apartment.

Noah turned off the television and made his way out of the front door, down the elevator, and out the front door of his apartment building. At this point, he just became another guy in a suit on the street. Noah loved people watching, it was sort of part of his job, but at the same time, it was just something that he enjoyed doing. He would watch people rushing in and out of coffee shops, and would laugh when someone was in such a hurry and then spilled their drink. If Noah had more than one true friend, they might think he was a pretty negative person. But, for the sake of his friendship and business relationship with Desmond, he never let him know how he felt about his life. He looked, and judged, all of these pathetic souls rushing around in their pathetic lives, none of them knowing the truth about their ability to have their perfect life. Then, Noah remembered how much The Centre charged people for this service, and realized that none of these people could afford what he had to offer.

One time, on his walk, Noah observed a young couple yelling and screaming at each other. It was at this moment that Noah chose to intervene. He grabbed the man, not really in a threatening way, but in a serious way. He looked at him, and told him, “You need to think really hard about this moment, and about the potential outcomes of your various actions. If you really love this girl, you need to stop treating her the way you do. If you don’t, then you need to turn around and walk away.” Then he let go of the man and continued on his way. He never turned around to see what effect he had, and he never saw them again.

Today’s walk wasn’t exciting at all. After going two blocks, Noah entered the building and took an elevator to the top floor. He said some brief “hellos” to people, before retreating to his office. He made himself a cup of coffee and stood looking out the windows while it was being brewed. He didn’t like to start working until he had his coffee. For the record, this was no Starbucks crap coffee. This was Kopi Luwak, which was imported from Sumatra. Noah paid a very high price for this coffee, buying it by the pound and sometimes spending over five-hundred dollars a bag.

Once his coffee was ready, Noah was finally ready to sit down at his desk. There were five manila folders neatly organized for him. He took roughly and hour to go through each folder. Looking at all of the details and various life events that were highlighted by hi various employees. The fifth folder was the one that interested him the most, and he called in his employee to discuss it.

It only took Steven Anthony two minutes to make it up to Noah’s office. He was pretty sure he knew what it was about, and he was afraid that he didn’t provide enough information. He checked in with Noah’s secretary and one minute later was entering his office. This was the first time Steven had ever been invited in. All of their previous encounters happened in either Steven’s office, or the conference room. He was more intimidated than nervous; because he was pretty sure he was going to be able to sell this.

Steven walked across the room to the large Mahogany desk, and stood between the two guest chairs as he addressed Noah, “Mr. Coleman.”

“Sit down, Steven.”

He did as he was told.

“I’ve been reviewing the David Monroe file, but I’ve noticed that you didn’t put together the complete package. I’m a little interested in why you skipped over a bunch of our standard information gathering criteria?”
“Mr. Coleman, I assumed that you would have this reaction, and I can assure you that I had good reason or only submitting a partial file.”

Noah set down the folder on his table, and put his hand up to his scratch his chin. Steven may have gotten a little nervous at this point, but he composed himself enough to continue.

“I met this man a few months ago at a local pub. He’s not someone that The Centre selected for investigation. He’s someone that I’ve gotten to know over thousand of drinks. I’ve heard him lamenting and complaining about his life, his wife, and his lost love for a long time. I know exactly the moment in his life that he wants to change, so I didn’t need to do a thorough investigation. His high school sweetheart broke up with him right before he left for college. He never got over it. I’m honestly tired of hearing the story.”

Noah made an awkward gesture with his hands, and his lips scrunched up and to the right, before he asked his first question, “I see you did the financials section, and verified that he could afford the process?”

“I did, Sir. I knew he could have, he’s told me what he does, and where he lives, and I knew he was a wealthy man. But, I knew you’d never take this seriously if I didn’t complete that.”

Noah nodded, he was happy that he didn’t employ fools. He did seem to employ some over-zealous people who didn’t think that proper protocol was always required. But, that didn’t really bother him. Thirty years ago, if Desmond and Noah were concerned about following protocol and not bending and breaking rules, then The Centre wouldn’t exist. So, he wasn’t going to over-react or talk down to Steven, instead he decided to ask him a question.

“Did you take any measures?”

“I gave him your card, and told him you were going to call him.”

Noah leaned forward, and took a sip of his coffee before asking, “You were really that confident about this candidate?”

“Yes, Sir. He shows all the signs, and I’ve had my eye on him for a long time, until I felt like he actually was at the point where he would consider this. I think he’s ready, and I think he will be willing.”

“Well, it’ll be a nice bonus for you if he goes through with it. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. You’re free to leave.”

Steven stood up, nodded to his boss and quickly exited the room. He paused in the hallway and got a large smile on his face. He’d assembled probably twenty dossiers in his five years of employment, but none of them had even gone through with the process. Steven had a good feeling that he finally provided them with someone who would go through with it, and he was excited about the bonus. He knew from his co-workers that the bonus was always in upper six-figures and involved an entire month of paid vacation to travel and spend the bonus. As he walked down the hallway, he was already fantasizing about visiting Bern and skiing on the Bernese Alps.

Noah flipped back to the first page of the folder on David Monroe. There was a hand-written phone number in the upper right hand corner. He dialed the number and waiting. It rang three times.

“David Monroe? My name is Noah Coleman. I was told you’d be expecting to hear from me.”



Andrea Crowe came to New York City with big dreams in her head. She was a small-town girl from the Midwest. Many of her friends had moved to Chicago, and gone to various acting schools and performance academies. But Andrea wanted to be bigger and better than her friends. So, at the age of twenty-one, she packed up a car-full of her belongings and moved to The Big Apple. When she drove across the George Washington Bridge, she had no idea where her car was going to take her. She had roughly five hundred dollars cash in her pocket and about the same in her bank account. She wondered how long a thousand dollars could last her in this city.

After driving around the city for four hours, Andrea stumbled upon the Vanderbilt YMCA, which would become her home for the next couple of weeks. Her first night in town, she made her way into Times Square, where she hung out for hours. Just watching the people, and absorbing the vibe of the city. She already felt like she was on the top of the world. She found a dive pizza joint, where she enjoyed her first of millions of slices of New York Style pizza, which she thought was so much better than the deep-dish that most people in the Midwest favored. Maybe that was another reason she didn’t want to move to Chicago? She walked up and down 46th and 47th Streets, memorizing the shows that were playing in each theatre. She dreamed of one day performing on any of the stages in this city. Then she took a long walk up Seventh Avenue, and into Central Park. Andrea felt the most freedom she had ever felt in her entire life. At that specific moment in her life, no one knew where she was, and she was in control. She wandered through the park, and eventually came to a large pile of rocks, with a clearing in the trees in front of it. On top of this rock, she was able to stand and gaze at the night skyline of the city, including the beautifully lit sign for The Essex House.

As she exited the park, she decided that she should probably at least call her parents and let them know that she was safe. She found a pay phone, and inserted almost two dollars in quarters to make her long-distance call. After a four minute conversation, she ran out of change. She then walked south on Fifth Avenue, back to 47th, and back to her small little room at the YMCA.

Within three days of living in the Big City, Andrea was able to secure herself a job at a reasonable sized Irish Pub and Restaurant called Callahan’s. In her first two days, she had applied at nearly three dozen bars and restaurants. Andrea figured that a waitress’ living was the best and easiest way to make it in this city, especially for a young, attractive woman with a nearly perfect body. Taking home cash each night was a huge factor; it allowed her to always have some money to buy anything that she needed. She was paying for her YMCA by the week, and a busy Friday or Saturday night should easily cover that expense. Back home, she’d worked in a couple of different restaurants, and quickly learned the thin line to toe when dealing with horny male customers. She knew how far to take it, to get a nice tip, but also knew the tricks to guarantee none of them became stalkers. The most common trick, and one she always used, was the wedding ring. Most drunk men don’t even think to look for it, but the moment one of them came close to crossing the line, or was brave enough to ask her out, she would just flash her fake wedding ring to them, and let them know she had no intentions of taking things further. And somehow, the men ate this up. They enjoyed the flirting, but never attempted to take it anywhere she didn’t want to go.

Andrea was insecure, as all women are, and the flirting by so many men only helped her feel better about herself. She knew she was attractive, but she never knew how to deal with it. She pushed away a lot of her boyfriends in high school, and never really had anything long term. She always thought that it was something wrong with them, something that annoyed her, or drove her away. It would be a long time before she “grew up” enough to understand that most of her relationship troubles where really her own fault. Sadly, by the time she came to this realization, it was too late for her. She would be committed to one man, and have his children, before she realized that she might have given up on some other kind of happiness.

Callahan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant was the first place to give her an interview on the spot. And within two hours she was hired, done with her paperwork, and begin her training. It was all happening so fast, it was surreal to Andrea. Was life really this easy? She wondered how hard it was going to be to get a singing part in a musical, or to get a role as an extra in a theatre production. She had done some research into the Actor’s Equity Association, and knew that she had a long road ahead of her, in order to be considered a real theatrical actress. She knew she was going to have to start small, she’d had limited theatrical acting training back home, but everything else was falling into place so simply, she thought that her whole life was going to be that way. She honestly believed that she would achieve her goal well before any of her colleagues who went to Chicago.

Andrea had one of those personalities. She was the kind of girl that everyone seemed to want to be around. From the old drunk men in the bar, to the prim and proper women at church, everyone related to her, and she was chameleon enough to fit in with anyone and everyone. After her first night of training at Callahan’s, she had won over many of her co-workers, and once the bar shut down at four in the morning, they invited her to join them at a small after-hours bar, where many service industry people would go at the end of their shifts. Of course, Andrea was up for the adventure. She went with her new friends, and drank beer and ate eggs and omelets while they all discussed their various adventures in serving that evening. Some of the girls told stories of Broadway actors coming to karaoke at their bar. Some guys discussed the girls who got up and danced on their bar that evening. Doorman told stories of throwing drunken tourists out, and showed bruises from where the fools actually thought they could get physical with them. Andrea had never experienced anything like this. Back home, when the restaurant shut down, everyone was eager to go their separate way and get home. Andrea enjoyed this time so much, that when nine o’clock rolled around, and most people started heading home, she finally realized she’d been awake for twenty-four straight hours, and was now just running on adrenaline.

When she finally got back to her hotel room, she crashed on the bed with a huge smile on her face. One week ago, she never expected to be this happy, but now she couldn’t even begin to imagine what her life would be like without these new friends. She laid in bed, counting the hour until she got to go back to work for another night of training, and then back to that little basement café-pub where should knew one day she would be sharing stories with her new friends. It was a wonderful family environment, and she loved how they accepted her so easily.

Andrea’s new lifestyle continued every night for her first week of work, and things seemed to constantly be getting better. A girl, Natalie that she met offered her a spare bedroom in her apartment. It was quite a ways uptown, so Andrea would have to start using the subway on a daily basis, which was a change that she was fine with. She quickly moved in and started sleeping on an air mattress, until she could get her hands on a real mattress. Once again, Andrea’s life felt like it was a dream. Everything was coming together better than she ever hoped.

During her second week of work at Callahan’s, she was standing at the bar, talking with Jimmy, when Chelsie quickly came walking up to her. Chelsie was the kind of girl who always thought she was smarter and better than everyone else. It might have something to do with the fact that she had worked at Callahan’s longer than any of the other servers, or it might have had something to do with the fact that she was sleeping with one of the bartenders. No matter what it was, she always came off with an arrogant attitude, which tended to put off most people. Andrea knew how to deal with it, and knew what Chelsie was coming over to say to her. So, Andrea tried to nip it before she had to listen to Chelsie, “Yeah Chelsie, I saw the guy that sat down in my section, I’ll get to him in just a minute.”

Chelsie gave her an odd look, and then proceeded with what she had to say, “That’s great, but you need to know who he is. That’s Mr. Monroe; he’s one of our regulars. Lawyer-something, he comes in her three of four nights a week. He’s kind of thick-skinned, can be a jerk, but he really means well. Horrible with first impressions, and doesn’t deal well with change. You’ve never waited on him; he’s generally a beer guy, but often likes fancy whiskeys. I just want to make sure he’s happy, and I want you to be prepared for him and his quirks. He’s got an off sense of humor, but isn’t a threat. He’s an awkward flirt, just laugh at him, and make him think he’s entertaining you. I also tell you this because he’s a great tipper, as long as you don’t annoy him. I’ve seen him get other girls fired. I don’t know why he has so much power her, but for some reason he does. So, just be careful, and you’ll be fine.”

Andrea was actually shocked. She’d never seen Chelsie act so nice and selfless. Who knew? Andrea ran some beers to one of her other tables, and then locked her sights on Mr. Monroe. “Wow, he’s actually pretty cute,” she thought to herself. And it was at this moment that Andrea Crowe made a choice that would eventually change her life forever, and set her down a path that she would never turn back from. As she walked towards David Monroe, she removed the fake wedding from her finger, and put it in her pocket.



David Monroe was in love. Head over heels in love. Her name was Amanda Wilson, and she was everything he had ever looked for in a girl. They had started dating roughly nineteen months earlier. Now, David had graduated from High School, and Amanda was about to be a senior in the fall. David was about to head off to college, but he knew in his heart that he wanted nothing more than to find a way to make things work with Amanda. After all, Cambridge was less than four hours away. There had to be some way to make this work.

David was sitting in a booth at Maier’s Deli; it was a booth that he and Amanda had shared numerous times before. She called him earlier that day, and asked him to meet her there this afternoon. She was working, but wanted to see him as soon as she was done.

While he sat there, eating some French fries, he began to think back to how happy he had been over the past nineteen months. David didn’t have any long-time or serious girlfriends before Amanda, she was the first girl he had sex with, and she was perfect in his eyes. Later in life, David would often be ashamed of himself for the way he acted at this time. He couldn’t believe that he ever allowed someone to mentally control him without even trying. He would have done anything she ever asked him to, and in the end, he did do what she asked him to do, even though it ended up breaking his heart and transforming him into a shattered version of himself.

It was two days before Winter Break, during David’s junior year, and he had just wrapped up a weightlifting session after basketball practice. On this particular day, he decided he wasn’t ready to head home yet. It was probably one of the days that his father was working late, and he knew his mother wasn’t going to be doing anything special for dinner, so David decided to spend a little extra time in the gym at school. He left the weight room, grabbed a basketball and headed into the gym for some free throw drills. He’d shoot two hundred free throws, in sets of twenty. After each twenty, he’d make himself run one suicide run for each free throw he’s missed. David’s best ever score was 187 out of 200.

As David entered the gymnasium, he passed the women’s team, as they were wrapping up practice. He waved at and chatted up a couple of his friends that were on the team, before making his way to the far free throw line. At the other end of the gym, the women’s coach was talking to a few of her players, but David was able to block out their chatter as he started shooting. Somewhere around his fifth set of free throws, David was mentally interrupted by the sound of another basketball hitting the court, and it was only a minute later that he was verbally interrupted when a young girl approached him, and asked he’d be interested in playing some one-on-one.

When David turned to look at her, he was momentarily frozen as he was taken back by her beauty. He looked at her with sweat dripping down her forehead, her hair pulled back into a ponytail, as she was breathing a little harder than normal. He could only wonder, “If she’s this hot after practice, how gorgeous is she after a shower?”

“Um, yes.” Were the only words David could get out as he was continually trying to process the fact that he had never noticed this girl before. Was she new? Who was she? Maybe he would recognize her if she were cleaned up? David thought himself to be fairly popular, and had known some of the women basketball players since they were kids playing in church leagues together.

“I don’t think I know you,” David was finally able to say after he stopped over-thinking the situation.

“Amanda. Amanda Wilson. My family just moved here from Buffalo. I’ve been trying to get on the basketball team, but it looks like I’m going to have to wait until next season. So, until then I could use someone that might pose a challenge. You game?”

David was taken back by her confidence. It didn’t come off arrogant at all; it came off more flirtatious than anything else. Or, was he over-analyzing again? Geez, why was he acting like this? When a beautiful girl asks you to do anything, you do it. No matter the circumstances or the insinuations, you just go with it. So, that’s what he did. After a few games of one-on-one and a couple of rounds of HORSE, they were forced out of the gym, when eight o’clock came around, and the last physical education teacher was leaving.

David rushed through his shower, and waited in the hallway outside the girl’s locker room. When Amanda finally came out, he offered to give her a ride home. Amanda accepted the ride, despite the fact that it only took three minutes for them to travel four blocks away to her house. But, three minutes was long enough for David to ask her, “You want to do this again tomorrow?” Amanda accepted.

Friday was a half-day, due to Winter Break beginning, and the gym was going to be closed. David had taken a liking to his time with Amanda, and asked her if they could hang out on Friday night. Amanda agreed, and they had their first of many meals together at Maier’s Deli. Following their dinner, they walked a couple of blocks to the corner two-screen cinema, where David let Amanda pick between “Nine to Five” and “Seems Like Old Times”. David had spent the entire day mentally preparing himself to be subjected to Dolly Patron for two hours that evening, so he reacted with much surprise when Amanda wanted to go with the Chevy Chase comedy. He was even more impressed when she mentioned she loved the work of Neil Simon, claiming “Barefoot in the Park” was one of her all-time favorite theatrical productions.

It didn’t take the entire two weeks, but by the time they went back to school in January, David knew that he was having some serious feelings for Amanda, and he was pretty sure that after spending almost everyday together, that she was feeling something for him too. She was perfect, or at least as close to perfect as David needed. She liked sports, and she didn’t just like sports, she knew about sports. She was smart. She was into cinema and theatre. She played board games and card games, one of David’s favorite memories of Amanda was the night they got into a heated game of Monopoly, which didn’t end until almost four o’clock in the morning. Monopoly would always have a special place in his heart, because it was that late night that he kissed Amanda for the first time. It was nothing earth-stopping or over-passionate, but the moment felt right and they shared their first kiss. It wasn’t like this opened the floodgate to their fornication, or anything. It would be another three weeks before they would share another kiss. However, after that second kiss, their temporary fates were sealed, and they would officially become a couple.

They would officially remain a couple for a period close to nineteen months. Until that fatefully day that David didn’t see coming, the day that would change his life, and who he was, and how he viewed women, and how much of himself he was willing to give away to them.

As David’s mind ended it’s reminiscing and returned to the present, he glanced out the window and thought he saw he car outside. He looked around the restaurant, but she was nowhere inside. He looked back at what he thought was her car, and attempted to get a look inside. There was a glare across the windshield, which made it hard to tell, but David was pretty sure he could see someone inside. What was she doing? David stood up, determined to go outside and check on Amanda in her car. However, almost in sync, Amanda’s door opened and he watched her emerge from the car. David sat back down, and began to have a horrible feeling in chest, or perhaps it was in his heart. It was almost like déjà vu, but different. At that exact moment, David suddenly felt like he knew what was going to happen, like it had happened to him before, and he began to panic inside.

As Amanda came to the booth and sat down, David could tell something was wrong. Aside from the physical evidence that she had been crying, he didn’t feel any “spark” between them as she touched his hand for the first time that day. Before she said her first word, David knew where this was going and how it was going to end.

“I can’t do this anymore, David. I’m sorry. I do love you, but I don’t think I’m in love with you. I think I was swept up by you when we first met, but I think those initial feelings have just faded. I don’t think about you the way I used to. I think I was… I don’t know what I was thinking. I had a wonderful time, I loved every minute we ever spent together, but I don’t think things are going to work out. You’re leaving for college in a month, and I don’t think it’s fair to either one of us. I can’t imagine not seeing you everyday, and being with you everyday. I do love you, and this hurts me so badly. But, I’d rather get the pain over with now, instead of living the pain everyday, once we are apart. I’m really sorry; I just don’t think I can make us work.”

David closed his eyes. David chose not to be angry. David chose not to make a scene. The first thing he thought to himself was, “How long did she practice that speech?” It rolled off her lips like she was reciting something she’s memorized by Shakespeare. David knew in that moment that everything was about to change, he still had that awkward feeling eating away at his chest. With his eye closed, he did his best to fight back any tears, he wanted to appear strong. He did let one tear out when she squeezed his hand. He didn’t know how long he had his eyes closed, he was thinking about so many things, that it felt like minutes to him, but in reality it was probably merely seconds. He waited until the last possible minute to open his eyes, it was the moment when he felt her release his hand, and could tell she was standing up.

What was this feeling inside of him? It must just be heartache. It must be the fact that he knows there is nothing he can do to change this moment. She’s made up her mind, and she’s decided what is best for her, and there is nothing that he can do to change things in his favor. There’s no way to stop her.

Amanda leaned down, and gave him a kiss on the cheek before whispering these final words into his ear, “A piece of my heart will always be reserved for you.”

Then she was gone. The first woman he had ever been sexually active with, the first girl he honestly believed he was in love, had just walked out of his life forever.

It was a very long twenty-nine years, before he ever got to see her again.


David had been sitting at his desk, when his cell phone started ringing. It was the phone call that was going to eventually change his life, in ways he could never have imagined. Within two minutes of talking to Noah Coleman, he was convinced that something major was about to happen in his life, and he was more than eager to set up a meeting. Steve had recommended him, and sure enough, this guy hunted him down. So, David was more than curious, and more than willing, to find out what was going on. Two days later, David finds himself on his way to meet this mysterious man face-to-face.

It wasn’t until right now, during the elevator ride to the top floor of this building, that David had any second thoughts. But, during long ride up so many floors, anxiety began to set in, and David realized that he didn’t know what to expect. What if this all turned out to be a hoax? What if it turned out to be a robbery? How much cash do I have on me? How much do I really know about Steve? Should I have trusted him? Maybe this was a bad idea?

Luckily, for David, the elevator doors opened before he had a full-blown panic attack. He took one large deep breath, and then stepped out into the lobby. The room was full of browns and tans and lots of earth tones; the couches, the chairs, the paintings, all very neutral in color. Neutral and soothing. Soothing enough to calm David down. There were some potted plants around the lobby, and on each side were large wall fountains that stood from floor to ceiling and spanned the entire length of the walls. David could see goldfish, amongst others, swimming in the waters at the bottom.

Across the room, David could see a cute little brunette girl sitting behind a desk. Behind the girl, through large glass windows, David could see the hustle and bustle of over a dozen people working vigorously on computers, and others supervising them. Those at the computers appeared to be watching some kinds of home movies, or something. He was curious and attempted to process everything he was seeing while he walked towards the receptionist, who instantly greeted him, “Mr. Monroe, it’s a pleasure to have you join us today.” David was slightly taken back by her, but realized it must all be part of the selling of whatever service he was about to be offered, so he nodded back to her.

“I’m here…” David paused as he became distracted by something going on in the room behind her, and she went on to finish his sentence.

“…for an appointment with Mr. Coleman, of course.” At this time, a tall and slender black gentleman appears in the lobby, “This is Mr. Martin, and he’ll take you where you need to go.” As David took steps towards Mr. Martin, the receptionist gave him a huge smile and did something mesmerizing with her eyes.

How many times has she done this before? By the way she took charge of the conversation, if David had met her in a bar; he’d have assumed she was a prostitute. There was something about her, which let you know she was more than just a pretty face. He had a feeling that she was something serpentine.

Mr. Martin led David down a long hallway, which continued the same color scheme until he was led into a plain white room. Floors, ceiling, walls, even the table top were all solid white. The only color in the room was the silver metal of the two chairs on each side of the table.

“Please have a seat, Mr. Monroe.”

So, he did. As he looked up at Mr. Martin, his heart began to race. It was like something out of the movies, as Mr. Martin’ hand slowly moved up and reached inside of his jacket pocket. Was this the moment where he pulls a gun on me? Does he pull out a knife a stab me? Does he pull out duct tape and cover my mouth so I can’t scream? Then, just like in the movies, it turned out to be a red herring. Mr. Martin remove a small plastic bag from hi pocket, and removed a small pill from the bag. He took the pill and held it up, then applied pressure to one of the ends. Suddenly, the entire pill lit up and started glowing with little red dots inside of it. The pill was placed on the table next to a bottle of water.

“Would you please take the pill, Mr. Monroe?” David looked up at him, and it was almost instantly clear that it was more of a demand, than a request. So, he complied. “Now I need to check your mouth, sir.”

Again, David did what was asked of him, and opened his mouth wide. He wasn’t trying to pull a fast one; he did actually swallow the pill. After a few seconds of poking around in his mouth and under his tongue, Mr. Martin was satisfied and exited the room. It was almost in sync, as one door closed, another one opened. But this door came out of nowhere; it was like one of those secret wall doors that you see in movies involving the Oval Office. There must have been cracks in the wall somewhere, but David sure didn’t notice them before that exact second. Standing in the doorway was Noah Coleman.

“That’s a hell of an entrance,” was the first thing that slipped out of David’s mouth.

“Mr. Monroe, please come in,” was Noah’s response as he made a gesture towards his office and took an angled step backwards to open a pathway. David got up, and entered.

Upon walking into the room, David was instantly jealous, and he could admit to it. “And I thought I had a nice office. Wow. The view. The alcohol. The desk. I’m jealous.”

“That’s very nice of you to say, would you please sit down, and let me offer you some Johnny Walker. That is your preference, correct? I have some Blue Label 1805 to offer you.”

“Blue Label 1805? I thought there were only like 200 bottles in the world?”

“You obviously know your Johnny Walker. You are correct. This bottle was actually given to my business partner. He’s more of a gin-type.” Noah took out three snifter glasses, and poured generous shots neatly into each glass. He then motioned to the couches as he handed one of the glasses to David, and placed the third on the table. As they both sat down, David realized that he might be in a little over his head. Obviously, something big was going on here, something big and something wealthy. Something that had David interested and wanting to know what exactly It all had to do with him. So, he decided to start asking questions.

“Would you like to tell me what that pill was that I took?”

“I will, very soon. I’ll actually show you exactly what it does, and please believe me that it is easier to show you, than to try and just use words to explain it.”

David watched as Mr. Coleman took a drink from his glass. David always thought that it was rude to drink before your host, so he had been waiting for Mr. Coleman, before he could taste this extremely limited beverage. It was amazing. Next question.

“Mr. Coleman, what do you want with me? Or from me? I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing here.”

Noah took another drink before answering, “I’ve got a proposition for you. However, it’s complicated. It’s something that most people on the planet would never understand. And of the people who would understand the feelings and emotions required, not many of them could afford this… treatment.” He felt like he was on auto-pilot. The Hooking Speech is what he had nicknamed this part of the conversation. As he looked into David’s eyes, there was a long pause, as if they were sizing each other up. In David’s eyes, Noah saw confusion begin to boil over into bewilderment. Luckily, it was at this moment when there was an interruption from the intercom.

“Mr. Coleman, Mr. Anthony is here for you.”

Noah got up and walked to his desk, pushed a button and replied, “Please send him in.”

David turned his head towards the door where he had entered at, before he heard noises behind him. It was at that moment when he realized there was another door at the far side of the room. David began to question his own observant abilities. Maybe it had something to do with the pill they gave him? As he turned towards the main door of the office, he was surprised to see his friend, Steve walking into the room. It dawned on David, that after numerous nights of drinking, he’d never caught Steve’s last name, or even bothered to ask him what he did for a living. Looks like those answers were going to be a part of today’s adventure.

“Steve! Hey, what’s going on?”

They shook hands. Noah was back, and had already sat back down. With David on the couch across from them, Steven sat on the other end of the couch Noah was on.

David wondered why Steve was sitting on the couch with Mr. Coleman, and not with him? It wasn’t a petty or jealous feeling, but one that made him feel a little more uncomfortable. It now felt like it was a two-on-one battle.

Noah set his drink down, and broke the awkwardness, “David. Is it okay if I call you David? Please call me Noah. No more of this mister-mister crap. Okay, we’re just a bunch of guys having drinks. And you’re going to listen to what we have to offer you. Is that fair?”

David nodded, raised his glass and took another drink. Steven picked up his glass and he and Noah drank together. Now, it was time for The Selling Speech. Noah put his glass down and stood up for this one. He liked to walk around while he was talking, and he often talked with his hand gestures.

“I invited Steven here today to try and help you feel a little easier about this whole big picture I’m about to paint you. I’ve done this hundreds of times, and I’ve never had a third person in the room. But, we’ve determined that you’re a special case. And since we’ve kind of fast-tracked you through our process, I felt like it would be best for you to have someone here you trust. Because, the things we’re about to talk about, you might find very hard to believe. Steven is here to reassure you that I’m not wasting your time. So, I’m going to start all of this by asking you one simple question: Is there anything in your life that you wish you could change? Is there anything you regret, or anything that you could have changed?”

David shrugged, “Sure, of course.”

“Like what? What’s the biggest thing in your life that you would want to change?”

David was at a loss of words, and just mumbled a lot of “errs” and “umms”.

“Just tell him it’s Amanda,” Steve jumped in. David’s eyes almost bugged out of his head, they darted so quickly over to Steve. How did Steve know about Amanda? David realized he’d almost certainly mentioned her, probably numerous times, during various nights of drinking.

“Hopefully Amanda is the correct answer. Let me show you something,” Noah said as he grabbed two files off of his desk. He came back over and set both of them down on the table in front of David. The folder on the right had at least four hundred pages of paper inside of it, but the one on the left appeared to have hardly anything in it. Noah put his hand on the large folder and continued, “This is one of our typical files, on one of our typical clients. Its lots and lots of research and fact-checking, and organization. From the first day we mark a potential client, until the day I have this meeting with them, generally takes almost two years. In your case, I found this file on my desk two days ago, and was amazed when Steven told me that he thought you would make a good client. All of these pages here, they are basically a biography of each potential client; hundreds of thousands of separate moments in their lives, when they might have made the wrong choice, or the less-correct choice, or just a choice that they regretted. You can imagine how confused I was when I got to your file. It informed me that twenty-nine years ago, you lost the love of your life, and Steven had witnessed you lamenting about it over and over.”

Over and over? Wow. David realized that maybe he talked about her more than he realized.

“So, you’ve got some way to get me back together with her? Do you know where she is?”

Noah grimaced, “David, you’re married. You have kids. Would you really just leave your wife and kids and run off with some girl you haven’t seen in almost thirty years? That really doesn’t make any sense, does it? I’m offering you something bigger, something better.”

“Are you talking time-travel? Are you going to send me back to try and fix things?”

“No, that’s not what I’m talking about. Time travel isn’t possible; please believe me when I tell you that. My business partner has spent millions of hours and millions of dollars trying, and it just isn’t possible. Time itself only moves forwards, but it moves forward in multiple directions. Are you familiar with the Many-Worlds Theory?”

David stared blankly at him, and had to look at Steve for reassurance.

“Every decision that you have ever made, in your entire life, has resulted in multiple possible outcomes, or potential futures. Right now, you might be thinking about getting up and walking out of this room. And the mere fact that you’ve considered it, means that it has happened, in another potential universe. I have a loaded in my desk, I just thought about shooting you. And that means, in some other potential timeline, I did it. Take yourself, multiple every decision you’ve made in your life, and multiple it by the six billion people on the planet. As you can imagine, there is googolplex of potential universes. We have never been able to even begin to figure out how many there are, but we know they are there.”

“Multiple universes? If I can’t go back and change things with Amanda, then what exactly are you offering me, with this knowledge of an unknown number of universes? I just don’t get it.”

Noah launched into another explanation, “I can’t send your mind backwards in time to, let’s say, hunt down the creators of Google, and buy them out, or build it before them. But, if there was ever a moment in your life, where you had the potential chance to buy into Google, but chose not to, I can offer you that life. The life where you did chose to make that choice. What I have to offer, you will still be you. You’ll be the same age. The day we decide to do it, will be the exact same day you wake up in your new life. But, the consequences of that single decision will ripple trough time and alter who and what you are. What I am offering you is the ability to wake up from this life and into a life where Amanda never left you. A life where you two have spent the last twenty-nine years together, and where you can live the rest of your life without the regret of losing her. You can just grow old with her, and be happy. What I’m offering you, what The Centre is offering you, is the perfect life.”

The perfect life? To be back with Amanda? David couldn’t imagine what he was hearing, and his heart made the decision for him, “Yes, I’m interested. Let’s do it. What do I have to do?”

Noah smiled, and looked over at Steven who had a big grin on his face too.

“Slow down. It’s a pretty long process, and there are some things that I need to show you. So, if you’re really interested, let’s all take a walk, and I’ll show you exactly what we do here.”

David jumped up, he was so eager. Noah took one final drink of his scotch, before the three men exited the office and made their way to an elevator. Once they entered, David noticed there were only a five buttons on the panel. One marked “O”, which he could only assume was for Office? And then four more: U1, U2, U3, and U4. Noah pushed the U1 button, as the doors closed.


As the doors opened to Underground Level 1, David Monroe had to squint his eyes. The fluorescent tube lights were reflecting off the solid white walls, which he wasn’t expecting. He wasn’t really sure what he was expecting, but going to a level titled “underground” invoked visions of caves and secret hidden rooms, not bright hospital-like hallways.

The three men exited the hallway, and David followed behind them as they made their way to the other end of the hall. As they passed by each door, David noticed names on the doors to each room. He assumed he was passing by more offices. As they reached the end of the hall, they stopped at a door with the nameplate of Justin Abraham on it. As they entered the room, David realized that his assumption that these were offices was off target. Inside the room, he found multiple television monitors taking up the entire opposite wall, and in front of the televisions were five workstations with multiple computer screens at each one. Five individuals, two women and three men, were sitting at the various stations and all paused what they were doing when the men entered the room.

“You’re all fine, please go back to work. Just a potential client,” was how Noah handled the situation, and with those words, David could hear the furious clicks of the mouse at each station, and began to watch long strings of numbers on each monitor, which appeared to somehow correlate to the video on each screen.

Noah walked to one of the work stations and picked up a large folder, similar to the folders David had seen earlier. Noah returned to David’s side and began reading from the file, “Justin Abraham, age forty-seven, owner and operator of a company that custom builds private jets for the rich and famous. Current net worth is close to one hundred million dollars. Selected the following decision to change: six years ago, he had a long-term affair with a much younger woman, and eventually left his wife to pursue a relationship with the younger woman. After a nine month relationship, the woman quit her job and left him. Since then, his wife has moved on, taken their children, moved away, and has no interest in reconciliation. So, Mister Abraham has requested we find him a life where he never had the affair.”

“What’s with all the video? What exactly are you watching?” Was the first question, of many, that David had.

“David, the very first thing that you are going to need to understand about this entire process…” Noah paused, again for dramatic effect. It was really the only satisfaction he got from all of this, was the feeling he got as he felt he was improving his acting skills. Noah remembered the numerous times that he and Kara had gone to the West End and seen a vast number of theatre productions. His favorite was Her Majesty’s Theatre. Noah didn’t know why, but he appreciated the good acting. Maybe he just had too much free time in lifestyle, but every time he met with a potential client, he would attempt to improve his “performance” to them. He felt like he was doing pretty good this time, so he continued, “…is that you need think of the human brain, as a computer. More specifically, the hard drive, whereas your body would be the actually computer itself.”

David kind of understood that concept, but still had a confused look on his.

Noah felt like he needed to attempt a more detailed explanation, “Remember what I told you about these vast amounts of other universes. Next, think about your brain the way I told you to, as a storage unit for everything in your life. You have your photos, videos, music files; they all build up and create your memories. “

As per usual, Desmond was walking around the room, and making gestures toward various objects in the room, attempting to help David visualize the things he’s talking about. It’s obvious that the computer employees had heard this before, because none of them seemed phased by having Noah in the room, around them, or invading their space. They all just continued punching in numbers, clicking buttons, and watching videos. Videos that sometimes looked identical, and sometimes looked completely different. As much as Noah liked to talk, David continued to be interested in everything he had to say.

“Now, everyone’s brain has its own electrical-current-frequency. You’re going to learn that around here, we are big fans of acronyms around here, so you might hear it referred to as ECF, and it works the exact same as a fingerprint, because it is individualistic to every person on the planet. Right now, we are what we call “The Viewing Room”, and in here we can visually access any alternate universe that has ever been created, and when we access it, we use the ECF to locate our client in that specific universe, and we can watch them. In the case of Mr. Abraham, we’re watching and attempting to find a universe where we see him with his wife. Once we think we have a potential universe, we monitor it for a day to ensure we are delivering what the client asked for.”

David felt like he had a pretty good grasp on what he was being told, “So, you’re telling me that right now, on these screens, I’m looking at alternate realities? I’m looking at other potential futures?”

“Well, honestly, you’re looking at other potential presents. Give or take two or three minutes. We theorize that by the time we can actually access the mind’s eye recreation, we’re a couple of minutes behind live events. However, in most universes it looks like Mr. Abrahams is sitting at his office desk right now. So, our technicians here are examining each office for clues to whether or not Mr. Abrahams is still with his wife,” Noah looked down at one of his techs, “Anthony, would you mind informing us of what clues you are looking for?”

Technician Anthony stopped his work and spun around in his chair, “In Mr. Abrahams initial investigation and application we were made aware that he no longer wears his wedding band. With this information, we can look in each universe…” Anthony spins back to his computer and clicking away while he continues talking. He pulls up one of the images on the larger screen, rotates the room around and zooms in on Mr. Abraham’s left hand, “…and in this universe, he’s not wearing a wedding band, so we can easily discount it and move onto another one. In this specific case, we’re actually more effective in the evening hours, because we can easily pull up a universe and see if he’s eating dinner by himself, or sometimes some random person. In a perfect world, we’d run across him eating dinner with his ex-wife and then we’d be practically done.”

David was curious about something Noah had said, “I think I understand everything, I’m just a little confused by the ‘mind’s eye’ statement and being a couple of minutes behind us?”

“We use the term ‘mind’s eye’ as basically how your brain processes everything around you, in a third person type of way. Think about when you are dreaming, and you see everything more like a movie, than you personally actually being involved in the dream. Our ‘mind’s eye’ comment reflects your brain processing and remembering everything in a room and turning it into the video file that is saves. We then access that video file through the ECF, and then we’ve got the video to watch.”

“What happens when you finally find the right universe?”

“At that point, we call the client back into The Centre, and we perform…” pause, “…a file transfer…” another pause. Noah didn’t expect for David to be so chatty at this moment, he was ruining the dramatic effect.

“A file…”

So, Noah interrupted him, “File transfer. Basically, we take our client’s ‘hard drive’ and we swap it out for the ‘hard drive’ in the other universe. It would be like taking the hard drive out of your old computer and putting it into a new one. All of the original information is still present; it just finds itself in a new case, the case that it wants to be in. Long story short, we can put your hard drive into a body that is happy with Amanda. That’s what we’re offering you.”

“Let’s do it.”

Noah wished all of his clients were this simplistic. Sometime it took hours to explain to them what was going on. Some of them doubted him, and wanted ridiculous methods of proof. Maybe David was just that desperate, that we is willing to believe anything and everything that they were telling him. Either way, it sounded like things were going to be pretty easy. Noah thanked the techs in the room, and motioned for Steven and David to leave the room. Once in the hallway, Noah took charge again and led the group to a stairwell. They went down one level, and entered an identical hallway. Noah opened the first door on the left and motioned for the group to enter.

As David walked into the room, he was puzzled when he looked at the large video wall. It appeared to be showing exactly what he was looking at. David looked down at the desk and employee; and suddenly they were on the big screen in front of him. What was going on?

Noah entered the room, “Alright David, it’s time to level with you about that pill we made you take. Once that pill was activated, it turned on about a billion nanomites. They are basically super-tiny little robotic ants that we can program to do anything. Some are programmed to attach themselves to your cerebral cortex, some are told to attach themselves to your hearts and lungs, and others are attach themselves to your retina, and broadcast back here to us. Now let me make this clear to you, unlike upstairs, the events seen in this room happen in real time. As your retina processes and sends its information to various parts of your brain, it also transmits it right here where we process it at the same speed.”

It wasn’t until this moment that the reality of everything set in. David believed everything that Noah had been telling him, but it hadn’t sunk it that it was entirely real. At this moment, when he was looking at Noah, and seeing him also on the big screen, David became somewhat frightened about what he was getting himself into.

The employee sitting at the desk looked up at Noah and informed him, “His heart rate is increasing, and he’s grown extremely nervous in the past sixty seconds.”

“Calm down, David. You need to calm down, because I’ve got something else to show you, and it’s going to intimidate you a little more.” Noah motioned for David to join him at the desk, and he pointed down at three buttons. The green button was labeled “reset”, the yellow was “OFF”, and the red button was under a glass case with a lock, probably because it said “terminate”. Noah went on to explain, “From the moment you ingested that pill, this man has been watching and listening to everything you’ve said and done. And someone will continue to watch and listen to you, until this is resolved. If you begin talking to someone about us, and our technology, or if you start typing and email, or a letter, or if you do anything that could possibly compromise our organization, this man will instantly hit the ‘reset’ button, and you’ll experience a migraine like none other, and the last thing you’ll remember is sitting in our lobby, waiting for me.”

David could feel his heart rate increasing, and was a little worried about asking about the other buttons. He found himself so choked up that he could only point them, it’s like his mouth wasn’t in the mood to work.

Noah grinned, “The ‘off’ button has no harm to you at all, and if we go through with the transfer process, we will first come into this room and I’ll let you push the yellow button yourself. It kills all of the nanomites inside of your body, and they’ll eventually just be absorbed by your body, although it won’t matter to you, since a few moments later you’ll find yourself in different body anyways. The ‘terminate’ button is our ultimate fail-safe. It will stop your heart. Luckily, I’ve never once had to even put the key into the lock, so you should be just fine, don’t let it worry you. Let’s move on to the next room.”

The three men exited, went down the hallways and David found himself in another room, this one appeared to have a giant magnetic resonance imaging device, one that was literally the size of an entire room. David remembered the photos of computers in the 1960s, when they took up an entire floor of a building, and wondered if this was an original? Or was it something more? Something so much more that it required so much additional computer power.

Steven remained in the hallway, and Noah just stood in the doorway, holding the door open as he told David, “This is the machine we use to create your ECF. It takes about an hour. And that’s about all there is to this room, let’s move on.”

Down another staircase. Into another plain white hallway. Into another office. This specific office reminded David of what an interrogation room looked like on all those cop shows on television. There was a table in the middle of the room, one chair on one side, and two chairs on the other side. The only thing this room was missing was a two-way mirror.

“This is the Prep Room. We’ll go over all the details we’ve compiled of your new life, and get you ready for the transition. We don’t want you going over there acting like an idiot, not knowing anything about your own life,” Noah turned around and walked back out of the room. David joined the other two men in the hallway, and they went back to the stairwell they just came from, and down another flight of stairs. David was happy to know that he only say four underground levels on the elevator, so he was assuming this tour was almost over.

As they walked down the fourth plain white hallway of the afternoon, Noah pointed at a door as they passed it, “That’s the Event Room, you can’t see it today.” The three men finally reached the end of the hallways, and Noah opened the door into his second office.

The three men entered, and Noah sat down behind his desk. David and Steven sat in the chairs across from him.

“David, did you like what you saw? Do you think we have a service that you are interested in?”

David was quick to answer, “Yes, most definitely.”

“Can we trust you? I’m telling you now that you are not allowed to tell anyone about us, about what we do, about the technology you’ve seen, nothing. When you walk out of this building, you need to act like it’s just any other day, and then I need you to be patient while we search for you.”

“You can trust me. I won’t tell anyone, I won’t do anything. I just want a better life.”

“You want that life with Amanda?”

“I do.”

Noah pulled out some papers from his desk, and went on to the difficult part of the sell, “Alright David, I want to make you happy. I want to give you your perfect life with Amanda. I want you to live out the rest of your days happy. And now we come to the payment part, because our technology, our services, and our staff do not come cheap. Luckily for you, we’ve been able to fast-track you and haven’t spent our typical array of resources to make this happen, mostly due to Mr. Anthony. Therefore, we’re going to cut you a deal, and please believe me when I say this is a generous discount. The total price is ten million dollars.”

David’s eyes grew large and he let out a huge sigh as he processed everything.

“Hear me out, David. Today, all I need is a one million dollar deposit. It’s non-refundable. It just pays for our staff to search for your perfect universe. After it’s found, we’ll call you back in for another meeting, and give you everything we’ve found. At that point, you can decide if you want to go through with it, and then the rest of the money will be due. This also gives you some time to secure the funds. Granted, we’ve seen your financials, we know you’ve got access to this amount. It’s now up to you to decide if you’re willing to spend it on this perfect life you’ve said you want.”

David swallowed and then began to speak, “I want it. I do. The money is fine. But, how do I keep this from my wife?”

Noah slid a paper across the desk to David. It was a ‘thank you’ letter on company letterhead from an organization called Lucid Informatics For Enlightenment.

“You will write a check to this organization, which is a shell company that we own. The money appears as a charitable donation on your part, and will give your family a very nice tax write off. You write the million dollar check today, and then you’ll write one for nine million a couple of days before your event.”

David put down the letter and pulled out his checkbook.

Noah grinned as he watched David write the check.

Steve’s eyes got huge, and couldn’t think of anything other than the Bernese Alps.

David signed the check and handed it over to Noah. The two men stood up and shook hands.

“Let’s go create your ECF.”