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Prologue

The buzzing of the alarm woke me from a deep sleep. It was hard for my eyes to focus so early in the morning without my glasses. I reached up and grabbed my glasses off the nightstand and flipped off my alarm. The big red numbers flashed 4:30am.

“Is it that time already?” Maggie asked sleepily.

“Go back to bed honey. It’s too early for you to get up. I’ll try and be quiet getting ready.” I said as I slid out of bed.

Today was my big day. I was a keynote speaker at the convention today on modern weight loss pills. My company, Avery Global Pharmaceuticals, was getting close to unveiling the newest weight loss drug that would revolutionize weight loss medication. Wl950, was what we called it, had great results in most of the test trials. Out of the 1000 people we had test the drug during a three month trial, 920 of them lost anywhere from 15-25 pounds. Seventy Seven of the subjects lost 10-15 pounds, but it was the last three patients results that bothered me. Two out of the three subjects suffered irregular heartbeats but the last one resulted in death.

“Are you going to mention any of that during your speech?” Maggie asked as she rolled over to look at me.

“The public has a right to know what is going on with Wl950. Donald told me not to mention anything about the three bad results. He told me to focus on the good that the drug can do for the population. If I mention anything about the Ephedra or bad test results my career will be over.”

“I don’t understand what’s the big deal about mention the drug Ephedra?”

“It was banned for use in the United States. It’s a nasty drug which can affect the nervous system and result in high blood pressure, increased heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, stroke or death.” I said as I got my clothes out of the closet and lay them on the end of the bed.

“So why use it then?” Maggie asked confused.

“Because mixed with a few other key ingredients it produces great results. Donald is a multi-billionaire. He is in a cut throat business. He doesn’t care about a few deaths if the drug will make him millions. But after today his life will be ruined. I don’t care about my career. If that drug hits the market who knows how many deaths will occur. I don’t want that on my head.”

I walked into the bathroom and took a quick shower. I was supposed to be at the convention center around 8am for the morning festivities. As I walked into the bedroom I noticed Maggie was already up and I could smell coffee brewing downstairs. I got dressed in a blue three piece suit with a white collared shirt and a matching blue tie. I took one last look in the mirror and smiled before heading down into the kitchen.

Maggie was in the kitchen by the counter dressed in a small bathrobe that just barely covered her. She called it her naughty night robe.

“You look handsome dear.” She said as she turned and gave me a once over.

I pulled her to me and gave her a big hug. Her hair still smelled like lilacs from the shower she took last night before bed. As I was smelling her hair I began nuzzling her neck and she giggled. She was very ticklish on her neck. I began kissing her neck softly as my hands reached down and grabbed onto her firm bottom. Pulling her closer to me.

“Stop that.” She said as she giggled and pushed me away. “We don’t have time for that. Besides Michael can come down at any minute.”

I gave a short laugh. “He probably got home a few hours ago. He’s sound asleep and won’t be up for hours. I just wish he got a job instead of spending all his nights partying with his friends. We raised him better then that.”

Maggie shrugged a little and handed me a fresh brewed cup of coffee in my #1 chemist mug that Michael gave me when he was a little boy. He was always so proud of me. He loved that I was a chemist and I made new things that helped the world. Now a days I’m lucky if he says hi to me in passing.

I drank my coffee and ate a quick bagel before grabbing my jacket. Maggie came over and gave me a kiss and squeezed me tight.

“I am proud of you for doing the right thing today. You can always find another job. I will always support you. You know that right?”

I squeezed her hand “My sweet sweet Maggie. I love you. Everything will work itself out.”

Maggie handed me my itinerary for the next few days at the Marlot Convention Center. “I booked you a suite. Room 346 I think it is. I have it all written down in your itinerary for you. I love you John. Have fun this weekend. Call me.”

I made it to the convention center in little under two hours due to rush hour traffic. The parking lot was still pretty full by the time I got there. After I finished checking in and getting my laminated identification for the weekend it was almost 8am. I headed towards our section where we were setting up a booth for the weekend.

“Hey Joanne.” I said as I got close.

Joanne was dressed in dark dress slacks with a white turtleneck sweater. Her shoulder length brown hair was still damp from her morning shower.It was beginning to curl towards the bottom. Joanne turned towards me with a box in her hand and handed it to me.

“Hey John. Make yourself useful will you.” She said with a smile. Joanne worked for the PR department and was in charge of the booth this weekend, giving out pamphlets, giving out samples of some of our other products that were selling now and handling the flow of information to the public.

“Just set it down over on the counter in the corner for me will you. I have a lot of stuff to set up and only about an hour before the convention starts. I got stuck in traffic on the way.” She said sheepishly.

I started to laugh. “Judging by your wet hair you probably woke up late and broke every traffic law getting here.” I placed the box on the counter and looked around the tent. There was at least 5 big boxes to unload and set up before the start of the convention.

“I’ll never admit to that John.” She said with a smile.

“Did you seen anyone else yet? Donald or Steve?” I asked

“I saw Steve a few minutes ago. He was heading towards the bathroom. He looked nervous as hell. He said he was fine though. Donald hasn’t graced me with his presence yet. And I hope he doesn’t.” She replied.

I gave her a smile. Donald was our boss and owner of Avery Global Pharmaceuticals. He could be a hard ass at times. All week long he was in panic mode at the office making sure everything goes off without a hitch. We had meeting after meeting this week on everything that will happen this weekend. He warned us all if anyone screwed up it would be their jobs. When I asked him about the Ephedra I found out we were using he brushed it off and said I was mistaken and I better not mention it during the press conference. Later on during the week when I told him I found out that we were using it in Steve’s notes he flipped out and told me to drop it. That stuff was banned and he would never risk his company by using a banned substance. He said he would talk to Steve about it and I better not mention it again.

When I confronted Steve about it he said he might have just made a typo and put in the wrong symbol in the formula and that he would have it typed up right for the press conference today. He told me not to worry about it.

“I know what you mean. I’m not looking forward to seeing him today if at all possible. The later I see him the better.” I said. “I’m going to go look for Steve. Good luck setting this up and I’ll see you soon. The speech isn’t until 4pm so I am just going to look around and enjoy the day.”

As I was heading towards the restrooms I saw Donald and Steve hunched together talking to each other. It looked like they were arguing about something. As I got closer, Steve noticed me and must’ve said something to Donald because they both looked at me and stood up straight.

“Hey John.” Steve said as he ran his hand through his hair. “How you doing?”

“Do you have a copy of your speech prepared?” Donald asked.

I nodded to Steve and turned towards Donald.

“I have it in my briefcase. I was going to put it up in my room for now and go over it a bit later after lunch.” I said.

“I want to see it before your speech. What room are you in?”

I sighed. “I’m in room 346 but do you really think it necessary to proof read my speech? I’m a grown man Donald.”

“Yes you are but you’re my employee and I want to make sure you won’t be saying anything that will ruin my company. I worked long and hard to make it number one in the pharmaceutical business. Steve was telling me about the mistakes he made with the formula and he will drop it off to you later on. Right Steve?” Donald said as he turned towards Steve.

Steve looked at Donald and I could have sworn he was sweating. “Yeah, I have a copy of the correct formula I’ll bring to you later. It’s in my room and I’ll have to go get it.”

“Maybe you and Steve should go over your speeches together since you made Wl950 together.” Donald stated as a fact not a suggestion.

I shook my head in disgust and walked away. I didn’t want to deal with Donald and his bullshit so early in the morning. If I had any doubts about telling the public what I knew, they were gone now.

I spent the rest of the morning avoiding Donald and Steve. I looked at a bunch of the booths set up and got a few pamphlets from our competitors about new products on the horizon. I spent an hour listening to a lecture about a new drug that could help with Alzheimer’s. The drug had some promise. I listened to another lecture about a drug that could help you retain information and make you smarter. If that was really the case they would make millions overnight when it hit the market.

A lot of companies were coming out with new weight loss drugs. One company claimed to shed the pounds while you slept, while another bragged that you could eat whatever you choose and still lose weight. There were a few that updated the original product as well. Nothing was close to what our product could do. Only if it was safe though. I was feeling guilty about what I learned and I wanted to get it off my chest no matter what the consequences. I decided to call Maggie.

“Hi honey, how’s the convention going?” Maggie said sounding cheerful.

“I saw Donald first thing this morning.” I said disgustedly. “He wants to read my speech and make sure I’m not saying anything bad about Wl950 or his company. He even went as far as ordering me to work with Steve and make a speech that we could both say together. He doesn’t trust me.”

“And with good reason. He knows you’re an honest man John. He is just being careful. Did you decide what you’re going to do?” Maggie asked.

“I’m going to bury him and his company.” I said with a smug smile. Let him chew on that with the press when I tell the whole world that he is using a banned substance in his new drug.

“Be careful John. I love you. I got to go now. Call me after the speech.”

“I will. I love you too honey.” I said as I hung up the phone.

It was getting late and I was getting hungry. I could feel my stomach grumbling. I went up to my room and called in an order for a cheeseburger and fries. While I waited I took out my notes for my speech and began going over them. I made sure not to write anything about the illegal drugs or test results because I had a feeling Donald was going to check them. I figured I’d just add them in sometime during the speech.

My food came and I made quick work of it. I was starving. The clock read 1:15pm. I figured I had time for a little nap. Hopefully I would miss Steve and Donald coming to the room and wake up just in time for the speech. I set my alarm for 3:15 giving me plenty of time for a quick shower and make it down for the speech.

I awoke from loud banging outside my room. Someone was at my door. “Crap.” I guess I wasn’t as lucky as I thought. “I’m coming.” I mumbled as I got out of bed and stumbled to the door. Someone knocked again on the door.

“Hold on a second.” I said angrily.

I opened the door and saw a long piece of metal pointed towards me. Pew pew pew is what I heard combined with three little flashes coming from the metal. I felt a sharp pain in my chest as I started falling to the ground. The last thing I saw were a pair of black boots as everything faded.

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