There was a knock on the door just before it opened. A middle-aged man walked into Jacob Lott’s office.
“Hello, Jacob. Good to see you again.” He extended a hand.
Jacob took the man’s hand and shook it before inviting him to sit down. “Have we met? I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”
The man chuckled. “You did have a lot to drink last night, so it isn’t surprising that you might forget.”
“Last night…” Jacob vaguely remembered going to a bar, but much of the rest of the night was a blur. “I don’t really…” His memory finally dredged up something. “You… were sitting next to me…”
“Indeed. I listened to you most of the night.”
“… While I complained about the state of the world, the mess it’s in. The way we’ve screwed up the planet, ourselves, and society.”
The man smiled. “For as drunk as you were, you were also very articulate. Until you passed out.”
“Very sorry about that. It’s been a rough week.”
He waved away Jacob’s apology. “I could tell. Happy to lend an ear.”
“So… how did you happen to come by my work?”
He pulled a small white card from his pocket. “You gave me your business card.”
“Oh. So you have work for me?”
“No… Well, not exactly. I have a proposition for you. I can give you the tools you need to make the world a better place.”
“Well that sounds… implausible. You shouldn’t start your sales pitch with such grandiose hyperbole.”
“It’s not a sales pitch. And it’s not hyperbole. I really listened to you last night. You seem to genuinely care about this world. I want to help you set it right.”
“And how would you do that.”
“I can give you power. Resources. Whatever you need.”
“And the price for all of this?”
“None. You just have to try to fix the world. I think that’s price enough.”
Jacob eyed the man sitting across from him. He didn’t trust him, but he couldn’t figure out his angle. What was he after? He just sat there, a mild smile on his lips as he waited for Jacob to respond.
“What’s your name?”
“I’ve had many names. At the moment, I go by Lucas.”
“Lucas? But your original…”
The phone rang.
“You should get that.” Lucas stood to leave. “Think about my offer, Jacob. And I am very sorry about your sister.”
“What about my …?” But Lucas was gone before Jacob could finish his question.
The phone rang again, and he picked it up. “Hello?”
“Jacob. This is mom.” Her voice sounded weak, as though she had been crying. “There’s been an accident.”
“Yes. Your sister. She’s been…” His mother started sobbing.