Creston Fulmont Jr. smiled at his computer’s monitor. Wall Street was loving his layoff of one-third of Fulprise Corp.’s employees. The company’s stock would likely set a record by the end of the day.
He looked up and continued to smile at the long rows of gold-framed magazine covers that bore his face. A more introspective man would have been at least mildly curious about having his face on the cover of Seventeen, but Fulmont took it as his due.
He’d gone farther in the business world faster than anyone else. He’d taken a small-town hole-in-the-wall consignment shop that specialized in used shoes and built a trillion-dollar multinational corporation in only five years. He owned homes, yachts, jets, and had been married twice before he realized that was more expensive than merely renting.
He watched the screen again and Fulprise’s stock shot up another few points. Fulmont cackled in glee. He grabbed up his calculator to see how big a bonus he would be able to cadge for himself.
He entered some not-unlikely numbers and hit the equals button.
“What?” That made no sense; he’d entered larger numbers than that.
Fulmont cleared the display and started over.
He cursed a little, and then shut off the calculator and turned it back on. He pushed the rubber buttons once again.
“What kind of stupid, damned calculator is this?” he shouted to the room. He tossed the little device onto his desk and it spun halfway around to give him a different view of the display.
He suddenly felt cold and his stomach cramped.
He looked at his desk calendar. Was today Thursday? Yes. The 16th. Five years to the day.
“No,” he said to the calculator. “You’ve gotta give me more time. I’m the greatest! I’m the best thing in business! You gotta give me more time. Please! Please! I’m begging! Don’t take me!”
The calculator was unimpressed.
Fulmont felt himself going and screamed. It would turn out to be good practice.
When his secretary rushed in, she found her boss slumped over onto the desk; his eyes bulged and his tongue lolled out of his mouth.
She also noted a faint whiff of something acrid and a calculator whose answer appeared, as seen from the chair, to spell the word “hELL.”