Part 48 of my third global warming science fiction novel “Last Week”. Link to Part 1: “Back To Paradise Era”.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21 2023 1:37 P.M.
“I have one thing that would seem to be fun,” Satoshi said. “I want to get it done before you’re gone.”
“What would that be?”
“I want to make you win your bet. Remember? You bet John Baker four bucks that he would stop production at the Canadian tar sands before you die.”
“Yes. But we tried this morning. He’s stubborn.”
“Let’s try again. I have an idea.”
“You’ll see. Let’s go and visit him once more.”
Satoshi took out his phone and called John Baker’s office. He got another short appointment without problems. John Baker liked talking to the World’s richest man. Especially if there was some major business for Non Standard Oil involved.
“Thank you, Mr. Baker, for receiving us on such short notice. Again.”
“You’re welcome. I’m always happy to talk to Satoshi Nakamoto. And Your Majesty, Princess Angel from the 24th Century.”
“What? Your Majesty? Have you finally seen the light?” Angel said.
“Of course not. I’m just going along with your publicity stunt. Just as a matter of basic courtesy. I understand it will be over tomorrow. This time for good.”
“And there I was thinking that the hypnotic power of the Glaring Glasses had worked on you after all,” Angel said.
“What is it about that hypnotic power? And why doesn’t it work on me?” John Baker seemed rather interested in the topic. He had studied a lot of hypnotic techniques for magic trick applications.
“I don’t know myself exactly,” Satoshi said. “But I can tell you what I do know.”
“Please do so,” John Baker said.
“Let’s start with that unfortunate incident last week. Where you tried to rob Angel of the Glaring Glasses. It didn’t work. As you may recall, that was a very unpleasant experience for you.”
“I sure do recall that,” John Baker said.
“The way this works, the Glaring Glasses are under my control right now. Princess Angel has transferred that root control to me before she was supposed to die last Tuesday. It’s only possible to do if the person transferring control is willingly doing so, you can’t force someone into doing it. Anybody who tries using the Glaring Glasses without authorization will be quickly dissuaded from the idea.”
“I see. And what about the hypnotic force?”
“One of the powers these Glaring Glasses have is getting anybody in sight under hypnotic mind control. But the weird part is, they don’t work on everyone in that mode. They didn’t work on me. They didn’t work on Senator Nutt. And they didn’t work on you. There’s no way I could just put you under mind control. And there’s no way to know if they work or not, short of actually trying.”
“So you don’t know why they don’t work on you? Or me?”
“No. I have no idea. But there is another mode that works all the time, except with the person who has root control. It’s mind reading mode. I would like to try it on you, if you don’t object to the idea.”
“Couldn’t you just do it anyway? Is my consent necessary?” John Baker said.
“I could. I certainly could. But I wouldn’t want to. That would not be appropriate. I need your cooperation for the 24th Century Princess Angel Fund, after all. So, I would like to ask for your kind cooperation. And it’s not a one-sided deal. I had this idea of what I’d like to try. Care to hear about it?” Satoshi said.
“Go ahead,” John Baker said.
“Listen. You go first. You take the Glaring Glasses, and read Princess Angel’s mind. You will find it most interesting. Then it’s my turn. I take them back and read your mind. How about it?”
“I’m not sure I want those Glasses on me ever again,” John Baker said, his face slightly pale.
“It’s safe. You get them with my consent this time. Be advised, though, that that consent is limited to five minutes. You’ll need to give them back before those five minutes run out, or it’s back to the solar cross. I wouldn’t want to give you any funny ideas about trying to keep them,” Satoshi explained.
“I’m not sure,” John Baker said.
“Give it a try,” Angel said. “I don’t mind. This is your one and only chance to read the mind of a 24th Century Princess. Don’t blow it.”
“Okay. Two minutes max. I’ll try it.”
Satoshi handed the Glaring Glasses to John Baker. Satoshi had concealed his eyes under the Glaring Glasses with a veil that allowed him to see through but prevented any security cameras John Baker might have had installed in his office from getting a picture.
Angel sat down right in front of John Baker. He put the Glaring Glasses on.
Instantly, he heard loud rock music playing. Lucky Man, by Emerson Lake and Palmer.
And instantly, he understood that Angel really thought she was a Princess from the 24th Century. She wasn’t lying to him, or to the World.
But he also understood that all of that was an illusion that would end the next day. Angel would wake up as Thusnelda Sneeze, a common girl and clerk in a bookstore.
He couldn’t read anything about the romantic feelings of Angel for Satoshi. That area had been put off limits.
John Baker took the Glaring Glasses off, rather hastily. He didn’t want to risk going over the time limit. He handed them back to Satoshi.
“I am sorry, Your Majesty,” John Baker said. He had decided to go along with the illusion for this last day. That was something he was actually doing on a regular basis when performing magic tricks. “I really am sorry. I now know for a fact that your story was true. You really are Princess Angel from the 24th Century. I am deeply honored to receive your visit today.”
“I forgive you,” Angel said. “It was my fault. I should have done that the first time I came here.”
Satoshi had put the Glaring Glasses back on.
“So, now it’s my turn. You’re ready to go ahead with it?”
“I’m not sure. You’ll be able to see everything I think and feel?”
“I would. But I’m going to restrict access now to everything you think and feel about your business. I’m not interested in your private life.”
“Okay. Let’s do this,” John Baker said.
Satoshi activated the Glaring Glasses and looked into John Baker’s mind.
First off, he saw three things.
One giant dollar sign.
Another giant dollar sign.
And yet another giant dollar sign.
Satoshi concluded that John Baker was interested in making money, and in nothing else.
Then, somewhat in the background, he saw some interest in magic, especially in hypnotic effects, and a lot of experience in using them to his advantage in business negotiations.
Satoshi deactivated the Glaring Glasses.
“Thank you. Here is what I saw. Nothing of it is really news to me, but for the record, I saw three giant dollar signs. I understand you have some interest in making money, which makes sense for someone in your position.”
“Did you see anything about his thoughts on the Canadian tar sands?” Angel asked.
“Actually, no,” Satoshi said.
“I can tell you my thoughts on that,” John Baker said. “They haven’t changed. I’m not going to stop production there.”
“Of course you won’t. You would lose four dollars in your bet with Princess Angel,” Satoshi said, grinning.
“I see,” Angel said. “I lost. I brought four dollar bills. Here you are.”
She took four dollar bills out of her pocket.
“Wait a minute,” Satoshi said. “You might still win.”
“I don’t think so,” John Baker said.
“This bet doesn’t say how long you need to stop production. What if you just announce now that you will stop production for exactly one day tomorrow, in honor of Princess Angel’s death?”
“Why should I do that?”
“Well, for one, I would like to see Angel win this last bet. It doesn’t mean much in the big picture, but it would be a nice thing to do for her on her last day. Don’t you agree? But there’s another side to it.”
“I see. I probably could go along with that. What’s that other side?”
“You could see how the markets react to your announcement. We have already seen some reactions to our own announcements related to the 24th Century Princess Angel Fund.”
“Yes. I have seen that. Oil is already up in price by twelve dollars over last week, even though you haven’t bought the first barrel yet with your new multi-trillion dollar fund. People are starting to figure your activities into their market analysis,” John Baker said.
“What does that price increase of twelve dollars mean for your profits? Do you think they might go up because of it?”
“Of course they’re going to go up. We’re in the business of selling oil. We like high prices.”
“Listen. Announce a one-day production stop at the Canadian tar sands right now. Look what that will do to the oil price and your profits. I think they will go up by at least another four dollars. You’ll be able to pay Angel, and then some.” Satoshi grinned again.
“I see. You have me cornered. I must admit it. Let’s try that little experiment. Congratulations. You got yourself a one-day production stop at the Canadian tar sands. And I’m going to announce it officially as in honor of Princess Angel, the valiant girl from the 24th Century that gave her life to warn us about the dangers of the Moros 27 asteroid. If it really gets prices up, I might even make it a regular holiday each year.”
John Baker ordered his assistant to prepare a short announcement. Then he took out his wallet, slowly counted out four dollars, and handed them over to Angel.
“Congratulations, Your Majesty. You win your bet. I wish you the best for the last day of your life.”
Link to part 49: Last Week’s End