Contingency Plan – Chapter 1 – Nine days later
Updated: Feb 24
I spoke for the first time in nine days. Nine days ago, my voice – electronically distorted to preclude voice-print analysis and mixed so the lower frequencies were amplified to the point of maximum Darth-Vader authority – had shouted the words, “Fool! You have no idea what you have done!” I happened to be addressing a special meeting of the UN Security Council through a satellite link I had hijacked. From the point-of-view of the UN Security Council, what happened next must have been puzzling. I was surprised as well. Barely escaping from ground zero of the largest man-made, non-nuclear explosion in history was not how I had expected to spend my afternoon.
My larynx wasn’t completely unused for nine days. I often grunted from pain or extreme physical exertion. I screamed at least once that I can recall, but it was only a primal cry of frustration and rage. Because my scream wasn’t a word, it didn’t count as speaking. I cried when I was in the submarine, weeping with loud sobs. But crying isn’t words so it doesn’t count as speaking either.
If you accept my silly rules that define what is and is not speaking, then you’ll have to agree that my larynx was next used to produce speech this morning at a gas station twenty miles outside of Harlan’s Creek, Virginia. I said, “Five dollars on pump four.”
My voice enhancement equipment was currently at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and, I imagine, completely melted from the extreme heat of the rocket exhaust and the subsequent explosion. I had no choice but to use my natural voice, which is quiet, high-pitched, and, frankly, a little nasally.
I’ve had a lot of down-time in the past two hundred sixteen hours (two hundred sixteen is nine times twenty-four. Please try harder to keep up with me). I’ve thought up more rules besides the ones that define what does and does not count as speaking. For example, I’ve invented a new set of accounting rules that address the special circumstances of my becoming the wealthiest human who has ever lived.
According to the accounting procedures I’ve devised to deal with my special financial situation, I was, for a few hours, the world’s first multi-trillionaire. The wealthiest people from the past century never managed to accumulate more than a few hundred billion dollars or so. Even historical figures – conquerors and kings and whatnot – never acquired much more than that. But at my peak of wealth, I was worth $2,612,765,834,456.32. Even after adjusting for inflation, I had been richer than anyone else in history.¹ I had accumulated² more wealth than any human who had ever lived.
I suppose you can look at it another way: Over the past nine days, I managed to lose more wealth than anyone in history. After spending my last five dollars on petrol at the rest area off I-81, I was left with zero dollars. I managed to go from the richest person ever to the poorest that anyone can be. That should count as another sort of record, right?
Many people would be satisfied just being on the all-humanity superlative list at all: richest person ever, most wealth lost by a single individual, subject of the most expensive law enforcement action ever, blah, blah, blah. But, I’m quite a bit farther out on the bell curve than most people. And I believe that I can achieve another all-humanity superlative: best comeback.
I have a plan. Not only did I escape the explosion with my life, but with one hundred kilograms of rhodium borosilica, the world’s most valuable substance. I dragged my specially engineered container of rhodium borosilica through the muck of the shore of the James River and buried it in the forest.
I will lie low until the time is right. Then I will retrieve my buried treasure. And then:
And this time, no meddling fools will stop me.
¹ Yes, yes - I know it has been argued that if you adjust Augustus Caesar’s wealth for inflation you arrive at a figure of approximately four trillion dollars. I’ve looked into this in significant detail, and I have to conclude that the political cost of any expenditure he made in order to increase his power must be factored in. His wealth was not liquid enough to count as being in the multi-trillion dollar range. (Okay, fine. It’s true that I was facing a very serious money laundering problem myself. But if you take a minute to work out the value of my wealth according to the accounting principles I devised, it is still quite clear that I remain the richest person who ever lived.)
² Just to be completely accurate here: when I say “accumulate,” I really mean “extorted.”