Jen & Jan's Box (Chapter 2)
Behind The Storm
Benjamin Baker sat in the center of his plush living room, sipping on a glass of white wine, staring into the flickering flames from the fireplace in front of him. They provided warmth and light that stretched to the opposite end of the room not far from the kitchen behind him. While the rest of the citizens of Auburn Hills sat in a frozen blackout due to the storm, he enjoyed all of his utilities. A crooked crept across his thin lips. He was so thrilled his arm shook wildly. To calm his nerves he inhaled deeply, deciding to get up and walk around. Nailed into the stone walls around the room hung large portraits of family members who owned Baker Mansion before him. Near his chair in the corner beside the window hung a picture of his father, a bearded pale man with a short neck and bald head. Glaring into the picture, memories of his father flashed across his brain. “You’re a hard headed know it all. You’ll never amount to anything,” he heard his father’s raspy voice. More painful memories flowed before his eyes. When he graduated elementary and high school, even after a Masters in college, his father always had something negative to say. Fists clenched, a hard lump formed in his throat and he suddenly felt too ill to finish off his drink. He thought, All I wanted was a “Good job son, I’m proud.” You old stubborn bastard, I bet you’re proud now!
“Right?!” he bellowed at the picture, spilling his wine on the violet carpet that covered the floor.
Below it sat a wooden case of trophies and other awards. Several more were stacked into other corners, joining marble statues, weapon stands and a flat screen television. They all shined in the fire’s light. At least he knew his mother and sister, who were overseas visiting the Queen of England, would be proud. He settled on calling them later, envisioning how they would congratulate him on bringing even more fame and wealth to the family. The invention cooking up in his basement right now was going to make him bigger than the internet.
“A weather machine!” he shouted triumphantly. He was going to call the Weatherizer, a machine that could take a tiny percent of the air and create storm clouds of any kind, using the molecules within it while creating new ones. He imagined commercials, infomercials, guest appearances on big television shows, press conferences, becoming mayor of Auburn Hills. His excitement caused him to choke on another sip of wine, coughing loudly and spilling more into the carpet. Don’t wanna croak before I even see the check, he chuckled to himself after catching his breath. The first machine created was responsible for the ugly storm outside and the news and other media outlets were already in a frenzy, reporting on snow falling over the town in the middle of April. One of the recent questions that cracked him up was, “Snow in April: End of the world, or freak of Mother Nature?”
He strolled down the wide corridors of his home, lit by lamps sitting on small tables next to bowls of fruit and plastic models of world attractions, like the Eiffel Tower, or the White House. Often he would run into a butler who asked if he needed anything. He couldn’t resist gazing into a bronze mirror hanging alongside one of the bathrooms during his walk. Deciding to check himself out, he tightened the scarlet belt of his robe and lightly brushed a hand through his slick dark hair with a cocky grin.
“No please, thank you America.” He said.
His basement was big enough to turn into a small factory for the production of The Weatherizer. Benjamin paid top dollar for the best of everything. Hundreds of scientists worked all day, inventing equipment. The room was crowded with labs, offices and manufacturing machines to aid workers. They beeped, glowed, some produced, printed out sheets and others calculated things the human brain wouldn’t consider thinking about. A lanky man dressed in a lab coat and goggles approached him as he made his way downstairs into the room.
“How’s it going down here?” he asked. The scientist wiped sweat from his brow, removing goggles from his eyes and handed him a lab coat.
“New batch just came out of the oven. If you think the first one was ground breaking, wait till’ you see these.”
He led him through the factory into an closet where a giant refrigerator sat in the center. Thick ice covered the entire room. Joining long icicles stuck to the ceiling. He felt his nuts shrink some inches, goose bumps rising on his skin. Pulling out a small remote from his pocket, the scientist pressed a button and the metal door opened with a loud beep, releasing steam and a blast of frigid air that made him shiver. Puffs of his breath turned into light smoke, evaporating into the air. Piled into rows of four inside, stood over a dozen steel boxes no bigger than an ordinary freezer, each one had a gleaming red light attached to its top.
“Beautiful!” he marveled, patting the machines energetically.
“Together, these babies can produce storms that can cover an entire state.”
Beaming, Benjamin could hardly control himself. He ignored his toes going numb from the cold. He was going to be a billionaire! The power of Mother Nature in my basement! Are you watching this old man? He thought to himself.
“What are we waiting for? Test the hell outta’ them! NOW!”