The towering compound structure of the Planet People served as a haven for the visitors who came from far and wide to meet once a year for their Giant Insect Gathering. It was party time for the giant creatures and feasting time for their followers.
The massive structure was filled with the gathering of the largest giant insects in the universe. The life span of a giant insect varies in length depending on its planet of origin. The Planet People were from a distant galaxy and lived a grand old age of five hundred years and some lasted well over one thousand.
They were huge creatures and as one met them, it would be hard not to run away quickly, with or without running fast.
They were huge creatures of flesh and bone who held nearly two hundred pounds on the x-ray scanners routinely used on anything that acted as a prospect for invasion. Their entourage was non-shy but wasn’t particularly aggressive either.
They were docile creatures, infested with honey of their own, and clouded the pack beasts. They never actually faced a curious beast and decided that the beasts wouldn’t be interested in their presence.
Their bumblebee-like friends buzzed into the gathering and the crowd murmured loudly, with their arms jutted out, pointing at the invading swarm.
‘We won’t let these aliens take this planet,’ the Planet People said in unison.
Then they heard the buzzing loud drone in the screaming mass of bee-like creations as they buzzed in and out of many of the Planet People’s mouths.
‘Please don’t do this to us,’ the Planet People pleaded with the invaders of the coming swarm, who built nests in their mouths and the sound of their buzzing was the sound of a choir, humming.
Gray stood at the entrance to conference room seven, the main hall of the Paladino Corporation, the largest architectural company on the planet and over the years, it had been to many planets. The company was a fixture in both the personal and corporate worlds. Not quite as practiced in the political world, its focus was limited to the building of anything that had been designed by its namesake.
The private theater was almost done. It was protected from the roof, floors, and walls by the sound system. The first two sets of curtains engaged the speaker mounted outside the door and the curtains would close once the speaker was engaged with the movie playing on the company’s main conference TV network.
A very tall, lean, gray-haired man with a tanned face and a well-trimmed goatee stood at the door of the conference room. His shirt read ‘Paladino Corporation’ underneath his name and his position there was Senior Vice President of Architecture.
The man was greeted by a sterile female go-between, who opened the door. She smiled and immediately held a finger up to her lips, then gestured with her head, then extended a hand.
The man nodded, then turned and walked into the large, comfortable seating area.
The whisper, though heard by everyone present, was not meant to be heard, but the action of the woman’s lips, combined with the nodding of the man was equivalent to the sign language of yes.
‘Is the room soundproof?’ he asked.
‘It is,’ she whispered.
‘Alright, gentlemen, let’s get started,’ he said as he moved around to the other side of the long, elegant table to the large, winged black leather chair behind the table, intentionally straddling the front of the table to look over his audience.
The men were in a small, packed conference room elevating them, as it were, to the level of the man standing over them.
A neatly pressed, tall, white-haired man who, along with his taller and leaner colleague, was in an immaculate tie and expensive suit stood at the head of the table. ‘I’m Rey Paladino, chairman of the board of the Paladino Corporation and acting chief executive officer. Please sit down, Mr. Gray.’
The man nodded and the others followed.
Rey relaxed in his chair and leaned back, but still had the appearance of being ready at any moment. Mr. Gray studied the man and then sat in the unoccupied seat at Rey’s left, beside an older man who was his official biographer.
Rey was well prepared to discuss the issue they were meeting to discuss, the reason they were meeting, but Gray was not.
Gray recognized his official biographer, Mr. Clark, who he knew under the pen name ‘Hank Perry’. Gray did not write the books, just signed off on them and arranged some of the royalties paid.
Rey was an unusual person and several of the others knew him and respected him. He was tall and slender, but with tanned white skin, his beard only a thin line, just under the length of his face and he had blue eyes that were often described as alabaster. He was striking, but few people knew the real Rey Paladino. He was an expert businessman and an item when it came to the allocation of capital and construction management, but many people would believe he was only one of many.
‘Who are you, Mr. Gray?’ he asked.
‘Why are you here?’
‘Honestly, I don’t know my name.’
‘There is a paper that was shoved into my pocket, but I have no idea where I’m from.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I woke up in an alley after a wild party last night and I don’t know where I’m from or who I really am. I don’t even know how old I am.’
‘Don’t know? You’re not even thirty?’
‘Something like that.’
‘It seems very odd to me, Mr. Gray. A thirty-year-old man waking up from a wild party and unable to identify himself.’
‘Really. Where an event like that happens and he can’t, you would expect a wild party response, not this.’
Rey held up his hands. ‘Are you here on a business proposition, Mr. Gray?’
‘I would like to be.’
‘Then, by all means, please proceed.’
Gray sat motionless for a moment. ‘I don’t know who I am.’
‘You are Mr. Gray.’
‘I know, but who am I? What did I do?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘How did I get here?’
‘You came here.’
‘Not who I am.’
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