Chapter XXIV Many, many years ago but no one knows how many
She thought he would have been excited. But judging from his silence she was wrong. She thought when she told him about the baby, he would elevate her into his world. Again, she was wrong. Instead, his first question seemingly burned a hole in her heart.
“You sure it’s mine?” he asked in such a low tone it took a moment for her to process his words. They sat on a park bench in the dark. Nothing new there, the only time he met her was in the dark of the night.
“Of course,” she forced a laugh. What a silly question. “Who else would it be?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Could be anyone’s really.” He didn’t even look at her.
She could feel her cheeks burn red. “No, it can only be yours.”
“I don’t know that,” he said. “Did you do this on purpose?” he asked clipping his words.
“No,” she looked down. “I haven’t told my parents yet. My dad is going to kill me,” she looked at him again, “and maybe you.”
“It’s your word against mine,” he finally looked at her with such rage in his eyes she could almost feel the heat. “Who is he going to believe? Who is anyone going to believe?”
He stood up with such force that she almost rose to her feet also. “I definitely don’t date two-timing tramps.”
No, she couldn’t stand. She couldn’t move. It took a moment for her to catch her breath. She watched him walk off. For the first time in her life, she felt utterly alone.
Her father didn’t react much better. She was quickly sent away to live with “Aunt Edna” for a while. It was actually a home for unwed mothers. By the time her baby boy was born she had transferred all the hate and hurt she felt to the tiny child. She couldn’t even look at him. When the nurse asked what she wanted to name him she replied simply “Kid.” A few days later, she was well enough to leave and she left without her boy. She left him and thought she could resume her life. Of course, she was wrong. Everyone seemed to know who Aunt Edna really was. Instead, she ended up running away before graduation and no one in the community – family included – heard from her again.
Meanwhile, Kid grew up in the orphanage. An odd child, he never showed love or felt love. He relished in coldness and aloofness. It was no secret he was a bright child and a quick learner, he just never learned how to accept love.
Until he turned fifteen. It was a pivotal moment in his life. The type of moment he would have recounted years later to others if he had any normal tendencies at all. But he didn’t, so he never shared this moment with anyone.
When he turned fifteen, he sat in science class. His teacher, Mr. Peterson, was an enthusiastic soul. He claimed there would come a time when man could actually manipulate biology and perhaps extend the life expectancy of man. Imagine, living forever, or at the very least, many years past the current life expectancy. Maybe a hundred years or more.
Kid had never given much thought to life. He was, however, acutely aware of death and it scared him. From that moment on, he thought if anyone should live forever it should be him. Life hadn’t dealt him a good hand so far. It owed him. He would be the one to cheat death.
His science partner, Jacob, laughed. “Yeah right, this guy is a quack.”
Kid laughed, too. Jacob was a good looking, popular student. As a fifteen-year-old, Kid desperately want to be Jacob’s friend. Though he never admitted it. In truth, he probably never recognized it. It was an innate longing to be accepted, to belong somewhere.
Unfortunately, Jacob never reciprocated any of Kid’s attempts. Jacob’s circle of friends never included Kid’s. But that didn’t keep Kid from idolizing his classmate. He awkwardly tried to copy Jacob’s mannerisms. When that didn’t work out, he did the only thing he could. After graduation, Kid became known as Jacob. To finish the transformation, he took his science teacher’s surname. Hence, Jacob Peterson was born when he was eighteen years old.
Two things motivated Jacob Peterson. Making money because he never wanted to live in poverty again and figuring out how he could live forever. It didn’t take long to discover his first goal would be the means of achieving his second goal. He learned money made power and power could accomplish anything. Through a series of questionable business practices, he made his first million by the time he was forty. He wasn’t done yet. By the time he was fifty, he hovered around the billion-dollar mark. His list of crimes slightly less but almost evenly matched.
The fasciation his science teacher sparked so many years ago was always in the back of his mind. He hired scientists that dabbled in such things as cell regeneration and slowing down cell growth. Most of the research could not be approved for distribution but that didn’t stop him from allowing himself as a willing volunteer.
It seemed like he actually was able to pay for the ability to live forever. For him, it was an acceptable cost.
But then everything came crashing down. He suffered a heart attack. For the first time in many years, he thought of his own mortality. He might actually die. This was not acceptable.
He had heard about a scientist named Buttlefeld whose name was whispered in underground circles. Along with the words “crazy” and “mad.” It seems this man was on the same track as Jacob. He was trying to develop something called the Samson Pill. When he first heard the rumors, Jacob agreed with the rumors, Buttlefeld was crazy. After his heart attack though, he dismissed nothing. He kept his ear to the door, so to speak, to see if this went from myth to fact.
In the meantime, he took other measures to preserve his legacy. If he couldn’t live on, his name would. His blood would. Ironically, in his efforts to preserve his own life he deteriorated his chances to produce an heir. All those experimental injections slowed down his cell growth but they also made him nearly sterile. It would take even more money and more drugs for him to have at least one child. Luckily, he had the money and could get the drugs needed.
When he was about sixty, he married his twenty-year-old secretary. Love was not a factor, he just needed an heir to his now vast empire. Much to his disappointment, they had a daughter. Shortly after, his wife tried to leave him. Unfortunately, before she could leave, she was in a tragic car accident and killed. He was left with a baby daughter he had no affection for. When she was old enough, she was sent to boarding school. He didn’t see her once from the ages of five to sixteen. Not one time.
Not being around her father allowed her to develop normal emotions. She laughed. She felt happiness. And unlike her father, she could fall in love. Which she did. She married shortly after leaving school and had a baby boy. When Jacob found out about the boy he became exited. He had an heir!
By this time his daughter had an idea what kind of man her father truly was. She didn’t want anything to do with him or his fortune. It was blood money as far as she was concerned. She and her husband hid from her father for a couple of years. But Jacob had unlimited resources. He found them. It wasn’t long after that his daughter and son-in-law were killed in a tragic accident. His grandson came to live with him. But as fate never seemed to care much for Jacob, it threw a wrench in his plans. His grandson – his sole heir – had cystic fibrosis.
But he would fight fate back. A couple of years earlier, he had learned that Buttlefeld may actually have succeeded in developing his pill. Thus started the long pursuit of chasing the pill. It always seemed to be one step ahead of him. Until it fell into the hands of a police officer. A small obstacle to be sure. The officer was no match for Jacob.
Even after the police officer fell into the river while holding the pill Jacob didn’t give up hope. First, he tried to track down Buttlefeld’s notes but the scientist was as paranoid as he was brilliant. He didn’t leave a lot of copies of his work and the few trails he did leave were destroyed. Even a notebook that Jacob suspected had been hidden in a motel room had vanished. A maid cleaning the room had tossed it out like it was ordinary garbage. The stupid woman!
A disk with his work had also been lost. Much like Jacob’s hope. But that only lasted a little while. His sources had discovered the police officer did not, in fact, die in the river. He had been rescued and now pursued Jacob.
At first, Jacob was annoyed to learn that the police officer was still alive. However, he was the type of man to engage fully in warfare and when Ant Luck drew his attention he learned some interesting facts. Such as Ant Luck had a sister that he had visited the night of their meeting. Luck did not reach out to the sister after he had been pulled from the river. Instead, he changed his identity and hid from her. Why?
It was curious behavior. The more Jacob studied Ant the more certain he became that Luck was hiding something. Something big like the Samson Pill. At any rate, it wouldn’t hurt to look.
The sister and nephew were not supposed to be home the night he sent his man in to look around. The husband, apparently, had canceled their plans for the evening. It made no difference to Jacob whether they were home or not. He needed to have a look in that house. Even though they were home he went through with the plan. His guy went into the home to find the pill and killed Luck’s sister. It made it messy and a little more difficult to clean up but not impossible.
The only bad thing about the whole ordeal was he ended up empty handed. The pill was not there. He was so sure it would be found but he was wrong. That didn’t happen often, him being wrong, so he didn’t know how to accept defeat.
But then, a few years later, another rumor started. A young man traveled the world who was brilliant and having a good time. His antics reached Jacob’s ears. At first, he dismissed it. But the more he heard the more he listened. When the young man who turned out to be the boy from the house he invaded so many years ago Jacob began to watch him out of curiosity. And when Cooper started working for Ant Luck, Jacob conducted a thorough background search.
Wasn’t it interesting that Cooper had a host of health problems as a young man and then one day – almost overnight – stunned his local medical health community by healing? His name appeared in several medical journals. How was it possible?
Jacob thought he knew.
A few years before he figured out Cooper’s secret, he had the foresight to take drastic measures. He needed a healthy heir to preserve his bloodline. So, hired team of medical professionals to “take care” of his grandson. His grandson was injected with serum to slow his heart and then placed in a cryonic chamber. Once he had Cooper’s perfect Samson Pill DNA flowing through him his grandson would be revived. He’d be perfect. Jacob’s blood would live on. His legacy would continue. It was the next best thing to living forever.
Fortunately for him, Cooper was coming right for him. All he had to do was wait.
And now, his wait was over. Cooper Baldwin stood right in front him.