Flash Fiction on Scribblers
This is my effort for this week’s flash fiction thread on Scribblers with the prompt “take over, take-over, or takeover”. Isabelle and Hans are characters from a previous tale, though the subject matter is a difficult one to fit into 1000 words. I managed to stay under. Unplugged!
Flash Fiction on Scribblers
The Worldwide Alliance of Holistic Medicine was a secret society whose leading members included experts on traditional herbal therapy, doctors, academicians, and practitioners from different countries. Receiving grants from the supporters of alternative medicine and homeopathy, the Alliance had formed Terra Plc, twenty years ago. A Hong Kong based company, that launched its operations trading commodities from China.
Established as reputable company in South East Asia, Terra had begun its discreet acquisition scheme on Dewey Pharmaceuticals stocks to carry out the mission of the Alliance to defeat Big Pharma and its followers in the health industry. Starting with small subsidiaries in Asia and South America, Terra invested in the shares of the associates indirectly linked to the parent holding, Dewey, whose global operation map was more intricate than a spider’s web.
This coincided with the untimely deaths of some herbal practitioners in the US and Europe, who had found cures for illnesses conventional medicine failed to heal. Although the involvement of Big Pharma was never proved, the unexpected demise of these healers rose questions and led to conspiracy theories.
The initial acquisitions in the lowest branches of its organization chart went unnoticed by Dewey, as it continued to invade the global market with its American, European, and Asian partners. However, a decade later, the second biggest player in the pharmaceutical scene had serious concerns.
Hans-Ludwig Schiller, the President of Dewey, tapped his fingers on his mahogany desk, his gaze shifting from the company report lying before him to the view of Lake Geneva through the open window. He picked up the phone and called, Isabelle, his CEO and mistress. “Drop whatever you’re doing and come to my office immediately.”
Isabelle stepped in, dressed in a cream and pale pink tweed Chanel suit. Her blonde hair pulled into a tight chignon accentuated her violet eyes lined with dark kohl. He motioned her to the chair in front of the desk and slid the report towards her. “I want you to find out who’s behind these acquisitions. You’re the only person I can trust. Do whatever you must, employ all necessary methods. Bribery, bullying, using your femininity and creativity. Keep me up to date and don’t discuss this with anyone else. Delegate all other work to your deputies and say you’re working on a private project for me. I need results fast.”
Isabelle picked up the report and flicked through its pages. Looking into Hans’ steel-blue eyes behind the frameless spectacles, she said, “They’re copying our methods. The buyers seem like independent companies, but I’m sure there is a single entity behind it. They’re probably using a shareholding network to follow their plans.”
“Exactly my thoughts. The holistic lobby might be behind this. They receive considerable grants from various offshore trusts which are difficult to trace. You need spies to investigate this.”
“I’ll find the right people, Hans. We have contacts.”
“Get on with it then, before we lose the rest of the company.”
Isabelle rose and walked around the desk. She placed her hand on Hans’ shoulder and kissed him softly on the cheek. Running her hand over his silver cropped hair, she spoke in a confident voice. “Trust me.” She turned around and left the room.
Isabelle decided to work from her house facing the lake. On her computer screen, she scrolled down the list of market investigators. The name Weber & Weber rang a bell. She looked through their website, tapped their number on her mobile, and insisted on an urgent appointment with Franz Weber she had contracted before. Sworn to secrecy, these international market detectives boasted of the latest technology and contacts to carry out the required work.
Later that afternoon, sitting opposite Franz, Isabelle filled him in on the details. “I want the results very fast. Money is not an issue. I’ll pay whatever it takes to have the information on at least a few companies who bought these shares. You can carry on with the rest after giving me some solid leads.”
Franz clasped his hands together, debating the pressures of timing. “Madame Duncan, you do realize such investigations require a great deal of meticulous work. I don’t wish to make false promises and mislead you. ”
“Do your best, Mr Weber. You’ll be reimbursed for all extra services.”
As soon as Isabelle received the required intelligence, she flew to locations where the listed companies were located. Equipped with a variety of wigs, coloured contact lenses, and a wardrobe to hide her identity, Isabelle visited each establishment under false pretences to extract information from the executives. Loyal associates of the Alliance did not leak vital information, nor did they respond to Isabelle’s seductive charms. Some of them had unfortunate car accidents, some died of food poisoning, yet the Alliance resisted against the lethal threats.
As data poured in from Franz, she changed countries and persevered in her mission, talking to Hans daily. A year later, Hans called her back. “Enough, Isabelle. Get back here and let’s work on a different plan.”
Seated at the executive office in Lausanne, Hans and Isabelle schemed on an immediate solution, when a tall, young man barged through the door, the security officers at his tail.
“I’m Robert Langford from the Alliance of Holistic Medicine. With the recent acquisitions, we now hold the majority of Dewey shares. An extraordinary board meeting will be held this afternoon and the entire organization will change.”
Hans waved away the security officers and extended his hand to Robert. “Pleased to meet you, Mr Langford. Please have a seat and let’s talk. This is Isabelle Duncan, my CEO.”
Robert shook hands with Isabelle and sat down. “What are your plans, Mr Schiller?”
“Please call me Hans. After the board meeting, Isabelle and I will be taking that long-awaited vacation in the Pacific.”
“Hold on to your stocks, Hans. This company will be a pioneer in the world of holistic medicine, forming a bridge between the conventional and traditional methods for wellness.”