“What the fuck is Genesis?” Will Smart demanded through clenched teeth and around a cigar. He stood at the head of a table at which his directors, as well as his marketing and PR advisors, were sitting. They look like they’re about to cry, he thought. Well, they damned well should be terrified—what a bunch of retards. We have shit right under our noses and they can’t smell a thing. Will had just started a few farms around Woudj, and this had brought word of a disturbing development, but no one else in the room seemed to understand how dangerous this new company could be, with its crops sitting right next to EatSmart’s SOFs.

He cleared his throat, inhaled deeply, and exhaled a cloud of smoke that smelled like palm trees. He flicked the cigar, let ash fall to the floor, and finally sat down in a chair upholstered in dark leather. He made himself comfortable and put his feet, clad in nubuck boots, on the edge of the table. After a while he crossed one leg over the other. He stretched and glanced out the window at Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube. The bridge joining Pest with Buda was crowded, as always. Will enjoyed watching the cars move along streets that had been renovated just a few years before. They looked like ants carrying supplies to their anthill—and he was the undisputed king of the nest. Everyone had to reckon with him. But now, suddenly, Genesis had appeared out of blue.

“Who the fuck is running it?” Will asked. “And from where?”

“From Woudj apparently, it’s a Polish company,” said one of the directors. “They just built an office there. In record time, too—didn’t even take the whole 2017 calendar year. About nine months, I think. Must have cost a fortune.”

“It’s really a masterpiece!” said a marketing specialist. “Two hundred and forty five floors—the tallest building in Woudj by far. And it’s one of the most interesting architectural projects in a long time.”

“Shut up!” Will snapped, but the marketing guy seemed not to hear.

“Organic lines, like Gaudi, but with elements of high-tech. Really stunning! They used segments of automatic blinds, air conditioners, and iron beams as ornaments, making a repeating pattern on the plane of the wall—like a mosaic. Glass tunnels with networks of multicolored wires and power leads, accenting the biomorphic lines. Lots of mirrored surfaces. The overall picture is so natural, it looks like the building just sprouted up after gestating in the earth for a century. Really, it’s a masterpiece.” He handed Will some photos.

“Moron!” Will said, but he didn’t throw the man out—maybe amid all the irritating details about the building the idiot would actually come up with something useful. He looked briefly at the pictures and had to admit that the building looked awfully good—which only made him angrier. Shining letters, made from pieces of semi-finished iron welded together, spelled out the name “Genesis”—a name that was starting to drive him crazy. “Anything else?” he asked. “Besides all this horseshit?”

“There are two side buildings,” someone else at the table said. “Probably for labs, plus a dozen greenhouses. They’ve also got some farmland, which they keep walled off and covered with a protective net—we’re figuring it’s to keep away birds and insects.”

“That’s just fucking great! Are they beautiful, too?” Will asked sarcastically.

“Stunning,” the marketing specialist said absent-mindedly. It was too much for Will.

“Get out!” he yelled so loudly that everyone around the table flinched. “Now!” The man got up. He looked like he wanted to say something, but seemed to give up on the idea and simply left. “One more time,” Will said. “Details, I want goddamned details!”

“They seem to be getting on well with Prime Minister Lasota and the government agencies,” someone down the table volunteered. “Lasota attended the grand opening of their headquarters, along with a bunch of city officials and some people from local industry. You know, before Genesis Woudj was a kind of business Bermuda Triangle—it killed every company that tried to set up there. Nothing could ever get off the ground.”

“Why?”

“Well, industry there wasn’t competitive. It was mostly garments, and they couldn’t compete with China. The main producers went bankrupt, and the rest recorded losses. That pushed unemployment up.” He shrugged. “After that the local young people started to leave en masse—went to England, Ireland, Canada. They took their close relatives with them—and sometimes not just the close ones. Whole areas in Woudj were dying out. Small companies couldn’t find the employees they needed, so a lot of them were looking at bankruptcy. They were all bracing for some kind of final crash, and then Genesis came along. It’s no wonder the company got the land practically for free, plus a whole load of benefits—tax breaks, grants, stuff like that. They saved the whole region. And the first thing they did was put up that building.”

Will was silent for a while. He rocked his feet from side to side, then sighed.

“But what are they up to, besides building their disco skyscraper? Anybody? We know they’re here, we know they might pose a danger, but I need details! Did any of you prepare for this meeting?”

Everyone seemed to be staring at the tabletop—nobody spoke. I have to take care of everything by myself, as always, Will thought, irritated. No details. That’s just great. What am I paying them for?

“Genesis,” he intoned with distaste, inhaling cigar smoke. “We have to do something about it.”

Three voices chimed in at once to agree. A pack of morons, Smart thought.

“Let’s handle them before they cause us serious trouble,” he said, and put his cigar out in a crystal ashtray with a single, swift motion. “I need to know the names and objectives of the projects they’re running—immediately! Am I making myself clear? I want information right fucking now, and if I don’t get it I will turn your lives into a goddamned nightmare!”


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