Sometime in the not to distant future—
Carter Hartley, CEO of the largest pharmaceutical research company on the West Coast
skimmed over the last page of the electronic report and tossed the data pad onto his desk. The
pad slid across the polished, antique rosewood and came to a stop scant inches from the far edge
of the huge desk. “I don’t see how they can blame us for any of this,” he said to the other man in
Hudson Clarke stood silently, lost in thought with his back to the desk, gazing out of floor
to ceiling windows at the city, sixty-two floors below him. When he finally spoke, it was softly,
as if he was speaking only to himself. “Do you know how many people in the world could care
less about our petty problems?”
“What?” Carter asked, not understanding how the question pertained to the report.
“Damn near all of them,” Hudson replied, still speaking softly. “And yet, do you have
any idea how many people in the world are going to become frantic to be involved with this
project when the results of that report become widely known?” he asked. “Damn near all of
them,” Hudson answered his own question after a short pause.
Carter sighed, but didn’t say anything else. He was used to his friend and partner’s
peculiar mood swings and found that if he just ignored Clarke’s unusual verbal meanderings, he
would eventually come back down to earth.
True to form, after a few more minutes of silent contemplation, Hudson turned from
the window and moved over the plop his lanky frame down in one of the heavy upholstered
chairs that faced the desk. “You missed the whole point of the report, Carter,” he began, as if no
time had passed since Hartley had finished reading the report.
“Explain it to me.”
“You’ve heard of California’s giant redwoods, haven’t you?” Clarke asked from behind his
long, steepled fingers.
“Of course I’ve heard of them,” Carter stated. Though his offices were only a few hours
from the very trees Hudson was talking about, Hartley had never taken the time to visit the forest
of huge, ancient trees. His business had always kept him too busy to take time off for any sort of
vacation, let alone one that would take him away from the creature comforts he had become so
used to. “What about them?”
Now it was Clarke’s turn to sigh. Deeply. “It was in the report, Carter,” he said, trying
not to sound too exasperated. “Some of those trees live to be over two thousand years old.”
Carter seemed unimpressed, so Hudson continued. “About twenty years ago, a geneticist in
Northern California discovered the gene in the Sequoias that slowed down cell degeneration. It
appeared that it was this gene that helped the trees live as long as they do.”
Now Hudson detected a gleam in Carter’s eye. He must have realized that there might be some
way to make a profit from this information, but Clarke plowed ahead with his story before Carter
could sidetrack him.
“While that discovery was considered a breakthrough in some scientific circles, nothing was
done with it at the time and after a while it was just filed away and essentially forgotten about,
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