5 How to slap a mogul around
Your door clicks, you swivel in your chair, to greet ... whom? Your son? Brother? Wife, down from Westchester, in town on a whim? But no: you start in your chair, to see a figure enter, dressed in a black suit, softly close the door and turn its gaze on you. It's thin, pretty, watchful, with big brown eyes that hold your gaze in silence as it pulses like a cat through the stretch of space between you. "Forgive me for intruding," the figure speaks and glides to a halt the other side of your desk. "My name is Jaymi. You're busy, I'm aware, but I shan't be long."
—And before Marc Albright can reflect, we are sitting face to face, either side of his desk. His corporate suit is topped by a head that is solid, wide; the face flattish, white, in its sixties, with clear grey eyes of bird-like brightness. I imagine that his perky half-smile would change little, whether it heralded a business handshake, a brutal put-down or an anecdote at a dinner table after his plate had been cleared by unnoticed hands. He shakes his head. "Who are you?" he barks.
I haven't planned this, but as I hoped, I know exactly what to say: "Marc, look harder. You'll remember."
He looks harder indeed, and just like music, I make us both focus on a scene from his internal landscape. The scene is startling and vivid, and for him clearly "primal" in some deep way. I watch him while he thinks of it; and while he stares at me, the eyes of that figure stare him down—the eyes from the ballroom party, just as they stared him down across that crowded ball without a warning, cutting straight through the heads of a hundred other guests when he turned to fill his champagne glass—eyes he'd not expected but had known before, from somewhere. Singled out and pinned where he stood, glass in hand, he knew that he was powerless against this figure, though no one else seemed to be aware of it at all. Never since that evening in the ballroom has its blazing golden gaze left his memory. The figure seemed above the crowd, its eyes strangely one: Marc felt as if he stared at a great gold Cyclops three metres high, sprouting horns like a Baphomet's, its claws hanging down resting easy on the grey heads carpeting the ballroom, its heavy eye transfixing him—
"Stop!" he cries.
"Yes, Marc," I murmur. "I can fuck with your head—so listen hard. But I'm not here just for that. I'm here for enchantment, and for business. Your ballroom remains yours and mine alone to know about. But everyone has primal scenes and private screams and radioactive mines, like yours. Their own magic ballrooms, wonderful and terrible, which everyday life tends to cancel and destroy." He eyes make me think of a hunted baby eagle, as I turn up the pressure. "When I turn on the gaze I aimed at you just now, those who look at me will not look away until I let them, as I'm lighting up their scenes in burning bloodlight like they've never seen before." I pause, to let this statement sink in—into me as well as into him, since I'm learning with amazement while I speak. I lean in towards him and raise the voltage still higher, until he's pinned onto his seat. "And the hundreds of millions who don't dare look at their own scenes will be forced to look—d'you hear me, Marc? Self-knowledge breeds thinking and compassion, every time, across the world. That's evolution, that's enlightenment of mankind, facing into cold dark space as we are. You and I are pushing out and upward at the forefront of a species we must teach, for time is short. And listen closely now"—and his fingers grip his desk, as I walk with the angels here—"you can make them look at me and learn what they need to learn from inside themselves. You're among the few who can ensure that they look at me, for you run the biggest broadcast network in the world, don't you, Marc? Let's work together, therefore, and drag our species upward just a little. Let's realise that aim, because together you and I possess the means for it. You know this is your duty. I can see that you do." I lower my voice again, to a level tone of business. "So listen to me now, Marc: following publicity in every market globally, you'll present a prime-time broadcast of that gaze of mine—just a close-up—with worldwide exposure. Everyone will view it very differently, I promise you, but everyone will view it ... and you'll reap unheard-of profits, as you're also recognising right now. Yes, you're correct, the nuts and bolts will be a challenge, but the big picture is that you know very well we do have the power to achieve this, don't we? Do you understand?" My gaze grips him mercilessly, one more second, then I let him go.
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THE IMAGINATION THIEF (mini-chapters 1-98)Fantasy
"The Imagination Thief" by Rohan Quine is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people's imaginations and memories. It's about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split bet...