“Not a good idea. These shares are going to crash today, when Wall Street warms up. As the whole stock market, just to be clear. I’d rather look at something different for real profit. Futures, I’d say. Go short on metals.”
She stared at him, bewildered. “It doesn’t make any sense. The market has been bullish for two weeks.”
“You don’t trust me yet – do you, Amanda?”
But his voice sounded amused, instead of annoyed.
“Of course I trust you. You have proved how good you are with forecasting, but…”
“But you can’t believe I’m really who I told you I am. It doesn’t matter. Now, if I may…”
He pushed her aside and started typing on the keyboard. Selling and buying orders began flashing on the screen. It had been two weeks since she had accepted the boy for an internship and she had been amazed by his prodigious intuition. While easily bored with mathematic models, he was accurate and fast whenever it came to make decisions. He had pushed her to hazardous and sometimes counter-intuitive investments without ever being wrong.
“You’re right. I can’t. I have no idea why you’re so successful, but I can’t possibly believe you are who…what you pretend to be.” She said, laughing.
He smiled, a calm smile on his young, almost childish face. “Too bad. You would become richer if you did.” He took her hands and lifted her up from the chair. “Enough of trading for today. I’m hungry, let’s go dining at The Narrow. You buy.” Jumping in excitement, he hauled her outside.
During the short walk across the Docklands riverside, she couldn’t avoid observing his younger colleague. He looked like a teenager, with his jumper, his washed-out jeans, and his invariably cheerful baby-face. She could hardly believe he had already finished college. And yet, a Wall Street seasoned executive would have not performed better than him.
They stopped in front of the restaurant, where a waitress announced they had been incredibly lucky: the place was fully booked for the night, but a reservation had just been cancelled.
“So, what do you make out of this?”
“That you’re lucky, young man. Just like she said.”
“Not lucky. Told you, I’m a god. Get used to it.”
She laughed. Boy is completely nuts. “Come on, Heavenly Lord, let’s go and dine.”
“Holidays? Now? You can’t be serious.”
“I’m always serious, Amanda. Ok, not always. Nonetheless it’s the right time for you to go.”
“There’s money to be made out there.”
“It will still be there when you’re back. Just a few days won’t make any difference.”
“You tell me this out of your preternatural forecasting skills?” She looked at him with a dubious stare.
“No need of them. Common sense would be good enough.” He laughed. “And you have to celebrate.
Impossible to disagree. The market had crashed exactly as the boy had predicted. And following his indications, she had made more money she could ever spend in three lifetimes. Going overseas on a warm seaside destination and pampering herself in a luxury resort seemed just fine.
“Come on. How long has it been since your last holiday? And I won’t even mention dating.”
“I don’t date.”
The alleys of Funchal were dark and steep, like in the ancient times when the Portuguese island was a pirate cove in the Atlantic Ocean. But the seaside was calm, windy and the eucalyptus’ smell inebriating.
Contrary to her wildest expectations, it had been her best vacation ever. She had got the time of her life, and couldn’t help but feel elated.
As his younger friend had promised, Amanda had been dating
indeed, and while she was not sure it was something that could outlast holiday romance, she didn’t care either. It had been a dream week, only spoiled by the theft of her handbag, containing her documents and a few other important items. But who minded trivial stuff? Happiness is not in details, she thought.
Amanda told her date she needed to remain alone for a moment, and went out for a stroll across the beach. She walked alone in the night, her feet in the sand, finally at peace, and that was a new sensation for her. It was maybe due to the serenity of that place, to the amazing colour of the sea, or to the quiet awareness of her success; but she felt well. Accomplished, in harmony with the universe, and for once, not alone. Just free.
She didn’t even pay attention to her difficult breathing or to the growing pain in her chest. She just experienced dizziness and vertigo overcoming her senses. She fell on the black sand, a seagull’s white wings the last image in her eyes.
When she woke up, Amanda found herself in a dimly lit place, plunged in a greenish fog. She lifted her head and looked around. It was not her room. She got up from what looked like a white lined bed and she saw the boy, standing right in front of her. He looked different, dressed with a worn-out cloak and winged boots.
“What are you doing here?”
“You should ask me instead what I’m doing in your life, Amanda. Why I asked to work with you. Did I have anything to learn?”
“I should have known better. Miracles don’t happen, and fairy tales even less. What do you want from me? It can’t be money, you don’t need me for that.”
He shook his blond head with a smile. “You’re wrong. Miracles do happen, it’s just that they work in a different way you people think.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Of course you don’t. You didn’t believe me when I told you who I was, why should you do it now?” He approached, and kept talking to her as he would have done with a child. “When I came to you, you had one month left to live. I made sure you got everything you’ve ever wanted, money, success, fulfilment. Peace. You had it all. Now?” He smiled. “Now it’s time to bring the curtain down. But fear not, Amanda…” He said, extending his hand to her. “I’ll accompany you.”
“To your resting place.”
“Are you here to kill me?” She asked. She was no longer scared, only genuinely puzzled.
“No need to. You’re already dead. I’m only here to take you to Hades.” He bent to kiss her eyes, light as the caress of the wind. “You won’t deny I have done things well though. You had great time, right?”
“Well, since you were at it, you could have avoided the stolen bag.”
He shrugged, a guilty smile on his face. “Conflict of interests. I managed as much I could.”
“I’m the God of traders and thieves. Therefore…”
“I see. Another of your protégées. Do you also make people fall in love?
“I won’t be any good at it. And that’s somebody else’s job. Me, I am what I’ve shown you. Trading and travelling are my domains, with some penchant for nifty tricks and well-executed thefts. But I do help mortals, bringing dreams to inspire their lives. And when they’re done, I accompany their souls to the land of shadow and silence, making sure they won’t suffer.”
“That’s interesting. Actually, that’s great. Something after death is more than what I expected anyway.” She replied, taking his hand and walking with him towards a faint light in the distance. “Tell me, would I be able to trade again once there?”
“I haven’t promised you Heaven, have I?”
Biographical statement: “Russell Hemmell is a statistician and social scientist from the U.K. He’s passionate about astrophysics, SF and the science in SF. His work has appeared in Serious Wonder, PerihelionSF, Amazing Stories and elsewhere.”