Success emanated from the sharp, young visage of Edward Blitz III. At 42, his good looks still served him well, making him an excellent candidate for a campaign manager. His blue eyes gleamed sincerity and his genuine interest for the well-being of the nation could be detected in his facial expressions, always a true companion to his words.
“Progress, Purpose & Power” were his words to live by and the powerfully alliterative advertising slogan for CHIP, which he now murmured under his breath while Sid and Jerry studied the codes on the computer screens in front of them.
Sid Lawler, technology mogul, computer information specialist and self-professed genius, needless to say, was a smart man, and he recognized many of his own qualities in Blitz. Lawler, Blitz and Roberts combined their talents to create Central Headquarters and the Implanted Pins, given the appropriate acronym, CHIP.
Lawler realized the device’s potential to serve a much more subtle purpose than the public was made aware of. By accepting the CHIP, people had willingly placed themselves in the hands of Central Headquarters, which monitored and maintained all CHIP transactions. In addition to accessing and controlling the host’s thoughts, those in charge could also induce sleep in “chipped” citizens, if it be deemed necessary. As head CEOs of CHIP, Lawler, Roberts and Blitz became the gatekeepers of society’s secrets. Although in today’s democratic world, the men were not voted for, nor were they known, they would control the citizens’ destinies.
“We’ve got the whole wor–” Blitz’s song was cut short as Shelby Blitz burst into the room.
“It’s a girl!” she announced, breathless and excited. “I ran all the way over here to tell you! Congratulations Jerry!” Jerry leapt from his seat.
“A girl,” he said with a smile. “Alexis Ryan Roberts.” His wife had insisted on the name, and it sounded okay to him. “May I go see her now?” he asked, his green eyes beaming with pride.
“They’re right behind me,” Shelby told him. “Wait’ll you see the little angel! She’s so beautiful and Cynthia’s radiant.”
“Congrats Roberts,” Ed said with a genuine smile. “You deserve her.”
Sid nodded. “Hope you’re ready to be a father.”
“I do too,” Jerry answered, not sounding completely sure of himself. The pregnancy had been sort of a surprise. It had happened so quickly after they’d been married, but he could adjust to anything, he knew. Less than a year ago he was a bachelor and now, a father. “I guess it was all meant to be,” he had told Ed and Sid when they’d questioned him about rushing things along. They had agreed with him.
Despite his offer to be with her for the birth, Cynthia had insisted that Jerry not be present. “It’s a woman-thing, honey,” she had forcefully explained to him. He wasn’t one to push the issue, but he still wanted her close, so he compromised by setting up the extra wing at Central Headquarters as a birthing room to keep his wife nearby while he continued to work on furthering CHIP’s agenda. Time seemed to be moving so quickly lately, every second counted.
“Cyn, honey,” he approached her as Amy wheeled her smoothly into the boardroom. Cynthia’s face was flushed and radiant. “You’re glowing,” Jerry told her as he bent to kiss her lips. Cynthia smiled at her husband while she cuddled her newborn close to her body.
“A girl,” Jerry whispered, kneeling beside Cynthia to get a closer look at the swaddled baby. “Can I hold her?” Receiving permission from his wife, Jerry picked up the baby and held her at arm’s length in front of him, which prompted a loud wail from his new daughter. He smiled. “Meet Alexis,” he told the gathered group. “Already got something to say from Day 1!” Shelby laughed.
“Just like his father!” Ed told him.
“So how was it Cynthia?” Shelby, who had never had kids, partly because of the fear of pain, wanted to know.
“She was a pro in there,” Amy answered for Cynthia. “And Alexis is perfectly healthy, 7 lbs, 10 oz, ” added Amy. “That’s all that really matters when the labor’s over, is that the baby and mom are healthy.” Shelby looked at Cynthia with wide eyes, hardly comforted by Amy’s avoidance of her actual question.
“The real pro was Amy,” Cynthia informed them. “At one point, I didn’t know if I could do it. ‘I need a C-section,’ I was yelling. But Amy helped me focus and breathed with me, rubbed my back, held my hand and screamed with me,” Cynthia laughed. “She’s definitely gifted–she was created to be a midwife.” Cynthia sounded convinced.
Amy shrugged, a little embarrassed with the praise. “Lots of experience–and God. He gets all the glory,” she said. Ed and Sid exchanged glances.
The new parents grinned at Amy. “Thanks Amy,” Jerry told her sincerely. “You look like you gave birth,” Jerry said. “Maybe you should take a break and relax. I’ll bring Cyn back whenever she wants.”
Amy looked at Cynthia, who nodded in confirmation. “Twenty-one hours is a long time,” Cynthia said. “Thank you for sticking it out with me. I’ll be fine now. I think I’ll just go to sleep for a little while.”
“Okay, I’ll go,” Amy agreed. “I’ll be back to check on you and Alexis in an hour or so.” Amy gladly took the invitation to excuse herself and left the family to bond. Not to mention, the computer room always felt stuffy and uncomfortable to her. She hoped Cynthia wouldn’t expose Lexy (as she had already nicknamed her) to such a stale environment for too long. “See you in a few,” breezed Amy, closing the door.
“Take your time,” Cynthia assured her. “Bye!”
“What an opportune time for our newborn to appear!” Ed announced when the door clicked shut. “We just found the codes we’ve been trying to crack only about 40 minutes ago–probably right around the time she was born!” he told the group excitedly, ignoring Sid’s disapproving look.
Jerry and Ed wanted their wives to be kept abreast of all developments. It wasn’t necessarily because they believed in sharing every detail of their lives with their wives that they wanted them to be involved, but because their knowledge served as a form of protection. Their wives would be less inclined to leak sensitive information to certain people if they were as much involved as their husbands. Case in point was Sid’s ex, Natalie, who walked out on Sid after 17 years with the threat that she’d go public with all of their secrets if he tried to stop her. She wasn’t worried about her own involvement with her husband’s plans as she had always kept her distance from his schemes. She had never been thrilled about Sid’s work or his obsession with it because it left little time for her or the family she had always wanted to have, but that he never had time for, and also because she didn’t share his desire to rule the world. Since then, Sid distrusted women even more–including Shelby Blitz: a would-be blonde, too brainy for his liking and a beauty–as well as the perceptive daughter of a New Hampshire senator, Cynthia Roberts, whom he knew had much more insight into his personality than he was comfortable with.
Nevertheless, Sid had to agree, keep the wives involved and they couldn’t squeal or let out any secrets even if they wanted to–they were as much a part of it as anybody–downright accomplices. It did ensure silence. The two women made eye contact and then looked at the men expectantly. Cynthia held her arms out to Jerry, indicating she was ready to reclaim Alexis from Papa’s proud paws.
“So, we’re making progress then?” Cynthia was the first to answer, wondering what “progress” would lead to. She looked at Ed. “So what does it mean exactly? Specifically?” she prodded. “What can we expect next?”
“No time for getting into the nitty gritty now on this special occasion,” voiced Sid, gesturing at the baby and Cynthia. “Suffice it to say this will help future developments and technology.”
Ignoring Sid’s attempt to change the subject, Ed offered a little more. “In a nutshell, by cracking these codes, we have accessed the necessary information which will enable us to carry out CHIP’s technology worldwide, as was its objective when it was created. It’s expanded very quickly. At the touch of a button–someday, when the time is right, we’ll control the entire global population, and we’ll have it all! New York, Paris and Nepal!” He did a little dance, feeling very proud of himself.
“For now, we need to save and secure these codes in secret documents,” Sid announced, getting back to business. “It’s premature to enact these plans. The world is not ready. We’ve got to move cautiously,” he warned. “This conversation is classified.” He directed his ending comment at the women, who as if in silent agreement, said nothing. Although they were bursting with questions, Sid’s more-than-customary gruffness shut them up. They both nodded, knowing they’d get the details soon enough, as soon as they got their husbands home alone.
“Since we’re all present, all the players, let’s lock up these screens together,” said Jerry. “That way we can only move forward and unlock them when we’re all in agreement–and prepared,” he added with a meaningful look at Cynthia sitting in the wheelchair holding Alexis.
“Everybody over here then,” commanded Jerry, resuming his seat in front of the main terminal. Sid sad down next to him while Ed pushed Cynthia holding Alexis in the wheelchair close to the scanner, and Shelby stood behind them, holding their wrists up to the square window scanner.
“Access security program and save documents for storage,” directed Jerry to the computer, a.k.a. Murphy. As the scanner read the information from each of their individual CHIPs, they watched their identification numbers scroll across the screen and flashes of information load up the file.
Even newborn Alexis stuck out her arm with a wail, making her the youngest person to ever secure top secret information. Alexis’ loud shrieks pierced the thick silence in the room. “Access restricted and secured,” reported the computer. Then the screen went blank and Murphy switched itself off.
“We’ve met our daily objective.” Sid was the first to break the intensity of the moment. “I’ll be going then. Until tomorrow; 7 sharp,” he said in his brusque way. He rose from his high-backed chair. “Ed, Jerry,” he addressed each of them. “Ladies.” He nodded in their direction and turned to go when there was a knock on the door.
“That’s Amy,” said Cynthia as Sid opened the door. Cynthia’s tall, thin midwife stood there, holding a camera. “Hi. I’m glad I caught you,” said Amy.
“I was just leaving,” Sid objected, looking at the camera distrustfully.
“Can I just get a quick shot of you guys to commemorate Alexis’ first day in the world? You’re the first people she’s ever seen.”
“Great idea, Amy,” agreed Ed, always eager for family values-type publicity to feed the press.
“Come on Sly, get in the picture,” coaxed Jerry when Sid looked doubtful.
“Yeah, you won’t melt,” Ed nudged him.
“Make it quick,” Sid relented with a sigh, moving to stand behind Cynthia. Jerry kneeled by her left side and put his hand on Alexis’ head. Ed and Shelby stood on Cynthia’s right.
“Okay, ready…. say ‘baby’,” Amy directed.
“Baby,” they obeyed, though Sid only moved his lips. Amy pushed the button, freezing the moment in time.