Bad Day For A Billionaire
By DJ Cline
July 1, 2012 Point Loess, California
It was a bad day to be a billionaire.
Marsha Colton was three things, a widow, a billionaire and an engineer. The first was tragedy, the second was luck, and the third was choice. She was also the first really nice person in this story. She sat on her yacht and worried about the future. She had not been on it since her husband died last year. They used to go diving off of it on weekends.
Her father was an electrical engineer. Her mother was a math teacher. They encouraged her interest in science and she became a telecommunications engineer. She and her husband developed traffic management algorithms and became Silicon Valley billionaires. They knew that while they had worked hard, they also knew that they still owed the rest of society for creating the framework for their success.
Not all their neighbors felt that way. When the wealthy people in her city of San Diablo voted down the police tax, she had to hire her own security. When they voted down the fire department tax, she had to build her own fire suppression system. When they voted down the hospital tax, she raised money to treat the sick. She gave generous scholarships so children would have the opportunities she had. She did the math and figured it was cheaper to pay the tax than bear the social cost alone. While the wealthy did not want to attend her charity fundraisers, they were always inviting her to their political fundraisers… to pay fewer taxes, making her philanthropic work harder. She used to leave dealing with such people to her husband, but now it was her responsibility alone.
Engineering problems were easier to solve than human ones. She sat on the bridge of her yacht, the Amistad, and looked a mile away toward a ten-meter tower on the shore of Point Loess on the California coast near San Francisco. Her engineering team was about to test a new technology and had rented this old remote US Navy radio post because of the lack of radio interference.
The problem they were trying to solve was bandwidth shortage. There was only so much electromagnetic spectrum for billions of people using their new phones. Marsha had an idea to create a technology that would anticipate where the next available frequency was going to be so a device could tune into it. It was an expensive test. The prototype antenna tower was gold plated because that gave the best signal. Once they proved the concept they would hopefully find something cheaper.
A technician typed in the start sequence. On shore, the antenna seemed to hum at a high pitch even from this distance. Suddenly a blue green sphere about ten meters across appeared around the center of the antenna top.
“Turn it off!” Marsha said nervously.
The humming stopped and the blue green sphere turned out to be seawater that splashed in a concentric wave around the base of the antenna. One of the video cameras showed a man tangled in the cables at the top of the tower. Technicians on the shore quickly drove a cherry picker truck to the tower and extended it to the top, climbing up to free the man. He was wearing a mask and wet suit and seemed to be flailing in great pain.
Marsha’s phone chirped and she got a text that totally freaked her out.
MARSHA COLTON I AM THE MAN ON THE HIGH TOWER. PLEASE HELP IMMEDIATELY. I NEED TO USE THE DECOMPRESSION CHAMBER ON YOUR SHIP.
How did he know her name? How was he communicating to her? How did he know about the ship’s capabilities? She asked her captain to dispatch the helicopter and told him to prepare the decompression chamber. She looked back at her phone and checked whom the message was from. It said Ten Kay.
Next: Depth And Taxes
Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.