Excerpt for Game of the Planners 1 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


His legs carried him as fast as he could. He’d made certain not to look back when he saw them, but even he had come to realize it was too late. They spotted him and it meant one thing and one alone. It meant he had to run and give into a chase he hoped to win. His legs moved at a tidy speed for a boy his age, and his shoes made it easy to race across the rough terrain without worrying about falling or tripping.

He could feel his breath heighten and become difficult to come by as the mile extended and his pursuers refused to give up. Their persistence marveled him, but it was no time to ponder after he knows the horrible thing he had done to them or to him in particular. He knew it would have been easier had it been one person he saw, but the four of them at the same time and exactly in the same location meant the afternoon would be nothing but hell for him.

Jack kept his legs swinging and his arms moving in opposite direction at the same time. He wasn’t sure he’d performed as good as he was on the school’s track during sports, but it meant a lot for him not to stop unless he was willing to get what he deserved for his ill actions and usually irritating personality to those around him. In his defense he didn’t care about them or whether they got hurt by his deeds. He just wants to be himself.

There was a saying around school, and it bothered around hisses and sniffs in a derogatory manner when you see Jack coming your way. Jack’s tale as a pain in the ass and the reject of his family for his madness and vile nature was legendary, from ignoring those who try to become close with him to continuous offensive actions on intent. He just didn’t care, and right now he knew he might have to pay for his sins. He was gasping badly though, and his heart was racing as hard as he could.

Something didn’t feel right, and his legs yielded and stopped moving with the required pace to outrun the boys closing in on him fast from behind. Jack halted to catch his breath momentarily, not expecting the heavy knock he would receive to the back of his head from Thomas’s right hand man, Andy. Andy was a large boy for his age, and used it to his advantage when acting as shield for Thomas and his other friends.

Squirting in pain, Jack struggled to his feet as he held the back of his head. The pain was sharp like he had been hit with something, but it was just Andy’s gorilla hands that had done the job. He took one good look at his hand to ascertain he wasn’t bleeding, and rightfully and thankfully, he wasn’t yet at least.

Trying not to turn around and have to look into the face of the brown haired kid Thomas Brown, Jack maintained his gaze towards the road ahead where he hoped to gain an edge possibly with a weapon he can find around once the opportunity presents itself. He could hear his heart continue to thump, and his chest continue to ram hard like the organ underneath it wanted to tear the skin and make a run for itself. Jack had his own evil thoughts going on in his head though. If he had been faced with just one of them, then he would have handled things differently, even if it meant getting into trouble again with the school authorities which was a norm for him.

“You’ll pay for what you did. You cannot continue to run”, Thomas’s distinctive tone of voice echoed as his footsteps neared Jack.

Jack remained still. He ran the vile thoughts of his actions through his mind, and let out an odd, irritating smile across his usually cold and emotionless face.

“I'm talking to you, you little piss of shit!” Thomas perceived Jack’s lack of response as an insult and yanked his shoulder until he turned around to look at him. “Look at me when I'm talking to you”.

Jack did his best to disobey the command being forced upon him. He couldn’t succumb to cowardice in obedience to Thomas and his crew. He definitely had wronged them in a terrible way, but nothing within him felt sorry about his actions. He already feels humiliated having to run the mile from kids his age. He had given all he could. With his head down and his cold eyes fixated on his shoes, he kept mute.

“The boy’s a dummy Tom”, Andy jested nudging Jack forcefully by the shoulder.

Jack staggered backwards involuntarily.

“I believe you owe us an apology”, Thomas demanded. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”

Jack couldn’t find the words to give as response which wouldn’t make him seem more of an obnoxious person than he already naturally is. He sure as hell wasn’t scared to speak, but mostly felt his pride was being dealt a painful blow by the boys. He thought of causing more ruckus and fighting it out till the end, but kept his cool albeit with great difficulty.

His temper, vileness and inability to act in a courteous manner like other kids is the reason his father disowned him in the first place and kicked him out of the house temporarily before deciding to let him go for a stipend in sale to another family. It was a well-known fact, but he didn’t care. He never cares about anything or what anyone feels.

“Fuck off!” he reacted, shoving Thomas back in the chest.

It was quick and without him seeing it. The other three immediately pinned him down to the ground while Thomas took time to readjust his dented ego. Andy placed his heavy weight on both Jack’s knees, crippling him as he yelled for freedom, while the other two pinned down his hands on either side. They waited for Thomas to make his move. There was an array of punishment they could vent on Jack, and Thomas went for the one by which he would always remember him by.

In the boys’ defenses, it was well warranted after the girth of the crime he had committed. Their rage needed some appealing, and Jack’s inability to grasp empathy or acknowledge when he’s been horrible to people just wasn’t going to be tolerated.

Nearby was a slender rod, rusty to the touch, but sharp at its end. He picked up the metal and pinned it down upon Jack’s face. With the rod nearing his face, and an idea of Thomas’s intent gracing Jack’s mind, he still wouldn’t beg and would rather watch with his deep, cold eyes. His lips remained shut and his gaze fixated on the boys.

“You owe us an apology”, Thomas asked once more but got nothing.

The pain was unbearable, and the blood gushing out the torn flesh on his face didn’t make it better. Thomas dug the metal deeper as he made his caught in an absolutely devilish, sickening and twisted way. Jack filled the air with his screams as the pain shot through his entire body from the loci of contact of the rod. He couldn’t bare it, and all he wanted was to be let free. The other boys joined in on the beating, scratching and peeling away at his face with the pent up anger within them for what he’d done.

“You’re dead...you all are dead...aaaargh”, Jack yelled atop his voice without considering to beg.

He closed his eyes, hoping it would come to an end, with beads of sweat dropping from all over his face. He couldn’t feel his limbs as the pain mulled their existence from his senses. Jack opened his eyes to look into the eyes and face of Thomas and his vengeful friends. Thomas had stopped, but the pain refused to ease off as Jack closed his eyes hoping the day would come to an end already.

He wanted it all to stop...he wanted nothing more of the pain...he wanted calm, but he got nothing but the head seeping pain jetting out from his cheek. With a loud cry, Jack woke up to the sight of a friendlier and equally familiar face of a lady he knew too well. Julia was by his side, staring down on him as the environment he was in slowly dawned on him.

He could feel himself wet all over from the copious amount of sweat he had exuded. He looked around the room to the men donning white lab coats and scrubs. He was in the theatre room where he was to have a face surgery, and Mr. Kent his boss at the Law firm he now works in had sent Julia to check in on him.

Jack as usual with his cold and badly scarred face remained without any words. Julia could sense he just had a bad dream, but he masked his emotions so well it was impossible to tell what the man was feeling or going through. He ran his hand across his face, swallowing the lump of worry as he felt the stinging scars still embedded into his skin in remembrance of what had happened years before.

“It is time Mr. Jack”, the lead surgeon said.

Jack couldn’t wait for it to be over as Julia took her leave.

She had no idea what for, but she shot him a smile as she walked away.

---


Six Months Later,


Jack ran his finger along his scare-free face, feeling the beautiful jobs done by the surgeons in the process. The day felt as beautiful as his face was, and the wonderful view his office provided him as he sat on the topmost floor and gazed out the window of his glass encased office. It felt good being successful and even better being a handsome man, again, but he wasn’t one to dwell on such emotions and feed off it.

He looked as serious as ever without a smile across his face as Julia sat and watched him from the corner of the room.

He glanced at the expensive diamond crested wristwatch on his left wrist, which he specifically ordered from overseas, noting it was just a few minutes to his meeting with Alex, Robert and Julia about a new client they hoped to win over to their side. He had on his newly tailored suit as was the norm he had created for himself to wear an expensive and new suit every Monday morning.

He glanced down at the hundreds of people walking about, indulged in their various daily activities with some deep condescension about being atop of them, and very much more wealthy than most of them can come to be. The alarm clock on his table chimed aloud once, before coming to a halt. It informed him it was time for his meeting, and like clockwork, they walked into his office one after the other.

He motioned for Julia to head around the little conference section he fashioned within his office, where he conducted business meetings for a crowd larger than three with himself inclusive. The ebony table, made from old oak wood and the finest furniture firm in the country. Everything around him spoke taste and elegance and he wouldn’t settle for less.

He buttoned his suit as she approached him with an outstretched hand first.

“Sir, these are the files you asked for”, Julia smiled at him while she handed the man the thick padding of notes.

He has come to rely solely on her through the years, and she has equally become a part of him as she shadow his every move. Julia’s role in his life can’t entirely be quantified as she mediates in between situations, especially ones that needed much conversations and indulgence, which he quite frankly isn't one for. She has come to know Jack, and useless chitchats are not his thing, so she takes it upon herself while he listens and takes notes.

As expected, he gave her no response as he did walking into his office to take the seat he fancied at the edge of the table. His face was blank with expression as he looked from Alex to Robert. They both struggle in meetings with him and this wouldn’t be any different. His demeanor scared them most times and it was easy to spot.

Having being in the office times without count, they knew their designated seats. With Jack it was all about precaution and precision and nobody goes against his rules when it was his domain. Julia sat patiently, waiting for him to give her the go ahead, while Robert and Alex stared at the man whose actions and level of interactions can be counted as stupid by those who don’t really know him except Mr. Kent and Julia. Jack looked as confident as always, and without stuttering, he signaled her to begin the meeting.

“I’m glad you could all make it on time”, Julia smiled wildly at everyone seated around the table. “You can help yourself to some coffee right around the corner if you’re interested”, She offered.

Alex walked away to pour himself some, while bringing back a cup for Julia. Robert wasn’t really one who fancied coffee so he didn’t mind not being served.

“As you’ve been briefed by the dossier I sent you in your mails, we have a big decision on our hands this week”, She began. “It comes in the package of handling and landing the wealthiest fashion designer and model in the country by the name Gabriel Venza”.

“We all knew who he is. It would be stupid not to recognize someone who was in and out of the court every now and then and made lawyers billions in the process”.

“If you’d ask me, I believe we can make things work with him”, Robert spoke first while trying to look solely at her and not Jack.

Jack scribbled down notes in silence.

“Yes, I agree too, but he is a lose canon who can come to bite us in the behind as well”, Alex did well to point out as he sipped from his cup of coffee.

Julia listened while the men spoke on. She could tell Jack waited for her input, but quite frankly they had said the words she hoped to provide.

“I'm well aware of his various frivolous law suits as well as his over the edge personality, but when has that stopped us from making money from such clients and representing their interests in the best possible way?” She made do to point out. “I believe we represent the sect and select others dare not stand for because we never assume we’d fail where they can”.

Jack nodded at her insight, and brought the meeting to a close. He would task himself with the responsibility and challenge of poaching the client from his incompetent group of lawyers, but in a lawful way of course. Jack loved such challenges as daunting as they came. He had absolute trust in himself and his prowess, and the opportunity to show it was one he always seeks.

“Thank you all for being here. I believe the meeting has come to its end”, Julia applauded gently before walking to his office table where he would begin work on the task at hand immediately.

She stole one more glance at the ambitious man as everyone left her with him in his office. She couldn’t leave him...he needs her, and she’ll always be there for him. The enemies he had come to have since he began working for Mr. Kent and till he became his own man never stopped growing. In every corner, lurking is a prospective foe, and he knows it too...

Nobody fancied his methods or uncomprehending actions. Nobody liked his silence which had a more staunching and disrespectful effect than speaking. Nobody liked the fact he never smiles or show a hint of emotion. Nobody liked Jack.

---


Drowning in the Past,


It was the summer things were about to change for Jack. Melissa was the object of thought plunging hard against his heart as he made the lonely walk down the street opposite his favorite café where he had just had himself dome sandwich and a nice cup of coffee for a ridiculously cheap price. It is all he could afford at least, and it felt good.

The cold wind howled against his nimble heart, which felt sore for the love he felt for Melissa. Thoughts of her ran wild across his mind, galloping in sync with his heartbeat and casting various emotional responses into his brain which he could barely comprehend. She always had that impression on him even when she wasn’t around and it felt pretty strong at the hour.

Jack could make out her pleasingly symmetrical face in the distance like she was there, down to her well curved body and perfectly carved smile lining her beautiful face. She remains the perfect woman he had ever come to see, and admiring her had been all he could do since the first day he met her and through the three years they’ve become close friends and companions.

“Why can’t I tell her how I feel?” he asked himself as he bowed his face to the ground as some students walked by. He recognized them as his course mates, as their ever so gawking expression at the mask on his face, underneath which he hides the horrible scars Thomas left him with. He couldn’t help it and to make things worse he could feel doubts growing within him about his eligibility to become a lawyer or even stand before people to tender his case when he dons a mask to conceal his true identity.

“How will you study law when you can’t even defend yourself as to whom you are?” a professor once asked him after he refused to take off his mask.

It was staunching in remark and very much gut wrenching, but Melissa had come through on that day. She was there when it happened and while the other kids laughed hard, she simply patted him on his back and smiled the way through. He didn’t care though. They don’t like him and he didn’t share the sentiments with them as well. As far as he was concerned, in his world, none of them exist.

“You don’t need them to tell you who you are Jack”, she tried encouraging him. “Only you know exactly what should you do and how far you can go with your dream, I believe some day you will become the man you want to be, now let’s go home, my parents are waiting for us”.

Her words still ring in his head till this day. Her ever so thoughtful touch, words and occasional smiles through which he went through every day in the university in Cologne. She had become the backbone to which his entire being hung to and lived every day. He found himself loving a lady he couldn’t and dared not tell her of his affections and emotions for her, in worry he would be nothing but a man subject to ridicule and heartbreak.

“Going out on a walk without inviting me?” the soft and ears melting tone of her voice called to him as he took the walk that evening.

He turned around and there she was, dressed in a blue gown and red in cheeks like an angel in human form. He took in a deep breath before responding, trying to mask the worries that plunged his heart on that day. He had too many of them, but showing her wasn’t something he fancies doing.

“This world is against me, everyone denied my efforts, what should I do Melissa?”, he confessed, with his eyes beaming back at her from behind his mask.

“The man who dared to fight alone was the strongest man in this world, Jack, the path you are walking on is the path of winners, keep going and don’t turn back!” she smiled before walking up to him to sneak her hand underneath his.

She pulled him forward with her while they headed towards the empty park just by the end of the street where they spend time discussing on occasions. The dilemma he was faced with was never more glaring. He was walking with the most beautiful woman in the world and he still didn’t feel like he belongs with her. It was a damning feeling which mirrored what he was battling with as regards studying law with his hideous and hidden face.

They arrived at the bench where they both sat down. He stared from behind his mask, with the deep blue eyes into her dark brown romantically with unsaid words echoing out loud. Jack would give anything to tell her how he felt, but how he felt was painful to spill and he couldn’t see himself doing it. He just had no believe he could let her in on his emotional rollercoaster and pain.

It was there he made the decision. It was that painful evening while staring into the eyes of the lady he loves and always will, that he made the life changing decision to quit everything... to quit law school...to quit loving her or being with her...to quit pretending or giving himself the painful hope of having either of them.

“I'm leaving law school”, he said to her, without realizing the words didn’t go past his lips.

It was a done and dusted decision, and Jack stuck with it as he promised himself he would. He simply quit...he left Germany for Manchester.

---


Current Time,


It was Friday night and Jack decided to have a treat for himself as the weekend neared. The hard day’s work needed some nice dinner to make things perfect he had thought to himself, which was why he made a reservation for all the tables within the walls of the Italian Restaurant just a mile from his office where they served the most expensive bottles of wine and a really nice Italian treat of different assorted meals.

His action was obviously going to irk those who hoped to dine there for the night, but he doesn’t care one bit. He had the power to do so and he did without a tincture of guilt in his heart. As he sat with his fork lodged between his fingers, and looked around the restaurant which had nobody else dining on the floor with him, he cast his thoughts back in time.

It was about three years ago, about an experience he had with a doctor in a hospital. It was a moment Jack could still remember vividly like it was just yesterday.

Sitting within the office painted in the mood drenching color of grey, he crossed his legs over one another as he waited in the chair the doctor offered him while he got his hands disinfected. Jack had stolen a quick glance at his watch as he waited impatiently for the discussion the doctor had asked him over for rather than speak about on the telephone. His face bore a cold look to it, and his ever sealed lips refused to twitch or move one bit. He looked through his mask and fixated his gaze on the empty chair before him.

“I believe you understand the position we’re in Mr. Jack as regards the current situation and conditions of your face”, Doctor Mark spoke as he slid into his chair before Jack.

The man once confessed to me that Jack’s presence from their first ever meeting scared the living hell out of him. He said something about Jack in the room with him didn’t just fare well and he tried his best to get the meeting over with as fast as possible. I understood what he meant without doubt. He has the intimidating aura and a quite annoying one too which can’t be helped.

Jack remained silent. He wanted more before he would speak.

“We need to make the decision right now, whether you’d be willing to have a complete makeover for your face, or you’d want the continuous reconstructive surgery to keep the scars unseen”, he laid down Jack’s options to him without looking at the man.

Jack was presented with a difficult choice to make. He obviously would be faced with the knife, but in different circumstances. The man before him was the best plastic surgeon in town and his work and success rate was legendary and spoke volumes from reviews and recommendations. He had little to no doubt about his work, but the pain of having something stuck into his face again was an ordeal he still couldn’t grasp his guts around.

“I agree”, Jack responded in brief as always.

Doctor Mark raised his brow in question of his specific answer.

‘You agree to what?” he asked.

“The makeover”, he enlightened the inquiring surgeon.

Doctor Mark tried his best not to smile. He was glad they could now end the meeting fast

“There is a catch to the deal at hand”, he warned.

His words struck Jack like an arrow to his heart. Complications about such surgeries often times are dire and he couldn’t imagine himself become a victim of one. As much as the face transplant and makeover would make him a completely different person, he would rather have it in joy than with some complications he wouldn’t be able to live through life with.

The suspense alone was killing. He wanted the man to spill whatever he had to say right out.

“It isn't something dire or things you can’t live with. In fact, almost everyone with a cosmetic surgery have to live with such circumstances”, the doctor coughed. “You will not be able or permitted the virtue of smiling or laughing after the procedure has been done to your face, else you run the risk of damaging the fragile tissues”.

It sounded troubling and Jack couldn’t wrap his head around it. The options he was being presented with didn’t sound normal to him. He would have to give up the ability to give any facial expression unless he was ready to run the risk of bringing more harm to his delicate skin. It was a nightmare of circumstance to navigate everyday with, and he could feel the pressure swell already within him.

Jack rested his back into the chair, closing his eyes to think it through for the next few minutes. A sudden rush of heat engulfed him as he sat in the air-conditioned room. He was simply numb without a response and the man before him could see it too well. The surgeries would be difficult and with them will come much more pain than he has ever felt in his life, but it was a dilemma he had no choice but to face.

It was one the scars on his face demanded.

“This is your cheque sir”, the voice of the waiter broke Jack’s thoughts from three years ago and dragged him back into the present.

He smiled at the man as he laid the cheque bearing a bill of almost one hundred thousand Euros on the table. He felt powerful in such cases and it felt good.


---


Jack sat in his room with a large box before him yet to be opened. The old, dusty object was smeared with enough dust it had gathered over the years, containing files and documents from when he first arrived in Manchester upon leaving Germany. He let off the lid of the box, opening it wide and revealing the various notes he hadn't taken a look at in a while.

He picked up the first which was a receipt for the first electronic he purchased upon arriving, before placing it in the corner of the box to pick the next one. It was thick, and still possessed the quality showing it was an important paper. The writing, stamp and signature brought memories of none other than Mr. Kent, the 57 years old man whom previously owned all the wealth Jack now calls his own legally.

Within the box were pictures of Melissa as well which he gawked over briefly with fondness and heart melting remembrance of his times with her.

He took the time to picture the early beginnings when he arrived Manchester newly. It was a time in his past he could never forget, especially for the struggles and suffering he was fazed with the entire time. He arrived without a dime to his pocket, and barely survived through the first few days with little food he could get from the community kitchen and shelter.

The decision to get a job was the only practical thing he could do and it wasn’t easy in any way either. Most wouldn’t hire him for reasons he couldn’t understand and for the first few weeks he practically lived like a hobo. He had no money; he had stopped law school and banished the thoughts of practicing or learning law, while he lived for each day as it came.

It was practically hell for him until he found his first job as a cleaner in a local restaurant. The owner had hired him because he was young and willing to work for something rather than indulge the life of a crook which boys his age ventured into on the streets. The job wasn’t the easiest in the world, but Jack stuck his guns to it and was able to afford a tiny apartment after three months of having to sleep in the restaurant store through every night.

He got some more odd jobs after that and had to shuffle in between one to another in a life of struggle and penury until he met Mr. Kent. Their meeting had been preordained to come to pass while Jack worked in a coal factory owned by Mr. Kent when one morning a man escorted by a group of policemen came into the building to apprehend a thief. The man had seen the person committing the crime earlier and was certain he could finger him out in the midst of the workers.

Jack could feel the staunching eyes of those around him judging him without using words. It wasn’t news that they didn’t like him. In fact, he didn’t fancy them either. He kept to himself and made his rounds without bothering anyone. He was himself and it irritated them duly. He heard someone whisper but the words weren’t clear enough to be heard.

It was a dilemma Jack couldn’t scrape through as he couldn’t let off his mask to reveal his true identity. The horrendous scars he donned confined him to such fate and even with the persistence of the police officers, he refused to take it off until Mr. Kent came to his rescue. The man took a intrigue to him immediately and so did Jack who was glad to be rescued from the humiliation he would have had to suffer from the event.

It was precisely six months after he began working there when the rather unfortunate incident he now regards as fortunate, came to be. He met with Mr. Kent after that and things rolled on smoothly. The man took kindly to him and sympathized about his situation, but something else was on its way and Jack could never have thought it out.

After months of closed communication, Mr. Kent helped him with the needed surgery his face deserved. Jack spent six months in the hospital before coming out. He offered Jack the opportunity to go back to law school and quit working in the coal factory. He footed the bills and helped Jack into a good job in one of his law firms around the country where Jack made a good living for himself. It was there he began working closely with Julia.

With six months left in the year, and the past months going so smoothly for him with the assistance of Mr. Kent, Jack decided to thank the man by helping him achieve any feat he deemed as his heart desire. Mr. Kent had found his desire quite awkward, but decided to thread along while he allowed Jack name his price. The meet had occurred in his office one late afternoon.

Jack decided to draft the man a hearty proposal immediately stating that he would help him get his estranged wife back, bring his son whom he has very little relationship with and who hates him more than anyone in the world, help bring down the business of a renowned Mrs. Sandra, his enemy down, and make certain the tasks were completed professionally and within the rights of the law.

“You’re telling me you’ll accomplish those three tasks for me?” Mr. Kent asked in shock.

Jack nodded “Yes sir”.

Jack continued “Mr. Kent, I knew Mrs. Sandra, the owner of all Sandra law firms in Manchester is a very powerful woman and also your biggest enemy in this city, or in England, I also knew your only son, Robin and your ex wife never want to see you again for your mistakes and problems in past, however, you are a different person now, you changed, that is why I want to help you get all those things back, you can believe me!”

- Jack, are you serious? I spent many years to solve those three things and I could not achieve any of them, you know what is it mean?

- Mr. Kent, I just want to know, are they the most important things in your life?

- Yes, Jack, they are my everything, I am an old man now, I need a family, I want to have a son, I want to talk with my son, I want to see my family every morning...they are just my everything now Jack!

- Ok Mr. Kent, I will help you. Before the new year comes, they will come back to you and you can start a family again and Mrs. Sandra would be never your biggest enemy anymore. I promise!

- and what can I do for you Jack?

- well, I will help you to get back your “everything”, and I just want to have a half of your “not-everything” now Sir, how you think about this deal?

Mr. Kent decided to set a reward price for the three tasks in return; he decided he would give Jack half of his entire earnings, 400 million EUR, and half of his law companies and firms around the entire country.

It was Jack’s first deal ever and he made sure as hell not to fuck it up. He spent months developing plans, but kept in mind Mr. Kent’s warnings.

“You have till the end of the year”, he spoke on that day. “I'm not getting any younger, and I would rather you accomplish them fast and well”.

“Everything will be done by the end of the year Sir. We’re in June and it gives me enough time to get them sorted”, Jack responded.

With a glass of wine in hand in his present room, he couldn’t help but reminisce on the plan itself...He kept his promise.

It all began with...


...to be continued...



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