037 - hills
"Ah, but of course, sixteen years ago, I was a different man."
"Well, be that as it may, sir, you still signed a legally binding agreement with our corporation. And now we have come to see to it that you fulfill your end of that contract."
Leonard was thinking, but no solution was springing to mind. He truly had little recollection of signing such a contract. Overall, glancing at the paper, it seemed like such a raw deal for him to have signed. Five hundred shillings, in exchange for such a cruel, obscure, and obscene act--an act to be carried out sixteen years from the date of signing.
Yet it was his very unique signature on the paper. There was no denying that. If there were any way of replicating a signature so well to the point that even the signee did not suspect its authenticity, Leonard had not heard of it. No, it certainly appeared to be his. And he also was certainly not lying. He was a different man sixteen years ago, his mind then had been under the influence of so many psychoactive drugs that it was entirely conceivable he would agree to such terms, as long as it meant he could score his next fix.
Sixteen years would have seemed impossibly far away at that time. He probably had figured he would have never lived to see the day. At that time, he often could not fathom sixteen minutes into the future--much less sixteen years.
The man from the company stood there, staring into Leonard's face as he thought about all these things. The company man probably had to deal with this a lot, Leonard imagined. Surely there were not many willing participants who happily went with him. Certainly most of the people this man visited reacted similarly to how Leonard was reacting now.
Again Leonard's mind dashed to thoughts of escape. In the corner of the foyer stood an ornamental coat of arms, equipped with a sword. Surely the sword lacked any true capabilities as a weapon, but Leonard thought it might be useful to scare the man away. Although perhaps not, since this type of reaction was also probably somewhat normal, and the man thus likely had adequate means of defending himself.
"I know it's not easy sir. But we provided compensation for you, and now you must do what you have promised for us," the man said, calmly and firmly. He did not move or change his position, even his stance appeared to be locked and unshifting.
Compensation. Nowadays, he could pay back the compensation he had received one hundred fold and not even bat an eye. Now he had an estate. A loving family. And a vast wealth. It was a good life. Yet it seemed like it would not be good enough to get him out of this situation.
Perhaps he might brandish the sword anyway. It would be futile, but what was the worst that could happen? At this point, wouldn't it all be the same?
No, Leonard thought. There might be some way. Perhaps legally he could find a way to finagle his way out of this contract, but if he injured or killed this man now he would be in a world of trouble regardless.
"I would like to contact my lawyer," Leonard stated, trying to carry the same calm and firm tone but perhaps letting just a tiny bit of his anxiousness slip into his voice.
"Of course, and all that can be arranged once we get to our headquarters," the man said, briefly pausing. "Although, I should warn you that our contracts are quite ironclad."
Outside the ajar front door, a passenger carriage pulled up. With each rotation of the wheels in the gravel outside, Leonard's insides knotted further.
The company man smiled a rather devious smile. "So, shall we get going, then?"