For fun and for the sake of motivating myself to revisit and complete this project I am releasing chapters of my book The Stiletto Code introducing The Book of the Siamese Crocodile as part of my blog. They are in reverse order with lastest chapter first so please scroll down to see earlier chapters
Previous chapters can be found on this blog - just check out category lists on right panel to catch an early glimpse of this work in progress. A lot of editing would be needed still but in the meantime this may be just what I need to finish it!
Best wishes and hope you enjoy this rough draft!
The Book of the Siamese Crocodile
By Lawrence Clarke Hilton
All rights reserved © 2004 De Villiers Hilton Partnership
Chapter 5 ~ The Sans Family Corporation
David Diggs struggled to turn the page of the newspaper.
Even though it was over a thousand years since man had first taken to the air and gone 'um tiddly um tum' in the 'magnificent flying machines' there was still little room on passenger flights to turn a page, let alone to swing the proverbial cat.
The newspaper David was reading was one of the few that were still published. Most had disappeared by 2021 and readers would access the news via their smart phones - but it was the still the case for air travel that security demanded that 'handsets be turned off for the whole duration of the whole flight.'
So it was only at airports where these news sheets - as they were now called - could still be purchased.
David had to content himself by re-reading the main article for the second time as they were only made up of two pages. Most of the articles were editorials extolling the virtues of the Sans corporation. He was surprised that Grace's discovery had managed to slip past the editor as normally it would have been hushed up.
But anything to distract him from the other passengers that squeezed into him, as some began to gyrate in front of him as they reached cruising altitude.
The journalists were having a field day with Grace's accident and discovery. There was no excusing the puns that abounded on the front page.
Sandy Bay Sans Paradise Hotel Development Halted in its Tracks - Shoo in Shoe Out!
Prehistoric shoe puts the boot into Paradise Hotel!
Prehistoric Cinderella's lost slipper found!
When David first heard of Grace's accident at Sandy Bay, he had immediately called Sans Air and booked the first available flight. He still loved her but their passion for their work had left them with little time to ever explore their feelings for each other. There was always a slight stilted quality to their interactions as they kept a professional distance from each other and guarded against any action that would reveal the truth that they both knew deep down that they were made for each other.
"All flights - Standing room only ," the Sans website's voice had purred. David hated standing class. It was another symptom of the awful Sans monopoly that had been allowed to take over most of the planet.
When the Sans Corporation had taken over USAA - United States of Africa Air - in 2970, the price of oil had reached historical highs of 5000 Sans Dollars ($ans) a barrel.
Robin had demanded of Rene to get as many bums on seats as possible. Rene had what he thought was would be a brilliant idea - 'Robin! What if we were to lose most of the seats all together and make it standing room only!
It was one of the few times where Robin had been effusive in his praise of Rene who was deep down always still desperate for his older brother's approval.
Rene had managed to double the number of "sardines" - as Robin liked to call the passengers - that they could squeeze on board. Costs went down, profits went up.
To try and placate the irate passengers, loud thumping rhythmic music was played in flight.
Passengers were encouraged to "Dance your way to Cape Town" or "Avoid air thrombosis and make your stand" as the advertising blurb heralded the latest Sans 'Air-volution'
David could sense as he read between the lines that for some reason, Robin Sans was desperate for the Paradise hotel project to go ahead at all costs. If David had only known the whole story he would have realized the depth of Robin's desperation.
The great Sunspot of 2029 had wiped out most digital archives. Most of history had to be re-written from memory and by those who had managed to hold onto to the few remaining scarce books that were still around.
Some researchers had managed to piece together some of the history of the rise of the The Sans Family Corporation which Robin and Rene had inherited.
A few years prior to the ‘Really Great Depression’ at the beginning of the first half of the previous millennium, the Sans family had begun to accumulate as much physical gold as they possibly could lay their hands on.
This lay the ground work for the even larger Stock Market Crash of 2021, 2029 ... well there has been at least one or two - sometimes three - every century for the last one thousand years.
The economic cycles of boom-bust-boom-boom-boom-bust had gone on repeatedly and with the regularity of obvious rhythms of the DJ's beat box which still kept people dancing to this very moment on the plane.
At the same time the great Sun Spot of 2029 was wiping out most records of human history up to that point and this - along with innumerable cyber-attacks and internet viruses just prior to this - had brought internet banking and trading its knees. The drives on which details of bank account histories were wiped clean.
So it was with some shock that many previously supremely wealthy people found waiting themselves in long queues
at the banks only to be told on reaching the counter that they had 'zero funds available.' Overnight they had become as poor as the paupers that they used to ignore.
But the Sans Family had managed to circumvent this quite predictable event.
They basically had now accumulated, if not all, most of the physical gold that had been mined out of the ground up until that point.
Gold's value was further enhanced by the fact that the metal became critical at a molecular level in the massive clean up efforts followed the hundred years of darkness brought upon the earth by the various nuclear events that had horrifically blossomed and bloomed over the past one thousand years. It was true that only a few small weapons of mass destruction by modern standards were detonated, but these were enough to bring about one of the great shifts in our civilization.
When it was discovered that gold had properties at a molecular level and was essential in the clean up that followed the nuclear wars of the early 2200, the price really took off.
As currencies began to collapse, the Sans Family were now placed in an enviable position that when the price of an ounce gold spiked through 300 thousand dollars, Robin's and Rene's ancestors sold a portion into it, and had thus accumulated a vast fortune on paper.
With the profits they had gone around and bought controlling interests in almost every company in the world. All at absolute rock bottom prices. They had truly cornered the market.
As the market recovered it took a while for it to sink in. The Sans Family now owned the controlling interest in the entire African and global economy. It was truly a golden age for them.
The Sans became the currency of the world. So as to not confuse the market too much the same abbreviation as the ancient US dollar was used. - It was written a $ans or '$' when abbreviated. It was basically a piece of paper that promised to pay the bearer the equivalent in gold at a later date - Robin used to joke that the date could be the first of never - but in the meantime could be used as some equivalent value for purchasing items.
By 2400 trees had become a rarity. The Sans Economic Council (previously known as the International Monetary fund) had begun a campaign to once again promote that cyberspace as the safest place to store your savings.
E gold coins not only allow you to spend what you have to day, but with the expected rise in the price of gold in the near future - you can spend now what you WILL have tomorrow. Well that is at least what the brochure selling the new online e-gold currency argued.
It was important for no-one to really want to ever get their hands on the actual physical gold as The Sans family had underlined their currency with far more that existed above or below the ground. Thus a huge propaganda campaign was then set in motion to discredit the 'dirty metal.'
They would rather encourage the investor to place their faith in a cyber-currency, that at the end of the day , which in real terms could only be worth the miniscule electrical charge exchange that occurred at the subatomic levels in the Sans main frame computers. And the end of that day was coming!
But it their was method in the Sans madness. It now gave the Sans Corporation direct and immediate access to the entire fortune of the world's population.
It could in the end still disappear as quickly as one could scream, "We've had a major power outage!" The Sans Electrical Corporation had quickly learnt to have their complaint lines linked to the power company so that whenever the power cut - the lines would go down as well. This really helped. The division did not have to put up with the rants and ravings of distraught customers for whom there was nothing they could say except that the power will be back on when the power is back on.
So nothing had really changed except the wealth of the world was now in the hands of even fewer.
AS you can imagine by the time Robin and Rene took over the reigns in 2019 it had been a fabulously wealthy family trust.
However a number of Robin's projects had gone terribly awry.
Robin blamed his slightly younger non-identical twin, as Rene had “filled in” for Robin during one of Robin's other recent hospitalizations.
Rene, in his desperate need for popularity had during his brief secondment to the position of Sans CEO canned all bank costs on customer's accounts.
By the third millenium customers were even charged a cash handling deposit fee when handing over their hard earned money for the bank's safe-keeping. With the very poor profit record of the bank's investment divisions, they had come to depend on this subtle but nonetheless plain daylight robbery - which robbed from the poor to give to the rich. Rene did not realize how much the Bank depended on this retail banking profit. Customers were charged exorbitant fees for any transaction - from deposits to transfers and for even purchasing the smallest grocery item. All huge amount accrued by the banks as well as all the money in the savings accounts and pensions funds customers had handed over in good faith was then channeled into the stock market and bizarre Sans Investments Instruments. Although Sans financial managers were quick to point out that the mathematics behind these were so complicated that few understood them, it was quite simple really - it was in fact a giant pyramid scheme - that only benefited those at the top and who had got in first - and all the trading merely like pulling the handle on a giant slot machine for quick short profits so to be able to make annual reports look like everyone was in 'safe hands.' Many of the biggest 'helping hands in the land' or whatever catchphrase the banks advertising divisions could think up would
turn out to be the type of hands that if you gave them a finger they would take your whole hand.
Over the last ten years Sansacom - their telecommunications and mobile network- had enjoyed a monopoly.
Although most of the development had been funded by the government and thus the tax payer, these very same tax payers now found themselves laden with carrying the heavy load of the Sanscom director's greed.
The Sans Banks had been hit with a number of law suits recently as well as shafting procedures had been exposed. Robin had need to have the glitch in the system as the debt which he used to back roll the projects was beginning to take on a life of its own that even he seemed powerless to control. They had had a small computer glitch, an error in the system that inadvertently to be kind been withdrawing from people's bank accounts.
Customers who complained were told it was the daily bank charges. Some of the more persevering clients took them on and it had been proved to be common practice. The bias in the system was beginning to be exposed.
Robin was still furious with Rene. His actions had brought their financial empire as close the edge of the abyss of financial collapse as one could get - without plunging into corporate oblivion - well not yet anyhow!
What had once been the wealthiest organization the planet had ever seen, was now teetering and tottering on the brink of a massive collapse. No one was fully aware of the true extent of the almost infinite debt that lay below its shallow foundations. Like the icebergs that had once floated at the poles - only one eight of its true size could be seen.
Robin needing to get the money back into the accounts now found himself out on a limb. A minor cash flow problem he told had told the Sans United Nations banking adjudicator from the council when she phoned.
The Debt - (Robin often asked Rene to please not mention the 'D' word) could be seen like the last bit of
the water running out the bath. Without the constant replenishment the retail banking rip tide kept bringing in - that water running out the bath started to drain faster and faster.
The 'Debt' began to take on a different form with a life of its own and had now become a giant whirlpool sucking all and everything towards its destructive annihilating center - an economic black hole.
Robin, when he first began to get an inkling of the full scale of the impending economic disaster, initiated capital investment projects that would act as a smoke screen to try and hide the real truth of the matter from both the investment market.
Soon Sans skyscrapers started popping up everywhere. Most of the office space created remained empty most never to be rented out as few had the turnover that would allow businesses to keep up with the massive rents that Sans Props demanded.
The most recent project 'The Towers of Babel' was just about to be opened in central Cape Town. Rene had picked the name which he had come across in an ancient digital text - not realizing the irony that the original story carried.
For a while Robin even managed to delude and distract himself into thinking it could all soon be A okay!
His current distraction and one of the most important of these projects to keep the balls in the air a little longer was was the Paradise Hotel at Sandy Bay.
The story went that following the Robin and Rene's mother's death, their father had died in rather mysterious circumstances. The boys had then been brought up by the grandparents. They were both average looking almost identical except that Robin was lanky and dark whilst Rene was plumper and a red head. On first glance no-one would ever have realized that they were twins. The only real tell tale sign were the absolutely identical birthmarks each had surrounding their navels. The birthmarks were shaped like a diagonal cross with their belly buttons forming the centre. It was one of Rene's favorite party tricks to try and get Robin who was always reserved to show the guests their common birthmarks.
'Oh come on Robin, show them your belly button!' Rene would gibe already lifting his own shirt to reveal his ample midriff.
The Grandparents had both suddenly and tragically and also mysteriously passed away as Robin turned 21.
He then gained the majority position and took over as the youngest head of the Sans Corporation in recorded history. It irked Rene that his 49% made him the minority shareholder and he would have to kowtow to Robin's whims.
But Robin was now the corporate equivalent of an Emperor. At one stage he had seriously considered changing his name to Caesar Sans but stopped when Rene said that if he did, he too would then change his name - to Julius Sans. But they were the modern day royalty - and Robin expected to be treated as such where ever he went.
Robin and Rene had proved themselves to have a canny sense for opportunities to exploit the over-whelming competitive edge that they held.
Rene had a kind of legless devotion to the recognizing the plight of the underdog without really getting involved whereas Robin's bottom line was the bottom line - 'Whatever!' -came to mean whatever it takes.
The sole purpose of government was to maintain the equilibrium so that nothing might endanger the Sans corporation status-quo. The government had become an extension of the company.
Democracy had evolved but only to a derivation of capitalism. - Capitalocracy economic pundits had franked it - before they were taken away and paid to keep it quiet.
However by the time Robin and Rene had taken over the company….. The entire economic system was already teetering on the brink of collapse.
The exclusion in the system had led it there.
Although the stock markets had never had so much invested in it, the world still maintained this myth of the existence of a third world. China had had its turn and the US - once the power house of the world, so much so as they used to say if the US sneezes then the whole world catches a cold - had for the last couple hundred years collapsed and made the depressions of old seem like a tea party.
The Americas were now 'the third world' and were not happy about the status.
The new USA - United States of Africa - were for this period were now the masters of the known financial universe. .
However it was a case of the sins of the fathers being revisited upon the children. The previously described Western World refusal to move a way from the model of an oil based economy with an underlying core of values based on the winner takes it all had led to its downfall.
As once had been prophesied in the song of the ancients that was once according to supposition based on what was found at the digs in the land once known as Sweden - 'The Winner takes it all!'
In economic history books, (what other history is there Robin had thought at the time) Robin had read of amazing fortunes that had been made through hype and fear. He needed something like that. The Y2K scam of the beginning of the last millenium had been a brilliant scam to Robin's mind. If only he could think of a similar one he had thought recently he could still save the situation.
A few weeks ago, by chance it was again Rene who had actually unwittingly perhaps come up with another idea. Most humans had become pretty nocturnal and with rising day time temperatures the siesta was part of modern life. Robin was already was working on getting his logic right to have the 29 of February removed but could not quite work out what would happen if he pulled this off. All he did know was that the software divisions would make fortune.
Having the almost exclusive operating model that ran most computers and all the other off shoots of communications, Robin now needed his own version of Y2K.
Rene was lying down on the couch in his office looking though his dairy and struggled to find August.
'Why don't they make the months in alphabetical order?' he had shouted
'What?' Robin had replied through the door of their interconnected offices.
'Why don't they make the months in alphabetical order?' Rene had shouted again.
Robin had slowly got up from his desk and walked through to Rene's office.
He surprised Rene with an enormous hug and pats on his head.
'That's it!' Robin had cried out as he realized his idea was perfect.
It is? Robin had replied blankly.
Within the next 12 months Robin now planned to change the whole system over to a new calender. All major nodes of computer technology and business would have to subscribe to it too. The months were soon to be in alphabetical order.
Sure there would be some initial global confusion but Robin believed the idea of 'Anuary' being followed by 'Bebruary' and 'Carch' would catch on - obviously helped along by an extensive Sans advertising campaign and a pseudo TV referendum that would urge, 'Say Yes to Konember and Lesember!'
Everyone had of would of course have to buy the latest software and update their computers and handsets.
This would all be handled - again of course - by Sans IT and perhaps enough could be was amassed to save the Sans Family Corporation.
But while Robin got this all lined up the Paradise hotel was essential to Robin in that it would assist in buying the time he needed to right the ship of his fortune that was currently taking on water.
As one can imagine, David was exhausted as he got off the short hop or what Sans Air called a 'bop' to Cape Town. With the latest developments in air travel the flight only took 30 minutes. 15 minutes going almost straight up and 15 minutes coming straight down.
But passengers were expected to dance for nearly an hour and a half on the runway as pilots waited in the cue to gain access to the limited air bridges to disembark the passengers. So the journey still took the two hours it had taken over a thousand years ago.
A young man sidled up to David as they began to disembark and palmed something into his hand.
'What the hell!' David thought he was being pick-pocketed.
David quickly swung round and looked at the clear blue eyes that winked at him. He quickly gripped his laptop and pushed his other hand into his jacket pocket. No his wallet was still there.
David looked down at the small piece of paper he now found himself holding. It was handwritten.
The boot is made for walking
That's what it's going to do.
Beware or it could walk right
The young man had pushed his way to the front and was already off the plane and running towards the escalator.
A young woman greeted him with a hug and a kiss and they both ran out the terminal.
'Oh well, young people!' David thought and was about to throw the paper away but found himself slipping it into his wallet.
As he waited at the luggage conveyor belt he called Grace but there was no answer. His producer asked that if David did not mind, might they go straight to the beach and get the shoot done. The poor chap had to dance his way back to Johannesburg later that night so David immediately agreed.
They already had the footage from the interview with Grace via satellite as she lay in hospital. All they needed were some cutaways and a few links on the beach. They picked up the hired car and slowly joined the line of cars that were making their way to Cape Town City Center.
All rights reserved © 2004 De Villiers Hilton Partnership