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Delta X – A Short Story

June 24, 2015
ca. 2003 --- Close-up of Electronic Stock Ticker --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

ca. 2003 — Close-up of Electronic Stock Ticker — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

“Delta X Financial shares collapsed this morning in heavy selling after the SEC filed fraud charges against the company.”

Darren’s head snapped toward the television on his kitchen counter.

“Callers to company’s offices were referred to an attorney.  The stock currently is trading under a dollar a share, wiping out more than ninety percent of the shareholder’s value.”

Darren picked up a bowl with two beaten eggs and poured them into the hot skillet in front of him.  The eggs sizzled when they landed in the melted butter.  He put two slices of baby Swiss cheese, cubed ham, and chopped jalapenos into the skillet on top of the eggs.

Delta X?  The company’s shares had skyrocketed in the last year as their assets under management grew from a hundred million dollars to twenty five billion, but Darren had never put any in his client’s accounts.  Too risky.  What goes up must come down.  One of his clients had discussed buying shares, a lot of them; what was it, a hundred thousand dollars?  Darren had talked him out of the purchase, but the client had simply taken the money elsewhere.

Darren hadn’t gone into the office, or even turned on his computer yet, and it was almost noon.  He had woken up with a migraine, took some pills, and was just starting to feel halfway decent.  The Delta X news seemed odd.  Somehow he knew it was going to happen.  He folded the eggs over to form the omelet, and then carefully turned it over.  What was it?

 He muted the TV; too much noise, his head still hurt.  He put the omelet on a plate and walked carefully to the dining room table.  The omelet went down quickly, the melted cheese smooth and comforting but the jalapenos sharp and a little painful.  Another sip of coffee seemed to stabilize his brain somewhat.

The dream! 

The dream he had just before waking came back into his mind.  A dream of unusual clarity.  He remembered the sight of a ticker tape with DLTX crossing the screen, over and over, the only symbol, and -2.44 and -3.86 and -7.98 and -9.21.  How could he remember this detail?  It was like he had been watching the screen through a window.

 Darren’s head was spinning again, and he left the dirty plate and coffee cup on the table and staggered to the nearby sofa, falling onto it.

The window opened in front of him, and there was a woman on a bed, under the sheets.  It was Karen!  She appeared to be naked, and was beckoning to him, smiling.  He had never been with Karen, but the idea had crossed his mind on many occasions.

 He felt soft and wet kisses on his face, and smiled.

Molly! 

 Molly, his dog, as yet not fed, insisting on his attention.  He closed his eyes to go back through that window, but it was no longer there.  He lay still for a few more seconds, but the dog insisted, pawing him again.  His head felt stable again, so he sat up.

“I’m coming.  I’m sorry, girl, I feel lousy.  I’ll be right there.”

Darren barely got the dog’s food and water bowls filled before he was dizzy again, and staggered to the sofa, and once again collapsed.  He was asleep in seconds.

He was seeing through the window again.  The window was large, perhaps large enough for him to step through it by bending over just a little.  There was a television on a table top.  Wait a minute, that’s my TV on top of my kitchen counter.  Only it isn’t exactly my TV, and the wall behind it was a bright blue.  My kitchen’s yellow.  What’s that on the TV?  Something about Delta X?  Is there a Delta X in that world?  A ticker tape at the bottom of the screen was flashing by, and the only symbol was DLTX, and the numbers were going up, up fast; +2.22, +3.58, +5.82.

 A bell ringing made him open his eyes.  He was stretched out on the sofa. The doorbell rang again.  He sat up.  He felt fine, his head wasn’t spinning, and he wasn’t tired.  He stood, feeling good, and walked to the door.  Molly was already there.  He opened the door, and Karen was standing outside, smiling.

“Can I come in?”

“Oh, of course, I’m sorry.  I’ve been a little out of sorts lately.”  She was smiling and wearing a very short skirt and damn she looks good!

Molly wagged her tail strongly as Karen knelt down and stroked the fur on her head.  “When you didn’t come to work and didn’t call, we were worried.  I thought I ought to check on you.  Are you ok?”

Darren thought about that for a moment.  “I don’t know.  It’s been a weird day.”  He motioned for her to sit at the dining room table.  “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Well, I’m on my lunch break, so I don’t have long.”

Darren looked at the clock on the kitchen wall; it read 12:22.  “I can fix you an omelet.”  He went to the fridge and got out a jug of iced tea and filled two glasses with ice and tea.  He set one in front of her and took a sip of his.

“I can’t stay that long.  How you feeling?”

Darren realized he was staring at the TV, which was on, but the sound was off.  The same commentator he had seen a few minutes earlier was standing in front of the Delta X building, talking into a microphone.

“Huh?”  He looked back at Karen.  “Sorry, I got distracted.  Are they talking about Delta X stock at the office?”

“I heard something about it.  Wade was pacing on the balcony talking on his cell phone.  He didn’t look too happy.  Rumor is that he has some clients in it in a big way.”

“Not me.  Don’t trust those people.  I’m feeling better.  Earlier, I don’t know, I could hardly stay awake.  Migraine or allergies or something.”

“I’ve got to get going, I‘ve got some errands to run.  I’d just thought I’d check on you.”

“It’s really sweet of you.  Hey, maybe we could get together later.”

Karen smiled coyly.  “Sure. 7?  If you’re feeling OK, that is.”

“Perfect.  I’ll pick you up.”

He walked her to the door, and watched her walk to her car.  Damn!  As soon as he closed the door, Darren rushed to the laptop computer at the desk in the living room.  He drummed on the desk, waiting for the computer to boot up.  Finally!  DLTX up from $0.85 to$1.00.  Dead cat bounce?  He went into his broker-dealer’s website, and opened up his personal account.  $22,000, a mix of stocks, GE, XOM, APPL, not much cash. Should I?  He looked at the TV; the reporter was still standing in front of the building, but now she was talking to someone, a man in a business suit.  He recognized the man as a venture capitalist who had been in the financial news recently.  He entered sell transactions on all his positions.

He clicked on Equity Buy, and when the next screen opened up, he put DLTX in the box, 22,000 Shares, MARKET, entered the time and date, hit Pre- Submit.  Shares were trading at $1.00.

He shouted YES, hit the enter key to finalize the purchase, and jumped up.   He got his glass of tea and went back to the computer, to a real-time feed of stock prices.  DLTX was heading up, up, up.

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From → Writing Fiction

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