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Joshua Campbell: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

by Christopher Beesley about a month ago in Series / Sci Fi / Satire
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Chapter 1: Killian’s Rest

Joshua Campbell: The Man, The Myth, The Legend
Photo by Nicolas Hoizey on Unsplash

Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. The open air of a town-car was a different story. The solid black paint did little to muffle the sounds of a scream. Much less to muffle the voices on it’s radio, tuned straight to the back passenger, Joshua Campbell.

To call Joshua Campbell an eccentric billionaire would be an understatement. Not much was known of the young CEO and owner of Arkh Industries, but rumors were plentiful. It’s well known that Arkh Industries had their hands in everything technology, and had lead to Campbell’s meteoric rise. Software had led to hardware, hardware had led to full systems of all varieties. An ArkhOS on every desk , and an ArkhPhone in every pocket. Automation and automotion sprang up over night. Cybernetics and Robotics had come naturally as their projects progressed. All of which needed to be covered by insurance, which was offered at unbeatable prices through Arkh’s Flood Insurance, because “when it rains, it pours, and the Arkh was built for floods.” The cloud had become a nebula, and Joshua Campbell was leading the charge through the new frontier.

Arkh Industries’ public offerings were nothing compared to it’s whispers in the Dark. Mining equipment, military equipment, energy production, biological research, real estate investing and development, land purchasing, banking, farming, brewing, producing, and even a very successful chain of small Bar and grills were all rumored to be run by the man behind the curtain through shell companies owned by larger shell companies. Politicians, both young and old were said to be in the palm of his hands. Whole governments with shadier and shadier policies seemed to dance to make Campbell happy. New money had bought out old money. the dollar, the yen, the pound, and the franc; all seemed outdated as the Bit had made its appearance. Creditors, debtors, investors, and traders had all risen and fallen at the young man’s whims. What was gold to a man with the Capitol to collapse the global economy out of sheer boredom?

Joshua Campbell was a bit of a recluse, which did nothing more than throw dynamite into the flames of gossip. He was rarely seen outside of his Arkh Industries compound. An experimental prototype community of the future inspired by minds he had found truly inspiring. Creating a new world from behind the most secure walls of green in infertile desert. Celebrities, scientists, artists, and engineers had all flocked to his side. Paparazzi was hunted down by security, so the narrative was held strictly by an internal network of news and a missive of media manned by the meager and the eager.

That’s what the conspiracy theorist on his radio had to say, at least. A three hour diatribe on his life and his accomplishments, by crackpots, for crackpots. Joshua Campbell had soaked it all in. Reveling in amazement at what they got right, what they got wrong, and what they had missed entirely. No news was good news, but there was no such thing as bad publicity.

***

“That’s quite a lot to process, Captain.”

“Roger, Roger.” Both the Good Captain and his first mate gleamed at the success of their live broadcast. “Might just be time to set sail for calmer waters. Once again, thank you Pirate Crew for hopping aboard the King Brad’s Revenge. This has been Captain Redbeard,”

“And Jolly Roger”

“Thanks for listening to Pirate Radio! The King Brad’s Revenge is set for smoooooth sailing.” Redbeard’s voice was velvet.

“End scene.” The man dubbed Jolly Roger flipped the switch and sent the broadcast to outro music, cutting their feed. “You know, he’s something else. I feel a storm a’comin’.”

“Too late to back out now.” Captain Redbeard sank into his chair.

Jolly Roger swung his mic away from him. “Ye be warned.”

***

His face was blank as Joshua Graham sat in silence in the back of his solid black town-car. He watched his hand made forest roll passed his window, as he heard two so called pirates give their so called two cents on his life. Two cents he’d gladly refund.

“If they ain’t nippin’ at your heels, you ain’t hot.” Joshua Campbell said with a smirk, mostly to himself, as the editor in chief of Arkh News Now began to jot down notes, “I must be a scorcher.” His smirk broke as he took in the newest establishment in his so called compound. His jaw unhinged.

The town car rolled to a stop in the Killian’s parking lot. The man in back gawked. “It looks like a shithole.”

His driver nodded. “They call it rustic, Sir.” He put the car in park and began to get out. “They say the food is the best BBQ this side of the Mississippi.”

“Gah, of course it is.” Joshua’s door opened, and he stepped out. He clapped his hand on his driver’s shoulder. “Guy, Promise me you’ll never fuck me like this.” He waved his other hand over his newest eyesore. “Promise me.”

“Of course not, Mr. Campbell. Of course not.” They both nodded in agreement before stepping into Killian’s Bar and Grill, home of the best BBQ this side of the Mississippi, and the largest Grand Opening sign in New Babylon.

His editor in chief made sure to note Joshua Campbell’s appreciation for the rustic charm of Killian’s Bar and Grill, and his enthusiasm to sample the best BBQ this side of the Mississippi.

***

George’s Grand Opening Goes Grand

Earlier this month, George Killian broke ground on his newest location of his Nation-Wide hit franchise, Killian’s Bar and Grill. None other than young mogul, Joshua Campbell himself, joined the celebrations to welcome George Killian and his Killer BBQ to the folds of his idyllic home, New Babylon by Arkh.

“The rustic charm is perfect for our little slice of Heaven! And, I hear he’s got the best barbecue this side of the Mississippi.” Campbell told this reporter with a wink, as we arrived to the event.

Story continues on page 3…

***

Mr. Campbell stood at the head of his conference table; belly full of bbq and face devoid of emotion. Rage seething from every pore all the same. He looked around the table at the eight stiffest suits ever starched. Failures, complete disappointments the lot of them.

“What the fuck,” his voice sliced through the tension like a carving knife through prime rib, “is this eyesore doing in my city?”

“It’s…” one of the suits chirped in, “It’s rustic, Sir.”

His gaze rose the temperature of the meeting room enough to find sweat on this unfortunate interloper’s brow.

“It’s a shithole.” He scanned the room, not a single eye met his. “You people DO realize this isn’t just some shanty town out in the desert, correct?”

“Yes…sir,” the suit that previously spoke up suddenly felt five times too big, “…it’s the Future of Living, but-“ his voice cracked and his fate sealed.

“Out.” Campbell pointed at the door, which suddenly stood open with two men in black suits and ear pieces standing at attention.

The child playing businessman in his father’s suit stood from the table and somberly walked through the doors. His tail tucked securely between his legs as the only exit sealed back up.

“Anyone else care to discuss good barbecue?” Campbell smirked as puddles formed under seven seats at his table.

***

After dropping Mr. Campbell off at his office, Guy headed back to Killian’s. He sat at the bar, gazing longingly into his mug. A deep Amber in a frosty vessel. Home in a glass. How a chain got into this fortress he would never know, but he would always appreciate.

The paunchy bartender leaned forward onto the bar. Hands outstretched as if leaning in to hug his speedrack. “How are you doing, Mr. Staunton?” He focused on the lost patron, completely ignoring the empty tables and booths clamoring for his attention.

The driver blinked at the barman, taking more than a moment to register the foreign language being spoken at him. “Uh, Guy.” He barely found the words. “Please, call me Guy.”

“Sorry Sir.” He noticed the sting at the word. “I mean; sorry, Guy. Jus’ figured the chaperon to the Big Bossman would expect a little more formality.”

Chaperon. “I prefer driver.” Guy winked and clicked to his new best friend.

“Gotcha. I’m George.” He outstretched his hand to his new favorite patron. “George Killian.”

“THE Killian?!” Guy shook heartily. “Maybe I should be calling YOU sir.” They both smiled.

“The one and the same. I like to open up my new locations. Get a real feel for the place.” He looked around the empty room. “Not feelin’ much here.”

Guy had been so lost in his brew, he didn’t notice the two were alone. “Well, you got me.”

“That I do.” He began to pour another after a quick glance at a nearly empty mug, “Practically evaporated in this desert air, eh?”

“They’ll do that.” He winked again. “You’ll do fine out here. Getting in is the hard part. The rest is, well,” Guy furrowed his brow, “something else.”

“How’d you get in? If you don’t mind me asking.” He tiptoed, less than gracefully. “And why? No offense, but you don’t exactly seem from these types.”

Guy took a swig from the fresh mug and focused on the why of things. “Money. It’s out here. Feels like the new frontier.”

George leaned against his back bar and folded his arms across his chest. He looked around the empty room. He saw past the walls to the veritable oasis his new establishment called home. He saw the carefully planned utopia. The walls rising up from the desert sand. The trees and grass and man made rivers and lakes. The homes, too Grand to be cookie cutter, but too perfect to be unique. The home on the hill in the center, high enough so the view would be unobstructed, and round so you could take it all in. It was a solitary paradise out in the middle of nowhere, sovereignty through location. On the outskirts of humanity, tomorrow had approached. And there was George Killian. In the outskirts of the outskirts of humanity. “I hear that.” He nodded. “Have Bar, Will Travel.”

“I hear that.” Guy repeated, while checking his ArkhPhone+ Prototype for the time. He only noticed The King Brad’s Revenge had begun another stream. The ArkhSignal shone bright.

***

“Welcome back to the King Brad’s Revenge! This is Captain Redbeard-“

“And Jolly Roger!”

“-This is absolutely wild. We just had a three hour show on ‘eccentric billionaire’ Joshua Campbell. Now, we were-“

“And still are” chirped Jolly Roger as Redbeard offered a wink.

“- expecting a response, buuuut not the heavy response we’ve gotten from you,” He emphasized, “our loyal pirate crew.”

“All hands on deck, Captain!” Jolly Roger chimed. “We’re drowning in emails! All lines are packed!” The board in front of Jolly Roger all flashed off beat. “We’re seeing red!”

“Now, I know what you’re thinking.” Redbeard’s index finger waggled aimlessly to the skeleton crew in the studio. “We could go through and answer every one of these off air, ooooooorrrrr, we could do something truly unprecedented on this show.” He gave Pregnant pause as he looked to his crew. “We’re going onto land today, to hear what the pirate crew has to say!”

“Land Ahoy!” Jolly Roger rang his pirate bell.

“Welcome to the first Pirate Open Forum since Blackbeard’s Court.”

“All hands on deck!” Jolly Roger opened the first line. Chaos ensued.

***

Joshua Campbell and his editor in chief took a long silent elevator ride down to his garage. His driver already had the door to his town car open for him. His editor in chief shuffled in behind, noting the success and competency of Arkh’s trusted elites.

Guy knew the drill. Times like these, the Big Bossman liked to aimlessly ride around his utopia. Basking in his own glory cleared his mind. Mental masturbation at its finest.

Usually he requested classical music, or at least something with cellos. This time he needed the silence. Neither of his companions dared break it.

“Driver.” Joshua Campbell had to break the silence himself. “I need a drink. Somewhere quiet so I can think.”

“Yes sir.” Guy’s voice dropped whisper quiet before adding “you’re gonna hate me.”

Guy rolled the town car to a stop at an all too familiar spot before Mr Campbell noticed. “You’ve got to be fucking KIDDING ME!” Mr. Campbell’s face turned to a shade of red never seen this side of the Mississippi before seething: “You’ve got ONE word.”

“Empty.” Guy tapped a finger to his forehead twice.

Joshua Campbell regained his composure as his forehead crinkled. “It better be.”

Guy headed in by himself first, to make sure it was quiet. Surprisingly it was.

“Guy!” George’s face beamed at his best customer of the day. “I wa-“ he started.

“George, I’m here on business.” He looked around. “You got a back room?”

George stood up straight, realizing the gravity of the situation. “I’ve got the banquet hall, right through that door.” He pointed to a large swinging door that blended into the wall.

Guy opened the door. “Perfect.” He stepped outside momentarily before re-entering with the Big Bossman and his personal editor in chief in tow, leading them to the backroom and complete privacy before settling at the bar. “They’re going to be in there for a while.” He pulled out a roll of bills and handed it to the stunned barman. “Can I get my usual?”

George felt the weight of the bills in his hand and lost all sense of reality for a moment. “Coming right up, Sir.”

“Guy.”

***

HR Manager Manages New Resource

We’re sad here at Arkh News Now to say goodbye to Arkh Industries’ long term HR Manager Ed Parrdy, whose accomplishments were innumerable and unheard of, yet after years of service he has announced his sudden retirement. Onto greener pastures with a budding family.

“They say, the real treasury is the ones we meet along the way.” Ed told this reporter, tears of hope gleaming in his eyes.

Story continues on page 8…

Eyes on the Prize

Join our fearless leader, Joshua Campbell, on his search for the next budding young hopeful in the candidate for Head of Human Resources of world-leading Arkh Industries. Rumors abound on a fiery newcomer in the race, with her eyes on the prize.

Story continues on page 3…

SeriesSci FiSatire

About the author

Christopher Beesley

Drinkslinger trying to become a wordslinger.

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