“I can’t take any calls right now,” he barked to Marvin, his assistant, while wiping a bit of guacamole ranch from the corner of his mouth. The tail of the chicken lettuce wrap, a trade name for a boring burrito that his firm had actually trademarked a few years back, had disintegrated into a gooey mess inextricable from the rest of the silvery foil crumpled by his keyboard.
“She says she’s your cousin.”
“My cousin?” he replied, scrunching up his face. “Okay, will you get that door then?” Marvin rolled his chair away from his desk and swung his long arm backward to slam the door shut.
“Yeah, hello?” he said after finally punching the blinking light on the office phone.
“Yes, who’s this?”
“Mathilde! Hey, great to hear from you. How’s your mom doing? Oh, and the kids–Hunter and…um…”
“Stephen, listen to me,” the voice on the other end of the line said earnestly.
“It’s time,” she said after a pause.
He scrunched up his face again. “Time?” he said puzzled. “Time for what?”
“The time, Stephen. The word is going out.”
“Wait…you don’t mean…that time?”
“Yes, that time. The time of reckoning.”
“Wait a second…is this a joke? Did your brother put you up to this?”
“Dammit, no. This is it.”
“No it isn’t,” he said, forcing a chuckle.
“Yes, Stephen it is. It’s time for us to bring the plan to fruition.”
“The plan? Come on. The plan–”
“The plan. Our destiny. This is it.”
“Matty–you don’t really believe that stuff, do you?”
“My father just called me, Stephen. This is happening. This is what our family has planned for millennia. This is our time.”
“This is why our family line was created!” she practically shouted into the phone. “We have to play our part now and then we–our family–will be the lords of the Earth.”
“Of course, seriously!” she yelled again. “This is god-damned Armageddon from which we will emerge masters of all human kind.”
“Jesus, you sound like crazy Uncle Frank.”
“Frank was a Grand Inquisitor of the order! He wasn’t crazy.”
“This is just some crazy legend. We’re not really descended from divine beings sent to Earth to subdue it. Come on. It’s not real, Matty.”
“Of course it is. Why do you think for generations our family has pushed all of its children into positions of power. Me, finance. You, media. Jerome in the Senate. We’re all pieces in the puzzle. This is what we were groomed for.”
“Matty, every rich family sends its kids to Yale and Harvard. It hardly means we’re ready to take over the world. Come on, be serious. How many others have you called?”
She went silent for a moment.
“You’re the first I’ve talked to after my dad called,” she answered weakly.
“Well, come on. Be reasonable.”
“This is the plan, Stephen,” she said, recovering her assertive tone. “We have to do this. This is the agenda for the eons. There will be a time of darkness and bloodletting and then we, we will emerge as the power in the world and hold it for all of eternity.”
He glanced at the artifacts around his desk–photos, computer screen, calendar.
“Armageddon,” he repeated. “But the stock just split…and Suzanne has her ballet recital next month.”