Bruce fidgeted in the malignant glow of the projector. A yellow and orange piechart streaked across his cheeks, sending photons bouncing around inside the beads of sweat dotting his face. The glare of the bulb felt like it had grown harsher and now hid the faces of his well-to-do interrogators. He longed to throw open the windows to the meeting room and get the fresh ocean breeze onto his face. That's why he'd flown them all out there in the first place. The ocean was his ultimate argument for his proposal.
"I'm sorry," Bruce asked, "Could you repeat the question?"
"I simply am wondering how this theme park will make money. As an investor, I understand that there are risks involved in any capital venture. However, reasonable projections can be made based on studies of other businesses in the sector, expected operating costs. Your business plan has some truly wonderful illustrations but very little in the way of numbers," said Jessica Floof with a slight german accent. She represented the firm Grossly, Rich and Indeed, GmbH.
"Please take a look at my expected operating revenue, you'll see that it's quite attractive," Bruce replied. Bruce struggled to keep his face neutral, but he hated Jessica. She'd come in late, after the shades had been pulled, and banged her way to a seat through the darkened room. It broke the concentration of the other investors.
"But you make no mention of where these numbers came from," Jessica replied.
"From my notebook," Bruce said.
"And how did they get into your notebook?"
Bruce realized that this would go nowhere. He decided to go back on the offensive.
"This isn't your standard theme park. It's an extraordinary plan in every conceivable way, and I think that as it is unique, you may have to leave some of your prejudices at the door. We'll have a kraken, the sea horror that has plagued fishers and sailors since time immemorial. Do you have any idea of the kind of numbers that will draw?"
"And where," Jessica asked, "are you planning to get this kraken?"
"The sea, of course."
"I think we're done here," Jessica said. Bruce heard, but could not see, her shuffling her papers.
"No, don't leave!" Bruce said. "We can add revenue opportunities to offset the cost of trapping a kraken!"
"Um, uh, how about we offer kraken rides? Ride the kraken, infamous monster of the deep! For a fee."
"But what are the expenses?"
"I'll tell you what won't be an expense," Bruce said, "building an exit queue from the park, not if we have kraken rides."
"I'm sorry, but you seem to be wasting not only my time, but also the time of everybody else in the room. Including yours."
Bruce couldn't stand it. He needed fresh air. He was suffocating slowly, trapped in the stale air of failure.
"Don't do that!" Jessica screamed as he lunged to open the drapes. Bruce didn't care. She was no longer an investor. Now she was just some woman who was sitting in his boardroom.
The shades slid aside and he threw open a window. The cool breeze hit him like a slap that cleared his mind. The sight of an enormous kraken floating in the steely water beneath his window also helped. One eye the size of a small moon rolled in its socket to focus on Bruce. A long, thick pulsing tentacle stretched across the rocks and up towards the entrance to the building.
Something dawned on him and he turned to face Jessica.
So had all of the other investors, except for the ones that had fled from the room and left their chairs spinning.
It was the first time that Bruce had gotten a good look at Jessica. She looked, in a word, terrible. Her skin was waxy and slick with moisture. Clumps of foundation nucleated around the drops of moisture that oozed out of fat pores in her skin like magma from hellish deep sea vents. She wore both her hair and her scalp at a jaunty angle, as if a strong breeze had blown it to far to one side. And instead of legs, her torso was supported by a thick tentacle. The same color as the kraken lounging in the sea.
As he watched, the Jessica puppet deflated into a pile of foam and craft glue, while the tentacle retreated from the room.
"Your security is very lax," the investors said, filing out of the room.
Bruce flew to the window. The kraken already jetted away from the building.
"I'll get you yet!"
The Moral: if a theme park ride doesn't have an exit, it should at least have a life insurance kiosk.