Charles inhaled another line of coke off the hooker's chest. "Now get out!" he yelled at her. He hadn't slept for three days. In thirty minutes he had a meeting with the rest of the board. They wanted him out and he wanted to leave, but things weren't that simple.

He rose from his desk and took a look in the mirror. It was hard to believe that he was only 24 years old. Stress does terrible things to the body. A decade of drinking, drugs and guilt does even worse. For the past nine years Charles' factory had been the largest manufacturer of weapons and ammunition in the world. That had never been the plan, but to survive in business you have to be prepared to adapt.

He splashed cold water on his face and went back to the desk. His head was throbbing. The headaches were getting worse. He opened the top drawer and rummaged through its contents - porn mags, unopened letters from his uncle, expired chocolate, aspirin and a gun. He swallowed an aspirin and stuck the gun in his mouth. He'd give the aspirin ten seconds to kick-in or else he'd pull the trigger. Six seconds later there was a disappointing click. The largest producer of weapons and ammo on the planet and he didn't have a single bullet.

Charles thought back to the final days of his childhood, of Augustus and Violet, their lives cut so very short. They got off lightly.

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