They took Galt to a luxury airport outside London that he didn’t know existed, put him on a private jet and flew him to an unlisted airport outside the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Davos, where the World Economic Forum holds its annual meeting. They checked him into the imperial suite of Davos’s plushest hotel. When the former president took his leave, he warmly patted Galt on the shoulder, telling him that the ‘right people’ had great expectations of him. Galt was given an hour to gather himself. He stood in front of the bay window of his suite and took in the spectacular view of the Alps. He knew he had finally made it.

The knock on the door came at three p.m. ‘Good afternoon, Mr Galt,’ said a neat, officious man, clutching a golden folder. ‘We trust everything is to your satisfaction.’

Galt nodded. He was a tall, handsome, thirty-six-year-old man with salt and pepper hair, and blue-grey eyes that a female reporter once famously described as dreamy. ‘Most satisfactory.’

My name is Henry Payne,’ the other man said. ‘Let me officially welcome you to the Organisation.’ Payne reached into his breast pocket and took out a card made from a sparkling material that resembled flattened diamond. It was embossed with the words: The Organisation 6006. ‘Your Access All Areas pass, Mr Galt. Show that in any of our facilities and you can have anything you wish, no questions asked. You will not be charged for anything. You understand that we own the finest hotels in the world, in the most exclusive areas, as far from the chatter as can be contrived.’

The chatter?’

Our term for the ordinary people. They are the background noise to which we pay no attention.’

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