C O M P A N Y: Chapter 1 Viva la Escalation


He sat on a precipice, waters below churning, it sparkled that idyllic Mediterranean blue-green.

The swelling chatter of voices broke on the rocks of an angry shore around Martin at his desk.

He closed his eyes tightly for a second to try blink away the blank spots in his vision for a moment.

“Sleepwalking through another day?” a woman’s voice tinged with an accusatory tone cut through.

“Oh, not yet. Just gathering my thoughts.” Eyes flickering open, jolting with a start at a face appearing only centimetres from his own. His head jerking back a little.

“Yes, I noticed, it’s a mess, everything’s a mess, they are everywhere, I had to wade through several non-work related ones about goats yelling like men to get to your pod.”

It was Thatcher, his overseer looming over him. She had studied President Johnson’s lean in intimidation tactic and thought no one knew about it, it was transparent to Martin. She was right, trails of glowing text littered his pod. The repeated word “Escape.” blinking in slow azure caught his eye as he motioned the text into the archives dissolving it.

“I need you to focus on your team, I’m doubting your competence and your commitment to keeping company with us.”

“I.. I have a lot of data to crunch. I have constant data executions, customer escalations and disciplinary meetings.”

“All I’m hearing are excuses, you need to take control of your situation  and your team like your life depended on it or I will. There are people who would gladly do your job, better.” she let the last word hang in front of his eyes before she permanently deleted it using her BossKey.

“I love the Company.” Martin stammered.

“Good, make it love you back” Thatcher said walking away.

“Fuck.” Martin hissed.

“Problem Boss?” Dark eyes appeared over the pod wall. It was Mankdeep

Martin sighed. “No but we have to get the team hitting targets this month.”

“No one is caring, you must swear on them and say ‘Look mother bitches, do your jobs, no job, no storage, go die.’ They will cry if you do and cry if you don’t, that’s why I believe my gods have six arms, to answer 6 calls” Mankdeep said cheerfully.

“That’s true thanks Mank” Martin pushed himself away from his pod.

He looked at his team, plugs in their heads, chattering and tapping keyboards.

Many of the women in his team were pregnant and would be having Data Births soon.

Martin shook his head thinking about how wrong it was that people would get so filled with other people’s information it would cause a pregnancy to dump the data. Technology making data physical.

Feeling morose he went to visit El Hefe, another veteran of the singularity uprising like himself.

“Bounos dias Marti, como esta?”

“Esta meirda Hefe.”

“Then everything is normal for a Monday eh? Ahaha.”

“That it is indeed, man.”

“Soy comprendo, let’s go outside and die a little quicker than in here.”

They cycled the datalock and stepped into harsh light reflected from the white concrete and glass outside. Palms surgically grafted into the concrete waived in the breeze.

Hefe lit a contrabrand for them both. The rich flavor of subversive carcinogens filled their lungs.

“I don’t know man, this isn’t what I saw myself doing when I signed on after the revolution.”

“Times change amigo, people change with them. We live in a new age now. We are made of information.” Ones and zeroes wafted from the end of the burning contrabrand corrupting the luminous traces of their conversation.

“What if that information is corrupt, what if we got it wrong?”

“Chingada, then we are fucked, hahaha. I know you man, you are one of the few decent people left that can see what all this code means, what its building.”

“I’m not sure I like what it’s turning us into I have been snooping on the network master tables. Every single persons records are there. We are at their mercy.” Martin said swaying unconsciously with the palms.

The building started to illuminate itself orange. Hefe and Martin looked at each other rolling their eyes in unison.

“One damn thing after another.”

Quickly they stubbed out their contrabrands and went through the datalock their conversation just a jumbled mess now blowing away in the breeze.

A soft saccharine chiming alarm was almost audible over the frenzied chattering, The orange lighting now shifted menacingly towards red.

“Where the fuck were you two?” Thatcher spat, she quickly BossKeyed out the sharp font hanging in front of her.

“We were discussing how best to promote top down synergy.” Martin said quickly.

“Oh, okay, but we have lost storage in an entire state, we need you insilico right now, we have customers in need.”

“On it.” Martin said plugging a coms into his head.

“Viva la escalation.” El Hefe said with a fist bump while plugging in.

Eyes narrow and set and a sneer on her face Belinda waived Martin over.

“This idiot won’t take ‘we are looking into it and it will be resolved’ shortly for an answer and is refusing to get off the line until he talks with someone in charge.”

“Here we go.” Martin said under his breath shooing Belinda’s sulky presence from the panel.

“Username?”

“Wehrner Spiljker, he’s a real asshole.” Belinda drawled.”You deal with that I’ll be outside having a contrabrand. Enjoy!”

“Great thanks for that.” Martin said, raised his eyebrows and went live.

 

“Hi Wehrner, you are speaking with Martin, how can I help?”

“You better fucking help mate, you fucking better.” The voice exploded into Martins head.

“Ok, we will try do our best for you, we can see there’s an outage in your area and we are doing everything we can to resolve it.” Martin said warmly.

“Oh, thanks for the fucking newsflash you dipshit drone, we are fucking dying here!”

“We have dispatched remote hands to the area, have you tried shutting down anything non-essential?” Slightly firmer this time.

“Shut down non essentials? Go fuck yourself man, all we have running are essentials, you fix this now fucker or put me on to someone that can.”

“Wehrner your attitude isn’t getting us anywhere, I am trying to help you here, which I can’t do if you are communicating with me like this.”

 

Sobs were audible on the other end.

“My daughter, my baby daughter just, just, dissolved into datapile, just the words mummy, daddy, over and over in her stroller.” The voice was eerily calm now, we had just crossed into the eye of the storm.

“I understand this is an unfortunate situation, but I have to point out we have no service level agreement guaranteeing data cohesion and storage uptime.” As much as he would have liked to do something about it, the call was monitored and there wasn’t anything he could.

“No, you don’t fucking understand at all, how could you, my daughter just disappeared, my wife put the datapile in a shoebox, do you know how long my wife had to gather information to afford a databirth, do you? Oh god, Karen, your neck!”

“Look hang in there, let the remote hands do their work, we don’t normally cover consequential loss but under these circumstances, Werhner, I’m willing to offer you a month of credit.”

“Fuck you and your month of credit, you can shove that up your ass, wait, wait, ok change us to a business plan, right now, that will fix this and write protect us wont it?

“I’m sorry but we can’t change the plan type until the end of the month, even if I change it now it’s not going to kick in until the first. If I had a magic button that could change this for you I would press it.”

“Karen stop screaming, it will make it spread faster, just lie down, think of how we met, ok? When I was so nervous and spilt my coffee on my pants and we both laughed, you remember that song that was playing? Ok, shh, shh.”

“Werhner? Mr Spiljker? Are you there? Can you hear me?”

“Aaaaaaaahhhh hah haaaaa.” The primal scream echoed in Martins head.

The angry red light on the centre floor rapidly cycled through until it was a light blue.

“Good news Mr Spiljker, it looks like the remote hands did their job and everything is back online, isn’t that better?” Martins head was buzzing and felt ill at how hollow his words were.

Muffled sobs.

“Ok well thanks for your call today and we are happy to have been of assistance, you will be receiving a survey shortly that lets us know if you would be happy to promote our services to your friends or family. We would be most grateful if you could fill that out favorably.” On autopilot.

Sounds of draws opening and closing, metal clinking, click.

Bang.

Martin jumped, yanking the magnetic closed coms plug off his head.

Belinda swaggered back to her pod “What did I miss?” She said nasally.

“Terminate, Mr Spijkers account.” Martin stood jerkily, colour draining, shaking.

El Hefe on his way back to his pod from his own escalation locked eyes on Martin.

 

“Bad?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Lunch?”

 

“Yeah.”

To be continued in Chapter 2 Raw Meetings

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