4th post: Learn to be Invisible (Part 1)

I don’t think i like the last post much anymore, so fuck it, i’m going to start something different.

This next one is going to be LONG. I already have the first few parts written though.

Learn to be Invisible (Part 1)

ONE.
JAIME LEATHERS.

It looks like a jet. Seen from a beautiful park constructed on the top of a soaring steel and glass banking tower, it looks like a jet. At least, at first it does. The lengthening trail that it cuts across the sky is not white, but black, like smoke. It is coming from a long way off. At first the thing looks like a small object, moving quite slowly, then it becomes apparent that it is a massive object, falling very quickly. A meteor. The meteor continues to grow, and grow, and although when viewed from the park it seemed to be falling southwards it never quite passes overhead, instead getting closer and closer, larger and larger. For a couple of seconds it becomes so large it fills the sky. Then it collides with the city.

A massive explosion. A fireball that consumes the city and everything around it. More people are killed in the impact than in any other previously recorded event. Millions of people eradicated in a moment. Some die slowly, such as a man on the edge of the inferno who himself bursts into flames. He dies screaming. A titanic cloud of dust erupts from the planet. From space the orange cloud looks vast enough to obscure a continent. I hear Mr Anderson eek out an “Oooh” of appreciation. Good. The graphics of this theoretical simulation are incredible. Especially the clouds, they keep changing shape and everything. This whole presentation room must have cost a fortune. Fuck yes.
I zoom in on Mr. Anderson’s face in time to seem his mouth forma silent WOAH. Maybe because of that unicorn shaped cloud drifting south from the radioactive crater. The viewing room was a private office, the soft hum of the monitor and it’s computers the only thing intruding on the video.

Across from Mr. Anderson sits the primary presentation director for Kallogs. His face is dominated by massive eyebrows and a massive brush of a moustache. Once the video ends he rises from his boardroom chair and stands in front of the 3D projector before launching his first verbal barrage at Mr. Anderson. I make sure to keep one screen on Mr. Anderson’s face.

“DO YOU SEE THE FUTILITY OF YOUR 3RD QUARTER STRATEGY NOW? Our software predicts that the meteor will collide with the earth in less than three years. With 85% certainty we believe the P.O.I- that’s point of impact, will be right in the middle of the amazon rainforest. When that happens only a deskful of tree chicken nests will survive. As you know, tree chickens cannot be domesticated, they cannot be transplanted. What will KFTC do when the world’s supply of tree chickens is wiped out? Venture into the far more competitive cheap-chicken market? I think not. That’s a ruthless industry. Most companies barely last for four days before prostituting the staff or petitioning for their restaurants to become sets of reality tv micro-series, just to delay filing for bankruptcy. Remember what happened to McDoodles?That show “Eat Shit: Experiments In Fecal Cuisine”. That could be KFTC. Your chicken flippers might become hookers. Your stocks will plummet. We estimate that most species of mammals will go extinct when the meteor hits. Additionally your prime demographic will be greatly reduced. With no supply, and little demand, KFTC will be history. You won’t even be able to sell pork fries.”

I watch the Primary Presentation Director bring up another 3D projection, this one a slide presentation filled with anemic revenue projections and catastrophic pie charts. There are copious amounts of red. It’s mirror flashes onto a periphery screen, and I check to see that Miss Lee is looking at that too. She doesn’t seem to be. But should I tell her? Or is that a bit forward of me? Probably. The PPM continued to describe the apocalyptic downfall of KFTC to a patiently observant Mr. Anderson. Mr Anderson’s plain face gave away nothing.
As the wide mouthed Primary Presentation Director spoke, he eyed Mr. Anderson without mercy. We’d chosen the PPM partly on the basis of his university eductation, that is, he had a masters degree in facial intimidation techniques, and he made his eyebrows dance to invoke a primal fear in Mr. Anderson. His eyebrows looked like tiny spiders wriggling across his forehead, a fear of which is hardwired into most humans. Shit. I actually feel kind of scared and i’m not even in the room. Crazy tech.
According to Mr Anderson’s unique profile though, he was supposedly exceptionally resistant to fear. It’s a mental disorder, one that is usually quite debilatative but for some can be a useful trait. It didn’t synergise quite as much as being ethically inflexible but it may have it’s uses. Only one out of a hundred thousand are capable of such apathy. According to the research I did on wikipedia, the rarity is compounded by the fact that very few such people who have such a condition ever survive long enough to recieve their first paycheck. Apparently most try to fly off their balconies, or see how long they can sit in an oven, before making it to adulthood.

The PPM’s palms collided with the table audibly. He leaned forward towards Mr. Anderson on the other side of the table. The PPM’s Hugo Bass tie swayed in the air-conditioning as he continued his assault.

“SUPER SIZE THAT SHIT. As you can see the future isn’t in tree chicken, the future is in RICE. We’ve found that by lacing rice, long grain rice to be exact, since it’s healthier- higher in fiber you know, with cocaine, then consumers generally tend to be uber loyal to the brand. We call it CRICES. As in crisis…do you have a question you want to ask Mr. Anderson?”

Mr. Anderson finally lowered his arm. Then he looked the PPM from Kallogs straight in the eye and asked in a strangely intense, slow speaking fashion:

“If the meteor is supposed to land in the amazon, why did your video show it colliding with a city?”

The PPM paused, then shrugged, then rolled his eyes, and then said “DETAILS Mr. ANDERSON, DETAILS. it’s time to look at the big picture, you gotta stop sweating the small stuff. You got to think about the future. The future of Kentucky Fried Tree Chicken.” The PPM stabbed the table with his finger repeatedly, emphasizing everything.

“And what about the other 15%?” Asked Mr. Anderson.

“Wha….what?” Said the PPM.

“You said you were 85% certain the meteor is going to hit, what about the other 15%.”

The PPM stared at Mr. Anderson, and then reached into his suit jacket, which was draped over a chair in the board room. From the jacket he pulled out a revolver. “Don’t worry it’s loaded with less than lethal rounds. This stuff will at most, paralyze you.”

Mr. Anderson didn’t seem to care.

The PPM slammed the revolver down on the table, and then slid it over to Mr. Anderson.

The PPM gestured dramatically, eyebrows skittering above his manic eyes:

“There are 5 rounds in that, and one blank. Are you telling me you’re willing to pull that trigger, on the off chance that your hammer falls on nothing? If so, do it now you lunatic.” He said.

Mr. Anderson picked up the revolver and started talking. He pointed the gun at the PPM to emphasize certain points. I zoomed the monitor in closer.
“Should we be worried?” I asked Miss Lee.
“SHHH I’m watching.”
“Sorry Miss Lee.”
Now Mr. Anderson was speaking: “First of all, I didn’t get your name. Can i please have your name? Was it Randall? I thought it was Randall. Ok Randall, here’s the thing, first of all, your argument has several holes in it. Number one, even if the Amazon rainforest is reduced to a smoldering ruin it doesn’t mean KFTC closes shop. We don’t harvest tree chickens because of their unique flavor, or their tenderness, though i will admit tree chicken is remarkably tender, we harvest them because they reproduce at a microbial rate. No matter how many we harvest, new chicks are born soon after. Most of the actual flavoring in KFTC comes from our secret sauce formula, which has been handed down since the company was founded in 1905. It’s mostly salt, but the exact formula is known only to the CEOs. We could probably pour that delicious sauce all over duck and still call it a Zinger. On top of that, KFTC’s R and D has been working on a G.E synthetic tree chicken alternative for years. We want something with less fat in it, so it’s healthier. It’s tentatively called Tree Chicken Zero. So even if, again, the rainforest is completely obliterated we’ll be just fine. Hell, with less of our customers dying of heart attacks our retention rate will actually increase. I can name many more alternatives to our current supply Randall. A whole list. We at KFTC are as adaptable as the tree chicken.”

The PPM was sitting down, staring downwards at the table as Mr. Anderson spoke, his hands clasped together as if in prayer. He seemed entirely unaffected by Mr. Anderson’s retort. When Mr. Anderson paused, the PPM fingers immediately unwound, and his mouth dropped open, ready to speak. Mr. Anderson raised the pistol and pointed directly at the PPM’s white-toothed maw.

The PPM gasped like a fish.

“WHA…WHAT!” he said.

“I have a question.” said Mr. Anderson.

The PPM’s mouth closed with an audible click. These fucking microphones are great.

“What do you want?” Asked Mr. Anderson.

The PPM sat up straight, and his eyebrows began to squirm again, albeit with less enthusiasm.

“We have a proposal for KFTC. We would like to offer your company the exclusive usage of Kallog brand Crices rices, including fried Crices chips, Crices and sesame seed buns for your zingers, Crices flavored soda- we call it Grainz, and we shall provide the marketing and PR. After the meteor crashes we will have already developed brand recognition amongst the survivors. It’s win win.”

Mr. Anderson thoughtfully tapped the side of his cheek with the barrel of the revolver. The PPM waited silently for Mr. Anderson. A minute passed. Then another.

“So…” Began the PPM.

Mr. Anderson interrupted, and said “How did you find out about the meteor? Does the government know? How do we know this isn’t completely fictitious.”

The PPM said “I knew you were going to ask that eventually.” He produced a manilla envelope with the Kallog’s logo emblazoned in the middle, before sliding it like a revolver towards Mr. Anderson. “Inside there are the details on the Kobeyashi asteroid. The government, at the least the chief executive of the city, and as far as we know both NASA and the EU space agencies all know about the asteroid. The Kallog’s owned subsidiary, Atmo, has ties to every major space agency in the world, and a rather considerable budget allocated to elections. It has been decided that leaking this information to the public at this moment would simply cause a panic, not to mention an economic crash.”

Mr. Anderson immediately responded, looking up at the ceiling. “This is pretty ridiculous you know.” He hadn’t even opened the envelope. The PPM shrugged.

The PPM said “Mr. Anderson i gather however that you have a counter proposal for Kallog’s?”

Mr. Anderson looked at the revolver. “Yes, originally we had a proposal, similar to yours, but without knowledge of the asteroid, obviously. However, now that that has come to light, i would like to table my original idea. Instead, i would like to ask if you could relay to your superiors that the KFTC group is interested in buying out Kallog’s and all it’s subsidiaries, and that if we could reach a mutual deal it would save a lot of time and trouble. I would like to set the opening price for a majority ownership at let’s say, 15% of the company’s current stock value?”

The PPM’s mouth hung open. His hands gripped the table. His mouth opened and closed, but no noise issued from it. His eyebrows shuddered. This went on for a good minute, until Mr. Anderson interrupted.

“So the Kobeyashi asteroid is going to collide with the earth, or at least you are quite sure it will. I’m sure when that information reaches the general public all hell will break loose. Not only will there be an economic collapse, but i’m sure very few people will give a rats ass about long term securities. We at KFTC would be willing therefore, to play the long game. On the off chance the asteroid misses. I think 15% of your current stock value is pretty fair, and since no one, in their right mind would purchase your piece of shit company to begin with at the current price, and you won’t be able to sell at a discount without letting everyone know prematurely why, i think this is a good deal. I recommend you speak to your superiors about it as soon as possible.”

The PPM stared at Mr. Anderson. He looked utterly bewildered. He was not trained for this.

“Randall, you and I both know that regardless of whatever plans your company may have, an apocalyptic meteor strike will render them all moot. Kallog’s is owned in the majority by the Swirex Group right? And that group is owned by the Swirex family. I’m asking you to speak to them. Unlike your anonymous shareholders, who are pretty much going to get as screwed as the rest of us, the Swirex family will most certainly leap at the opportunity to make an insane amount of money before armageddon. Also, from what i know of John Swirex, he could give a fuck about his employees if it means making a buck. No offense. I mean, hell, the world’s going to end so how about we cut the crap eh?”

The PPM said “You shouldn’t speak about the Swirex that way. They are brand partners of KFTC”

“Wait, did you just break character?” Said Mr. Anderson

“FUCK. I mean, uh, sorry. Yeah i guess i did. I’m kind of new to all this. Anyway. As far as I know, no one has ever proposed your idea before. I’m pretty sure they don’t even look for a solution in this exercise, just the potentials reactions. Um, shit, i don’t know if your supposed to know that. Uh…Also, the chambers of that revolver really aren’t empty.”
Miss Lee used my shoulder as leverage to lift herself from the chair next to me. She left the room without a word. I cranked up the audio in time to here Mr. Anderson respond with “How realistic, has anyone ever fired the gun?”

The PPM replied, “Yep, but they all flunked out. We gave them the option to weed out the sociopaths. Lot of those apply for your position you know.”

Mr. Anderson said “Since you dropped your character, perhaps you can tell me if i’ve gotten the job? And out of curiosity has anyone ever been killed during the interview?”

“Well i’m wearing body armor, and those are less than lethals.”

“But what if they shoot you in the face?”

“The gun doesn’t fire when aimed at the face. Child safety features.”

On the monitor the interview room door opened, and a short girl in very high heels entered. It was Miss Lee. Her hands shot appealed to the PPM, I mean Martin’s face, as he sat. “For fuck sake Martin, could you at least wait till i come in? You know i hate it when you talk to the potentials out of character. Well, congratulations Mr. Anderson on passing the interview stage. Here.” She offered Mr. Anderson a red star. When Mr. Anderson looked at it quizzically, Miss Lee. stepped forward and adorned Mr. Anderson’s breast pocket with it, pinning the star under his name tag. For motivation. Studies show it works.

Mr. Anderson looked at her, seeming quite bored as she pinned the small star. Then he turned and picked up the gun, pulling the trigger six times in rapid succession, all the while aiming at the side of his head.

I leaned forward into the screen. Everyone gasped.

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. THE SOUND IS SO GOOD. Better than reality TV.

The PPM and Miss Lee stood stunned. Mr. Anderson took a look inside the chamber. Inside were five bright pink less than lethal rounds, and one empty chamber. “Child safety! Amazing. What a time to be alive eh? So onto the next test I suppose.” said Mr. Anderson as he walked past the short woman and out of the boardroom.
Yeah it’s a pretty good time to be alive.
I minimised the game I was playing on the other screen. I just sold four bays of hay for twenty macaroons. My farm is getting fucking huge. Better catch my break whilst Miss Lee preps Mr. Anderson for the GTD test.

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