A Workplace Comedy
“Networking, you see how it’s all connected here?”
Nod, slight smile, noises of agreement.
“Yes, well even if you can’t grasp that just now, you’ll learn how to fit yourself in with the others here. It’s all about interconnectivity.”
Nod, slight smile. No, don’t say anything. He won’t listen. What's his name? Clive...something.
Walk, sit, type. “coffee”. Networking
The nondescript 9-5 job has undergone some major changes in the past few units of time. New boss, new policies, ever more networking. You sit, a stone, amongst the different and the new. An stubborn red stone. Resisting the flow of the other dull gray stones in 3 peice suits, molding and parting around your…unfamiliarness with their world. Stones like Clive.
This isn’t productive behavior. Get with the program. Network.
Clive Someone or Other. He is the new head or your department. Your department used to be headless, you all used to run about on horseback, all different colored stones bringing something different to the team. What the hell does Clive think he knows?
Maybe the others are just better at pretending than you, they can’t love this as they seem to. The sudden enforcement of this corporate conformity. Boosting meaningless number to show shareholders that this company is always moving forward. In a straight line. No matter it was straight into a brick wall. With people like you powerless, stones stuck at the bottom of the riverbed.
Something needs to be done about Clive.
You can’t do this. You can’t Network anymore. What is Networking anyways? Clive never gave a description or even an exapmle. Just on and on about cogs in the machine, word for word off of some training power point his upper managment put him through.
You open the door, which seems to be hanging mostly by years of built up dirt and grime, the wooden door frame having long ago started to rot and crumble. You walk inside giving no greeting to the pet which you are fairly certain, exists solely in an imagination. Whose imagination, though, you haven’t decided. Not yours, it is an ugly horrible pet. As you watch the creature points up to the cracked, and in some places oozing, ceiling. It is gesturing through the ceiling, not at it. A well aimed kick at the animal does nothing to inturupt it's outstreatched appendage.
Whatever, you need a drink anyways.
Why are you on the roof?
You sit in the sharp smelling late afternoon; with the sun dilating into the blue of the sky. Tainting it orange, streaking it pink and purple as it digs in its nails to stay above the horizon. Behind you, in the readily darkening hlaf of the sky, a cluster of storm clouds slouches grey and crackling.
Why are the clouds so upset?
They weep, and bellow. Grumbling out songs too low for you to understand. They don’t want to pour down the fresh clear rain whtout somthing to wash away. They want blood to shed, pain to cry from the heavens, red to tear down the buildings and the people. Especially Clive. They must be displeased with how you have dealt with things at the 9-5.
“It has changed you” the clouds are saying. “We have nothing which we can wash away. No blood, no heat, no danger. wheerrreee is your fire, your resolve, your desire? No metal, no biting, gnashing, screaming, consuming. Listen to them ohhh listen, listen, listen.”
Why have you stopped?
This used to come to you like breathing. Like taking the breath from a body. You got what they wanted. They gave what you wanted. What they wanted you to want. Where are they now? Why am I still here without them. Where does this road go...
Congealing, creeping, dragging, draining.
They need to be found, tonight, Clive needs to meet them. You stand on the edge fo the roof. The sight of the drop, pounding of blood, primal fear rolling in the base of your skull, drooling ice water down your spine. Makes it easier to hear them. It’s been a long while. They don’t come. Not after you threw them out last time, oh no. They’re touchy. You call them.
Seems like you will have to go hunting for them down in the dark, the crawling, the drenched streets below. You don’t need to go far. You find them all curled into a heap in The Alley. Of course they make a home here. They recognize you and make themselves welcome in your essence. You remember this fear, the clawing, cutting, killing, cold fear. You fight to keep them out, they don’t want to go, they fight back.
%“We’ll deal with that later, you later, as a whole.”
&“Yes, but you did come back looking for us.”
%“He needs something.”
#“You need something.”
@“WWWHHHEERRRREEEE ISSSSSS HHEEEE?”
#“He hasn’t changed much as you can tell.”
None of them has changed much.
%“He has a point though, you need this Networking Clive dead?”
&“Course he does, look at him”
%“Can’t be normal can't fit in. Finds it easier to smother his problems.”
%“Dealing with things like us in order to make your life a bit more comfortable.”
#“Thinks that we will help him like before”
%“but this one wanted to be a bridge burner.”
&“Backstabed the voices his own head.”
I’ll save you the pain and sufice it to say that this goes on for some time. They do, eventually, agree to help you in exchange for some undecided reward that probably won’t come back to bite you in the ass the way it always has.
You don't know where Clive lives but you know his car and the freeway he takes from work. Jogging through the streets of likely neighbourhoods in the dead of night isn't the most effective way to search, but the nearly boundless energy of your newly regained friends can be put to great use when it isn't bent on killing.
There. No mistaking it
The side of Clive’s house has one word painted on it, in proud large letters that almost glow. The symbol of his ethos, his Bronze eagle, around which he has built his life.
Oh yes. This is the right house.
They’re talking quite a bit, but I’ll save you the trouble.
You go inside, Clive didn’t even lock his door. All the better for facilitating Networking. You walk through the house, there are voices floating down the hall bt they seem to be real. Around a corner and you see him sitting on a nearly transparent couch. Facing away from you, staring at a TV which is sloughing light and color around the small tidy room.
&“What the hell is his couch made of?”
#“Doesn’t matter, just do as we say.”
Step. Crouch. Quiet now.
You grab a length of razor wire between your hands, Clive leans his head back to look up at the ceiling. And closes his eyes.
%“Almost as if he knows, do it now.”
You have always had trouble with this, the act. Once you get going you really don’t hold back. But this was always hard. You can feel them pressing in on your self.
&“Don’t whimp out you worthless killer.”
%“We’ll kill you if you deny us this, after all the trouble we went through.”
#“Kill him you bastard.”
You are being squeezed, surpressed, your self convulses
You move quickly, you shut your eyes.
Gurgle. Struggle. Hands moving to brush against your face, gently with no strength left behind them.
Clive stops, limp. He is no longer reaching up. He is no longer sitting up.
In many ways, he no longer exists at all.
Why did they make you feel so bad? The struggle, they should just die Their own fault really.
&"Could have been faster, less hessitation next time?"
You ask about their payment.
#“Oh we don’t want anything physical, obviously that would be worthless.”
&“Emotions are so much sweeter.”
%“Don’t you worry.”
#“Now you have a 9-5 to get to.”
You have been up the whole night, you need to change and go to work.
Clive is gone, you are free. Finally, things can comfortably go back to the way they were. This really was the best choice; those guys are not so bad.
You scrub the thickening red from your hands and change into a nice shirt. The blue one that you got from your mother before…it’s a nice shirt.
They have completely left your self for now, and you have been enjoying the silence and even more so the lack of Networking. You walk into your department and see someone unfamiliar. They seem to be giving a speech to the rest of your department behind the glass door of a conference room. You go in.
“Glad you could join us.” The strange man turns and you see the label pinned to his shirt that defines his place here I this building. Elevates him to power above all others in the building, but means nothing outside of these walls. “You’re just in time for my presentation.”
You look up at the board.
“Sit down; I don’t think we’ve met. I’m the new department head, Robert.”
“Now as I was saying, Networking is going to be an extremely important part of how we plan to integrate this…”
There they are