3.8 Career Monster

The red LED strips hemming the unsurprisingly black leather executive chairs lit up slowly. It was pointless as nobody was there, no cameras were watching, but the person in charge of the decor had a massive discount coupon from *** and was thinking about opening a pc gaming room inside this shared workspace building, after saving up a bit more. The building had been converted from a Georgian terraced house, whose owner had been shot on the doorstep during one of the pandemics, the property then sold by the greedy grieving family at auction to a foreign millionaire who then gave it to his youngest, to play at being an entrepreneur. This young slick suited man saw a future in remote working and after hiring a cheap but grateful foreigner to manage the building, went immediately on holiday and spent all the speculated revenue on drugs and professional Marlin fishing cruises. And prostitutes. Anyway, back at the well equipped but barren office space (bar the contemporary AI generated paintings of fruit or smiling business people on each wall), this particularly empty room with the fancy chair lighting had been selected (and paid for using a burn card), due to its state of the art connectivity: everything was controlled remotely, the temperature, the sprinklers, the blinds, even the window locks. It was rarely a problem. The belief that this was often a problem was a fear installed by writers in comics and movies or even other chapters in this novel to prey upon the plebiscite’s fear of robots killing them off, while in reality the cutting edge was ever-chopping forward for the greater good of humanity. The drive wasn’t motivated solely by the desire to make another gadget to play with, honestly.  Another grave consequence due to mankind’s temptation to poke the bear while blowing into the fire was definitely not going to happen again, for sure.

The online meeting connected with its two participants and a pressing voice began speaking quickly.  

“Yes, hello? Are you there, Mr President?”

“Yes,” replied the President of xxx, sitting in the small unadorned back room, “how can I help you, Mr xxx?”

“Oh,” replied the mysterious caller, “I suddenly recalled the ending of Metal Gear Solid, but anyway, but this is nothing like that.  We can drop the formalities, just call me xxx, we’re friends now, after getting through that nasty election, isn’t that right?”

The caller expected a short answer.

“Indeed,” ascertaining this call was likely leading to an invitation to a party, the President swung his legs onto the table and leaned back. “And once again, thank you so much for your support. Getting the funds together in that short time for that bond was rather tricky, I appreciate it. That wiped the smarm off their faces.”

The click of a lighter could be heard, as a cigar was lit, and puffed on. The president had a smarmy look on his face and was only thinking of new avenues of revenue, and how he could have another free dinner at the secret billionaire cruise ship casino. The caller, on the other hand, was getting a bit annoyed at the long sentences taking up his time.

“No problem at all,” he replied, audibly half true.  “So, look, we don’t have much time, so let me make this brief: my son is getting to that age and needs to practise, so we’re going to need actual, real life people.  No more toys, no more playing C*** on the PC.  Robots just won’t do.  Power cuts and battery corrosion isn’t as exciting as mental trauma and burn outs.  Leaking oil is not the same as blood, sweat and tearing flesh, you get my drift?”

The President had picked up on key words to make sense of the request. “Ah,” he said, “you want me to find a job for your son?   Like an internship?”

“Well,” replied Mr redacted “I was thinking more like Chief of Staff, of course I don’t mean full time, he just needs to get some hands on experience in the management area, assisting you with some decisions from time to time.”

“Yes of course,” assumed the President, “I’m sure he’s exemplary, can’t go wrong. I’ll just leave him to it, shall I?  Chief of Staff of Personnel, was it, no problem at all.”

“I was thinking of Chief of Staff to the army, to be precise.” A wry smile spread across the caller’s face. He knew he wouldn’t be refused but there was still a little pleasure in making such grotesque requests. And there was a little delicious pause. He could almost hear the ash fall to the upholstered antique rug fibres with the tiniest thud, breaking apart, still smouldering albeit seconds from dying completely.  The squirm of the most powerful man on the planet was a delectable bite, at least the first few times.

“Uh, well, isn’t that my position?” Remembering who he was talking to, the President quickly added: “How do we go about this, exactly?”

“Exactly” echoed the caller, “exactly, you’re someone I can definitely trust, you understand.  He has been prepared thoroughly for the role, everything will go smoothly, as it always does.”

As if hypnotised, the President nodded as he agreed. Mr Xxx was pleased, and put his progeny on the line. “Hello?” 

The voice was that of a young boy, who had picked up the phone with no idea of what to say to an adult unless they wanted to speak to a parent, to which he wouldn’t even reply, just hand it over.

The President was now fully alert and incredulous, wondering if this was a joke or whether he was about to get into a really incredible situation. “Hello,” he cooed, “wow, you sound… if I may ask, young Sir, how old are you?”

“Six,” replied the sturt child, “yeah so anyway, I want you to attack *** within the next twenty days.”  

“Er,” not really having a problem with that, the President still wondered and asked for a reason.

“I want to prove to my father that something will happen. Can I go now?” It was as if the headset was being taken off but there was a faint firm murmur of someone telling him to sit still, or something like that.

“Alright” his head spinning, “is, is this a covert mission?”

“No,” said the child, remembering the other things he had been trained to say,  “declare it as retaliation, I was thinking of blowing up one of the hotels which should have… some of your tourists inside.”

The President was now shocked “I hope not the *** as I do like that hotel.  A lot of history there, you know?” He palmed his face as he realised the absurdity of asking a six year old about a hundred year old hotel.

“Hotels are for the poors, Mr President.  Don’t you own property in every city? Anyway, I was thinking of ***, it’s a real eyesore.”

The young boy’s voice was scaring him, for it was the words of an adult but the whims of a child, a spoilt child, and this was far more terrifying than that of a dictator. You could at least bribe a dictator but you had to work hard to manipulate a child. A child that already had everything, with this amount of power, could end your world, if he merely fancied it.

“Oh right” placated the President, “yeah, I can do that, or… would you like to be more involved?”

There was a silence, as this time someone pressed the mute button, to check something, he guessed.

“Yeah” the voice had no joy in it, and perhaps the chocolate dessert wouldn’t change that. “I’ll do it, no problem, you do the politics thing.”

“Well,” said the President, thankful he didn’t have to waste any troops for someone else’s benefit again, “this has been very productive, but I have another meeting to go to.”

“Yes, you can go now.” The youngster was in a hurry.  “Can I have the chocol-” and with that the speech cut and the meeting ended. 

The President exhaled, stood up and walked out of the secret back room, clutching his chest and reaching for the medicine bottle.Over at the Georgian building, its purpose fulfilled, the cooling fans in the PCs span down to a halt, while a huge sea of data flooded the bandwidth; even as the cpus and gpus went into overclock, it only took seconds for the smoke to start, but the detectors were disabled. They burst into flames, and as nobody was around to see, and nobody saw it coming, the room soon was encapsulated in blazing fire, and nobody could do anything about it. Everything connected, was disconnected. The investment, up in smoke, took away a-not-exactly-innocent person’s dreams and expectations.  There were to be consequences, for sure, but the opinion of whether it mattered was certainly one sided.

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