Episode 2

The Company Man podcast

I think I’m figuring out the podcasting process.

In time this will get smoother and more consistent and as a result, I think the content will improve. Fighting my own ignorance at the moment.

Episode 2. The Company Man


I have a lot of things I’d like to do but there aren’t enough hours in the day. I know If you’re reading this your probably thinking, no shit buddy.  

I have uploaded a couple episodes of the UnreasonableMe podcast to Anchor. The service is simple and easy but I want more flexibility going forward. Anchor does all the distribution leg work for you. I’ve decided to take that on myself and since I have zero experience doing a podcast, there is a little bit of a learning curve. I’m good with that.

I’ve got several podcast planned and intend to complete them and ideally upload them this weekend.

“What are they going to be about?” Okay, okay calm down I’ll tell you.

I plant to do an intro podcast to layout my plans and the direction I plan to take going forward.

The next few will focus on the two short stories I’ve posted to the blog. I plan to look at the ideas that sparked each story and the creative juices that fueled them into being. Should be fun. The idea behind the blog/podcast, is that I’m using creative expression to meet and greet the demons that prevent me from being the person that is at peace within himself. I want to explore the problematic parts of my personality, understand them more and poke a little fun at them too. Like I said, this should be fun.

World peace is likely impossible, but inner peace seems within reach.

Stay tuned.

You Snooze, You Lose

Bert heard what sounded like a train roaringthrough the middle of his head.  Thetrain rumbled on before morphing into the recognizable but dreaded sound of hisalarm clock.  With one hand, he slapped the bedside table,looking for the snooze button, to bring silence and peace to the world onceagain.  He found the clock and hisefforts turned from clumsy to precise as he felt along the top, careful to hitthe snooze button and not the off button. Success, he found the long snooze bar and pressed it gently.  Peace descended on the room and flowedthrough Bert’s mind like a warm breeze. The bed was never more comfortable and the sleep never more restful thanduring the five minutes between alarms.

 Had hehit the snooze four times already.  This was a new record and records were madeto be broken.  He snuggled into a blanketthat was just right, on a bed that perfectly conformed to a body that neededfive more minutes in heaven. 

Again, the alarm hammered through the bliss, blaringand annoying.  He performed the clumsy todelicate process again, but this time, he opted to turn off the alarm insteadof momentarily silencing it.  He snuggleddeeper into the bed.  He knew he had toget up. Turning off the alarm had raised the stakes. There was no safety netnow.  Drift back to sleep and it’s over.“Don’t bother coming into work late again!”  Bert’s boss yelled into his face the last timehe was late.  I won’t be late, he thought, I’llget up in just a minute or two.  That’sall he needed, just a couple more minutes. 

He rested under a heavy blanket in the middleof his bed.  The blanket always feltgreat but at this moment, it kept himsafe from the cold and miserable day ahead of him. He felt the weight pressagainst his skin and push him deeper into the bed.  The feeling went from comfort to concern asthe sense of weight and the depth of the bed both seemed to entrap him and madeit hard to breathe. His chest struggled to expand and his lungs failed toinflate. The concern blossomed into panic as the blanket secured him to thebed. The mattress under him began to separate in the middle. The blanket tightened, driving him further and furtherinto the bed that was now consuming him. He wanted to struggle but his armswere pinned to his sides and against the inside of the bed. The mattress movedrhythmically as if swallowing him inch by inch. The pressure on his arms andlegs joined the pressure on his chest in an all-outassault on his life. 

What the fuck was happening.

Had to be a dream. Had to be a between-snoozenightmare of some kind. This fantasy evaporated quickly as panic too intense tobe a dream stormed his mind. No air, noair, I can’t breath, oh my god, I can’tfucking breathe. His mind yelled toitself. Slack formed in the blanket as the mattress took over the process,slowly and firmly enveloping him.  Itthreatened to crush him like a car at a junkyard.  He was fading, surrounded by darkness andpain; he had to be dead.  The pressuresurrounding him debunked, yet another myth his mind conjured for comfort. Hedropped. He was out of the mattress and in the dark. Under the mattress?  Under the bed?  The surface under him felt hard. He heard asubtle whooshing sound and sensed movement above him. He pressed upward just astwo panels slid closed. He pounded his hands against the invisible container.  He barely fit in this thing that heldhim.  He couldn’t move much at all. 

From the hall,he heard voices.  He froze. The voicesgrew closer before splitting off to his right and left. 

“This never gets old,” stated the person onthe right. 

“You don’t think, a little bit maybe,” camethe reply from the left. 

“Hell no, this whole thing’s been a crazytrip.  Think about where we came from andlook at us now.  This is way better thanI ever could have imagined when I was in that field and the light sucked meup.” 

“Yeah but, my implant is starting to bother meagain. The wound’s been leaking and there’s this humming sound coming from myleft jaw.  It’s just weird,”  said the voice on the left.  

“Have it like looked at,” said the man on theright. 

“They take pretty good care of us consideringwhat they do to the folks we send them.” 

“True, true, can’t argue with that.” 

Without warning, the mattress split in two andlight flooded through the glass box and into Bert’s eyes.  He saw a blur on either side of him.  His vision cleared and he saw what appearedto be two plumbers standing over what remained of his bed. 

“This right here is what never gets old.  Look at his face,” said the plumber on theright.  He moved over the box and poundedon it with a heavy duty flashlight. 

“Look at him, he’s freaked the fuck out.”  The plumber on the left stood over Bert witha bored look on his face. “Just another clueless yuppie, too dumb and lazy torealize how good he has it, shit, I mean how good he had it.” 

The plumber on the right shook the flashlightat his partner. “That’s right, ‘had’ beingthe keyword there.  What are we doing with ol Mr PeePants here?” 

The words hit Bert’s ears right as he feltthat his underwear was wet. 

“Pet or bait?” askedthe man on the right.

“Oh,that’s a damn good question.”  Theplumber on the left fumbled what appearedto be a tablet out of a bag on the floor.  “Let’s see here, um, fella, right here, um… How many times did he hitthe button?”  

“He hit the button four times. My guess isbait because what they fish for ain’t in to fast movers.” 

“Okay, right here, bait, yeah you’re right,he’s going to Stasia.  We took two therelast month, didn’t we?  They really gothrough them.” 

“We need to get moving.” The man on the leftran his finger down the pad. “We’ve got, one, two, three, oh wait, a fourthjust popped up.  We’ve got a lot to doand I don’t want to work through lunch again today.”  He put the pad back in the bag and extractedtwo glass cylinders.  The man on theright produced two of his own and moved to the lower corner of the glass box.  He held a cylinder over the bottom corner andagain at the top.  The cylinders hoveredfor an instance before melding with the box. Bert pushed with everything he had against the top, sides, and bottom of the box.  He braced his legs against the bottom andextended his arms until his body shook, but his will gave out and the boxdidn’t move an inch.  The men ignoredhim. 

The man with the tablet moved his fingerfrantically over the screen and mumbled to himself, “Need to get thecoordinates right or he’ll split up into a trillion pieces and be a mess toreassemble.”  The men both laughed atthis. 

The plumber on the right said, “Remember thatugly mess we sent to Tittium?  We sent a blonde 45-year-old lady and what they got reassembled into a quiveringball of meat jello.” 

The man on the left was bent over snortinglike a demented pig.  “Oh, did we catchhell for that mess.” 

He stood and composed himself as he indicatedhis work with the tablet as complete with hard, exaggerated finger pokes to thescreen.  “Boom.”  The cylinders at each corner began to glowand hum.  A thin line of light emergedfrom each and moved slowly towards the center of the space above the box.  Where they converged produced a smallpinpoint of light.  The point began togrow until it was the size of a glowing golf ball with a dark pit in thecenter.  The ball grew slowly and the pitin the center grew deeper until he could notice shapes and glints of lightwithin.  As it grew bigger, it becameless like a ball and more and more like a frame of light around a portal ofdarkness.  The shapes and lights on theother side began to sharpen and brighten. The clarity of the image before him did nothing to help him understand whathe was seeing.  The shapes lackedunderstandable form and the lights seemed to emanate from sources he couldn’tidentify.  The portal surrounded the boxand descended over him.  He journeyedfrom his room to something so strange he failed to comprehend the scene beforehim.  The light and form swirled togetherand reminded him of an amoeba he once observed under a microscope in theseventh grade.  The portal dissolved thebox as it enveloped him, eventually terminating under him. 

He was free, the box was gone.  He could run now or he could call for help,but he knew those ideas were dead ends. The form before him moved in erratic waves and receded until it’s lightwas so faint that he could no longer distinguish what was or wasn’t there.  He sat in the dark.  The lack of light was accompanied by completesilence.  He felt movement against hisskin like undulations after a wave breaks in the ocean.  He felt a calming sensation that was pleasantand warm.  The rhythmic movements relaxedhim and he allowed the sensation to move over him.  It pulsed as it covered him completely.  He was within it and his skin burned likesalt rubbed on a sunburn.  He drifted,nuzzling deeper into the warm embrace.  A bright light erupted all around him, flashinglike lightning.  The burning ceased and the sense of calm gaveway to panic as he realized he was within the amoeba nightmares are madeof.  The light blinded and disorientedhim.  A large spear tore through thecreature.  It shook violently, attemptingto free itself as it thrashed about. Bert was slung from its grasp andskidded to a halt on a dark rocky surface that tore his pajama bottoms and theskin on his hands.  Another spear flewfrom beyond the darkness and pinned the creature to the ground.  The pulses of light grew dimmer as the beaststruggled less and seemed to die more. He moved closer and noticed the spears had large barbs on them and werein fact harpoons.  Large cables attachedto the harpoons drew the creature away, and as the light faded, so did hisability to see again.  He stood onceagain in the dark silence.  He remainedmotionless, but he did not know for how long. Had it been a minute or an hour since the whole ordeal had started?  He had no idea and had nothing to anchor hismind to.

He felt a warm caress on his back.  It was a soft, gentle experience that felthorribly wrong, but was too pleasant to resist. He fell back into the embrace and allowed himself to be surrounded bythe warm, comfort that was about to consume him.                  

The Company Man.

A short story from the cubicle.  

Steve felt a shiver run up his spine as he returned to his cubicle. He’d been away for too long. He didn’t know the extent of his infractions but he was sure that he was in hot water. He logged in. Red numbers flashed – 15 seconds. He’d been gone for 15 seconds longer than allowed. The numbers disappeared and were replaced by a new message. His urine output had been inadequate for justifying the break he’d taken. The message indicated that based on urine output and estimated bladder capacity, the system determined that he could have remained at his desk for another four hours. The urinals were marvelous developments for productivity management that could simultaneously scan the worker’s bladder and measure urine output. This number was based on normal fluid intake which was kindly provided by the hydration-matic tube installed in his cubicle. They knew what went in and they knew what should come out. Steve heard a click which he guessed signaled an end to his fluids for the remainder of his shift. He was pretty sure that he had a urinary tract infection and a slight fever but he didn’t dare confirm this with the WorkDay Health and Wellness kiosk; the temperature-taking apparatus had malfunctioned and ruptured someone’s bowel a week ago. A bead of sweat flowed down his forehead and into his eye.

A gentle vibration in his ear notified him that a call was inbound.  An implant deep in his ear tracked his whereabouts in the building and also acted as the primary means of communication for his job. Before he could respond, the call dropped. He began to shiver and before long his teeth chattered loudly. He felt like he had to go again. His abdomen cramped up and he doubled over meagerly looking for a position of relief. His ear lit up again. “Hello thank you for calling WorkDay Occupational Healthcare Solutions where we promise to keep your staff on the job and out of bed or their sick time is on us”. A tone signaled another dropped call. Two in a row. Although no fault of his own, dropped calls were considered missed opportunities for customer engagement. Too many and you’d be disciplined. Previously he’d had a run of bad luck with a streak of five dropped calls in a row, and he was told by his supervisor to answer better. Steve didn’t dare ask for clarification instead he just bowed his head and signed his improvement agreement. There was a rumor circulating that an aging phone system was to blame for the dropped calls. The CEO had held a teleconference beamed from the company jet during which he ensured them that the phone system was the best one around. His message was heard intermittently because it turns out that the beaming hardware is a little old too.

Steve had to go, as his body ignored his mind’s pleas for peace. The cramps worsened and it felt like his bladder had worked itself into a knot. He couldn’t take another break. Two break abuses in a row would put him at risk for the dreaded Performance Booster Seat. Pam Steele had been subjected to this modified seating situation after a bout of food poisoning had sent her to the bathroom numerous times and her forceful and inaccurate eruptions had made waste amounts tough to quantify. The seat required the employee to sit on a suction-powered device which allowed the waste-producing areas to fit comfortably within a rubber ring that limited smell and mess. Pam had been overhead yelling something about her guts being sucked out and was terminated later that day for her poor attitude.

Steve bolted from his cubicle. Once again, he stood over the urinal that would decide his fate. The urge to go was intense, yet all he produced was a single drop that plopped into the water like dew off a leaf. Several more drops of moisture slid from his forehead and joined the one in the bowl. He still had to go but nothing would come out. His body was killing him right now. He shook and began cussing. Bert Stubblegust was in the adjacent stall, safely taking a break when he overheard what he later described as the chattering of a peeing lunatic. “I heard the guy cussing a lot but I didn’t hear any water running.”

He was getting nowhere. The pain wouldn’t subside and his attempts to soothe it only produced sweat and more bladder spasms. He went to the sink and splashed cold water onto his face. The sound of running water enraged the leviathan and he clutched his abdomen as he fell to the ground.

In Bert’s account to the supervision team, he noted that he could see the peeing lunatic clearly wasting company time writhing on the floor. Bert was well-liked because he had good productivity on the job and on breaks too. Floor grime had mixed with sweat, giving Steve’s face a coat of filth that added to his already-disheveled appearance.  He bounced from cube to cube, bracing himself on each one as he passed. He rounded the corner to his own cell of productivity. A maintenance worker snugged the floor seal in place for the Productivity Booster Seat. The rubber ring seat looked worn and dirty. Steve’s bladder kicked again just as his stomach attempted to heave his breakfast out of his mouth. Clyde tightened the last floor bolt and stood up with a groan. “Hey kid, shit you look terrible. Drop ‘em and hop on so I can fire up the vacuum.” The multiple sensations of discomfort disoriented Steve and he struggled to make sense of things. Clyde crossed his arms and sighed loudly: “I can get your supervisor and we can end this right now or you can be a good company man and take a seat?” Steve did as directed.

Suddenly, the pain in his urinary system took a back seat to the fear now occupying his mind. The ring was cold and sticky. Clyde mumbled to himself as Steve settled onto the sick contraption of efficiency. “Keep your ass right there, I’m going to go kick on the vac. If you make a sudden move, it’ll rip your pecker right off” Clyde said, staring over a thick finger which he pointed directly at Steve’s face.

Clyde walked away but kept his eyes fixed to Steve’s. Sweat made the seat even grosser. Steve thought about adjusting his position but remembered Clyde’s warning and decided against it. He gripped the outer rim and tried to prepare for the worst. He felt the air stir around the seat before he heard what sounded like a balloon deflating through a small opening.  The sound and sensations baffled him only briefly before the seal was complete and the force pulling him from below added a new wave of confusion. He didn’t want to do this anymore. He needed the job, but at this rate, he figured he’d go somewhere else for less pay and less manual restraint. What was already an intense tug turned into something worse altogether as he heard a roar from below and the pull threatened to collapse him at the waist and suck him into the bowels of the building.  Concern grew into panic as he struggled to free himself. Clyde rounded the cubicle opening: “Easy there, buddy, this goes smoother if you just relax and let the process take its course.” Steve felt dull. He struggled to line up the thoughts needed to make sense of this. The pain from below occupied all of his consciousness at this point. Clyde was in his face, looking him over like a cat studying a dying mouse. Clyde’s mouth was moving yet his voice drifted to Steve from a distance and he appeared further away than he should have.  Steve felt like a hand being withdrawn from a glove as he moved further and further from his rooted perspective on the rubber ring. He could see his hands, but they were off in the distance. They were attached to arms that seemed to belong to someone else. He saw the ceiling now. He was pulled down like water through a funnel as his body remained upright at this desk, but whatever Steve was seemed to circle the drain of oblivion. He was surrounded by darkness, with only a small portion of the ceiling remaining to be seen. The trip to the end grew darker and what he could see of the ceiling grew smaller until all that remained was nothing at all.

Neal Pushercark stood by Clyde, starting at Steve.  Neal slapped Clyde on the back, “Seems we’re working out the kinks with this thing.”  Clyde’s chest expanded with pride and he grinned widely. The Soul Vac was his finest invention and while its initial implementation had been a little messy, the 2.0 version had the extraction process dialed in. Clyde turned to Neil, “Yeah but this simple ass is staring at the ceiling right now… not much work where he’s looking,” he said through a smirk.  As if on cue, Steve lowered his head from the recumbent position and stared blankly at the screen.

Steve began to speak. He quoted the intro script without an issue and although the caller was inaudible to the two onlookers, Steve’s flawless rebuttal indicated a refusal.  They stood silently as Steve parried every silent remark with perfect responses that culminated in his smoothest sale ever. He completed the sale in the system and seamlessly answered the next call and began an elegant flow of salesmanship all over again.