The morning started with a blur, only thing to mention is that I found myself in a interesting nighty and left Analisa a message: “Sorry, Analisa, that I’m so messed up. They really fuck me hard. I think, they try to break me and make me quit or something or I’m just not used to that shit. But I’m a fighter. See you when I’m back.”
She’s the one I really don’t like to let down here.
The first that happened that day was, that I was sent down to the 61 level to join the reception for the morning.
“Hello, I’m Betty!”, the young elven woman was greeting me, “Betty Miller, but you may call me Betty. I’m thinking about a more appropriate name. One that sounds more like I’m from Tir na nÒg. What about Glathandrial? My pilates trainer says I’m quite gifted and that…”
Rah, rah, blah, blah, land of the ever young. I smiled and nodded. She was actually the first person here that was actually nice to me and I didn’t wanted to spoil it, just because I had to tell her that she was a hydrogen blond little bimbo with pointy ears, working for a financial shark company as the reception doll, nothing special. After the first quarter of an hour rushing words I became a bit more calm and you may say what you want, but sitting at the reception was better than being grind to dust in the upper levels.
But in all those thousand words I actually filtered some interesting information. First of all we actually have thirty minutes pause time after every four hours of work, that we can split up into parts as we like. That means of cause in a twelve hour shift you are free to take that last halve hour at the end of the shift and may go home after that…
When you like to take a break the system gives you a leap after you finished all running timer bots and you don’t get any new schedule during your time off. That’s the best you get here. Usually you only have one task running at a time, this confirms my suspicion that Sophie is trying to break me with overloading my schedule, make me fail or quit or both. I didn’t complain about my overload schedule to her, mainly because she didn’t made a pause for me to speak.
She explained our work and what we are supposed to do. “Usually we have more traffic in and out, but the executives have ordered to reduce traffic to a minimum at the moment. So we may let people through, but that’s our problem then. They can really get angry up there and I prefer an angry guy in vicinity of our security guys than an angry guy that can fire me on the spot, if you understand what I mean. By the way – what is your name?”
The first one was an asian guy, that she let wait for an hour, she stalled him several times, until he said his time frame was passing and we got rid of him. The second one was a business woman from Denver or something, she was looking like an executive and she plainly lied that our executives had taken a chopper halve an hour ago for some business meeting somewhere and if she liked to wait. She didn’t, but left her vcard.
“Now that you understand our work here, the next one is yours.” She smiled and slapped friendly on my back. “What sports do you do? I do Pilates, that’s a full body gymnastics and it is also a health discipline, that…” The door opened and a huge bulk of man was rushing inside. His head was read, he was built like a bulldozer and his suit was cheap. Did I mention that he was unmistakably an orc?
“Is this the Rosenbaum Holding Ltd.?”, he bellowed. “Your first customer”, she smiled. “Good luck.” “Yes.” I fluttered with my eyelashes and smiled. “My name is Miss Edelstein, how can I help you?” His flat hand banged on the reception. “Great. I’m the union representative of the Chicago Steelworks Company. I really have to talk with one of your executives about…” “Do you have an appointment?” “No, but…” “Then, I try to reach one of the executives, do you have someone special in mind?” “I really need to talk to the guy who makes this shit happen!” I stared at him. “Sorry, Miss.” His voice was a bit softer, because Betty moved her hand near to the panic button. “Miss… Edelstein. I represent 641 steelworkers and 233 employers of the Chicago Steelworks factories. And the buyout that’s happening will ruin us, we will all lose our jobs, but I have proof that this is a miscalculation on the stock market and that we have been making huge profit over the years. Just the last quartal was bad, but we have been working a month without wages to keep the factory running, so…” And he looked to Betty’s hand that was hanging over the panic button, “pleaaase try to reach one of the executives. I have travelled from Chicago on my own account and I really need to talk to someone.”
I looked in his eyes, knowing that I have to bounce him, smiled. “Of cause. It’s very good that someone of your factory finally is trying to communicate. But you know how it is and you have no appointment. Would you like to sit in your visitors lounge for some moments, while I try to get one of the executives down here?” He snorted, but his broad tusks were coming up with a stressed smile. “Of cause. That’s very nice of you, Miss.” I showed him where he could sit. “Do you like something to read? Tea? Coffee? It may take a while…” He scooted uneasily with the couch that was leaving too few space for his legs. “That would be nice, Miss. Coffee please. Here is my card, if you need any more information.” “Of cause.”
Ben Browdy from Chicago, I noticed. I asked Betty to hold the lines while I was going to make some coffee. I served it with a smile. “Mister Browdy. Sugar? Milk?” “Is there any progress?” “It’s not so easy to get an appointment at the moment, sir. Please be patient.”
This shit is exactly what they have done with my hard earned money. My chummers have put their creds from runs into weapons, gear and cyberware – I had put into small business enterprises that just gave people work. I expanded the network and had the idea to scam some money from the stock market for build up. The stock exploded and my investment went sky-rocket until it reached 300 millions. Millions that were never there, alas, if you had liquidized my whole not completely legal business, you would probably not got more than 500k out of it at it’s best time. It was an import-export scam, a good way to get some of the stolen cars out of the country and to Africa, some cockroach meat farms in the barrens and a small workshop building simple projectile weapons. Car selling distribution network in Accra. A bit money laundering. Not much more, I just built up an amazing netsite for it and made it an international Con, Group, whatever. Details my chips did know. Fucking 300 millions! I was scared to death at those times and it was way over my head. I do small business, not more. And they fucked me hard with it. After they done my companies in I had to leave the country. Everything lost, that I had gained from years running. And now this shit is happening to others. And I’m the one who has to deliver it. I was feeling so sick.
A Bouncing Betty, I learned that from my weapon crazed ex-chummers is an anti personal mine, that is jumping into the air, then exploding for greater damage. I’m jumping up. “Can I help you?” “Ehrm, sorry if I am disturbing, but do you have a toilet?” “Do you have a security visitors pass, sir?” “No, of cause not, but the toilets are…” “I may not allow anybody to pass through the gate without a security clearance. I’m very sorry. But there are visitor toilets on the ground level. There is a coffee shop, just outside on the other side of the road.” His face was expressionless, but I could feel that he was putting a lot of composure into this not to jump the counter and bang my elven head on it until it bursts. I smiled. I will take down this shit in a few days, better than in the old times, when I just did blow the shit up. He has to wait.
He was out of the door. “That was a smart move with the coffee”, Betty laughed. “I remember that for the next time.” There will possibly be no next time. And even if I really wanted to help this guy I couldn’t. He’s just like a road-kill where someone has been driving over but his upper torso is still alive and he asks me if I can help him. I nearly did throw up but kept it down. My mouth was tasting sour.
We chatted a bit, which means she was talking at me and I listened. But some interesting facts about the companies you try to collect, you can collect from some of the lowest employees, because shit goes down, means work is done there, not in the upper levels. It’s just a puzzle you have to put together. I’m good with puzzles.
“Has one of the executives finally shown up for my case?”, he exploded in front of the desk, his face red of anger. “I’m so sorry Mister Browdy, you just missed two of our execs on their way down to the lobby. Haven’t you met them downstairs?” He stared at me. “You mean…” “If you run you might even be able to catch up with them.” That was evil and a bit cruel. Betty laughed. “This one won’t come back again. Told you it’s easy.”
He did come back. “Have you been lucky?” He stared at me. “No. See, Miss… Edelstein”, and he was whistling the ‘st’ in my name like a boiler that was going to explode. “I have some pictures with me.” He put them on the counter. Kids in front of working class apartments, women, families. A school in the neighbourhood, kids proudly wearing T-shirts with ‘Chicago Steelworks’ printed on it. “We have families. We have houses, houses where we have rents to pay. We have loans where we have interests to pay. I… I just want to talk to one of your execs. There is no need to liquidate our company. We actually work hard, but when the machinery is sold off there will be no work any more. Other companies rely on us to exist, they will…” I listened with a friendly face. When I would let him through, I would be thrown out and this shitty company would survive. I put my hand on his. “But we do all we can, Mister Browdy. I have informed the executive office that you are here, and I don’t know why they are not calling back. Maybe some emergency?”
He was standing still for a moment, thinking. I could see him check if he could make a run through the security himself. But they had tasers on their belts. Nice and friendly looking ones of cause. But he knew he would never make it. His huge muscles were relaxing and he gave up the sprint for the moment. “I will be waiting here the whole day.” “We expect you to be here, Mister Browdy. The call can come every minute.” After he had sat down, Betty hid her giggle behind her hand. I checked the clock. “I have to report upstairs, shift is over. Can you take it from here?”
Her eyes blinked amused. “That was funny. I like you, Lisa. Come down when you have time, we sit and drink a coffee when I have my minutes off. It’s so much we have to share.” We have not. On my way up I nearly didn’t made it into the toilets in time, where I throwed up.
This time I got me a sushi too, something I urgently needed to get out the sour taste from my mouth. I had less than halve an hour to get it down, then my timerbots showed up. They had stalled allmost all tasks from the morning and put it on my afternoon shift. It’s just a blur. Five tasks at a time. I can’t remember everything I had to do. It was unfair, two times I slipped running on my stockings over the glassy marble floor, where I had to take off that shitty stilettos to perform the tasks. One time I bounced into the post guy, who was just smiling and looking after me. I met another guy downstairs (I had to take the stairs to cut the waiting time for the lifts), who was also a volunteer like me. “I do it a year. I didn’t see you, you new?” “A year?! How much do they pay you?” “Pay? Ah, it’s just this expenses thing about five hundred a month. But it’s my training I got money for my flat and food from business school. Means social payment.” He was around twenty and I’m sure he had only one timer running. And I had already to move on, forgot to ask him about his name.
Another priority task. “Miss Edelstein, I have made a complete mess of my desk.” Jerry called me. His stuff was shuffled to the floor, he wanted me to pick it up, eating me with his looks. His hand on my butt. “What do you think, you are doing?!” I added a whistling: “SIR?” “Keeps it in the family, doesn’t it? I can offer you a good position as my private secretary, Lisa. Well paid…” I banged the stuff on his desk and left. Extra blurry time after that. Six counters to serve. That’s not fair! Fuck me hard.
My stockings were rippling off. My hair was a mess. I was standing with the coats over my arms, smiling. I nearly fell, because I think the heel of my shoe was lose. I didn’t miss a timer, sir. Sophie was smiling at me, the rest ignored me. “Reconsider…”, Jerry smiled as he took his coat from my arm.
I have seen red dots in my field of vision but smile while I hold fast at the railings of the elevator. On the 61 I could see Mister Browdy still sitting in the visitors lounge. He didn’t look happy.
I nearly didn’t made it through the supper. Analisa wanted to share something and show me her new design. “Did you like your pyjamas?”, she asked. “I designed all of them!” “They are great”, I say, and I mean it. “Just let me take a quick shower, I join you after that. I’m a mess.” Conspiratorial whispering I add: “They fuck me, but I’m still standing. I won’t give up.” I hugged her. But I never made it through the shower. I must have collapsed in it, because I didn’t remember to get out again. I awoke at 6:30 in a new nighty from Analisa.