Corporate Man is called in to investigate reports of vile, unethical business practices at Great American Business Company. What he finds there just might destroy him (except we all know the ending to The Tragic Death of Corporate Man so it should be fairly obvious that it can't really destroy him, though it can come close).
Enslaved by the Bonus Whores is an all new Corporate Man Adventure Serial. Chapters will post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Monday, July 30, 2012
The spiral staircase terminated at the door to the lookout tower which sat several hundred feet above the main floor of The Office. Flanking both sides of the entrance were bench seats, a nice respite for those whose physical condition was not suited to the long climb.
Opposite the entrance was a large curving glass window that overlooked the valley and the city below. The exterior of the glass had been camouflaged by various means throughout the years. Most recently was a see-through screen with granite texture printed on the outside which made the hillside look like an uninterrupted slope of stone boulders and craggy rock if seen from the road below.
Near the window sat a large telescope which had been employed for all manner of purposes from science to surveillance to juvenile curiosity.
A massive computer console dominated much of the space serving in communications, basic research, and business strategizing. In the corner opposite this electronic beast lived the infamous copy machine which was sometimes tasked with the chore of duplicating necessary paperwork. A half-moon couch and coffee table occupied the center of the area.
Corporate Man sat at the console. He’d just finished sending out the last of his work requests when the tower door opened.
“How’s it going up here?” Tanya said. But, when Corporate Man turned it wasn’t Tanya that he saw.
It was Business Woman.
She was dressed in dark blue slacks and a matching jacket with a white collared shirt. Her shoes were black and dressy, but flat heeled and practical. Her black belt had a chunky silver buckle.
She held a black domino mask in her hands.
“I don’t think I can wear this,” she said, casting the mask onto the coffee table. “I’ll have to alter this suit jacket, too. It’s from the late eighties or early nineties. Can you say shoulder pads? Uggh. What were we thinking wearing shoulder pads? I ripped them out.”
“It’s… You look…” Corporate Man stammered. He cleared his throat and said, “It’s good to have you back onboard, Business Woman.”
Friday, July 27, 2012
A red light blinked on the vibrating mobile device attached to his hip. He knew without looking, that the Big Bossman was summoning. After enjoying the motion of the device for a few heartbeats he turned it off and went about his business.
Currently, he was in a sweatshop, but not one on foreign soil. There were many like it all across the country, taking advantage of a willing, immigrant workforce. No one seemed to care about the working condition of these “illegals.” In fact, the “Made in the
brand which adorned the products they slaved over, was seen as something of
renown; a great good.
And should his workforce be discovered by some pious organization or individual, little protest will be made of the substandard working conditions of his employees, so great will the uproar be over their non-citizen status.
In the old days he was a strong presence in the business community. Out in the open and even lauded. Recently, with all the outcry for human rights in this nation, his persona found the underground better suited to his business.
They called him Apathy. Able to exploit employees caring not for their health or insignificant lives. He’d been a captain of industry and they’d titled him appropriately. Captain Apathy. Though not as outwardly prevalent these days, his method and moniker had become more general, and of higher rank.
Perhaps now, with this summons from the Big Bossman, a man he not only knew quite well but had played a part in his rise to power, Apathy would once more find himself in the public eye.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Tanya sat at the table in the corner of the room designated: The Breakroom. It had been decades since she’d been inside the secret hideout of
She’d stayed many nights at The Office during
the sixties and seventies and not in the guest room exclusively. Corporate Man.
She reminisced on all the wild Christmas parties they’d held in this place and she smiled as she looked across the room to the staircase that climbed to the lookout tower. John Q Public and some unexpected photocopies crept into her mind.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Corporate Man said as he walked into the room.
He was in uniform now; collared shirt, black suit jacket, slacks, and expensive, polished shoes. Around his neck hung his special necktie/cape and concealing his face was a pair of black, thick rimmed glasses. He also carried a briefcase, essential to any man of business.
“Can’t buy anything with a penny anymore, Jonesy,” she said.
“Ah ah,” he said, “You promised to call me Corporate Man once I was properly attired.”
Tanya looked him up and down and smiled. He was Corporate Man now, there was no doubt, and she found that the sight of him filled her full of hope and eagerness for enterprise.
“You’re right. Corporate
Man. So what’s our next move?”
“Well, I though we’d put out a call to all of our old Union allies and then make every attempt to reclaim market share for the good guys.”
Tanya retained her smile though a bleak sadness tugged away inside her. Not many of their former teammates were in a position to answer the call. Most were immobilized. More than a few were dead.
Corporate Man, as if reading this in her face, said, “I know that in my absence there are some positions that have become… vacant. So I think I’ll endeavor to make a few promotions if I’m able. In the meantime, you have full reign of The Office. If you need me, I’ll be in the tower.”
He nodded and then turned to the staircase and went up.
Tanya bit her lip and tapped her foot, the movements rapid and impatient. She stood and then sat back down with a muttering sigh. A moment later her fingers were drumming on the table, her head shaking back and forth, trying to rid herself of the idea. Finally, she let her shoulders slump and stood again. She walked out into the hallway, turned toward the master bedroom, and walked to the second door on the right.
She looked herself over, ran her hands over her bust and hips, and took a deep breath before she walked inside.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Should he wear the cape he wondered as he looked himself over in the wardrobe mirror, should he wear a costume at all? Did anyone wear costumes anymore?
Professor Inflation had been too busy this past decade to consider a change in his attire. In the seventies he’d worn a stuffy sweater, thick glasses, beard, and corduroy pants. The palette of which he kept warm and natural. In the eighties he’d donned a white lab jacket, safety goggles, and a host of neon undershirts. This failed to portray the sort of professor he was, but it was the eighties and accuracy and depth were not in fashion. Back in the sixties he’d gotten away with a cape and tight, form fitting clothes. He had even managed to pull off wearing pinks and purples and mauves.
Retro was back in wasn’t it?
Perhaps he should break out the cape. For nearly two decades he’d been in expensive suits. Wasn’t it time for a change? Shouldn’t he try to bring some of the flash, some of the fun, back to inflation?
Professor Inflation picked up a white suit jacket and considered a pink undershirt, but just for a moment. He quickly cast them aside and continued rummaging through his closet for something perfect to wear.
Friday, July 20, 2012
It was called The Office and it served as the secret headquarters for Corporate Man, as well as frequent meeting place/weekend getaway of The Union, for a number of decades.
As previously mentioned, there were four doors off the main hallway, five if you counted the door coming from the entranceway. All the doors were swing hinge instead of the much desired, and space efficient, pocket doors. There was a practical reason for this. An open door provided a simple but effective way to hide a secret access to an escape tunnel and there were two such passageways in The Office. To the immediate left of the entrance door, obscured dim light, dull wall color, and left inswing was a square panel affixed with magnets for easy entry and speedy replacement. The other escape tunnel was tucked behind the door leading into the walk in closet off the master suite.
These tunnels were employed on numerous occasions during financial downturns, economic instability, and interoffice romance terminations.
The first door on the right side of the hallway led into a spare room complete with bed, nightstand, and closet for the occasional guest. A slim door in the far corner accessed the utility room where, among other things, the generator, furnace, and massive computer data bank were housed.
Door number two in the main hall went into a large storage area of Union supplies. Spare costumes, gadgets, and various paper products consumed the bulk of the space.
At the very end of the hall was the door to the master suite. Corporate Man’s bedroom away from home. His bed and aforementioned walk in closet were to one side and the master bath, complete with deep soaker tub, on the other.
The final door of the main hallway, the one centered along the left hand wall, led to The Breakroom. A kitchenette sat along the far wall with tables and chairs to one side. On the other was a spiral staircase a small bathroom with shower stall. The staircase climbed up to the tower where the telescope and infamous copy machine awaited. The plumbing in the bathroom suffered terribly during The Elephant’s tenure as did those trying to eat their lunch in the next room. This begs the question: Why are toilets always installed in spaces adjacent to those designated for employee rest and food consumption?
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Mr. Jones stood unmoving. This time, though, he had not slipped into another trance. Instead, he was both surveying the state and inventory of his secret hideout and basking in a warm nostalgia of fond experiences.
In the small room was a desk console featuring an old computer screen sunken into a slanted panel with dozens of glowing, blinking, or otherwise brightly colored buttons arranged on a vertical strip alongside the monitor. A round speaker was embedded below, its black metal cover popping upward like a bowl sized tea strainer.
Mr. Jones reached forward, turned a small whirring crank for a few moments to charge the computer battery, and slid open a panel at the bottom of the slanted console revealing an odd keyboard with chunky, tan-colored keys. He touched the escape button and a loud ratcheting sound purred beneath the contraption. After a minute or two a blinking green square appeared in the upper left corner of the black screen.
After a brief pause Mr. Jones typed: CLOCK IN
A scroll of green characters, a mix of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, rolled up the screen. Then a series of prompts appeared, each displaying a code and a percentage that began with one percent and climbed steadily to one hundred.
Tanya shook her head and muttered, “God, Jonesy, how about an upgrade?”
“Hey, this stuff was state of the art,” he said.
“Yeah, in nineteen-eighty whatever. That outdated PDA thing you bought is lightyears ahead of this technology.” She slumped against the wall and then sat on the floor.
Twenty minutes later the computer program was up and running. Mr. Jones typed c: and pressed enter. The flashing prompt moved down a couple of lines and resumed blinking at the end of a list of characters.
Mr. Jones keyed in opening procedures at the prompt and the screen displayed a few lines of code and another prompt.
He typed d:security and the prompt changed again.
Then he typed unlock doors. This sort of computer work went on for a long while with Mr. Jones eventually powering up the generator, turning on the lights, opening the water pipes, testing the plumbing that fed the sink, toilet, and showers, and conducting power to various electrical appliances housed within the secret base.
Tanya was more than forthright with her opinions about his antiquated system during this time.
Mr. Jones ignored the snide remarks, focusing on his keystrokes. Eventually he opened a small door at the back of the security/entrance room. It led into a narrow hallway with one door at the far end, another centered on the left, and two more on the right.
“The toilets should be working,” Mr. Jones said as he walked toward the door at the end of the hallway. Eager to relieve her strained bladder, Tanya jumped up, raced into the hallway, and went to the door on the left.
Friday, July 13, 2012
He was a small, runty man with a pencil-thin moustache, small bottle-cap glasses, and a very dedicated comb-over. He walked through the airport with an irritated determination. It was years since he’d been called back to the States and he wasn’t happy about the urgent summons from the Big Bossman.
What did the
have to offer? There was no business
here anymore, he’d seen to that. And
what was with that name? Mr. Outsource? He hadn’t used that codename since 1990. He was the Outsourcer now and the Big Bossman
“Sir, would you please remove your shoes?” a pleasant voice at the security checkpoint asked.
“Not for you or any of the thousands of women I’ve bedded in my time,” he said.
The woman rolled her eyes and stifled a gag and ignored the spreading warmth invading her southern regions.
“I’m sorry. It’s policy,” she said.
“Well, I’m sorry. I refuse,” said the Outsourcer.
“I’ll have to alert security,” she said, squeezing her thighs together.
“Go for it,” said the Outsourcer. “I’ll tell them the same thing.”
The woman pressed an alert button then fanned herself with a clipboard and said, “They’ll be with you shortly.”
The Outsourcer cringed at the use of the word shortly. Then his eyes narrowed and he asked, “Aren’t you security?”
The woman ignored the question and pretended to sort some papers. Soon, two large men sporting muscles that strained the stitching of their uniforms approached the Outsourcer.
“You need to remove your shoes. Sir,” one of them said.
“Not going to happen. Not for you or any of the thousands of women I’ve bedded in my time,” the Outsourcer repeated.
The two men shook their heads, stifled laughter, and ignored the spreading warmth invading their southern regions.
“You’ll have to come with us then,” they said and each took a hold of one of the Outsourcers wrists as they escorted him to a secure room.
Forty minutes later the door opened and the Outsourcer stumbled out. His mood had worsened. Sweat covered his brow and his steadfast comb-over was now a wispy tangle of stray plumage. His shirt was untucked, his glasses askew, and his shoes were in his hands.
Someone would pay dearly for this.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Mr. Jones started from his sleep. He massaged a knot in his neck that had formed while sleeping upright against the seatbelt in the moving vehicle.
“We’re about three miles away,” said Tanya from the driver’s seat.
Mr. Jones nodded and tried to shake off the grogginess and the unpleasant after images of the dream; of the memory. He pulled his PDA from his pocket, accessed the internet, and checked his newly purchased stocks.
“There’s been a two percent growth in my portfolio already,” he said. Then he clicked a few buttons, bought some more stocks, and put the PDA away.
Tanya pulled the car off the highway and into a scenic turn out. They were fifteen miles north of the city. The countryside was rugged and mountainous. A river cut between the jagged faces and the road mimicked its path, occasionally crossing from one side to the other via bridge.
“I never understood why you kept your hideout way up here,” Tanya said as they got out of the car. The steady sound of rushing water echoed between the gorge walls.
“Simple. Why would anyone look for ‘corporate man’ out in the countryside? They’d expect a downtown office or something.”
“Would’ve been more convenient,” said Tanya.
“Yeah. I was a little arrogant and over confident about my abilities back then. I didn’t think my necktie-cape would falter and assumed I could always fly right into town whenever I needed.”
“Sucked against The Crash as I recall.”
“Which you eagerly pointed out to me back then,” Mr. Jones said. Then his eyes squinted. “It’s funny you mention him. I was just dreaming about 1987.”
“Oh god,” Tanya said.
“Yeah I know. That was a bad one. When he tore off–”
“No. My outfit. Those shoulder pads.”
Mr. Jones smiled and shook his head. “Did you ever wear anything that wasn’t embarrassing a decade later?”
“I liked my first outfit, back in the forties. It had a classic, clean look to it. Or maybe I’m just being nostalgic for that era since it was all so new for me. With so many women entering the workforce because of the war, it was only natural that a counterpart to the great Corporate Man manifest herself. The early sixties also had some charm to it, fashion wise.”
They made their way down a narrow dirt path that dropped rapidly through the rocky terrain toward the river. It culminated at a cluster of jagged slabs about thirty feet above the water. From their they climbed over the sharp stones to some large boulders near the river’s edge. Beneath an outcropping, visible only when standing a few yards away, was the opening to an abandoned mine shaft. Six inches of water obscured the floor of the entrance. In the spring, during heavy run off, it might be completely submerged.
Tanya and Mr. Jones crept into the mine shaft, forced to duck low as it was only four feet in height at its tallest. Once inside, the shaft rose sharply and climbed into the darkness. Tanya pulled out her cell phone and used the illuminated display to light the way.
The corridor eventually leveled off and then bored directly into the mountainside. Wooden support beams jutted into the path at uneven intervals. After several hundred feet the corridor stopped at a wooden door with wrought iron hinges and plating. Absent, though, was anything resembling a door knob.
Mr. Jones felt along the wall until his fingers found a slight lip in the stone. He pushed forward and the rock depressed. He then slid the false panel to the side revealing a green, spherical button. The button flared with a brilliant glow as soon as the rock panel locked into an open position.
Mr. Jones pressed the button.
It blinked off and on and then a loud click sounded deep within the granite followed by a steaming hiss. The stout wooden door fell away and a series of lights sputtered to life inside the doorway revealing a small room within.
Tanya and Mr. Jones went inside.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Everything looked grainy, like footage from a cheap camcorder in the early days of video technology. Harsh shadows dominated the urban landscape and there was a squealing hiss and a hollowness to the air.
A huge, hulking form lurched into view, disturbing the static stillness and a barrage of battle sounds erupted like heavy thunder as the hulking form was surrounded by smaller, scuttling forms. Bursts of light snapped and popped around the large man-shape as a small man wearing olive green and a black beret flung some sort of small objects.
The other scuttling people wore brightly colored costumes though something dulled the hue, like a set of grade-school watercolor paints mixed with dirty black water.
The hulking man thing knocked the scuttling forms away with a sweep of his giant arm. Then he pounced, clamping a beefy hand around the small olive green man’s chest. The beast yanked on one of the small man’s arms until the shoulder dislocated. The small man screamed and the huge behemoth roared and yanked harder, unrooting the small man’s arm, tearing it from the joint. The hulking form tossed the broken man aside and bludgeoned the other scuttling man-creatures with the dismembered appendage.
A man wearing a fedora and a black domino mask swung down from a fire escape and called out, “Donkey! Elephant! Formation six. Miss Pension get Two Cents out of there, he’s getting pummeled. Ben, put a tourniquet on Commander Credit’s arm!”
Donkey and The Elephant took up positions on opposite sides of the behemoth as Miss Pension darted into the fray and grabbed Two Cents before he was struck with the bloody arm again. The Elephant charge the giant man-thing head on while Donkey rushed the thing’s blindspot and kicked. The Elephant took a couple of rough shots, but Donkey’s kicked succeeded in unbalancing the hulking creature.
“Bull Market, Fair Wage! Now!” the man in the fedora called out.
Two more scampering brightly clad men rushed in toward the massive man-beast. Fair Wage swung a hefty plank of wood, connecting squarely on the big thing’s nose as Bull Market punched its midsection.
At first the hulking brute seemed stunned, but when Fair Wage pressed for another attack the thing struck out at blinding speed, knocked the smaller man to the ground, and stomped on him. Bull Market doubled over and bellowed. His blunted teeth cracked and thick hair sprouted through his skin like deadly grass. Beneath the hulking beast’s foot came the sounds of grinding bones and Fair Wage’s muffled screams.
“I’ve got him, John,” a voice rang out as Corporate Man jumped down from a building near the man in the fedora. “Sorry I couldn’t get here sooner, but whenever The Crash is on the scene, my necktie cape seems to malfunction.”
Corporate Man charged forward and slammed into the massive leg of The Crash, toppling the hulking man-form and freeing a very broken Fair Wage. The Crash rolled up and slammed a giant fist into
From the fire escape the man in the fedora called out a few more orders and then spoke into a wrist watch, “John Q Public to Business Woman, do you copy?” Business Woman, where are you?”
“Right here,” a crackling voice came through the right watch. In the street a woman with bold slacks and noticeable shoulder pads in her dress jacket round house kicked The Crash in the face. Before he could shrug off the attack, Business Woman dealt another snap kick to its sternum and then to its knee.
The Crash fell hard.
Miss Pension distributed a flurry of solid punches to the thing’s face and Ben Buck the Dollar Man leapt on top of The Crash and battered its midsection.
“Let’s wrap it up people,” John Q Public said. “I want a–”
A hairy bear shaped thing slashed Ben Buck’s side open and turned on Miss Pension, snarling and gnashing. The Crash rolled up onto its feet and grabbed Corporate Man by the necktie.
“What’s going on down there? Report!” John Q Public shouted.
“It’s Bull Market,” Business Woman said, rushing to aid Miss Pension. “I don’t know what happened to him. I think he’s gone Bear!”
Friday, July 6, 2012
He stood in the shadows, his body stoic and rigid, silhouetted against the lights of the city outside the tall triangular window at the end of the expansive room on the top floor of the towering building. His building. Dark and ominous. It wasn’t the tallest of the skyscrapers in the city. Not officially. If underground floors were counted, however, it would dwarf all others.
Word of The Greed’s recent encounter with Corporate Man had reached him and, had there been anyone in the room with him at the time, they may have seen a flash of white in the darkness as he smiled.
He moved to a console that jutted from the wall. It activated in response to his proximity. All of the buttons and lights and screens glowed a deep, evil red.
It was time.
He fingered a black toggle switch that stood in a red, illuminated circle. The clacking sound it made was deep and echoed throughout the room. The amount of money he had paid to get that sound just right was staggering. Large red letters flashed across a man-sized display screen.
ALERT. ALERT. ALERT.
And then smaller letters appeared beneath.
The Crash. Confirmed.
Mr. Outsource. Confirmed.
Professor Inflation. Confirmed.
Before long they would all confirm. He moved away from the console to an imposing, black office-chair. It looked like some sort gigantic, wicked beetle, mounted not like a hunting trophy, but like an insect specimen skewered on a sharp needle. He sat, wriggled into the chair’s squishy interior, stroked his luscious moustache, and tugged at the tuft beneath his bottom lip.
The Big Bossman was pleased.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Tanya and Mr. Jones were in the checkout lane of the Shepley’s electronics department waiting to buy the toy raygun and PDA that Mr. Jones had selected. He held the baggy of greed-links up to his face and said, “Well, they’ve stopped twitching.”
Tanya reached up and yanked his hands down, then looked about to see if anyone had seen.
“Dude, did you turd in a bag?” a moppy-haired, never-seen-an-actual-ocean surfer guy said. He brushed his bleached locks out of his eyes, leaned down, and peered into the bag. After a moment he said, “Dude. You did. Oh man. Totally sick. And not sick as in man that’s sick. Just plain sick. Hey, why carry it around with you? And why walk around a supermarket with it? Oh, and dude, seriously, as a side note, based on what I’m scoping in that baggy there, something’s seriously wrong with your bowels bro.”
“Would you like to go ahead of us?” Mr. Jones asked, his gesture indicating that the surfer-man should move forward.
“Awesome,” he said, swaggering toward the awaiting checker. “I’m haulin’ a couple more things than you, though. You just got that toy gun, the PDA thing, and your poop bag. But heck, not gonna be one to look at a gift horse you know.”
The surferish guy began a round of pleasantries with the checker. Tanya and Mr. Jones shared a look, the silent conversation between them being a shared consensus that, perhaps, The Greed pieces should remain tucked away until they took up residency in the toy gun.
“Seriously,” the pseudo surf boy was saying to the checker. “Nastiest thing I seen all week. Check it out when he comes through. Make you wanna hurl. But hey, be gentle with him. Dude’s sick, yo. Needs to see a butt doctor or something.”
Monday, July 2, 2012
The bossman leaned against the pharmacy counter of the Shepley’s department store. His mood was murky, like the bottom of a lake.
That shorty shorts pansy had broken three of his ribs and the freak’s flailing elbow had severely blackened one of his eyes. To add insult to injuries, his car had been stolen while he was getting knocked around inside the Price Killers Wholesale Superstore. Then he had to walk to the hospital. This was not only due to lack of car, but with the amount of seriously injured Price Killers patrons the paramedics were hauling off, it would have been a long while before they had room for him. H then had to take a cab to a different medical facility for a similar reason.
“That’s all?” the bossman asked when the pharmacist handed a small, white paper bag over the counter. “There should be a big bottle of stern painkillers to go along with whatever antibiotic crap they’re making me take.”
“Nope. None on this prescription,” the pharmacist said.
“You gotta be kidding me.”
“Is there another order back there for me?”
“Nope. But the back aisle has some pain relievers.”
“What? Advil and Tylenol? I need something hardcore, like Vicodin on steroids.”
“I wouldn’t recommend mixing Vicodin with steroids,” the pharmacist said.
The bossman glared at the pharmacist, grabbed the little baggy of impotent medication, and stormed off.