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.

After nearly a decade of imprisonment, Corporate Man returns to find the economy in ruins and his deadliest enemies in control of all but a fraction of society's wealth. He embarks upon a quest to set right the wrongs of the business world; a task that will ultimately destroy him.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chapter 207

The Tragic Death of Corporate Man
a hero for capitalism;
champion of the working class

by Tom Landaluce

Section 8:
Office of the Pyramid.

“What the hell is this?” said Franklin Buck gesturing to a pool of water where the elevator should have been.  Nothing about the elevator shaft seemed quite right now that he looked at it closely.  It was too well lit and gleaming white.  Small circular lights squatted against the sidewalls and dashed an intermittent line all the way up the shaft and down below the water’s surface.  The water was a questionable glowing blue and smelled like lemons with only the faintest trace of chlorine.
“Looks like water,” said Business Woman.
“I can see that,” said Franklin Buck.
“There’s a cabinet full of inflatable inner tubes out here in the hall,” said Senior Executive as he joined them in the peculiar shaft.
“So… what?  We’re supposed to relax?  Take a cigarette break?  Go for a dip?” Franklin Buck said, his hand gestures becoming a little more pronounced.
“Don’t know about you, but I could use a soak,” said Business Woman.
“Are you serious?”
She said nothing and walked out into the hall to fetch an inner tube.  When she returned she pressed a button on the side of the device, and it self inflated.  She tossed it into the water, jumped in, and then pulled herself up onto it and floated.  A large grin spread across her face and a dark red stain spread across the water.
“This is crazy,” said Franklin Buck.
“Ah.  See now that there is what I missed you Franklin.  You were the voice of… well not reason, but whatever.  I don’t care why this pool is here, but here it is and I got blood, and who knows what else, all over me and I’d just as soon have it washed off since a good deal of it belonged to a colleague of mine.”
Franklin Buck bit his lip and looked down.  Then he walked out of the elevator room, retrieved an inner tube from the conveniently placed cabinet, and joined Business Woman in the pool.
Corporate Man, Senior Executive, and a wobbly Commander Credit did the same.
They floated in the blood darkened pool, each pretending not to notice the fabric scraps and fleshy bits that sank slowly and disappeared into the depths.  A gentle tone sounded and a pleasant robotic voice said, “Contaminants detected.  Please pardon the audio inconvenience as the water is refreshed.”
A low whir, apparently the extent of the audio inconvenience, preceded a slight agitation in the pool.  After a minute or so the water was a sparkling blue once more.
“So, Franklin,” said Business Woman.  “Where the hell did you go anyway?”
Franklin Buck rolled his eyes and said, “Down.”
“Down?  Would you care to elaborate?”
Franklin outlined his strange journey and had just recounted his bungled negotiations with the genetically altered Fat Cat when he noticed a button on the wall nearby.  He paddled over to it and, after a moment, he said, “There’s an arrow on this button that points up.  Do you think, maybe…”
“Maybe this is an elevator after all.  Push it,” said Corporate Man.
Franklin Buck pressed the button. There was a hissing thunk as the elevator doors closed and a stampede of bubbles floated up from the depths.  Then the water level began to rise.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chapter 206

The Big Bossman grinned.  In front of him, on the monitor screen, The Crash continued to destroy the thirty-ninth floor. 
Strewn about him were obsidian and ivory chess pieces.  Embedded in a wall panel was a CD, the words “strategies and tactics” showing on the section of disc that remained visible.
He moved his hand to a glowing red button and fingered it with a flourish.
“Prepare for guests, General,” he said.  “They are on their way up.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chapter 205

Bear Market’s body swelled like an overstuffed tick.  Supply’s head, and most of her upper arms, jutted above the trench wall.  Her body, still in the shaft below, was squeezed unnaturally in the narrow corridor.
“Demand!  You’ve got to help her!  You have to increase.  You have to grow!” Business Woman shouted.  Her hands gripped and gouged at Bear Market’s lips.  She yanked, trying to unclench his teeth and jaws.
“Do it Demand!  Now or else–”
Bear Market exploded.
A burst of blood geysered from Supply’s neck.  The initial crimson shock wave hit The Crash, spilling it into the trench.  The Crash dropped Franklin Buck as it tried to grasp the trench wall, but its hands slipped, unable to grip for all the blood.
Pieces of Bear Market rained down onto the maze and into the labyrinth; fluttering flaps of skin and chunks of matted hair-fur.  His jaw, still lodged in Supply’s neck, the source of a scarlet fountain.  Supply writhed and twisted and slowly shrank into the depths of the trench.
Business Woman lay strewn across a wall, gasping for breath, clinging to the unexpected perch.
“Help Franklin Buck,” Corporate Man shouted as he dropped down from above, necktie-cape fluttering behind him, landing near Business Woman.  He was coated with a fine spray of red mist and a shrapneling of bear meat.
“I’ve got you,” Corporate Man said, clutching her wrist.  “Can you stand?”
Business Woman nodded and, with his help, she regained her feet.  Across the maze Senior Executive helped Franklin Buck find his footing.  Then both men lifted Commander Credit, supporting him on their shoulders.
“We’re making for the exit,” Senior Executive called out.  “Where are Supply and Demand?”
Corporate Man looked into the trench.  Supply lay there, deflated and still.  Face down in her own blood.  He shook his head.
“What about Demand?  He could still be alive,” said Business Woman.
“I doubt it.  You can’t have one without the other.  I could head down there and take a–”
A roar shook the arena and then everything started to quake.  The Crash rumbled through the trenches, swinging its huge arms, breaking walls, toppling whole sections of the maze into the dark spaces of the labyrinth.
“Run!” Corporate Man yelled.
They dashed across the maze, turning haphazardly at intersections, choosing a course that took them away from The Crash’s rampage, but in the general direction of the stage. 
The labyrinth was fast becoming a pile of rubble.
The pathway veered twice and put them on an intersecting path with the destroyer below.
“We have to turn back,” Corporate Man said.
“No.  I think this well lead us out,” said Business Woman.
“It’s gonna lead us out of this life.”
“Trust me.  This is the way.”
The maze banked again putting The Crash on their right instead of directly ahead.
“See.  We’ll be alright,” said Business Woman. 
The Crash swerved toward them.  Debris, papers, shattered wall, and mangled body parts rose about the giant like a dust devil.  It exploded through the maze wall that Corporate Man and Business Woman were running along leaving an expansive gap in their path.
“Hang on!” Corporate Man called out as they reached the edge. He grabbed Business Woman around the waist and jumped.  His necktie unfurled behind him and they dropped down onto the ledge on the far side of the Crash created chasm.  They raced down the walkway, huge television monitors fell from the ceiling and shattered all around them.  Amidst a shower of broken glass and ruined diodes they made it to the stage area.
Senior Executive, Franklin Buck, and a very groggy Commander Credit awaited them.
“The elevator’s this way,” said Senior Executive.
They ran to the exit door and out into a hallway.  Behind them The Crash continued its ruinous assault on the stock market floor.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chapter 204

The portfolio shield emanating from the smart phone crackled and hissed as The Crash pushed against it.  Senior Executive was losing ground.  The force of the financial disaster’s onslaught pushed him back toward the end of the pathway; the edge of the ledge.
Corporate Man signaled, gesturing toward the drop off, indicating that they should leap to the side where the path-maze forked at a T-shaped junction and that this action would result in the blinded Crash falling into the trench.
It didn’t work.
Somehow The Crash knew, as if the shape of the maze was a part of it and the thing turned when the two men made their leap, as though it could see them.
“We’ve got a problem,” said Corporate Man.
“I see that.  How can it anticipate the shape of the maze?” said Senior Executive.
“That’s not what I meant,” Corporate Man said, shifting Commander Credit’s body onto one shoulder.  “I think we chose the wrong path back there.  This lane dead ends in another hundred feet.”
The Crash surged forward, spurred on by Corporate Man’s words.  Sparks erupted from the smart phone shield.
“It’s reaching Depression levels,” shouted Corporate Man.  “You got any tricks left?”
“Not many.  We may have to sacrifice Credit,” said Senior Executive, straining to hold his position on the shield as blue sparks rocketed past his face.
“That’s not an option,” Corporate Man said.  His foot teetered on the drop off.  The Crash continued to push.  Senior Executive skidded backwards and into Corporate Man and they nearly toppled.
“Enough!” a voice rang out. 
The Crash hesitated, lifting its head in an effort to locate the voice.
A flash of gold and silver streaked over Corporate Man’s head and a silvery flash exploded at The Crash’s temple.  The giant stumbled back and a golden explosion burst under its chin sending it sprawling across the top of the ledge.
Franklin Buck stood atop the maze.  His fists glowing.  One gold and one silver.  He glanced back at Corporate Man and Senior Executive, cocked a smile, and then advanced on The Crash.
“I’m here, you monster.  I’m Franklin Buck, the One Hundred Dollar Man and I wield the power of the Gold and Silver Standards.”
The Crash twisted onto its feet and charged, howling, milky eyes wild.  Franklin crouched and rammed a silver punch up into The Crash’s groin.  Then he jumped and delivered a golden hammer blow, knocking The Crash backward.  A flurry of alternating punches, silver gold, silver gold, fired like pistons into the staggering behemoth.  Gold across its massive jaw, then silver to the sternum.  Gold snapping the bridge of its nose.
The Crash dropped to its knees and Franklin chopped, silver and gold, on the sides of its neck.  He reached back for one final golden blow and punched with all his might.  With all the Gold Standard could bear.
His fist slammed into The Crash’s open palm.
The Crash growled, its hand clamped around Franklin’s golden fist like a bear trap.  Franklin screamed as The Crash stood.  It hoisted him off the ground.  Golden light flared between the monster’s fingers.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Chapter 203

They raced through the corridors, Bear Market snarling and gnashing at their backs.  Business Woman was in the rear.  She could feel the damp heat of sure death on her ankles as she ran.
“Which way?” Supply shouted as they approached a divergence in the trench labyrinth.
“I don’t know,” said Business Woman.  “Just go.  Go!  GO!”
They turned right and kept running.  Bear Market slammed into the corridor wall as his intended prey swept around the corner, but he was at Business Woman’s back again within a couple of strides. 
“If we turn into a dead end we’ll encounter the literal meaning of that term,” said Demand.
Jaws snapped and snagged the back of Business Woman’s suit jacket.  Bear Market jerked his head, tearing the dark blue fabric and disrupting her stride.  She stumbled, then slammed into the floor and slid.  Her speed carried her into an intersection of corridors.  Supply and Demand turned left.  Business Woman scrambled, redirected her momentum, and launched herself to the right.  Bear Market’s teeth snapped on the empty air she’d occupied only seconds before.  She yanked her jacket off, backed further into the corridor, and shook it like a matador.
Bear Market charged.
He was almost upon her when Business Woman jerked the jacket to the left and pivoted to allow the beast passage.  Bear Market, anticipating the feint, bit toward the right.  His jaws clamped down on empty air again as Business Woman leapt upward, slammed her palms onto Bear Market’s head, used it as a spring board, and vaulted over the charging ursine body.  As soon as her feet touched the ground she streaked down the passageway after Supply and Demand.
She found her companions less than one hundred yards later.
At a dead end.
“We’re dead,” said Demand.
“No,” Business Woman said.
“We.  Are.  Dead,” said Demand, turning toward her.
“We can beat this thing,” said Business Woman.
“How?” asked Supply.
A roar echoed off the walls.  Bear Market slowly crept around the corner and into view.
“Increase Supply on all necessary commodities,” said Business Woman.
“That won’t deter Bear Market,” Supply said.
“Just do it!” Business Woman shouted.  Immediately, Supply started growing.  “When prices plummet we’ll buy up everything, reverse it, and increase demand.  I can then–”
She froze.
“My PDA’s gone,” Business Woman said, rifling through her jacket.  “It must have dropped–”
Bear Market slammed into them.  A clawed, paw-shaped hand knocked Demand against the side wall.  Blood flowed into the fabric of his purple jacket along four slashing lines.  Bear Market’s other arm pinned Supply against the wall as he snapped his jagged mouth at Business Woman.  She dodged the gnashing teeth, but, without hesitation, Bear Market jerked toward Supply and clamped down on her neck.
There was a sound that occurred during this moment.  It wasn’t a terrified scream, like that of trapped prey or horror movie unfortunates.  It was muffled, slightly gurgled, and similar to the noise a person makes after eating something distasteful or hot but finds they are unable to spit it out.
This sound came from Bear Market.
Supply was swelling. 
Terrified and panicking, she was unable to think of anything other than my-god-a-huge-man-bear-is-killing-me.  As her mass increased, so did the amount of blood in her system.  Blood that Bear Market was feasting on. Blood that was gushing down his throat.
And he couldn’t let go.
His teeth were buried in her neck flesh, which was expanding and bloating.  Bear Market’s back hunched.  He thrashed, struggling to get free.  His violent movements furthered Supply’s panic and her size doubled in seconds.  Bear Market puffed up like a mosquito trapped in a camper’s arm.
“Supply!  Calm down!” Demand shouted, his hand clutching the bleeding gashes on his side.  But his shouts grew softer as his body shriveled and diminished.  A moment later Supply’s body filled the trench.  Demand was the size of rat.
Business Woman leapt onto Supply’s knee and climbed up to her shoulder.  She grabbed Bear Market’s jaw and wrenched it, but nothing happened.  Panic flashed in Bear Market’s eyes and she redoubled her efforts, tugging and prying and pounding on his snout.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chapter 202

The Crash pulled itself upward, its head and back still dangling over the trench, legs tightening around the limp form of Commander Credit.  After it maneuvered itself onto the ledge and sat up, The Crash pulled the little man from between its legs and stood, leaning on its hand for balance; its hand leaning on Commander Credit for emphasis.
The hulking behemoth growled and picked up the limp man.  It cocked its head and studied the small thing.  It smelled him.  Then, quite gingerly, a swollen purple tongue, cobalt veins bulging on the underside, poked out form its cracked lips and touched the unconscious man’s cheek.  The Crash grinned.  Somewhere in its tiny, primitive, reptilian brain a connection was made.
It didn’t recognize or even think in terms of the numerical date, but felt a general awareness of events from that era.  The Crash gripped Commander Credit’s good arm between its huge finger and thumb.  It adjusted its other hand, positioning the thumb beneath the pit of the cybernetic arm with massive index finger on the shoulder and neck of the opposite side; the rest of its fingers gripping the ribs below.
The Crash started pulling.
Joints popped. 
Muscle fibers tore.
“Sorry to interrupt your Black Monday, but…” Senior Executive shoved his smart phone into the Crash’s face.  Light blared from the screen, blue-white and hot.  The Crash’s eyes shriveled, pupils going as white as hard boiled eggs.
The Crash let go of Commander Credit’s cybernetic arm and covered its eyes.  It swatted at the blinding, burning light with the limp body still gripped in its other hand.  Senior Executive jumped back, dodging with ease.  The Crash roared and swung Commander Credit around in flailing, desperate arcs.  It shuffled its feet, determining the orientation of the maze ledge, and hurled Commander Credit along the wall’s path directly at Senior Executive.
“My portfolio will protect me,” Senior Executive called out, swiping his finger across the phone’s touch screen.  A series of charts, graphs, account information, and other investment data opened up and out of the device, one on top of the other, crystalline and impossibly fast until a full body-sized, blue-light shield, blazed from the phone.
Senior Executive blocked the human projectile that was Commander Credit, the impact of the body thrumming like high tension cables against the blazing shield.  Caught in the electric hum the Commander slid to Senior Executive’s feet and slumped across the ledge.  Corporate Man jumped down from above, necktie fluttering behind him, and gathered up Commander Credit in his arms.
“It seems as though our stocks are rising, despite your efforts,” Corporate Man shouted at The Crash.  “With our careful investment strategy focusing on recession proof commodities we–”
But he was drown out by a flesh quivering bellow as The Crash, blind and enraged, charged toward them on the narrow ledge.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chapter 201

The labyrinth didn’t necessarily follow the same path as the ledge-maze above.  For instance, there were circular doorways that tunneled through sidewalls allowing passage where, up on top, there was no such option.  More than one corridor that at first appeared unbarred became impassable when the walkway became a decline, dipping far beneath floor level, and terminating at a steep wall.  And there were pits in the floor that dropped away into blackness.  If one were to test the depths of these dark holes by dropping something down one of them, a dismembered hand of an unlucky day trader for example, it would be an unnerving amount of time before a thudding report sounded from the bottom.
“Damn that’s deep,” said Business Woman, wiping blood from her hands on the suit of a nearby, hand-amputated corpse.
“Can we jump it?” asked Demand.
Business Woman tilted her head, shoulders slumping, and said, “You want to try?”
“Well... not really.”
“What are we going to do?” asked Supply.  “Go back?  I think Bear Market’s back there.”
“Yeah.  Can’t go back,” said Business Woman. 
“I could grow and get you guys out of here.  There’s often an excess supply of luxury items during a crash so it wouldn’t be that difficult.”
“No.  Then you’d be trapped down here alone and we’d still be lost but up there with The Crash.  Maybe if you were big you could see better and lead–”
Business Woman stopped.  She stared at the pit and bit her lower lip.
“Well we can’t–” Demand started.
“Hold on.  Give me a second here,” said Business Woman holding her palm toward Demand.  A low, rumbling growl echoed off the trench walls.  It sounded close.  “Okay.  Demand.  Focus on increasing the demand of a particular commodity.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know,” said Business Woman.  “Just pick one.”
“You mean… Oranges or something?” Demand asked.
“Sure.  Whatever pops into your head first.”
Demand scowled and took a deep breath.  His jaw clenched and his hands bunched into fists.  The floor vibrated, a slight tingly hum are first, and then an excited, pleasure-bed shudder. A section of floor rose up from the pit and locked into place, almost seamless with the rest of the trench floor.
“Come on, quick, before Bear Market catches up to us,” Business Woman said as they sped across the new floor.  Then, as if on cue, a roar echoed off the walls, loud and close.
“Wait a second,” said Demand, turning back.  He held his hands up, palms outward, and eyes pinched shut.  There was a crack, like a rifle shot, and the section of floor fell away, leaving a pit once more.
“So he can’t follow us,” Demand said.
Bear Market charged around a corner and into view, flailing his clawed, syrupy-red paw-hands and roaring.  He skidded to a stop at the edge of the pit, howled wildly, and slammed his arms against the floor, claws gouging jagged ravines across the smooth surface.  Two snuffling grunts sent sprays of ravenous saliva and day trader red into the air.  Then he bolted back down the corridor, the way he’d come.
“Too bad,” said Business Woman.  “I was hoping he’d fall into the pit.”
“That just what I was think–”
But Demand didn’t finish.  Another deep roar cut him off.  And then heavy pounding footsteps.
Bear Market burst into view, charged down the trench corridor, and leapt over the pit like a pouncing cougar.  His hairy, blood matted body slammed against the floor and slid toward them leaving a scarlet trail.
And then he was up, springing forward.  Howling and snarling.  Terrible teeth bared, ragged with scraps of torn suit fabric and stockbroker flesh.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Chapter 200

Commander Credit skirted another corner on the surface of the maze and found himself looking down a long, straight pathway.  At the far end loomed The Crash, bellowing and beating its chest with the bloodied torso of an overused day trader.
Commander Credit let loose with a piercing war cry and then screamed, “I’m gonna cancel your ass you huge pile of shit!”
He cocked a lever on his cybernetic arm and charged.  The Crash roared and thundered across the ledge.  Seismic shudderings pulsed through structure of the maze.  Commander Credit fired a steady stream of platinum card’s at the monster’s face.  A few bounced off, but the majority stuck like porcupine quills in a curious dog’s muzzle.  The Crash swiped at the cards, ripping them from its face, the uprooted blade edges black with sticky tar-blood.
And then they were upon each other.
The Crash tried to charge through his opponent, but Commander Credit leaped up and off the edge of the maze, fired a small barbed shaft from his mechanical arm.  There was a thick cable that connected the barbed shaft to the interior housing of his arm.  The other end jabbed deep into The Crash’s shoulder. 
Commander Credit activated a toggle switch on his mechanical arm sending a pulse of electrical current through the cable.  The voltage was minimal and had not direct effect on The Crash, but it activated several pneumatic pistons within the barbed shaft and caused the housing of the shaft to expand fifteen to twenty-three percent in size.  Commander Credit gripped the cable of the variable-hook and used his momentum to swing out over the trench and back onto the maze ledge, landing behind the enraged creature.  He punched a PIN number into a keypad on his arm and a sharp, magnetic strip popped out, running like a blade from his elbow to his wrist.  He slashed at The Crash’s exposed ankles.  Spurts of thick, greasy tar burst from severed Achilles.  The man-creature howled, toppled forward, and slid across the pathway where it teetered on the edge of the trench and almost fell into the labyrinth.  Its mammoth hand slapped and locked onto the wall across the void, halting its descent.  Thick fingers dug in, splintering the hard material.
Commander Credit leapt forward, slashing.  His black magnetic strip slicing into The Crash’s exposed foot. 
The hulking creature clamped its legs together, its knees snapping shut on Commander Credit like a rat trap.  There was a popping sound and all the air went out of Commander Credit’s lungs.  His mechanical arm was pinned up against his neck, the magnetic strip blade and the gold and platinum ordinance inside, now all but useless.
“You…” Commander Credit wheezed. 
The Crash tightened its leg vice.
“I’m…” and again he couldn’t utter an additional word.  He needed a good quip here.  Something defiant and snarky.  Something to show that he had met death and was spitting in its eye.  But he couldn’t even gasp, or wheeze, let alone be clever.
The world turned grey.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chapter 199

Deep bellowing growls echoed through the labyrinth accompanied on occasion by high-pitched, blood curdling shrieks.
“We’ve been this way already,” Supply said.
“No we haven’t,” said Business Woman.  “I don’t recognize… Oh wait.  Yep.  That dead guy over there.  I’ve seen that poor bastard before.”
Pieces of torn up day traders lie scattered about their feet. A metal, gamey smell clung to air, intermingling with the scent of terror loosened bowels. The deep roar sounded in the corridors again.  They could feel it vibrate through their chests.
“We’ve got to move,” said Demand.  “Quickly.”
“Yeah, but which way?  Where is that thing?” said Supply.
Business Woman peered tentatively around a corner and then motioned for her companions to follow.  When the path split they paused to consider their options.  Someone nearby screamed.  This was followed by a loud roar and more screaming. 
And then wet sounds.  
Cracking sounds. 
Gurgling choking sounds.
Business Woman led them toward the disturbance.
“Wait?  Why are we going toward it?” asked Supply.
“We don’t know if this path leads toward that thing or not,” said Business Woman.  “The other direction might double back and put us right in Bear Market’s jaws.”
They turned another corner and saw a bear-man eating a day trader. 
Supply jumped and Business Woman shifted into a defensive posture.
Financial stats scrolled beneath the image and the scene played again but this time in slow motion.
“That’s it,” said Business Woman pointing to the huge telescreen hanging above the far end of the corridor.  “This whole place is jammed with TVs.  Everything is being filmed.  We should be able to get a fix on Bear Market once they cut back to live footage.”
Another slow motion replay of a particularly gory encounter appeared on the screen.  A group, consisting of two day traders and an errand boy, ran afoul of Bear Market.  The chivalrous day traders let the errand boy have first go at the snarling beast, shoving their younger colleague forward and then, in a further display of generosity, allowing him ample space for the impending exchange by turning quickly and running down the corridor.  Luckily, the day traders were not refused a part in the fray as the errand boy held up as well as wet toilet paper against a circular saw and Bear Market was on top of them before they could disappear around the first corner.
Several statistics flickered across the screen and the stock ticker continued its ceaseless scrolling.  A wide angle, bird’s-eye shot of the arena replaced the slow motion brutality.  The Crash stamped along the top of the maze, bulldozing the scurrying day traders, trampling a few unlucky ones and knocking several more into the death trench.
Bear Market was visible at the edge of the screen.  A red fog seemed to hover around him.
“He’s a couple of walls that way,” Business Woman said, gesturing.  “And it looks like we can get to the end of this maze if we keep heading the way we’re going, then take the second right, followed by the third right, and then a quick left before – Ah!  The screen changed.  We’ll just have to find another TV when we get that far.”
They moved down the corridor, through echoing growls and screams, hoping that Bear Market wouldn’t roar into their path.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chapter 198

The Crash charged along the narrow pathways of the maze’s surface, beating and battering the day traders unfortunate enough to find themselves sharing space with the behemoth.  Some leapt into the trenches below and were gifted with broken leg bones or dislocated hips.  A few unlucky ones met a coarse-haired blender with jagged teeth.  Pieces of these unfortunates found their way back up on the ledge accompanied by a crimson mist.
Commander Credit ran along the top of the maze firing gold cards from the launcher in his cybernetic arm.  Negotiating the confusing pathway did nothing for his aim and the majority of these cards pocked against ledge walls, or snagged in the tight curls of the carpeted surface.  A few found purchase in their intended target, sinking into The Crash’s flesh like arrows into a stampeding buffalo. Blood, black and tar thick, seeped from wherever the credit card blades stuck.
The gaps between the ledges narrowed.  Commander Credit thought the move might bring him closer to his quarry so he leapt the trench and continued on a new path.
  The Crash picked up a polo-clad coffee fetcher, used him like a bat to whack a small group of day traders into the labyrinth, and then flung the now unconscious man across several sections of the maze at Commander Credit.  The body thudded against the ledge wall, face and arms slapping across the platform like a wet towel.
Senior Executive and Corporate Man continued to pick their way through the maze as fleeing packs of day traders rushed by haphazardly and almost knocked them into the trench.  Senior Executive punched the keys on his smart phone when he could risk a glance toward it.  Ahead they could see the distance between Commander Credit and The Crash narrowing.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Chapter 197
“Anything broken or sprained real bad?” Business Woman asked.
“My shoulder,” said Demand.  “But nothing that’ll keep me from moving.”
“I’m fine,” said Supply.
Business Woman looked around.  It was dark in the trench.  The walls were charcoal grey and there were marks, like cliff shearing, scraping down them.  She pushed her way past an errand boy and a couple of day traders and called out, “Bull!  Bull Market?  You okay?  Are you hurt?”
She rounded a corner easing past two of the polo-clad sect as they helped a fine-suited trader gain his feet.  Both had visible injuries.  A gashed and bleeding head, a leg that seemed to attach incorrectly, a broken nose, and extremely dislocated fingers. Beyond them was Bull Market.  He was doubled over, writhing and moaning.
“Bull, buddy, what’s wrong?” Business Woman asked, ignoring the pleads of the injured day traders nearby.
“Get away from me,” he grunted.  “Go!  While you still can.”
“Bull Market, listen to–”
“Go!  I can’t stop him.  He’s coming.  Run!” Bull Market screamed.  Then his back arched and something deep inside him cracked.  He howled, in agony, and tore at his chest, ripped open the buttons of his shirt, and yanked frantically at his tie.
“Oh shit,” said Business Woman.  She turned and ran back down the corridor, shouting, “Go!  Go!  It’s nineteen eighty-seven all over again.  Run!”
“What is it?  What’s happened?”  Supply said as she and Demand took their cues and ran.  Several of the more intelligent day traders followed suit.
“It’s Bull Market,” said Business Woman.  “He’s gone Bear!”
Bull Market’s thick, bovine face contorted unnaturally as he shrieked.  Hollow, wet sounds, like rocks scraping together in a bowl of oatmeal, grated beneath his skin.  His blunted teeth cracked and then splintered into sharp, jagged points.  Tufts of coarse, musky hair sprouted all over his body.  His suit, ragged and torn, clung to him in tatters.
And then Bear Market roared.
A couple of the less intelligent day traders, having ignored Business Woman’s subtle hints that they should vacate the area, caught sight of Bear Market.  Realization came too late.  The beast was upon them, clawing and gnashing and growling.  Jagged teeth ripped away huge chunks of spurting flesh.
Blood and screams painted the dark walls of the labyrinth.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chapter 196

A huge, hulking behemoth dropped from the arena ceiling and onto the stage.  A shockwave rippled from this man-shaped bomb’s epicenter, buckling the stage and toppling market traders and coffee fetchers.
The Union was upended.
There was a series of deep clunking sounds that followed and whole sections of the floor fell away at random but oddly precise intervals.  Desks, chairs, paperwork, and traders were tossed into gaping crevasses.
When the shuddering stopped, Corporate Man stood up, expecting to see the chaotic wreckage normally associated with an earthquake.  This was not the case.  There was a pattern, a maze of elevated walkways.  The remnants of floor sections that had not fallen away in the shock’s wake.  He peered over down into the newly formed chasm.  A similar pattern was evident in the depths but as a labyrinth of high walled trenches. 
On the far side of the maze, roaring like a conquering warlord amidst the splintered ruins of the arena stage, stood the hulking form of The Crash.
“I’ve waited years for this, you son of bitch!” Commander Credit shouted.  He bolted past Corporate Man across the smooth, carpeted surface of the elevated maze.  The Crash ceased its emphatic bellows, glanced down, and spotted Commander Credit.  The monster grinned and flared its eyes.  With a burst of speed incongruent to its bulk, The Crash leapt from the stage and charged across the surface of the maze seeking and avenue that would lead to its quarry.
Corporate Man turned to Business Woman, but she wasn’t there.  Neither were Supply and Demand.  Bull Market was also nowhere to be seen.
“They fell,” Senior Executive called out.  He was perched on the surface of the maze, a trench separating him from Corporate Man.  “Down there, somewhere.”
“We need to help them,” said Corporate Man.
“No, we need to stop The Crash.  They can take care of themselves.”
“We help our own first,” said Corporate Man.  “Business Woman!  Supply!  Demand!”
“We’re here!” Business Woman called out from somewhere in the depths of the labyrinth.  “A little bruised, but I think we can manage.  How do we get out of here?”
“I don’t know.  It looks like some sort of maze.”
“What about The Crash?  That thing isn’t down here with us, is it?”
“No,” said Senior Executive.  “It’s still on the surface, coming this way.  Commander Credit rushed off.  He’s trying to make his way toward it.”
“Well get out there and give him a hand.  We’ll try to find our own way out.”
“Alright.  We’ll come back for you when we can,” said Corporate Man, flipping his necktie cape over his shoulder and leaping upward.  The ascent of leap crested when he was over the center of the open trench.  Then the descent began.  He flailed and groped as he slammed into the sidewall of the maze, fingers gouging into the commercial grade burber at the top of the trench wall.  Senior Executive grabbed Corporate Man’s wrist and pulled him up onto the platform.
“I forgot that that happens when it’s around,” said Corporate Man.  The two men regarded each other for a moment and then sprinted across the top of the maze toward The Crash.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chapter 195

Franklin Buck was running again.  He’d navigated through the Black Market and defeated the Prime Mortgage Lenders in a three fall cage match hammer battle.  Now the Foreign Investors were after him, trying to maneuver him into complex financial death traps arranged in various back room spaces, secret hallway access tunnels, and lavish hotel lobbies.
He ducked into a maintenance closet and held his breath as footsteps passed him by.  Franklin Buck exhaled and was about to open the door and continue on when something in the room flickered.  He turned and on the top shelf, next to the toilet bowl cleaner and drain declogger, were two small cardboard boxes.
The flickering light was coming from inside these boxes.
One light was a luminous silver.
The other warm and golden.