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, September 29, 2014
He still had two doses left when Corporate Whore handed him his pay packet.
“I’ve already appropriated the twenty you owe me,” she said. “You can run the numbers and double check me. No doubt it will be the second thing you do.”
She turned, not waiting for a reply, and walked out.
Corporate Man shut his door and ripped open the package. Several vials and small bottles spilled across his desk, glittering like emeralds. His heart sang at the sight. Then he gathered them greedily, tucking them away in secure locations. Once this was done he sat in his chair, got out his syringe, and stabbed the needle into the rubbery cap of the green bottle measuring out one of the remaining two doses.
He stuck his arm, injecting the Bonus, and quivered as it raced through him. He lost track of his body feeling instead like a jellyfish electrified by its own stinging tendrils. Spasms tossed him about like eddies in a tide pool. When it was over he collapsed in his ergonomic office chair, arms spread wide, neck practically pouring over the back of the seat.
The office door clicked open and he sat up with a start.
“Oh. So sorry, Mr. Jackson. Just here for the trash,” said a vague blur of a man standing in the doorway. “I can come back later.”
“No. No, Uh…”
“Hector. Yes. That’s probably right,” said Corporate Man slowly regaining focus. “Been a long week. Just catching a little cat nap.”
“I understand, Mr. Jackson,” Hector said, approaching the desk. “You work so hard and it’s Friday. Time to relax a little.”
“Boy you said it.”
Hector’s face came into focus. In the instant before the chemical-damp cloth clamped over Corporate Man’s nose and mouth, he thought he recognized that face.
Friday, September 26, 2014
He had his pants around his ankles, to throw off anyone who came into the bathroom and peeked under the stall door. He had a needle in his arm, the plunger pushed all the way down. This was the last of his supply. Hot wet bliss washed over him and he writhed on the toilet seat, hands clawing at the stall walls. He would regain his senses momentarily, but for now there was no time, there was no place, there was no Corporate Man.
There was only Bonus.
Sweet luxurious Bonus.
His head lolled back and his feet twitched. And then it was over. He pulled up his pants and went back to his desk. He called Betty into his office and informed her that, with Tess leaving, he was going to have to increase her work load, almost double it in fact. She didn’t cry. Not yet. He admired her for that. She would save those tears for her cubicle. She didn’t protest either and for that he detested her. No spine. Perhaps she deserved this. And maybe it would help her in the long run. Make her stronger. Yes. Despite everything, he was still doing good work.
The itch came upon him near the end of the day, followed by slight tremors. His mouth went tangy and his spit went thick. Payday was three days away. There was no way he could make it that long.
He paced his office for twenty horrible minutes. He chewed his nails and scratched at his neck. Several times he took his shoes off. His socks were damp. Things were wiggling between his toes. He was sure of it. But when he took his socks off there were no worms, no beetles, no fleas.
He blinked at the light and at the sweat trying to run into his eyes.
He blinked and his office was gone. He was in cubicle land, marching toward the bosslady’s office. Toward Corporate Whore. He didn’t bother knocking when he arrived. Part of him hoped that she would jump a little when he burst in on her. She did not. She was behind her desk, arms crossed, staring at the door. As if she expected him.
“I was expecting you,” she said. “You lasted a lot longer than I thought you would, actually. Where are you shoes?”
“In my office. With the sock worms.”
“Fleas, spiders, whatever. Don’t try to confuse the issue.”
“And what issue would that be?”
“Yes, I meant to commend you on your work. This paycheck should see our largest bonus yet. Thanks largely to you.”
“Look, I’ve done my job. I need you to front me a little to get me by.”
“So let’s negotiate terms. What’s a reasonable rate of payback? Two to one?”
“That’s capitalism. The law of supply and demand.”
“Right. What I wouldn’t give for their help right now,” Corporate Man muttered.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Nothing. Two for one. It’s a deal.”
Corporate Whore smiled and slid open the top drawer of her desk. She produced a small green bottle between her thumb and index finger. “There are ten doses in here. You owe me twenty on payday. Which shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve seen the figures. Even after you pay me back you’ll have more than enough for the next two weeks.”
Corporate Man grabbed the bottle and stormed back to his office.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
“No Tess, I haven’t heard from him,” Miss Pension said.
Tess twirled her fingers in the chord of her phone. “He asked me to resign today. Said it was part of some plan he had. I can’t just quit. Do you realize what I’d lose if I did that? Did he mention this plan to you?”
“No, but like I said, I haven’t heard from him.”
“You can’t know that, Tess.”
“I can feel it. And there’s something wrong with him. He was… jittery and his eyes, I swear they were dilated or something.”
“And he was out sick before,” Miss Pension said. “Corporate Man is never sick.”
“I need some help out here. He needs some help.”
“There’s no one available.”
“No one? Don’t you guys have a bunch of members?”
“Yeah, but the
Union is stretched pretty thin right now. Our last campaign hospitalized a few of our
members. Hang in there, Tess. I’ll try to think of something.”
Monday, September 22, 2014
The light flashed from pink to one-hundred watt white as Corporate Man’s eyes snapped open. He was staring directly at the bulb of his desk lamp. Other than the painfully bright light he felt wonderful. Confident. Ready to take on the financial world.
He sat up. His head didn’t even ache and his mind was clear; razor sharp. On his desk was a yellow legal pad. Frantic notes and tables scratched across line after line. He flipped through the pad. There were dozens and dozens of pages filled with his handwriting. An overly excited version of his handwriting, but his handwriting nonetheless.
His hope that these notes might contain some brilliant plan, some strategy he could use to take down Corporate Whore, faded quickly. The word “bonus” appeared frequently and several graphs and tables looked like percentage calculations based on decreasing payroll hours.
Corporate Man read through them. What he found both sickened and delighted him. The unscrupulous nature of the work was distasteful, but the wily innovation was admirable. The ideas would not only work, but many of them could be implemented within the next or two. The Bonus increase on his next check would–
What was he doing? He needed to get out of this situation. He needed to take down Corporate Whore. He needed some more Bonus. The cravings wouldn’t stop. He understood that now. What he needed to do was build up tolerance to the stuff. That would work right? Just get used to it and then he could function better. And if he could build up a supply then he wouldn’t be reliant on his paycheck. In order to do this he’d have to increase his bonus percentage.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Golden light glinted off champagne flutes. This was the day of the announcement. The celebration of the merger. All the employees were excited and all the decorations were gold, from the place settings and serving platters to the bowties of the wait staff. Even the light bulbs had been changed out for special imported jobs that cast a golden glow over everything.
Corporate Man stood at the back of the room. He was the only one not smiling. Something about this merger hadn’t sat well with him. There’d been far too many signs. Evidence of The Greed and other fiscal villains. And the numbers he’d seen for this deal were far too perfect. He didn’t trust such boastful figures.
A golden knife clinked against a champagne glass and the owner of the company mounted a small stage for the obligatory hurrah-speech. Corporate Man felt a lurch in his stomach.
A whine of feedback cut through the room as the owner picked up a golden microphone. When he spoke his voice was nasally and asthmatic.
“Well, it final. All wrapped up,” he said. A chorus of cheers erupted from the crowd. “And I think this will go down as the most lucrative merger in the history of finance.”
Another round of deafening cheers.
“Unfortunately for most of you, the benefits will not be quite as mutual as we led you to believe.”
Uneasy silence gripped the room.
“In fact,” he said with a raspy chuckle. “Come tomorrow I’ll be soaking up sunshine on my private beach while you’ll find yourself among the unemployed.”
A few of the quicker ones in the room shouted, or wailed, or cried. The owner waived them off and said, “Consider this your notice. With a Pink Slip to come.”
The lights went out
Panicked shrieks followed.
Then a pink spotlight picked out a woman in the far corner of the room. She wore a short skin-tight pink dress with tall, pink leather boots. A pink mask, part domino and part bandana, obscured her face. She tapped a clipboard with a pink pen and when total silence fell on the room she said, “It looks like… we have to make a few cuts.”
She dropped the clipboard and unsheathed a pink katana. Before the first screams escaped the throats of the jumpiest of them, several former employees were relieved of extraneous limbs and superfluous blood supply.
Pink Slip went through the unemployed congregation like a lawnmower through tall, plump grass. Men and women in business casual were turned to mulch. Fingers, hands, arms, legs, and heads fell wetly to the floor, piling up like so much lawn clippings.
Corporate Man dropped down in front of the pink dervish, his well polished shoe delivering a well placed kick to her midsection. Pink Slip stumbled back. Corporate Man’s necktie fluttered over his shoulder and he adjusted his glasses.
Pink Slip drew herself up, her sword held slack at her side rather than in front and at the ready. Red fluid dribbled down the pink blade.
“Now listen here–”
The stroke came so quickly that Corporate Man didn’t flinch until the blade had already flicked past his throat. A streamer of red fluttered to the ground and came to rest in a scarlet pool at his feet.
“That was my favorite necktie!” Corporate Man said, the first syllables cracking and the rest of his sentence a higher pitch than he would have liked. Pink Slip raised her katana and pointed the tip at Corporate Man’s face. They stood there, neither of them moving, awash in the horrible pink light.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Corporate Man sat at the desk in his Donald Jackson office, mind whirring like a cash counting machine. It had been over an hour since the bosslady sent him out of her office. In that time he should have been able to come up with a clear strategy to take her, and that butcher Pink Slip, down.
So far… nothing.
So far the only things he’d been able to keep his overly active mind focused on were ways to trim hours in his department.
So far the best he’d come up with netted only a three percent increase in four weeks. Would that be enough?
He slapped his face and shook his head. Focus! He needed to alert Miss Pension about the situation. Maybe get the
in here to clean up this mess. No. He had time.
If he could just focus on this Corporate Whore situation he’d have it
fixed by the end of his shift today.
What if he told Tess that he needed her to resign? Told her that it was all part of his plan for Great American Business Company. It would free up another forty hours. What kind of increase would that generate in the bonus structure? His fingers flew across the ten key, receipt tape clacking out the callous percentages.
He ripped the paper from the machine, crumpled it quickly, and tossed it into the trash. Why was he wasting time with such thoughts?
Focus! Come on! Focus.
If Tess left the company then all her work would be dumped on the others. One of them would surely crumple under the strain. He or she might ask for a reduction in hours, or quit outright. That would–
He stood up, grabbed his jacket, and left the office.
He would go back to his apartment. He would place a call to Miss Pension ahead of schedule. He’d get all available Union members on this.
As he walked to his car the euphoria of the drug called Bonus noticeably diminished. It was like the moment when prolonged hunger finally turns to nauseous pain. He patted the pocket of his suit jacket, almost absentmindedly.
The pouch of money was there. And the syringe.
He felt comfort in this.
Twenty-five minutes later he was home, phone in hand, knuckles white, several digits of Miss Pension’s special line dialed in. His breath was ragged in his chest and cold sweats appeared on his brow, his palms, his feet. Even his upper lip.
He put the hand set back in the cradle, walked to the bathroom, splashed water on his face, and rubbed the back of his neck. His hands started to shake and a chill set in. He needed to call someone. To get some help.
This was going to be rough.
This was going to be worse than last time. This might kill him.
This was entirely avoidable.
He needn’t shoot up. All he had to do was finger the money in that envelope. Direct contact with the powder that laced those bills would set him right. Then he could focus on the task at hand. Get a call in to Miss Pension.
No. He couldn’t do that. Couldn’t let her see him like this. Addicted. No he needed to suffer through this by himself. The indignities he was about to face were all but unbearable. And super gross.
And he needn’t face them at all. Just one little touch. Simply run a fingertip across one of those powdered bills. That would fix him up. That would stop the nausea, the pain, the shakes. All of it.
But it would start again later. He knew that. Might as well get it over with now, right? Suffer the withdrawal. Get clean. But there was Pink Slip to consider. He would be too weakened to fend her off. What if she came when he was bent over the toilet retching? His head might end up in the bowl. Drowned or decapitated.
He sat on the toilet seat and rubbed his eyes and tried to think.
When he opened his eyes again he was on the couch, syringe in hand. Light glinting seductively off the greenish fluid inside the glass cylinder. Corporate Man was so shocked by the sudden switch that he nearly dropped it.
He rolled the syringe back and forth between his fingers. This was stupid. He didn’t even know how to do this properly. How hard could it be? Just find a vein and go for it. He shook his head. No. He was no junkie. He was
Cramps doubled him over and his bowels nearly let go of their festering contents. He itched and he ached and, above all else, he yearned for that greenish fluid.
Just this once. Just use it to get well and take that whore out. Just find a vein and slip it in and–
A prick of pain flared in his arm, just below the elbow. And the needle was in. His thumb pressed on the plunger and a few milliliters of Bonus scorched his veins. It felt like fire, like electricity, racing up and down his arm. He nearly screamed, but the pain was gone almost as soon as it had come.
The ecstasy, the absolute dirty pleasure of it, raced to every extremity of his body. It was as if all his cells were humming, were vibrating like crystals. His vision blurred, replaced by unlimited golden light.
Monday, September 15, 2014
“Don’t run,” the bosslady said. “You wouldn’t even get the door open before she cut you down.”
Corporate Man had no intention of running. He knew what Pink Slip was capable of. He also knew that he wasn’t prepared for a physical confrontation either. He’d only faced her on his own once before and he was still surprised that he’d survived the confrontation.
“Who are you? What is all this?” Corporate Man said.
“This… is Pink Slip,” the bosslady said. “She’s insurance.”
“Yeah. Who are you? You’re not just some small time executive for Great American Business Company. You’re something more.”
“Ah… How refreshing. A man recognizes my worth,” the bosslady said. She sifted some more powder onto her hand and sniffed. “I’m something new. There will be more like me, you can be sure about that. Male and female. In vast multitudes as the conglomerates continue to grow. But I am the first. I’m Corporate Whore.”
“Not the most flattering of names.”
“No? The oldest profession? That’s not notable? Not respectable?”
“Of course you wouldn’t, man-ling. How dare a mere female enter the boy’s club of corporate finance. Women belong in the home. Let’s forget that the first business, that oldest of all professions, was started by woman.”
“You’ve no proof that–”
“And that business is still thriving today!” she shouted over him. Then she paused for a moment, allowing the silence to stand as evidence of her victory. “Now. You will go back to your office and spend the rest of the morning working on strategies to maximize our bonuses. You may have the afternoon off to struggle with your new addiction.”
Corporate Whore raised her chin. Her head cocked to the side almost imperceptibly. Pink Slip’s whip cracked out, the tip popping inches in front of Corporate Man’s face. He stood up, obediently, and walked out of the office.
The bonus envelope and its shady contents gripped tightly in his hands.
Friday, September 12, 2014
In the archives of the
Union, stored in the file cabinets at
The Office, there is a dossier on Pink Slip.
It makes for some interesting, if unpleasant, reading. She’s responsible for a number of economic
atrocities including but not limited to:
termination, intimidation through threat of termination, destruction of personal
financial security of millions of families due to termination.
Where she walks there are tears and panic sweats and hastily cleaned out desks. She is the eager pet of crooked tycoons; a Doberman Pincer in pink. Bankers lust for her and fat cat Wall Street types casually toss her around like a flirty hand grenade. She is ruthless and emotionless; like broken glass.
She is terribly attractive and this makes her all the more deadly.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Every cell in his body felt alive. His blood felt like liquid rubies and his mind of molten gold, racing with crazy, lucrative ideas and inventive corporate strategies. He could not seem to focus on his predicament though. Nothing practical or clever, unless it was fiscally strategic.
The bosslady continued, “You’ll receive your supply of Bonus with every paycheck. Today’s unscheduled payday was unique. Think of it as inaugural, an initiation if you will. It won’t happen again unless you exceed expectations and create new financially advantageous opportunities for the company. As your monetary bonuses increase, so does your supply.”
“I won’t do this.”
“Sure you will. It’s got a hold on you now. It’s in your blood. And you’ll get another taste of what it’s like to be without it. You might be able to portion that syringe into two, maybe three doses, and the cash has enough powder on it that you could triple-count the bills and get another one that way. I assure you though, that by the time payday rolls around again, you will be in terrible need of a fix.”
Corporate Man stood up. The room jittered and slight tracers blurred the lines of everything. He closed his eyes. That proved to be a big mistake. Dollar signs and graphs and P&L reports swam at him through the dark and he staggered. When he opened his eyes it took a moment for the room to stop moving. He shook his head. This did nothing to clear his mind. Everything went rubbery for a moment and the sound of commerce rang in his ears.
“I won’t let you get away with this?”
“Oh no? And who are you? Donald Jackson, guardian angel of business ethics and fiscal morality? No, I’ve seen your resume. I know what you’ve done. You might be angry at being tricked, but that won’t last. There are other benefits to Bonus that you have yet to discover. Think of it as a business super serum.”
“I’ll barricade myself in a hotel room somewhere and kick this junk and then report you to the Better Business Bureau,” Corporate Man said. The thought of another two days of chills and body aches and fever and vomiting and diarrhea was not encouraging.
The bosslady laughed. “Oh! That’s rich. The BBB. Impotent weaklings!”
“Maybe,” Corporate Man said. “But it would be enough to cause in depth inquiries. Disrupt your Bonus supply, maybe.”
The smile slipped from her face like a stock market crash. Her cheeks reddened and her brow pinched in a severe scowl. A slight tremor shook her upper lip. And then she took a breath and her demeanor relaxed.
“I have contingencies,” she said and pressed a button on her phone. A blinking, rose colored light, throbbed from beneath it.
The door at the back of the office, the one Corporate Man thought was a private bathroom, creaked open. A pink light poured out and filled the bosslady’s office. A woman, dressed in skin-tight hot-pink vinyl, matching gloves and stiletto heels, and a domino mask stepped over the threshold. In one had she held a black clipboard and in the other, a leather whip.
Corporate Man recognized her and almost said her name.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Corporate Man walked into the bosslady’s office and closed the door behind him.
“I’m a little busy just now,” the bosslady said. She seemed to be opening and closing programs at random.
“What is this?” Corporate Man asked, gesturing with the bonus envelope.
“Your bonus. Like I said.”
“Not the cash,” Corporate Man hissed. He pulled the syringe from the envelope and said, “This.”
The bosslady never dropped her gaze and said, monotone and slow, as if repeating herself to a stupid child, “Your bonus.”
“What is it?”
“Are you going to make me say it third time?”
“Is it a drug?”
“It’s not a vaccine or a vitamin shot.”
“I don’t do drugs.”
The bosslady shrugged. “You do now.”
“No. I don’t,” said
His heart was racing and it felt like time was passing a little slower,
or perhaps his mind was operating in overdrive. Corporate
“That’s odd. Your eyes are dilated and–”
“They aren’t dilated you crazy–”
“How are you feeling? Pretty good?” she said cocking her head slightly. “Elevated heart rate, slight sense of euphoria? Is the light behaving… unusually?”
Corporate Man froze. The light was more sparkly than usual. And the colors a bit more vivid.
“I’ll bet the colors, especially the greens, seem a little more… well, a little more. And there’s a sense of confidence, almost an arrogant, unstoppable feeling that’s setting in. Am I right?”
Corporate Man took a step back. The world… tilted. Slightly, but it was there. Everything was askew. “What have you done?”
“Oh it’s not me, it’s the bonus,” she said.
No. Had he? Corporate Man looked at the syringe. It was still full of greenish fluid. An impressively attractive green fluid.
“Oh, that’s for later,” the bosslady said. She opened a desk drawer and removed a small emerald colored vial. She unscrewed the cap, shook a small pile of powder onto her finger tips, and rubbed them together in that instantly recognizable sign for money. The powder was almost white, veering in hue toward that familiar money green.
Corporate Man looked at the package of cash. He pulled the bills out, and shook the envelope. A light dust sifted to the floor.
“You can snort it too, and it’s designed to absorb quickly through the fingertips,” the bosslady said. “Quite effective in its powder form, but the liquid state is the truer variety. And it is wickedly addictive.”
“I wasn’t sick.”
“Nope. You were unknowingly kicking your new habit. It’s harder the second time. Next to impossible now that you know about it and have access to the cure.”
Corporate Man sat down. “What is it? Cocaine? Heroin?”
“It’s called Bonus,” the bosslady said. “It’s the future of capitalism.”
Friday, September 5, 2014
“Where have you been?” Tess asked, her voice a hushed whisper.
Corporate Man hadn’t even settled into his chair yet, his computer was still loading programs. He shrugged. “I was sick.”
“You’ve been out of the office for two days.”
“Yeah. Would’ve been nice if someone had brought me chicken soup. Or cleaned up the mess.”
Corporate Man held up a hand to silence her. He shook his head minutely. Not here, the gesture implied. Tess nodded. “Well, I was worried about you.”
“We all were,” said the bosslady, appearing suddenly at Tess’s side. “You never called in. I was beginning to think you’d abandoned your post.”
“Sorry about that,” said
“I couldn’t find the number in my day planner and, apparently, our
offices aren’t listed in the phone book.
I didn’t look until this morning.
I was too sick to comprehend what was happening to me the last couple of
days and ‘calling in’ never actually entered my mind.” Corporate
“We’ll let it go this time,” the bosslady said. Then she glanced coolly at Tess. “Miss Adams I’m sure Donald appreciates your concern, but he does have a lot to catch up on. As, I imagine, do you.”
Tess scampered off, eyes cast downward.
The bosslady stepped into Coporate Man’s office and shut the door. “Don’t worry. It happens to us all.”
Corporate Man shrugged.
The bosslady tossed a legal-sized envelope on his desk.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“Your first bonus,” she said.
“Payday’s not until the end of next week.”
“For them,” the bosslady said, casting a dismissive head gesture toward the outer office. “We at the executive level like to calculate our bonuses on a more immediate basis. Instant gratification and all that. The decision to eliminate Gladys’s position and redistribute all her work has been implemented. Done. The fruits of your labor await. If you have any questions, stop by my office.”
She crept to the door, opened it quickly as though she were trying to catch eavesdroppers on the other side, and slid out of the room.
Corporate Man picked up the envelope. There was more than a check inside. It was thick with papers and there was some sort of object in the bottom. He opened a desk drawer, retrieved a letter opener, and slid it along the top of the envelope, splitting it open revealing an unmistakable shade of green.
And quite a bit of it.
He pulled the bills from the package and started counting, though he instinctively knew the exact amount as soon as he saw the stack. It was mesmerizing. His fingers tingled as the bills passed from one hand to the other. He was halfway through the stack when he remembered the object at the bottom of the envelope. He set the cash on his desk and pulled the envelope open.
Inside was a syringe.
It was cold to the touch; metal and glass. He picked it up by the cylinder and held it in front of him. The metal was golden, the glass like crystal. There was a runny, oily liquid inside. A translucent but familiar shade of green.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Corporate Man’s fever broke in the middle of the afternoon resulting in a tremendous puddle of sweat. He didn’t have time to relax in the salty pool, however, and quickly found himself racing to the toilet, wracked with violent heaves, donating the partially digested contents of his stomach to a porcelain charity.
A long moan rumbled from his throat as one hand searched weakly for the toilet’s handle. Something was wrong. And not just common cold or shared flu sweeping through the cubicle Petri dish that is the office environment kind of wrong. This was something more. He never got sick. He was the ultimate employee. He was the perfect executive. He was… throwing up again.
His fingers were shaking.
His whole body was shaking.
Corporate Man rinsed his mouth out and crawled back to bed. His skin was gooseflesh and his teeth chattered like rattling change. He buried himself in blankets and endured the chills for quarter hour; for a fiscal year. And then he was on fire again. Apparently his fever hadn’t broken. A sickly sweat ran from his pores, thin and acrid, like gasoline or some backwoods distilled spirit.
After that it was all fever dreams. Repetitions of hourly employee profiles and job descriptions. Operating hours and percentages and increased efficiency programs.
Over and over and over again.
Monday, September 1, 2014
“Thanks, Tess,” said Miss Pension. “Just hang in there, okay?”
“I will. And tell Corporate Man that I hope he’s feeling better.”
“He wasn’t in today. I assumed he was out on some sort of reconnaissance, using that flu that’s going around the office as cover.”
“No,” said Miss Pension. “He’s there to gather intel and infiltrate Great American Business Company. If he was out of the office today then he’s either sick, or something’s gone wrong.”