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.
The Tragic Death of Corporate Man
a hero for capitalism;
champion of the working class
by Tom Landaluce
Collision Looming in the Corporate Ladder Lobby.
It was called
for reasons lost to reams of
misfiled or boxed up paperwork, changes in management, alterations to corporate
strategy, and/or heavily over-calculated positions of denial. Jacob
At the center was a structure one might call dark, sleek, ominous, foreboding, and whatever fashionable terms of power and dominance happened to be in vogue at the time of description. Yet its design was unassuming enough to be casually overlooked or forgotten whenever a list was made of noteworthy architecture in the downtown area or when one was desperately searching for the home base of the very paradigm of evil corporations, Incorporated Business Corporate Incorporated.
stood fifty-two stories high, and it was capped by a large pyramid which
comprised the entirety of the fifty-second floor. Curiously absent, along with the
traditionally omitted thirteenth floor, were those of the twenty-six and
thirty-ninth. The facade of the building
was smooth, paneled glass with solid black corner walls and no apparent ledges
or overhangs. The only significantly
unique element in its appearance were three, wide, windowless bands, the same
black as the corner structures, which broke the building’s height into four
separate sections like a stack of blocks. Jacob
As with most buildings, the tower had its own share of rumors and urban myths hanging about it. Most of these were circulated by the janitorial staff, however, and were ignored by the predominantly white-collar population that frequented the inner corridors. Not surprisingly, most of these rumors revolved around the buildings architectural oddities; the aforementioned absent floors being a large draw. The three dark bands that wrapped its exterior were another area of interest. Curiously, those bands began, respectively, above floors twelve, twenty-five, and thirty-eight, and terminated below floors fourteen, twenty-seven, and forty leading those nosey custodial types to suspect the secret existence of floors thirteen, twenty-six, and thirty-nine. The bands were, in height, comparable to that of three standard floors.
What was going on in all of that space?
Another feature that was of some concern to our inquisitive cleaning crew was that of the building’s corners. Being solid black, they outlined the building, but they were not merely paneled facades, they had depth. The front corner of the tower housed the executive elevator; used only by big wigs, head honchos, or various branch managers of the four corner locations of Incorporated Business Corporation Incorporated. The opposite corner also contained an elevator. The service elevator. None of this was unusual, but the remaining two pillar-like corners of the building boasted no usage whatsoever
One would suspect that elevators for the staff or outside visitors would occupy these remaining areas, but a central bank of elevators located beyond the front lobby served this purpose.
It was a commonly held belief among the janitorial staff that these two, apparently unused, columns were fit with hidden doors which led to secret entrances for the suspiciously absent floors thirteen, twenty-six, and thirty-nine. It should also be mentioned that one noticed, should one be paying attention, a strange sensation when riding the staff elevators which occurred between floors twelve and fourteen, twenty-five and twenty-seven, and thirty-eight and forty. No, it didn’t take longer for the elevator pass between these floors, but there was a sense of falling, or accelerated lift when in these zones.
As for the pyramid crowning the ominous, though often overlooked, structure of the
… No one spoke of it. Those that dared had the unfortunate habit of
He should have chessboard up here. Something symbolic like that; borderline metaphoric. With huge gothic pieces made of obsidian and quartz. At present, the obsidian pieces should have taken many of the quartz crystals. Not so many as to look unbalanced though. It should appear as though white still had a chance to overcome the black forces. They wouldn’t, of course, but a glimmer of hope for that possible victory must be present or else why continue to play the game?
Yes, ivory. Not quartz. Fashioned from the tusks of endangered elephants. How’s that for symbolic?
The Big Bossman turned from his triangular office window and strode to the desk. He pressed a button. It blinked red a few times and then glowed continuously.
“One chessboard. Large. Etched titanium. Kings nine inches tall. Obsidian. Ivory from endangered elephants.”
He pressed the button again and the red glow faded. He walked back toward the window, paused, and then returned to his desk and pressed the red button again.
“Book. Audio version. Performed by someone British. Subject: chess strategies and tactics.”
“I can’t believe we’re just walking in,” said Business Woman.
“I’m tired of the games. And besides, not only is this the simplest, most expedient solution, but it’s also the most unexpected,” Corporate Man said.
“Is that because we just performed similar maneuvers at their north side office and they wouldn’t expect us to try it twice in one day?” Business Woman asked.
Corporate Man did not reply.
Business Woman shook her head and said, “These are the same people that left you mindless and pooping yourself in a hospital for a decade.”
“A decade?” Franklin Buck asked. “And wait, wasn’t his awakening a recent thing? How are you even walking? Your legs should be atrophied and you–”
“Well put, Business Woman,” Corporate Man said quickly, raising his voice. “That they did. And I would like some vengeance for that, but this is less about me and more about saving the economy. Let’s go.”
They climbed out of the conveniently acquired van and marched across
toward the tower. Supply and Demand
stood on either side of the bossman, each gripping one of his wrists. Senior Executive and Fair Wage followed
closely behind. Franklin Buck the Dollar
Man and Business Woman flanked Corporate Man who was at the lead. Jacob
Franklin Buck felt a bit queasy being in such company. He wondered if he had what it took to stand with heroes like these. Heroes he’d idolized as a kid. He wondered if his father would have been proud. He wondered who they would cast as him if they ever made a movie about these events. And then he pictured them all walking together toward the tower, up against the mighty corporate conglomerate, odds stacked against them.
This would be shot in slow motion. He was quite certain of that. And in the movie there would be a strong breeze and, Hollywoodized as it would undoubtedly be, they would all have capes and masks and those capes would billow about while the music swelled.
And then they were climbing the steps up to the lobby entrance and Franklin Buck the Dollar Man wondered if all of those heroic types in all of those movies also fought triumphantly to keep the contents of their stomachs stationary and squeezed like crazy to keep their bladders from dousing the crotch of their suits.
“Oh god. Here they come,” Donkey muttered to himself. He sat on a couch in the
lobby, positioned so he could monitor both entrances. The lobby, being situated at one of the
building’s four corners, had two doorways at right angles to each other. Jacob
His underarms were swampy and his palms were clammy. Why was he doing this? Were the imminent gains so beneficial that loyalties to his friends, pledges taken, and oaths of economy sworn, had become valueless? Or was he just a big pussy cowering under the might of this huge corporation?
It will be worth it he told himself. To finally make some strides, build a foundation for future reform, be at the helm of recovery, strengthen his position in the party. To best that goddamned pachyderm.
That gigantic prick of a man had undermined Donkey far too often. That egotistical, callous lump of fat. That money glutton. Once this deed was done then Donkey would have the upper hand and–
Oh god no. What was he doing here? This wasn’t part of the plan.
Across the lobby The Elephant struggled to heft his bulk from his seat. He adjusted his belt somewhere beneath his swollen sagging belly and lumbered toward Corporate Man and the rest of the
“My old friends. My brothers and sisters in arms. It is so good to see you,” The Elephant said, his hands wringing together in greedy, sausage sweat undulations.
“The Elephant!” Corporate Man called out in an exuberant whisper. “I didn’t think you got the alert. I’m so glad you made it.”
“The… alert… Yes, well it’s good to be needed.”
“How did you know we were coming here?” asked Business Woman, her hands on her hips.
“Well it’s rather complicated,” said The Elephant.
“Why don’t you explain it to–”
“Donkey!” Corporate Man gleefully whisper-shouted as Donkey drifted toward the group. “This is most fortunate. Did you two come together?”
Donkey’s face wrinkled into a very sour expression. “Him? No thank you. In fact, I was–”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m glad to see you both,” Corporate Man said. “And we could use the additional man power.”
Business Woman scowled and grabbed Corporate Man’s arm. When she spoke her voice was low and cold and hissing. “Are you out of your mind? These two fools don’t show up at The Office but they turn up here? Like everyone knows this is the place the bastards we’re looking for are holed up? It’s fishy.”
Corporate Man bit his lip, the joy falling from his face. He turned toward The Elephant and took a long, slow, deep breath before he spoke. “Members of the
Union. I would like to apologize for my momentary
loss of practical perspective. It was a misjudgment
on my part at seeing two old colleagues of whom I’d previously thought lost to
us. Now, let’s proceed with
professionalism and retain a cordial demeanor as we examine the situation. We’ve established that our old acquaintances
arrived at this particular location separately from us and independent of our information. So… friends… please explain.”
The Elephant grinned. “Thank you
Old friends. I appreciate the
need for caution in this matter and assure you that my presence at this site of
business and commerce is in keeping with strict adherence to the principles set
for by myself and those I represent and I should–” Corporate
“He’s not saying anything,” Donkey said. “He’s just trying to talk around the subject. God! So typical!”
“Really? Well then, in the interest of fair play,” The Elephant said, “I would like to offer my counterpart an opportunity to illuminate those present as to his position in this matter. Donkey?”
Donkey stood, mouth agape, not moving a muscle except for his eyes, which darted back and forth between his former compatriots.
“Well… I, I, I, I–”
“Come now Donkey, that’s not a proper bray, is it?” The Elephant said. His voice was a cocktail of venom and melted lard.
“Just shut your mouth you… bureaucrat,” Donkey said.
“Oh Donkey, with retorts like that perhaps you should apply that gag order to yourself,” said The Elephant. Donkey huffed and readied himself to spit out something barbed and juvenile but The Elephant waved him off dismissively and continued, “What my lesser counterpart is trying to say is that in the interest of this nation, or more succinctly this nation’s interests, we have been approached by the powers that be and formerly requested to attend to a growing situation that seems likely to threaten those previously mentioned interests and negatively impact the economic prosperity of those in power.”
“They’ve been compromised,” Corporate Man said, taking a step back and assuming a defensive stance.
“Well compensated would probably describe it more precisely. Though, when I consider the situation, I doubt if Donkey had the presence of mind to negotiate for financial benefits, and simply rolled over when confronted.”
“Donkey, tell me this isn’t true,” Business Woman said as she backed toward
Donkey’s head drooped and he exhaled dramatically. “They didn’t tell me it would be like this,” he said, “didn’t say he was going to be involved.”
“Oh my poor, pathetic little burro-buddy, don’t feign naiveté. You crossed a line. Revel in it,” The Elephant said, loosening his tie and unbuttoning his cuffs. “Anyway, this is getting all too boring,” he continued, rolling up his sleeves, “and I can’t believe I’m the one who’s pressing for the physical exertion but… well there you have it.”
The Elephant sprang toward Corporate Man, calling out his pachyderm punch.
The woman with more teeth than the average person rushed up the steps toward the doors of The Jacob Center Tower. She had seen Corporate Man going into the building from her seat on the bus. It had taken a great deal of floundering hysterics to get the bus driver to stop, her swollen mouth hindering communication. That they were not at a prescheduled bus stop location added to the difficulty.
Luckily, the bus driver put on the brakes and opened the door before she had to jam her gun in his face.
When she got to the door she peered in through the glass just in time to see a sweaty, fat man with rolled up shirt sleeves and slicked down hair lunge at
The woman in the dark blue suit, standing next to Corporate Man, dipped
low, her face almost touching the ground, her leg fully extended in the
opposite direction, her foot catching the lunging fat man in his sack of
The woman with more teeth than the average person crept into the building. Bellows from the fat man echoed through the lobby. She tried to suppress a grin. The big man hit the polished lobby floor with a meaty slap. Corporate Man and the woman in blue fanned out, signaling to the others who were standing nearby. The woman with more teeth than the average person then noticed a woman in a mauve skirt and jacket with a dark purple blouse gripping the wrist of a haggard looking man. The woman with more teeth than the average person recognized this man. She’d met him at corporate functions. He was the head of the Northside branch of IBC Inc.
Others in various colored suits sprang into action when the timid man with the royal blue necktie shouted something about being sorry, that they’d gotten to him first, and donkey punch.
Donkey charged forward and punched Demand in the back of the neck. The man in the dark purple suit and mauve necktie crumpled and released his grip on the bossman’s wrist. Supply tightened her hold on the bossman’s other arm, jerked him in front of her, and used him as a shield against Donkey’s attack. Donkey used the bossman as a punching bag. He wondered vaguely who it was that he was hitting and why a member of the
would stoop to using a human shield.
Mostly, he was reveling in the tortured sounds the man made when he
worked the body instead of the face.
Senior Executive reached into the inner pockets of his grey suit and rapidly flung a series of business cards at Donkey. They flew like ninja stars and stung with all the power of a well designed business tool. The aim was precise, connecting with pressure points and nerve clusters. Donkey jerked and spasmed. Supply whipped the bossman around, leveling Donkey with her improvised administrative bludgeon. The bossman’s howls turned to gasping seal barks. Supply dropped him and he rolled away, unsure of which injury to grope at first. Supply then brought a hammering fist down on Donkey, dropping him like a freight container of weighty overstock.
The sound that popped from Donkey’s throat was indeed something that real braying jackasses have made before, though only in severe circumstances.
“Now that’s was a real ass sounds–” The Elephant grunted and clutched his balls. When he tried to push himself up but Business Woman landed a knee in the small of his back. She struggled to pin him, twisting his arm until his wrist touched his shoulder blades.
“You two better explain,” Corporate Man started, but the report of a large caliber handgun exploded through the lobby.
The woman with more teeth than the average person advanced on Corporate Man, firing shot after shot from her gleaming, silver revolvers. The bullets made strange, high-pitched, zipping sounds as the screamed from the barrels.
A vase behind Corporate Man shattered. A tile on the floor beside him blew apart. Another bullet ripped through The Elephant’s shoulder and another took out his knee. The bossman caught a round in his chest, then his inner thigh, then his cheek. A lamp exploded near Franklin Buck and Donkey grunted as a slug pierced his gut.
The woman with more teeth than the average person stopped, fifteen feet from Corporate Man, and said, “I know what you’re thinking. Did she fire six shots or only five? In all the excitement I–”
“Nine,” Corporate Man said. “You have two guns.”
The woman with more teeth than the average person looked at her guns, puzzled.
“And you’re misquoting,” said Business Woman. “It goes–”
“Who cares how it goes! Somebody take her out!” Franklin Buck screamed from behind the heavy lobby furniture thirty yards away.
Senior Executive stepped forward, chopped her wrists, and knocked the guns to the floor. He narrowed his eyes and said, “I remember you. I never forget a cattle prod.”
The woman with more teeth than the average person howled with rage and kicked at him. Senior Executive dodged the kick, elbowed her in the stomach. As she doubled over, Business Woman brought a knee up into her toothsome face. A tinkling sound danced across the glossy tiles as the woman with more teeth than the average person fell back and found herself in a familiar, unconscious state.
“But sir, there was gunfire,” the security officer said, telephone receiver in one hand, the other one pressing the earpiece of his headset closer as though he was having difficulty understanding the noises coming through it and they might possibly orientate themselves to something more comprehensive if he just pushed hard enough.
“No sir. Yes. Yes. Yeah I know I don’t own the building but–
“That’s for the police to decide, sir.”
At this point the security officer pulled the earpiece away from his head. A garbled string of very irate words roared our, small and metallic.
“No sir, I wasn’t threatening–
“Yes I under–
“I know that’s why you get the big bucks, sir.
“I will, sir.
“Thank you, sir.”
The Big Bossman flicked the toggle switch for the security desk to the “off” position. Then he grinned. That had gone off far better than he had expected. And the woman with the guns and the really terrible aim. He couldn’t have paid someone to be more convincing. Sure, by virtue of their political careers, Donkey and The Elephant were trained liars, but any real motivation was lacking. This woman’s rage was palpable, even through the security cameras; as was her dental profusion. She had to be on his payroll in some capacity. If so, she’d receive a bonus. If not, a job offer. In the meantime she would receive the very best of medical care.
All in all, a successful venture. Corporate Man and his pathetic
Union had infiltrated the building and were
under the assumption that they were unwelcome guests. Now, if only Donkey would behave according to
form, they’d be precisely where the Big Bossman intended them to be.
“Donkey!” Corporate Man yelled, his hand pressing against Donkey’s abdomen. “Hold on. Help is on the way.”
“I’m… I’ll be fine. Oh, oh god it hurts.”
“Don’t talk,” said
“Why did she shoot me?” Donkey asked.
“What did I do to her? I don’t even know who she is.”
“I think she was trying to hit me,” Corporate Man said.
Donkey’s face pinched. “How could she miss? You were right there.”
“Come on, man. Don’t talk,” said
He glanced over at Business Woman.
She and Franklin Buck were tending to The Elephant’s injuries. Supply and Demand were busy trying to
stabilize the kidnapped executive from the IBC Inc. North Side office. Senior Executive knelt on the crazy, gun
toting woman. Corporate
“Help is on the way,” Corporate Man said again.
“No. You can’t let them catch you,” Donkey said.
“Well we can’t leave you here to bleed out. Now shut up and conserve your strength.” Corporate increased the pressure on the wound. Donkey squealed. Startled, Corporate eased off.
“He got to me first. I was scared. And he said he could help me. That I just needed to keep you from infiltrating his operation. He’s the one in charge of it all.”
“Shut up, Donkey! You weak hearted fool,” The Elephant spat. He struggled to stand but Franklin Buck and Business Woman pushed him back to the floor. Fresh blood spurt from his shoulder. He continued to struggle but surrendered in a heap of breathy grunts when Business Woman jabbed her hand, knife like, into his groin from behind.
“Where’s that ambulance?” Corporate Man shouted.
Panting, Fair Wage ran up and said, “I just got off the phone with them. They said that no one had called in yet, but that they did have a unit in the area. It should only be a minute or two.”
Donkey coughed and clutched at his stomach. When the spasm subsided he said, “His office is the top floor of this building.”
“That’s good, Donkey. Saves us the trouble of searching the place,” said
“Listen to me. You can’t just hop on the elevator and ride up there.”
“Shut up you tree hug–” The Elephant started but was once again reduced to wheezing groans by Business Woman.
“Secret entrances. In the building’s corner columns. In back is the service elevator. Up here is the one he uses, but don’t try it. If you get into that one you’re dead. Use one of… of…”
Donkey passed out.
“Oh shit, oh shit. Is he dead?” Franklin Buck asked.
“No. Unconscious,” said
They could hear approaching ambulance sirens. Corporate Man lowered Donkey’s head to the
floor. Then he marched over to the
bossman and grabbed him by the throat.
“How do we get in?” Corporate
The bossman’s head lolled around and he said, “Sorry. That’s confidential information of Incorporated Busin–”
Corporate Man pressed his thumb into the bullet wound in the bossman’s cheek. “Tell me.”
The bossman cried out. Corporate Man released the pressure.
“Oh my god, I’m gonna throw up. I’m gonna die,” the bossman said. He squealed and whimpered and then, in a slightly calmer voice he said, “I’m gonna die and then throw up and after that I’ll be sent to a hell full of teenaged drivers.”
“Tell me how to get in and you won’t go to hell,” Corporate Man tried.
The bossman laughed. Then he winced at the pain this caused. When he’d recovered, he shook a finger at Corporate Man and said, “Oh no. Not falling for that silly ruse. Besides, if you aren’t a corporate executive… you don’t get in. Period.”
Corporate Man bit his lower lip and allowed his gaze to wander. The sirens outside were much louder now. He nodded unconsciously, and then he stood and called out to the
Union, “Let’s go. And bring him with us.”
“Wait. What about Donkey and the others?” Fair Wage asked.
“The paramedics are here. They’ll take care of them.”
“Where are we going?” asked Franklin Buck.
“We’re going to become corporate executives.”
Bud had worked emergency service jobs for years and was fairly certain that he’d seen it all, but what he found in the lobby of the
was something new. Jacob
The first oddity was that no one from security greeted him and his partner. There weren’t even any panicked bystanders or concerned citizens or perverse voyeurs.
It didn’t take long to locate the victims, however, since they were only about twenty yards from the building entrance. Three injured on the ground. One female. Two males. And a lot of blood. The two males were grappling with each other. The fight was mainly a series of writhing, pinching, slapping, cursing, name calling, and poking of fingers into each other’s bullet wounds. They seemed to be under the impression that each feeble attack must be given some sort of name.
And then there was the female. She held a handful of bullet casings and was jamming them into her mouth one at a time to cap her many bleeding teeth. Once the casing was embedded in her gum line she pried on them as is trying to snap her teeth out.
“Hmmm,” was all Bud managed to say to his partner before they set to work.
In regards to the corner columns of the
it has been established
previously that an executive elevator exists in the foremost of the columns
between the lobby entrance doors and that a service elevator occupies the
opposite corner at the rear of the building.
It has been alluded to that hidden entrances lie in the remaining two
side columns but that no obvious access exists in these two structures. Jacob Center
That is because they are secret.
Not surprisingly, each provides entrance to an elevator shaft.
One column’s elevator runs up to the thirteenth and twenty-sixth floors as well as down into the labyrinthine sublevels of the tower. Once again it should be noted that the structure of the
is much like that of a glacier. The
majority of its mass exists below the surface.
There are entire colonies of employees down there and the place is so
huge that, sometimes, it may take nearly three hours for a staff member to make
his or her way to the surface. This
tremendous “commute” created the need for overnight lodgings and a chain of
subterranean hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, and other
conveniences soon filled the niche. Jacob
The other column is unique in that its elevator shaft contains not an elevator, but staircase. This leads to the thirteenth floor.
Inside each glossy black column is a camouflaged panel of dark glass. Behind this panel sits a retinal scanner and a hand print identifier. Both identification devices must register a positive confirmation of the applicant’s distinguishing features in order for access to be granted.
It was by sheer luck and frustrated brutality that the optical verification unit of the retinal scanner triggered a positive identification. Corporate Man, after repeated attempts to convince the bossman on the need to divulge the information that would grant the Union access to the secret entranceway, slammed the bossman into the column, pinning the wounded and wincing man’s arm to his back. When the racking pain subsided and the bossman opened his eyes to glare defiantly at his attacker, the roaming lasers of the scanner passed over his iris and verified his executive position with Incorporate Business Corporation Incorporated.
A strip of glowing blue letters appeared on the column.
OPTICAL VERFICATION COMPLETE.
A moment later another set of words appeared.
PLEASE SUBMIT TO HAND PRINT IDENTIFICATION.
The bossman tried to pull his hands close to his chest, hoping that his captors might forget that he also possessed executive level palms but Corporate Man had no trouble arresting control of the bossman’s forearms and forcing the North Side Branch manager’s hand against the glass.
HAND PRINT INDENTIFICATION COMPLETE.
There was a hissing sound, much like one hears when unscrewing a gas cap on a car that’s been run below the empty line. An outline of blue light appeared in the black column as a door shaped panel pushed away from the structure and swung open revealing a set of eerily illuminated stairs.
A back up unit had arrived just after Bud managed to stabilize the woman who had one or two more teeth than normal. The two injured men were separated and his partner tended their wounds. The backup crew loaded the woman into their rig and while they helped escort the men to the awaiting ambulances, Bud followed a trail of blood across the lobby floor, down a long corridor, to the far corner of the building. There he found a bleeding man next to a large black column.
For a moment he thought he saw blue light coming from cracks in the column’s surface, but when he reached the injured man he noted that the column was solid and smooth. He radioed his partner to advise that there was a fourth victim and immediately checked for vitals.
There was a heartbeat. And breathing. And then a string of obscenities that figuratively sent Bud’s ears to the burn unit.