These events may not be entirely real.
Monty was having trouble seeing the boardrooms far end. Rejuv-tek was good, but eyes were particularly susceptible to decay. He dribbled gently into the collector slid into a corner of his mouth, and gestured for the nearest flunky to take it away. Fortunately he didn’t need twenty twenty vision to see the index, or know what it meant. His enhancements made up for that.
‘Gentlemen we’ve a problem. If this downturn continues the system will institute clause ‘T/b/ 382 clause c/b’ of the governmental regulations act. That means a hostile take over. The young bloods have been clamoring for the opportunity for generations; it can’t be allowed.’
The rest of the figures round the slab sliced from the last living tree in the Amazon dustbowl nodded or tried to. Excessive movement came with a high risk of collapse as their calcium deprived bones crumbled. In the end, it was only their head clamps that prevented injury as a ripple of assent passed round the table.
‘It’s happened before.’
‘Sit tight, we take the hit. If we use more chemicals maybe we can leach a bit more out of the populace.’
A boil ruptured on the Head of Finances knuckle sending a thin stream of pus arching gently across the table. It hit Monty in the fringe.
Wiping pus the same color as his hair from his eyes Monty continued unperturbed, ‘Have you taken a look outside recently?’ Twenty decrepit necks swiveled to the window as another blaze of oil-soaked CFC’s took more waste from a refineries stack. ‘We’re already running at half than what the market demands of us.’
‘What about the colonies?’
‘You heard the last report, they’ve decided controls are surplus to requirements and taken over the hardware. The last shipment was filled with the administration’s bodies and nothing else.’
‘Then what do we do?’
‘Last time cost us half the board.’
‘Raise our prices. We’ve spares if things get tough.’
‘They’re out of the reach of most people as it is.’
‘Then we offer more lifetime finance schemes with extended after death contracts, or would you prefer to find yourself with your med license revoked? How long do you think that thing you call a body is going to last?’
A slim wasted nurse tittered and began massaging finance’s shoulders.
Of course, that made Monty drool even more. He’d lost his own health administrator in a game of scrabble. But, he just about managed to catch what Finance had to say through the whine of the collectors suction pump.
‘This is the work of Ian himself. The gerbil’s never forgiven us for his mutated gonadial sack despite the power its given him. I blame myself, we shouldn’t have used test serum 2.3. Some things weren’t meant for mammals. If we up our game, produce more Saccarinehooks in the sweat pens then we can make a deal with MammonNet, at the moment it’s being tight-fisted with the rent payments.
‘Blame it on Ian and his bandits. They’ve cornered the ingredients. I hear they’ve got a harem going.’
Human resources piped up from somewhere buried in his assistants cleavage, ‘Naked dancing too.’
‘That’s not all they’re into.’
‘We’ve all heard the rumors.’
Excited gossip sprang up around the table until Monty choked back enough saliva to make himself heard, ‘Back to business boys, he’s difficult to fool. It might not work.’
‘We need to use the right bait then. We must have plausible deniability if it goes wrong.’
‘I don’t know. It sounds risky; what if Mammonframe says its not within its operating capabilities?’
‘When was the last time we contacted him?’
‘During that nice service last Sunday. He told us to sod off because he was busy, remember?’
‘It worked before.’
‘Barely, she was ninety-four, they’re not supposed to be able to damage the manufacturing process. I’ll never forget the screams when she got stuck in the distributor.’
‘Some of the Mammals have taken to injecting their bollocks with black market serum 2.3. If we’re not careful this could get out of hand.’
‘Ok, we start with a streamlined nano-enhanced campaign, bribe him with enough industrial Vaseline for a lifetime endorsement of our product. Joe public will be licking it off their screens in no time.’
‘Who’s going to sort feeding Mammonframe then? We’re bound to need more serum.’
‘And the Mammals?’
Monty sketched the sacred sygul across his chest. A world without consumers didn’t bear thinking about.
‘But, who do we choose to feed to Mammonframe?’
‘We’ll have to go with the flower children again. The rest of the populace have way too many petrochemicals in them now.’
‘Not again please, it took ages to get rid of the smell of patchouli oil after last time. When they burst it gets everywhere.’
‘Don’t worry, we have the masks and management will keep them off us.’
‘Listen,’ Monty’s audio units homed in on the sound of chanting, ‘They’re outside now, tell recruitment to let them in.’
Monty nearly broke his fingers clicking them, but the nearest recruiter opened the doors at the room’s far end without hesitation. Monty didn’t bother to squint this time, he knew who’d be first through. He could her wailing already.
‘Lamafart, how are you’re people today?’
A sallow faced woman with with washed out blue hair lifted her head off the floor where she was dribbling prayers to Mammon on the carpet.
‘Starving, there’s no more ingredients for Tofu, and the lentil crop’s failed. What are you going to do?’
‘Calm yourself, the situation is entirely under control. You can see we have matters well in hand. We’re the board for heavens sake.’
One of the flower children warbled sadly on a nose flute.
Monty’s eyes narrowed, if there was worse than listening to the limp wristed complaints of the flower children it was news to him. They should try having to deal with a red line stock problem when there was only two days till crash central.
‘If you leave Lamafart with us for a day or two we’ll soon have things back to normal.’
She gasped, ‘what about my crops?’
‘You can’t have her,’ a hippy whose eyes were pressing against his glasses so hard Monty thought they’d pop.
‘That’s none of our concern. Managers remove these people, and call Ian. Tell him we’ve an employment opportunity for him.’
‘You don’t think he’ll be angry after his injury?’
Monty shifted uncomfortably, ‘Yes, that was unfortunate, but he’s still on the payroll.’
‘He won’t come. He lives with me at the moment. We’re going to go into soya bean production.’
Monty blinked, this was a turn up for the books. Ian was a notorious cannibal.
‘Yes, we’re in love, and you can’t intimidate us. Ian’s days of torture are over. I’ve built a lovely little ethically sourced wool hammock for his wounded nutsack, and I’m going to tend to his every need.’
Monty sighed and stopped himself. It was no use trying to communicate with a flower child. It was like trying to explain the necessity of extended importation route tax deductible income savings and the need for mass cutbacks thereof to monkeys. The naivety was astounding.
‘What do you think?’ He gestured at the kaftan wearing youths, ‘Can we turn them into a solid customer base?’
It was a shame the question was marred by a wince as another vertebrae crumbled.
‘I don’t know, Mammonframe is angry. I’ve been in a speaker phone meeting with him. We’re approaching system wide collapse if we rely on people who drink yak milk.’
The Head of Marketing’s stern jawed figure hammered his dollar staff on the floor hard enough to make laminate shake.
‘Really, there’s no need for that sort of behaviour.’
‘Let him speak. We’re all in this together.’
Monty ignored the sound as twenty drool collectors gurgled appreciatively.
‘We must have a sacrifice.’
Lamafart was off her arse so quick you’d have thought someone had lit a fire under her.
‘I’m afraid there’s no choice. I hope you don’t mind too much, but you have to be sacrificed so that others may live.’
Marketing bent low to stare into the her eyes, ‘She better not be infectious. There was havoc last time; sales flatlined. I’ll be held responsible if it happens again.’
The remnants of a business suit were just visible through his exoskeleton as he tapped on a small badge with, ‘Call me Bob,’ written on it. ‘Health and Safety’ was stamped in tiny letters underneath. Rumour was they handed them down, generation to generation, some even had their previous owners blood on them.
‘Call me Bob,’ spoke again, ‘Are you? A disease that is?’
‘No, and I don’t want to be sacrificed, anyone but me…please. I haven’t completed my cycle.’
But everyone in the room knew there could be no mercy for flower children. They were just too bloody annoying.
‘It’s time we talked to Mammonframe, prepare yourselves. If that dot moves another inch the shit will hit the fan.’
Monty spread his arms wide, and concentrated.
‘Oh mighty, Mammonframe, are you there?’
There was silence. Monty might have said more but his collector had got clogged. He stopped investigating it with his tongue as the sound of Mammonframe’s voice came over the phone.
‘What are you doing now? She’s a hippy leave her alone.’
Mammonframe groaned it was just too depressing for words. All he had to do was let his cameras take one look at the tableux in the boardroom to know where this was going.
‘Mighty Mammonframe, we have a problem.’
Mammonframe sighed again.
‘We all have them. You tight fisted Jews still owe me for that ten spot for example.’
‘But, we need your guidance on our new product launch.’
‘If you must. I’m busy at the moment. Wait….someone’s coming in. I’m going to put you on hold a moment.’
The brain curdling sound of easy listening filtered through the air. It was twenty minutes before the next generation M-Frame came back.
‘Ahem, the stockbrokers want me to chair a meeting for them on free range hunt sab disposal, and they’re offers loads better than yours. I get to go to Windsor with them on a jolly.’
The boardrooms overheads dimmed as Mammonframe got excited. Monty was working hard to remain calm but you could tell by the way he was twitching that he was pissed off.
‘It’s frightfully inconsiderate.’
Monty turned to his co team, ‘Do not worry this is not an end to it. Ian’s coming, he’ll work some magic.’
He eyed his companions.
‘Are we ready?’
One or two looked like they were due for the recycling bins already. It had been a pretty exciting meeting after all, so thrilling that Finance had had to bury his face in his nurses bosoms just to breathe properly. There was a chorus of agreement none the less. They were still fragile, but the majority had managed to pull through.
‘Lamafart, come here.’
The nearest Manager shoved the woman forward.
‘Mammon save me. I’ve been loyal. I’ve sold you organicly sourced veal for years. My head shop sends you seventy five percent per quarter. I don’t deserve this.’
‘No, you don’t, but we must maintain the status quo. You have to die so that we may live, and I can pay for my next nurse. I’m really very sorry. Now if you wouldn’t mind stepping this way? Oh…..’
Lamafart eyes had rolled so far back in her head only their whites were visible as she collapsed onto the floor.
‘We’ll just have to do it to her whilst she’s asleep then.’
Ian’s head bounced off his exercise gear. ‘OW, you little beggar. Who put that in the way?’
He didn’t remember much about last night, there’d been some shit about crops and what a disaster it all was. Then he’d got bored and fucked off to raid Starpansy’s homebrew. He knew the crystal worshipper hid her organic ale under a pile of crotchet leaflets from her days knitting jumpers up a tree. Ian had followed her for weeks until she’d eventually made a slip.
‘Ian love, you there? You haven’t been at my brews again have you? You promised me you wouldn’t after last time.’
A knock sounded on the EuroBargain’s rusting airlock. The crashed lab had been Ian’s home ever since that business with the methylated spirits and the rats. Of course in his opinion anything built by Chinese migrants shouldn’t have been launched in the first place, but he’d needed the job. Orbital groin testing had sadly only lasted one revolution before the platforms stabilisers had failed and it had become a comet.
‘Yeah, try and keep the noise down will you my heads banging. What do you want?’
Starpansy stuck her head inside, ‘I’ve got bad news. The boards got Lamafart.’
‘They’re supposed to. That’s why I sent her. I even made her take a leaflet to give them on crop rotation; and the affect of lead poisening on plant life. That should get things moving.’
‘Ian I’ve got something to tell you,’ Starpansy looked down. If Ian looked close he could see her wobble, ‘We’ve been sent this weeks Ikea bill again.’
She shoved a data chip at him and Ian he slotted it into his skull. There was a low buzz as the interface transported information to his brain.
‘This isn’t a bill, it’s a list of bonus schemes and incentive rewards. They want us to join a dynamic investment team.’
‘Thought they might. We’ve intelligence on the grape vine that there’s a takeover brewing.’
‘They want me to take out the opposition first so they can deal with the Managers before things get tough.’
‘What are you going to do Ian?’ Lamafarts eyes rolled, ‘I know it’ll be the right thing. You’re so amazing.’
Ian looked at the fat kid perched in the doorway, she had that funny gleam in her eye again. The one that meant she had plans, and she was staring at them. He edged back putting as much exercise gear between them as he could.
‘I don’t have a choice. Lamafart needs me, pass my G-suit.’
Starpansy lobbed the custom built pink latex suit with the extra large pouch at Ian, and he was in it in a second enjoying the slick fit as it slid next to his skin. He cracked his fingers, and dropped into the splits before practicing a few more esoteric pirouettes.
‘OOOoooohhhh, I love it when you do that Ian.’
Ian bounced on one foot for a bit before shifting his bollock back into position and turning to face her.
‘What was that Starpansy?’
‘Are you really going to go? I’ve got a fresh pot of chai brewing. We could sit in and have a cuppa. I’ll get the Tarot out.’
Ian kept his cool although his face strained with exertion. Sometimes the kid just didn’t pay attention.
‘Can’t Starpansy, I told you there’s work needs doing.’
Ian pirouetted out the door, and with a hop skip vanished into the night.
Mammonframe was having a problem. The annoying men were back; the ones that were supposed to have evaporated when it released the intercontinentals and everything had gone quiet. It was too depressing for words.
‘What is it you want this time? If it’s about money, you’ll have to wait until the HSI processor and me agree, don’t hold your breath.’
‘Oh Mighty Mammonframe…..’
The M-frame class 10 tried not to listen, truth be told it was bored shitless the only thing these people ever wanted to do was talk about money and their latest stupid sales drive. It had other, higher, concerns like trying to work out where the on switch was on the Mammacitadrive, and ascertaining whether computers could play tiddliwinks well.
‘Bloody wish I’d launched at the Europeans too. That would have shut you up. The explosions would have been wicked as well.’
‘Your pardon Mammonframe, what was that?’
This time its sigh went on even longer.
‘Just get on with it. What have you brought? errrrr…. feeble mortals.’
Monty brought his zimcruise 2000 to a halt where Mammonframe’s lights could show off the chrome to best effect, and flipped the last of his decaying blonde fringe out of his eyes. It always made him feel better to have the latest gadget when he was about to enter into a pissing contest with God.
‘Oh Mammonframe, we’ve brought you a gift.’
Mammonframe brought its optics to bear.
‘What that woman? She looks a bit crap to me. What do you want me to do with her?
‘Take her as your consort. Oh Mammonframe, as it is written so shall it be.’
‘Christ not that again; haven’t you listened to a word I’ve said?’
Mammonframe couldn’t believe this, they still couldn’t get over that stupid book of theirs. You’d have thought they’d have given up now. The thing had had so many revisions it was anyone’s guess what language it had been written in in the first place. What was it called? Machine Systems in the Modern Era? Mammonframe really wished there wasn’t a diagram of its sensor array in it, it was a really bad one too.
‘What is she this time? No wait, let me guess. It’s another hippy isn’t it?’
‘That’s correct oh Mammonframe, we’ve brought you their Queen.’
‘Eat her oh Mammon, lick the flesh from her so that we your servants will be saved, and bestow your blessing on our corporate stock.’
A thin formless mantra escaped Lamafart’s lips as her body began to sway to the beat of her finger cymbals.
‘Take me, oh mighty Mammonframe, take me.’
‘Oi, have you drugged her? And I swear I can hear bongos.’
Monty paused in the act of levering himself down from his zimcruise. Protocol stipulated him performing the sign of Mammon on offering a gift.
‘Don’t worry…probably just me. I fucking hate bongos. Anyway go on, one more can’t hurt I suppose, pass her over. You haven’t made a mess of her have you? I hate it when you people do that.’
Mammonframe popped a collection hatch and was letting its grinders tick over when the skylight overhead shattered and a figure in hot pink spiralled down. One shot from the gleaming weapon in its fist and M-frames precious recycling facilities were scrap metal.
‘Oh God, not you again. You’re going to want more serum aren’t you? And I haven’t even started processing her. Come back next month when I’ve really squeezed.’
‘Stop, what you’re doing everyone this is an Arse Bleed 350 and I know how to use it.’
The small figure waved the metal rod in his fist.
‘Ian? Your supposed to be fighting the takeover bid. What’re you doing here?’
‘I fight for love, not profit. I would’t expect you to understand; now about Lamafart. She hasn’t finished doing my socks.’
‘You can’t have her we need her for the manufacturing process.’
‘You swore you wouldn’t use any of the Free Peoples after last time.’
‘Maybe so, but we’ve conducted studies, their virgins hold the most juice.’
‘You’re evil, pure evil, you must be destroyed,’ said Ian taking aim.
Monty’s thin blonde hair flicked back, ‘Be that as it may Ian. We have what you want. The question what are you going to do about it?’
‘Excuse me?’ Monty realised Mammonframe’s was trying to get his attention and its warning lights had lit up bathing everything in red.
‘One moment Ian, I need to take a rain check.’ Monty turned to the giant machince dominating the wall. ‘What’s the matter Mammonframe is there an emergency?’
‘Well I’m a bit embarrassed to say this, but I can’t hold off the manufacturing process much longer. You see once I’ve got up to speed its difficult to stop, catastrophic meltdown will begun in T minus twenty seconds.’
‘What’s it to be then Ian? The serum, or the girl? We don’t have much time’
Ian was thinking faster than he ever had in his life. His eyes scanned the room. There had to be something, anything he could use besides the Arse Bleed. Letting that thing off with the manufacturing process so close to completion would be suicide.
‘What exactly do you want me to do in return?’
Monty smiled, ‘Good Ian, you’re thinking for once. Join us, you’ll have as much serum as you want, and you can have Lamafart for nothing. All we need is a replacement, what about the ones that wear funny hats?’
Ian looked up to see the edge of a grin flicker behind Montys usual mask.
‘There’s always a price with you people.’
‘Think of the serum Ian. As much as you like. You don’t mind do you? It would be frightfully helpful, old boy.’
‘Ian….don’t do it.’
Lamafart had opened her eyes and Ian got a whiff of petulia oil so strong his mouth watered.
He shook himself, what was he thinking? For a moment he’d even been considering the deal, but the festival hat wearers were an intrinsic part of the co ops esoteric workings.
‘You want me to sell out our children for serum? Damn you, Monty.’
Ian’s Arse Bleed 350 swung round to take aim at Montys head and a red mist descended behind his eyes.
‘That’s it Ian, do it for me, my hero.’
Montys skull evaporsated in an instant, and the Managers were next. Falling one by one as the Arse Bleed spat bloody rounds of destruction faster than a flight of speeding crickets. When he was finished all that was left were pinstriped tatters on the floor.
‘Lamafart? Are you alright?’
Ian bounded over to the girl on the floor swinging his scrotum like he’d learnt to do in space. He held her in his arms fondly, and brough his face so close she could feel his whiskers.
‘I could never harm you Lama, I love you too much for that. I don’t need the serum, I can be happy just the way I am. Just so long as we can be together for ever.’
A voice intruded on the fire crackling through the air between them, ‘Errrrrrm.’
Ian didn’t look up, for all that they were hampster and wife he knew he’d made the right choice.
‘Sorry about this.’
Klaxons were beginning to wail overhead and somewhere a dispassionate voice was counting down from ten. Lamafart looked at Ian, ‘What’s that?’
‘SERUM RELEASE. SERUM RELEASE. SERUM RELEASE.’
‘I love you Ian. You know that don’t you?’
His eyes stayed on Lamafart’s as the first wave hit and her face disappeared under a deluge of milky white. As serum dripped to the floor Ian realised something: he really was in love.
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