My boss shuts the door and mutters, “Right. Let’s get this over with.” He plods back to his desk, sits across from me, then steeples his fingers and places his chin on top of them, giving me a long, uncomfortable stare. After nearly a full minute, he holds his right hand up to his eye, his thumb and forefinger roughly an inch apart. “This is you, Kent. You’re a speck. But that’s not entirely accurate. Ask me why.” I glance nervously away, then look back at him. “Um, why?” He waits a few seconds, then says, “Because if we were to be entirely accurate, there would be something between my fingers. That ‘something’ would be a piece of corn-speckled shit.” He steeples his fingers again and leans back in his chair. “But I don’t like touching pieces of shit, Kent. And I hate corn.” He continues to stare at me, unblinking. An awkward silence ensues, and I say, “Ah…okay. What did you want to see me about Mr. Mackleby?” He says, “Glad you asked,” and thumps what looks like a thousand page sheaf of paper before me. “We know you’re not a conformist, and here at Industrial Business, we don’t take that lightly. If you want to keep working for us, then you’ll have to sign the clauses within this document. Take your time.” I reach over to his pen cup and take out a blue one. In the process, I move the cup 3.8 millimeters to the left and rotate it 0.27 degrees clockwise. Mackleby carefully adjusts the cup back into place, locks eyes with me, and deadpans: “I have sodomized people for less. Both figuratively and literally.” I nervously adjust my tie and begin paging through the document. First clause states: “I agree to refrain from distributing and/or creating any content with a higher originality quotient than an internet cat meme.” Easy enough to lie about. Signed. Second clause: “I am hereby restricted from exercising any form of critical thinking, or delving into any form of personal accountability and/or functionality that is not in line with the watered-down, yuppified and corporatized forms of meditation and mindfulness that allow us to get really excited about stuff but never take substantial action, and also lets us declare that everybody’s a winner.” Easy enough to fake. Signed. Third clause: “I am restricted from developing anything more than a two-pack. Further abdominal definition will result in me being demoted and assigned to the rest of the entry-level workers who have yet to be beaten down by life in the office and still harbor the illusion they might be able to fend off the inevitable dad-bod.” I look up at Mackleby. He says, “That’s my favorite one. Sign it.” Hmm…I guess I’ll just never flex so that it LOOKS like I don’t have abs. Signed. Fourth clause: “I will attend all social functions designated by Industrial Business. I will not clock out after my shift, but will engage in the Wormtongue-esque political maneuvering that occurs during happy hours at chain family restaurants.” I look up and suck air through my teeth. Before I can say anything, Mackleby says, “Sign it.” I open my mouth to protest, but he slams both fists down on his desk and screams, “SIGN IT!” Suddenly, a militarized security team busts into the office. Their faces are covered with tactical goggles and balaclavas. Between their sleekly sectioned body armor and menacing-looking submachine guns, any of them could double as Darth Vader. Four of them rappel down from the ceiling and take up shooting stances. Mackleby grins. “Sign. It.” Crapologist Rex! (I like to be quirky with my oaths; don’t judge). Only one option left. I reach into my pocket and open my eReader to Echo. Magic flash. Suddenly I’m in a futuristic wing suit, armored up with a cutting edge, graphene alloy that’s been woven together with custom-engineered spider-silk. A blaze of automatic weapons fire erupts around me, and before I know it, I’m somersaulting over Mackleby’s desk, giving him a Force 10 Wedgie as I land behind him. I hear him scream in pain as his underwear slices up between his pale, flabby buttocks. No time to waste: I’m taking fire, so I sprint toward the 50th story office window, noting through my adrenalized perception that it’s severely spiderwebbed with cracks and bullet holes. I tuck my face into my elbow, charge forward, and burst out of Industrial Business in a scatter of high-rise glass. The sun-washed blue meets my eyes, and all noises are drowned out by the slipstream as I pop my suit open and bank towards the ocean. WHEEEEEE!!! A super hot djinn that looks suspiciously like Jessica Rabbit appears before me. She gives me a beatific smile and says, “Kent, you have proven your mettle and your worth. How would you like to frolic for the rest of eternity in the Enchanted Booty Forest?” Hot damn! I reply, “Give me all the enchanted booties you’ve got!” We vanish into the ether, and I live the rest of my life in a Man Child paradise.
Is your boss putting the screws to you? Trying to get you to go to office mixers or some other pleasantly dressed-up form of soul suckage? Not a problem! Echo can fix that right up! Right now I’m in the middle of reworking Echo 1, trying to get all my noob mistakes out. If you refrain from buying it due to my amateurish writing style, a product of my first ventures into fiction, then I totally understand, and I’ll announce when I re-upload an updated version. If you buy it anyways, then many thanks! Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle