Working from the Mainframe | By: James J Turner | | Category: Short Story - Sci-Fi Bookmark and Share

Working from the Mainframe

WORKING FROM THE MAINFRAME Alex Spalding was one of the most important people in the world despite the fact that absolutely nobody from the general public would know his name or recognise his appearance, He was a man who was absolutely vital in the process of keeping people fed with the right knowledge, with the right beliefs and with the right desires. He worked for TV stations, advertising firms, corporations, governments, radio stations, newspapers, alien races and powerful individuals. He had a million different superiors all of them as demanding as the last; the work was a never ending shift of maintaining a central morality. The work was both thanklessly exhausting and cruel. He knew that his boss was about the most sinister being in the entire universe and that all of the stooges or superiors that gave him such a damn hard time were bad people. The work he was doing was all about control. Controlling what people think, controlling what people believing and controlling what people want to desire or indeed want to think. He was basically there to totally forge the human sub conscious and to ensure people thought was necessary and did what the people he worked for wanted. He was there to maintain a singularity of message for his employer; the main brief was to ensure that God was not to be the most dominant force on Earth. He was a silent operator, never to be shown. His work was constant, tireless and thankless. He had been appointed following a more complex interview process than any pope or president had to complete; the first interview was conducting by the secret services of Zone 3, the zone he was born in. They asked him at least two hundred questions regarding his past; it felt as if they literally wanted to know everything he had ever done or thought of doing that was even remotely unusual. They asked about his shopping habits, his eating habits and his leisure habits. They had known everything anyway; they told him how old he was when he first drank alcohol, the day and time of his first cigarette, the precise minute of his first experience of marijuana. Whenever he either inadvertently or deliberately tried to give a wrong answer, they were onto him immediately. When he tried to claim he had never tried ecstasy or LSD they pulled out a mini Vid-Screen and actually played him the footage of him taking the drugs. He was totally and utterly unravelled in the first interview; they practically examined his subconscious to try and assess whether he would instinctively make a correct or incorrect decision. Alex Spalding, social security no. 45565, age 29, right handed, 13 stone and 5”11, was a man truly known by the authorities. Months passed following the interview, which of course he was not able to tell anyone about, until he finally received a letter through the post. It simply stated a time and destination for him to attend; it was of course for a second interview that made the first one seem like an encounter with a stranger at a ticket booth. They played him clips of his life and asked him to explain in precise perfect detail what happened next. Each progressive clip seemed to be more obscure than the last; it was a real high pressure interview this time. They were saying things like ‘if you don’t deliver the perfect detail innocent people will die Alex. You are going to be responsible for the deaths of many innocent people if you get a single detail wrong”. Strangely he managed to meet the pressure of the burly interviewer; the more he seemed to press for the right answer the more Alex felt like h was able to find the right answers. Things seemed to come to his recollection instantly. He knew the moment he went 30mph above the speed limit; he knew what he said to the attractive girl waiting in the café and he knew what he said to some of the security cams when very drunk a few years ago. He practically felt like asking them some questions about what happened later; judging by the stern and humourless demeanour of everyone he had dealt with so far with these guys it didn’t feel like the move would go down too well. When the main man finally gave Alex an envelope and asked him to leave the premises he knew that he had got the job. After the hugely strenuous interview process and a lengthy induction session, which introduced all of the machines and the techniques required to ensure that the right stream of information was broadcast, the job felt easy enough. The hard part for his employers was getting to know the character of the people being hired; that much became hugely clear to Alex after watching over potential other Alex’s getting given the same trial induction periods. One time one of the people being given the full low-down actually burst into tears and practically cried out, ‘I can’t do this, I just can’t handle all of this’. Some of the people really couldn’t handle all that was required which was no real surprise to Alex; the needs of the job were incredibly complex. You had to be working every moment of the time at the building; it would be impossible to give anything less than 100%. The people that were in charge, who the fellow low level employees dealt with, probably had about ten bosses themselves, and they let you get away with absolutely nothing. Every single one of us working at the place knew the intense importance of delivering the right message, keeping the newspapers, TV stations and even people in the bars and pubs on track. The mission to deliver the truth was relentless; we had to make sure that the right information was always being passed on. Alex knew the basics of the message; that was all he was qualified to be able to handle. The core of what he delivered to editors, journalists and the occasional random other was to ensure (in this order of relevance) that people found answers to their questions in buying products, the World Government had everyone’s interest at heart and that God was to be only addressed if religions became a problem to the other objectives. The work was clear enough and he knew his role. Life was totally and utterly job orientated. He didn’t have time for pursuits outside of work and his work and mentality didn’t exactly match up with great potential for mating partners. It was a long-term difficult job that melded with his daily life. Alex couldn’t remember the reason why he decided to rebel against the orders of his bosses, but he felt compelled to. His rebellion started small; the very first example was when he made a tiny alteration to subtly change the wording of an order given to a small scale newspaper editor. The story was about a mental health patient guilty of murder (which was a fabricated lie obviously set from the team working for both a powerful individual and a leading government) and was to have the headline, ‘Escaped patient kills on rampage’. Alex however in his first minuscule act of professional alteration subtly changed the proposed headline to ‘Escape patient killed on rampage’. The wording was only very minimally altered yet still from most employees would have been changed and treated as a slight mistake in grammar or a small alteration from the newspaper itself. The truth was however that he had developed enough of a reputation to deliver headlines to regional newspapers himself. The superiors at the building had seen his unbelievable productivity and had clearly deemed Alex as a responsible worker, which to the main extent was true. He was indeed very, very good at his job and was able to juggle different deadlines with confident aplomb. To be in this sanctified company people were seen as totally reliable. Sometimes he thought that most of his colleagues must have been robots; hell, some of the time he felt little more than a functioning robot himself. The tests that were required to work at this place were more demanding that any Olympic requirements, or any nano technological processes in his opinion. He was required to deliver the answers himself to the problems; there were no un questionable formulas, indeed it was to be the job of his immediate superiors to ensure that he was able to be fluent and flexible in delivering those three core objectives. They were projected onto a huge screen set up at the front of the office; where there were other desks all pointing towards the giant monitor. The office wasn’t crammed with desks; he had plenty of space in which to do his work as did the others. All workers had sufficient room to ensure that their conversations didn’t overlap with those of other employees. There was almost a serenity to the task; he had his list of contact points and it was simply a case of sending Vid-Screen messages to the required contacts and to post reminder messages on the Sphere to ensure that the key individuals he was entrusted with dealing with knew about the central importance of the three main principles. That part of the job was easy enough; as always getting to this job was far harder than anything the work required. The job was definitely on the wrong side of mundane most of the time; repetition of the message and the monotony of being so single sided in dealing with everything was the hardest part. He was indeed a small cog in a very big machine; still he was a cog, ever spinning really. He couldn’t ignore a single duty, they all had to be done. It was that which really offered Alex the potential to rebel really; the scale and scope of the duty really allowed a bit of freedom in the application of their needs. It was a small flaw in an otherwise perfect system, but still the powers that be should have incorporated more of an intensely scrutinising routine of the people that worked from within. So much effort was dedicated to controlling what the general public thought that there wasn’t really any time focused on the internal machinations of the key workers. The induction process and interview process was perfect for the most part; they did indeed root out any free thinkers at all, they totally removed anyone with a history of dissention literally dating back to whether the individual answered back to teachers or parents. The interview process featured at least ten psychometric tests examining the personality profile of literally every possible candidate and interviewee. Ironically it was Alex who had scored the most perfect match of all time with his individual profile. He was seen as diligent, unquestioning, subservient and productive. Nobody had come close frankly to his levels of compatibility. He was the ideal candidate for one of the most important jobs in the world and whilst the scrutiny still remained over his job the people above him were deep down only concerned with their targets pertaining to people like Alex, and frankly people like Alex were people like Alex. You could map out the DNA of their intellectual profile in the same manner as if he were a sponge or single celled creature. Alex would be the first and the last of the rebel cogs for various reasons. The headline in the local newspaper may have gone seemingly undetected by his superiors and his bosses, however the impact of the news story was instantly felt. Alex found himself faced with a batch of four ’mental health patient’ stories. The people at the top had clearly felt and covered a clear reaction from the general public. Indeed it was true; in the district where the paper was printed the powers that be had noticed that general levels of mistrust related to mental health problems, which was gauged through a manner of monitoring techniques, some of which were legal such as following any Sphere searches and other illegal approaches such as scanning subconscious reactions to people walking past the main district mental hospital in the area. It was a key concern of his employers that there was a them and us attitude maintained between ’normal people’ and ’mental health patients’. If anyone in his office had known it was his subtle change to the headline had led to such a drop in patient suspicion he would have doubtlessly been fired and possibly worse even for such a relatively minor act of subterfuge. There was no chance anyone fired from his type of job could put it on their CV and those who were forced to leave for various reasons were normally never heard from again. Alex was aware of this and never clearly stuck his head above the parapet; no one did really in his position. He was simply a cog in the machine and the constant perpetual nature of the work meant that there wasn’t time to do anything too stupid. The machine like nature of the operation was precisely the reason however that he was able to show his small act of dissention. Alex couldn’t stop feeling like Winston Smith. Here he was in the year 2025 and he was actually doing the work of more than Big Brother. 1984 may have been nearly 50 years ago, yet here he was working away like an agent of the party, another cog in the information machine. He was living his compact life, unknown to basically anyone, being used to metaphorically generate the daily hate. That was probably the main reason he began to rebel. He was inspired by the hidden written letters of Smith; he wanted to offer more of a rebellion however. Something deep within him, hidden from the most glaring eye in the world, reached out and wanted to subtly infiltrate the barriers of meaning. Alex wanted to silently liberate people from the generated notions of fear and control that he was ironically and painfully so closely aligned with. It was only due to his phenomenal profile match that the bosses weren’t scrutinising him; he was having his brief but blissful honeymoon period. The second attempt was slightly more daring than the first. He was asked by a leading corporation to spread the story that nutritional needs had changed in the last ten years and that to cover the effects of less vitamin D due to the increase in bad weather (which was indeed a five year trend, started by another employer) the ’required’ number of fruit and vegetable portions increased from ’5- a day’ to ’6- a day’. The truth was of course that following the increased spread of globalisation from China to prosperous African nations the levels of disposable income had notably increased whilst production costs had remained relatively the same. It also helped another employer to maintain the central and essential image of nutritional maintenance; man clearly could not live by bread alone or indeed with simply four of five pieces of fruit. Alex went to work; both for the company and as the slight continuation of his tiny rebellion. The sub headline sent to a major daily newspaper was changed from ’Leading nutritional expert Dr. Anders (a made up doctor of course) has recommended that adults and growing children should eat at least six pieces of fruit to ensure that the digestive system is able to break down complex sugars found in processed foods’ to ‘Leading expert Dr. Anders has released a new report showing the newly recommended daily allowance of six portions of fruit due to nutritional requirements“. The summary was easy enough to follow; he was trying to slowly and careful integrate questions regarding perceptions of these reports. Even changes like this if discovered would have definitely seen him sacked and much more would have probably seen him killed. This early on however in the process gave him time and potential to begin to try and influence the national conscious. He couldn’t remove the feeling that he had to differ from the line given to him by his employers. The need to rebel had been there the first day in the job. Something within him, something deep inside told him that the information being given had to be changed somehow, no matter how subtly. His mind was still theoretically perfect for the job; there were absolutely no indicators that he would cause any problems or make any mistakes. They had been tracing him for years and had great confidence in his ability to implement ideas. The job began as soon as the induction time had finished it was that comprehensive. They taught him literally everything he would need to know regarding the scale of the work. Or so he thought. There was one exception. His task briefing for once was faintly vague. The instructions in the message simply read ’convince people of the need for insurance- newspaper, deadline Tues’. It didn’t make any sense to him; it was the first time that had done anything remotely vague since he had began working for them. The job was so meticulous, they told him when he needed to go to the toilet. Yet here was a briefing from on high giving him leeway to decide how best to supply the case for insurance. Evidently the wording of the question was such that they trusted him to a far greater degree than he had thought. He was feeling nervous, a guilty energy had been coursing through his veins ever since he began his tiny rebellion. It felt strange to him that having initiated an approach that was critical of the instructions suddenly he was being given free reign to disagree as much as he wanted practically. The decision was swiftly made to give the headline ’insurance always pays out’. The work at the office had become autonomous; he didn’t have to think for the last three months unless he actively told himself to. The truth was for 99.9% of the time, he was simply regurgitating press releases from any number of his bosses. The rebellious stories had seemed somehow necessary at the time; it felt to him that he needed to question the basics of authority no matter how small his counteractions were. Yet suddenly it seemed as though his employers were unconcerned with minor deviation. Having gone through the trauma basically of such an induction trial here he was working as basically a minor unimportant cog. The joke that a trained animal could do his job wasn’t a joke; he knew in his heart of hearts that spending the same amount of time training an octopus or maybe a mechanical spider would produce someone at least as effective as him. Plus the mecha-spider or trained octopus would not go off message every three months to try a feeble unseen rebellion. The job had got to him frankly. He had joined the organisation a well trained, hugely achieving MBA graduate with a wealth of global experience and following placements a working knowledge of much of the expanding financial sectors globally. He was well trained for basically any job; M15 had tried to hire him as had the Foreign Office and an unnamed American firm. All had expressed close interest in utilising his skills; he was set to have a fantastically successful career in whatever field he chose. That was of course when he received the message that he was being headhunted by the organisation he currently worked for and still didn’t have the name of The leading organisations all knew about his talents which meant that all of the major shadow organisations knew about him too. Frankly he had suspicions that a firm such as the one he now worked for existed. There obviously didn’t advertise the position he was eventually hired for. They simply called him out of nowhere one weekend. They informed him heavily about his potential skills and the importance of the job. All of this build up, all of the promise and potential he had and now he was used as nothing more than a speaking fax machine. A body that just about type faster than a robot spider or an octopus. Suddenly he felt annoyed at himself for the small scale rebellion; he felt angry for tweaking the edges of his work which was mundane enough as it was. The tiny rebellion basically was a mirror for his tiny life. Used by the powers that be; manipulated as much as any one of the normal people who hadn’t had conversations with the top brass of any group. He suddenly felt cheated; he was more of a cog than any guy working a long shift at a factory. They both shared the limits on taking a piss though. It all seemed ridiculous; the five years at top university, the efforts of schooling, the work and business placements and for what? To retype the orders of the people who gave all of the orders as they always had done. He had the delusion and the sense that his life would be more. He was the top of the list in almost literally every single class he had ever been in. People from government agencies were always giving him tests after school and he was being given briefings from the age of 13 about the types of jobs that were being lined up for him. Something though still nagged in the back of his head; just get them to think about insurance. Just get people to change their mind from getting it out of fear to getting it as a positive measure to protect their home or business. Still work from the inside Alex; use the position of privilege you have to very subtly alter the more oppressive nature of the orders given to him. It was then that he thought perhaps the rebellious moves were not so small after all. Any measures whatsoever that questioned the unseen hierarchy of high command was a forward step. He had only met the people who had trained him through the grotesque induction. He had no clue whatsoever which people, come to think of it which nations or which companies or whoever that were given the orders. His orders were simply that, orders. It was probably a slight rebellious streak he had inherited from his Father that encouraged him to consider going against his orders. It wasn’t as if he was instigating a mutiny; he was simply looking to smooth the edges of the instructions. From the story about insurance to the fruit story and the mental health dilemmas, Alex was very slowly (or so he thought) beginning to initiate a real campaign of change from his lowly position. That was partially the case, until the day he was called to the top floor office. “Greetings, Mr. Spalding correct?” “Yes sir” Alex felt his heart beat faster than an interplanetary jet craft; a surge of guilt was also coursing through his veins like some sort of radioactive lava. “We have a new assignment for you” “Really? I mean of course yes that’s fine; I’m only trained for news and information consumption at the moment” “We are aware of that, and also that the job may not be the best way to utilise a man of your talents” Alex was feeling very strange and light headed. He had been one million per cent certain that this meeting with a chief from the company would result in his sacking and a comprehensive debriefing at best. At worst it would have been a short meeting with the chief followed by a shorter meeting with one of the more violent members of the firm. “You’re ability to present information effectively and clearly has not gone unnoticed Mr. Spalding” Alex was feeling totally sick at this point; he knew in his heart of hearts that they must have spotted his rebellious stories. Sure for the most part he was disciplined but those acts, they stuck out so clearly in his mind. “We need you to meet someone Alex” “Right, yes I could do that of course sir” “We need you to meet the key representative of the Asian branch of our firm. He will be in London for literally four hours this Friday and we need someone relatively uninformed in our private practices to meet him”. “This job sounds too big for me, sir” “No, it’s ideal for you Mr. Spalding. You see we know that the Asian branch of our organisation shares the same mind scanning technology that we have recently acquired. I could not do the job as too much would be revealed regarding our more covert aspects of business. They are doubtlessly sending someone similar to yourself Mr. Spalding. The problem of industrial espionage is one we take incredibly seriously” The doubt and fear that had gripped Alex at the start of the meeting returned, seemingly grabbing hold of his mind and body, leaving him totally helpless and scared. “Allow my colleague to take you back to your desk. Good luck Mr. Spalding” On his way back down to his floor office further questions and doubts flawed through his mind like an ever churning whirlpool. All he could see in the bottom of the whirlpool was an octopus typing away. Then a thought struck him, in a bad way. If they had mind reading technology against the Asian representatives surely they would be able to read and understand his thoughts regarding a potential rebellion. Alex didn’t get the chance to introduce himself to his Asian counterpart; indeed it was they who introduced themselves to him by loading him into the back of an unnamed hover van. “Who do you work for Mr. Spalding?” He felt terrified beyond all belief. “What, the same organisation as you guys. What the hell is going on? Why have you captured me?” “Stop asking questions Mr. Spalding, we know about your acts of sabotage. We know about your changes made to the mental health stories, the changes relating to the 6- a day plan and the changes made about insurance. Did you really expect us not to follow up on these acts of sabotage Mr. Spalding?” “Shit, shit, shit. No I didn’t expect a follow up, it’s my fault” “We know; all we now require is for you to tell us who exactly it was who gave you the orders to change the stories and we will release you and allow to go back to your normal life” “That’s the thing”, Alex could hear his heart pound like an automated press, “Nobody gave the orders. It was me, I made the changes”. “Alex, the one thing that bothers us more than espionage from fellow professionals at the firm, is someone who then doesn’t give us what we need to know. You’ve been caught Spalding, so give us some names” “Names? There are no names; listen to me, please I’m telling you it was me, I initiated the measures, no-one else, please believe me” “We cannot, so perhaps you need some more convincing”. At this point one of the burly assistants to his apparent Asian counterpart pulled out both a small laser pistol and a pair of pliers. “In five minutes Mr. Spalding if we don’t have an answer, you won’t have any thumbs. In ten minutes you won’t have any toes and any longer than that and you will no longer be with us. So, I ask you again, and there shall not be many more opportunities to address this question, tell me who gave you the orders to change the stories” Blind panic was still rushing through him at an uncontrollable rate; the fear he was feeling was more intense than any other experience in his whole life. He kept searching for how to begin, he decided to bluff. “Look I’ll tell you, but you have to at put away that fucking pistol” “Tell us a name Spalding, or you’ll know everything you need to know about this particular weapon” Names kept surging through his mind; people who he could blame. They must have known that he didn’t know the names of any other employees there, from what he was told no one did. He tried the only person he could think of “It’s the top floor boss; I don’t know his name I tell you. He gave me the instructions. I’ll tell you everything you need to know. He wanted to start counteracting your Asian operation”. The bluff was in full flow now. “He… he wanted to begin offering a different message. However slight; he told me he wanted to start making inroads with your firm. He wanted a kinder message to be delivered, at a cost. He wanted to begin a rebellion” “A rebellion?” The guy was fuming. “A rebellion? Damn it!” “If you are lying Mr. Spalding we will find you and this incident will feel like a honeymoon with Miss fucking Universe. Understand us? You’ll live alright, but on my terms. So you’re finally telling us it’s the top floor branch at the London sector?” “Yes, God yes, just let me go, I won’t tell them a thing, I’ll just get back to work as normal, I’ll forget all about this” “Damn correct Mr. Spalding. We find out you give any indication whatsoever to your boss, then we will kill you on sight. Any message to a worker on your floor, we will kill all of the employees on your floor to keep things clean. You should not have worked for such an employer, but for the name we will let you live, for now” Alex felt drained of existence upon getting back to his flat. He felt both ashamed and scared that people high up within his organisation had known about what he was doing. The fact that people had been monitoring him for the miniscule deviations got terrified thinking about what else they may have sensed during his time at work. Was this just a way of setting him up for his permanent removal from the company; I mean he legally couldn’t tell anyone, ever, about his time working for such a firm and they actively discouraged emotional relationships during the time of working for such a firm. He felt that unmoveable fear; these Asian representatives were going to kill him he felt certain of that. The guy who he met was bad enough, but the people he had working alongside him could probably snap him in two with their hands. The rebellion had been a terrible idea and he knew it. The compressed guilt kept asking him to define why he had rebelled, why he had compromised such a lucrative and important job, and the worst thing was, was that he couldn’t think of a clear answer. He had no boss to hate, he had no difficult colleagues to deal with, he had a flawless childhood and providing nothing went wrong with the firm, which was already too late of course, then he could have absolutely had his pick of any job due to the elaborately faked references that would have set him up for any work. He couldn’t ignore the idea that maybe he was rebelling for his Dad rather than the usual against; he didn’t worry too much about the psychological stuff though frankly, he had the personality profile that was perfect for high achievement within large organisations. He was adaptive, resourceful, disciplined and communicative. Well for the most part. The job felt like it was totally getting the better of him, and it was only because he would have to either be debriefed, or frankly much worse, after working for such an organisation that he wasn’t dead. He felt like that time inside the hover van, with the Asian boss and his heavies, all from Japan seemingly, that he thought it was all over. No more 21 hour shifts, no more setting out the plans for the days news, no more politely threatening phone calls. It still felt to Alex like the end; he had his shift by the gears of power and somewhat surprisingly to himself he had failed. His mind had made him rebel and now as a result of his rebellion he had probably both damned himself and his newly met boss on the top floor to execution. Getting ready the next day for work seemed to take an eternity. The mundanity of his final day alive, and of work, seemed far too much like another procedural event. If his mind wasn’t already calibrated with drugs, he probably would have felt depressed. Having entered his code, faced the retina scan, given the password to the door guard and finally given a thumb scan he entered his first floor office and slinked to his desk. No-one was about at this time as usual due to the different shift patterns of the people in his position. For all of the repetitive boredom of the work and his position permanently as a lackey for others he still possessed a certain amount of power, which the huge empty office in front of him attested to. He was the main individual there to ‘cross the Ts and dot the Is‘. He was a human franking machine basically giving that finally seal of approval like a modern form of waxy monk. In spite of all this he still felt dehumanised; it was the oppressive nature of the orders. Obviously as he was still in a job he had sufficiently learnt to follow those orders given, bar the spectacularly punished exceptions, and he was more focused than ever on being that functional cog again. Five minutes into his last working day on the first floor and for only the second time in his relatively short career, Alex was summoned to see the top floor boss. He duly shut down and his monitor and promptly followed the bespectacled higher level employee to the elevator heading to the top floor. Then the shots were fired; at first Alex felt sure he had been hit and was dead. The air was filled with the smoke of a laser pistol and the still echoing shatter of the glass doors in front of him. After what seemed like an eternity, Alex heard the familiar voice of his Japanese captor who simply said, ’come in Alex’. Next to him, smiling in an eerie manner was the top floor boss who he had suspected had been the first target of such a dramatic assassination attempt. He spoke quietly to Alex in a direct manner ‘Please excuse the fireworks Mr. Spalding but we had no choice’ ‘What, we? What is going on sir, are you going to kill you’ ‘We already have Mr. Spalding’ came the reply from the Asian boss. ‘What I’m dead? I feel about as alive as I did this morning’ ‘You are still literally alive Spalding, but to the employees of this organisation in both Asian and UK branches you are now legally dead’ Alex was beginning to understand the significance; if they wanted him killed the shots from the laser pistol would have been between his eyes rather than at the glass office doors. ‘You passed our test Mr. Spalding’ came the boss. ‘What test sir?’ ‘The ambition test Mr. Spalding!’ laughed the Japanese boss. ‘You would not believe the amount of employees in your position who don’t give a name for their misdeeds. You had the guts to give the on name in the firm you had; ‘But… but I was lying’ ‘Not exactly actually Alex’ ‘What do you refer to sir?’ ‘Well we at this branch and the Asian branch had to check to see the extent of your loyalty’ ‘The insurance question was set by us in the Asian department; we knew about your deviations of course Mr. Spalding. What you may be unaware of however is the simple fact that everyone the organisation has ever hired and doubtlessly will ever hire have in some way deviated’ ‘If that’s true’ began Alex, ‘then why fake the capture? Why trap me and threaten me with a fucking laser pistol?’ ‘We had to make sure that you would be capable enough to improvise during more testing conditions. Needless to say we will debrief you on what you can and can’t do, in your new position, but what I can assure you now is that it will be you pointing the laser pistol at others from now on’ ‘Right, why me though? What about the others who had similarly deviated, some must have indicated the top floor workers?’ ‘They are indeed with us in other positions. The entire first floor operation you have been with so far is a front. It is simply a test of mental ability, flexibility and adaptability. You were not chosen like the others as one of the best in order to simply cover press releases. Yet we needed to know if that was what was required of you for months as cover, that you would do it’ ‘So none of the work was sent out?’ ‘None Mr. Spalding we have more than enough other employees in order to cover such duties. You were selected as one of the best and haven’t let us down’ ‘But I pointed out the guy in the first floor, you sir, as the person who was guilty despite knowing you had nothing to do with it’ ‘We are not totally inflexible ourselves, Mr Spalding. Simply know that you passed enough of the tests to eventually start field work’. With that Alex was handed his issued laser pistol and immediately given a briefing for work in the Asian market. There was an employee who had began a small scale alterations to the orders given at a Chinese newspaper; the irony was not lost on him. Still he gathered his composure, left the office and headed to the airport. The top brass of the organisation would find out too late about his partnership with the worker and their inroads into the Chinese news market. Alex Spalding lived to fight and rebel another day, aiming to slowly but surely bring down the organisation in China first, Asia second and then the UK market. His life as a professional rebel had just begun.

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