Trex World, Part 38.
Paul had had enough of being talked down to by angry monsters. Having survived an ordeal with two of them previously, he found no reason why he wouldn’t survive another. What was there to lose? Obviously they weren’t going to let him go now, and he didn’t believe that they were capable of murder. No, this ‘Baby’ character wanted to intimidate, but that was all. He jumped from his seat and bounded over on his long legs to confront the Goliath, pointing his finger at it’s nose and asked, “Your name 'Baby'?”
There was a grunt of a beginning of a response but before it could finish, Paul continued, “Because where I come from, Baby interviews are at least started by exchanging a name. A common courtesy that your muscle-ridden bullshight corpse has obviously forgotten from being stuck under Floor, running from Authority. Yeah, you’re big, but you’re not that big are you. Yeah, you could snap me in two, but let me tell you I no longer give a shight. You need me to work some angle on PanPro? Fine, I’ll do PanPro for you, I do not give a crap. But stop wasting my gawdamn time with your frilly bullshight. And for the love of all that’s holy, put on some farking deodorant. If you’re going to smash me to bits, have the courtesy of not smelling like arse while doing so.”
Fury raged in the monster’s eyes and the two women looked aghast. Amanda_adnamA’s fists balled up. And then they relaxed, slowly, as Baby’s face bound up and laughter boiled out from deep inside the hulk’s torso. “Shight,” he said between bursts, “Manda was right about your pluck. Guess we’ll have to keep you.” The laughter stopped. “For awhile.”
“Fine, when do I start?”
“You already have.”
“Really,” Baby said, rolling his eyes. “Once Manda let us know you were on the way, 25-Itty-Bitty here put forward all your work papers to Biz Authority central.”
Paul looked at 25-Itty-Bitty in the eye and said his most heartfelt ‘thanks’ ever. A notable feat, Paul thought, given the nature of her name, but he truly meant it, all the same.
“Don’t mention it,” the lady replied, her slight frame and large eyes the perfect counterpoint to Baby's hugeness. “Though, you have the most farked-up credit, ever. I’ve never seen so many “Strongly Suggest You Do Not Hire” flags in my life. Three mortgages? It’s insane.”
“Yes, and you know, I was wondering, since we’re threading finances here, could I have an advance?”
Baby laughed again and shook his head while 25-Itty-Kitty’s eyes went wide “What?”
“Yeah, see, I’m going to lose my pad if I don’t make a default payment and so I was wondering if --”
“If you could get an advance large enough to foot the bill?” Interjected Baby. “I don’t think so, I--”
“Wait,” said Amanda, “Why don’t we do it?”
“What?” said the other two, “You can’t be serious...”
“Yes, let’s do it, it would be the prefect spot to try out project XJ-Doug, no?”
“Oohhhhh now, wait Manda, that’s not going live yet for some time--”
“So? We’ll still need a place to stage the trials at, why not Paul’s?”
“Oh hell, if we’re going to do that then we might as well solve the poverty problem for the friking world right now...”
“You you you Baby, it’s all about you, isn’t it.”
“Well, I am the best thing there is about it, it’s true...”
Amanda_adnamA squinted at him but before she could say anything, 25-Itty-Bitty said, “No, wait, why don’t we just take over Paul’s lease altogether?”
Baby rolled his head back in thought. He seemed relieved for a way out from confronting Amanda_adnamA. “That’s a good idea,” he said. “Yeah. I’m likin' that. ‘Specially as how I don’t want this mook askin' for an advance so he can eat or something. That would get stupid real quick. You really don’t have any financial sense, do you, Paully?”
Paul had no answer for him but to offer his hands, open as if holding air. “What do you want me to say, Mister Baby, sir? You've got my public file. I'm a mess. I'm not trying to hide it. So let’s just get started with whatever it is you think needs done, shall we?”
“Fine, whatever. Let’s get you trained, son.”
“I’m not yer son, kid, but fine. Let’s do this. Paul looked at Amanda_adnamA and smiled. She smiled right back. “When's orientation?” he asked.
“Howsabout right now,” said baby. “You said it yourself, you want names by way of introduction, alrighty, then. You can call me Baby. That’s 25-Itty-Bitty. You can call her Itty, and you already know Manda real good. You're Paul. Which is kind of disappointing. But whatever.”
“So, what’s with the names? Come on, seriously. There’s no way any of you were born with those names.”
“You don’t like my name, Paul?” Amanda_adnamA pouted.
“No, I love your name, but still, I don’t think you were born with it. Are you telling me you were?”
She giggled. “Of course not.”
“So how in the hell of hells does your trex sig say "Amanda_adnamA" and how in the hell of hells has Authority not noticed?”
“Authority never notices what’s not pointed out to them, Paul,” said Itty. Her voice was like drops of porcelain falling on his ears. Precise. Examined.
“What the fark is that supposed to mean?”
“It means we have methods of making sure things aren’t pointed out to them. That’s all you need to know,” interjected Baby. “As the most junior member on Taste!'s staff, you're going to run into a lot of things that you don't need to know. I hope that's not a problem for you.”
“Fine,” Paul said, “So are you three the heads of Taste! or what?”
They laughed and shook there heads. “Ah hell no,” said Baby. “We , and by that I mean Itty and myself, just happened to be available at the time when Manda made the call. We’ve got a huge, what you might call, board of directors, mainline. It’s farking unbelievable. You have no idea.”
“Golly, sounds impressive,” said Paul with all the sarcasm he could muster. “Am i ever going to meet all of them?”
“Probably not right away, said Itty studying him with those green green eyes. “But eventually, if you prove to be worthwhile.”
“Alright fair enough,” Paul said, waving it off. “So. This room we’re in. It’s moving. under the Tubewerx. What’s the deal with that.”
“Well, we couldn’t run the risk of slamming into someone, now, could we? You ever trex out what the Floor is made of?” asked Baby.
“No. It really didn’t seem that interesting until now.”
“HAHAHAHHA. AND THAT, that is the exact sort of bullshight thinking that we here at Taste!, and I suppose that includes you, now, are going to get rid of. Right across the board. Tell me Paulie, when you were a a kid, what do you remember being interested in?”
“What do you mean?”
“When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you were all growed up?”
Paul had to think hard on this. He didn't have the same feeling of peace of insight that he did while in Taste!'s rounded halls. The lights the sounds the movement of HR and the events of the past few minutes weren’t lending themselves to helping his concentration.
“And don’t say ‘tagger’,” chided Baby.
Ouch, that hurt, thought Paul, Because it was hard not to think about ‘tagger’ as being the be all and end all of what he was destined to do. After all, it was what he gravitated towards in Hive life. All those numerous interactive programs he watched as a kid convinced him that after he left the Hive he’d be a tagger. And a dam good one and he‘d be doing the World a service with his mad skillz. That was it, wasn’t it? You started life, and the World figured out what it needed from you and you did it and then you were retired, right?
He looked up from his feet and saw the trio staring at him with mixed emotions. Baby’s was a sort of condescension, Itty’s something like pity and Amanda_adnamA’s was gentle understanding.
“Oh Gawd,” Paul breathed. “How many people in the world are taggers?”
“Told you he’d snap to it fast,” chided Amanda_adnamA in Baby's direction.
“Whatever,” said Baby, thought the manner of his grunt suggested agreement.
“Tell me!” snapped Paul.
“98 percent boy-o,” Baby snapped back.
“But that’s just not possible. That’s...”
“No, let him think it though,” Baby said to Amanda_adnamA when she made a move to go to him. “He’s gotta come through this himself or he’s going to be using you for a crutch for ever and ever.”
“But it’s bullshight, where the hell did you get your statistics?”
“How many people in the world, Paul?” asked Itty. “What do they do all day? What did you do before you suicided yourself into debt and raisin starvation?”
Paul's voice was quite small. “I hung out. Betted on fantasy sports. Browsed the memes. Got drunk. Kept busy with work. Kept busy with the raisin farming. I don't know how many people are in the World. I never bothered to ask. There's no reason to. Information like that never makes the memes. Is it important?”
“Nothing's important in this World. That's the point. I bet you had some serious quality interaction there, huh.” scoffed Baby. “Tell me Paulie, did sending ‘Thanx for the add’ two hundred times a day ever really give you a sense of personal fulfillment? Did you ever find a quality connection with another live human being that way?”
“HAHAHA well, I think you’ve answered that question.” Amanda_adnamA shot a warning glance at Baby and he continued, “Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's not possible for a purposeful relationship to develop over the feeds, I'm just saying that statistically, what happens on the feeds tends to stay on the feeds. Are you living alone or what?”
Paul didn't answer what they already knew.
“What kind of day did you a have at work?” asked Itty.
“Well, you know,” Paul sighed, the effort of remembering what he did day in and day out was difficult exercise. “It was ten hour days. Work flowed in, I processed it and send it on it’s way. I was good at it. I was a manager of other people who were good at it for awhile.”
“And then what happened?”
“I lost my temper at another employee. Don’t know why.”
“Huh,” grunted Baby, “Imagine that. You, losing your temper and not caring about the consequences. I think we’re going to have to dig out some of those underlying issues. Oxidize the bastids.”
“Is that in the Taste! benefits’ package?”
“Hahaha....you know it is. You just don’t know how much it is.”
“Alrighty then. You've dissected my life. Made me feel like a worthless lump of shight. You're all way cooler than me. Goodness that's a relief, finally finding out for myself that I truly suck in a world that is apparently 98 percent mediocre. What happens now?”
“Well,” said Itty, “We can either secure your eyeballs open and force you to watch on screen how pitiful you're acting for the next forty-eight hours, orwe can go get your dwell space out of hock, and start training you hands on style with project XJ-Doug.”
“The second option sounds more exciting.”
“It had better be,” grunted Baby, “Or you are so fired.”
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