Your Call May Be Monitored

July 18, 2011 at 6:16 PM | Posted in Fiction | 6 Comments
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This is another in the series of flash fiction from Chuck Wendig’s site “Terrible Minds.” This week it’s a thousand words, about your favorite apocalypse. Everyone has their favorite, right? To see more and to check out the other entries, go shopping here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: An uncharted Apocalypse
And this is a first for me–a double entry. I already put in one story, but it was one that I had written before and just had to edit. I had been sitting on this idea for a while, but was wondering just how to exploit it.

There is a reason for rules, Ted thought angrily, as he pulled the decayed corpse from the car.  This is what happens when people don’t abide.  Ted was immune to any punishment.  He was upholding rule and order when he took this Cadillac as his new ride to the office.
Commuting was hell, but it had gotten better since ninety percent of the people had died.  The bastards that had died on the highway—in the fast lane, for Christ’s sake—had no regard for rules and deserved what they got.  I just want to give them all tickets for dying in the express lane.
At the office, Ted gave himself a promotion.  The CEO’s office was his, as well as all the perks that went with it.  He had a great parking spot right up front, the closest one to the door besides the handicapped spots.  Ted was not one to flaunt the rules.  He did not want to get fined.
What started off as a great day turned sour when his secretary exploded in the copy room.  Fuck.  Now who’s going to make my coffee?  She was a temp, anyway—someone Ted had hired when he made himself Vice-President of Collections and Intimidation.  Rachel thought he was going to “save” her.   From what, exactly?  Just because a meteor shower filled with space pollen killed everyone with allergies doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to work to pay off her VISA card.  She worked four days, and she owed 1743.44. That debt is not paid off, and it will accrue interest on the next billing cycle.  “You can’t shirk your obligations that easily, bitch!” Ted screamed and kicked at what was left of her corpse, until it fell off the finisher of the Sharp MX-623.
Ted’s afternoon appointment schedule was full.  The company was short-staffed because he had to lay off everyone that died.  Some of these people did not have to courtesy to die elsewhere.  This economy has been a ball-buster.
But the growth industry has been collections.
In a seminar Ted gave last week to three sickly people and four dead bodies, Ted explained with PowerPoint that it was a fine line between sales and collections.  The difference is in the attitude.  For sales, you have to be polite.  “In conclusion—stop trying to leave, Rhonda, or I will shoot you where you lie—in conclusion, since the valued customer has already received the services or merchandise and we have upheld our part of the sales contract, it is within our legal right to do whatever is necessary to collect from them.  Any questions?”
“I thought there was help here.  Is there a doctor?  Can you help us?”
“No, Eric, I cannot help you.  Not unless you hit your quotas.”
“Please help us?”
“This is not part of our incentive program for the month.”

Ted pulled into the sweeping circle drive of a massive house.  This house in this neighborhood, before the bubble burst, was easily 1.2 million.  The market took a dive before the pollen meteors.  That was no excuse, however, for the owner to become delinquent on his payments.
Ted had prepared a strategy.  He would try the friendly touch first; let him know that Ted was his friend.  Then make him an offer.  If he gave the house to Ted, and signed over the paperwork, not only would all collection efforts stop, but Ted would clean up Mr. Stanley’s credit rating.  It wouldn’t be easy—but we’re in this together, as partners.  Ted went up to the door, briefcase in one hand, and shotgun in the other.
Later, Ted sat by the pool of his new house.  Luckily, the owners were not home.  Lucky for them.  They were probably vacationing in Delaware or Singapore.  That’s just irresponsible, going on an expensive vacation to a glamorous place like Delaware when you’re six months behind on your house payment.  What happened to values?  He was going to keep the papers handy, to have Mr. Stanley sign them upon his arrival.  It would all be perfectly legal—Ted was also a notary.
Ted sipped his drink and thought about Delaware.  That’s where Ted would like to go, for his vacation.  According to his incentive program that he had developed, he should get a hefty bonus to pay for the trip as well.  He drifted off to sleep thinking happy thoughts.

The next morning Ted was looking forward to a productive day at work.  Friday before Labor day—you want to make as many collection calls as you can, and ruin as many weekends as you can.  But people shouldn’t be spending their money on beer and barbeque anyway when they owe money they haven’t paid.  There are rules.  There is order.  He just hoped that today he would be able to get a line out.
The group of survivors was waiting for him inside, hidden behind cubicle walls on the production floor.  They jumped him and beat him, and tied him spread eagle to a small conference table.  Ted didn’t think to bring his gun into the office.  The office was safe, it was his haven.  Besides, firearms were forbidden in the workplace.
He and the table were dragged uncarefully outside, and tossed on a pile of random timber along with three others similarly constrained.
Stan, with a second mortgage and 420 credit score, said, “What is it with these people, hanging on to…the old ways of doing things?”
Jean, whose homeowner’s association had numerous nuisance suits filed against her, said, “I don’t know—collections people and lawyers.”
Robert, who had to close his business and file bankruptcy, said, “They don’t have any other skills.  They certainly don’t have the skills for survival.”
Tracy, who already had more student loan debt than she could ever pay off, asked, “Is that enough gas?”
Stan said, “Yeah.  Not too much.  We don’t want them to burn fast, otherwise they don’t scream long enough.”
Tracy giggled.  “I know, right?”


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  1. Exploding secretaries can be such a nuisance, can’t they. Don’t know about Delaware. Personally I think Delaware doesn’t exist. Or maybe it exploded. I’ve never met anyone who’s been there. I will admit there used to be a soft drink called Delaware Punch, but that’s pretty thin evidence. I don’t envy Ted. He’s got a real dead end job. Cool.

    • That’s kind of *exactly* why I picked Delaware. Seriously, who goes there? Isn’t it just a suburb of New Jersey?
      And thanks for the kind words.

  2. Yikes, I thought it was sort of funny in the beginning but that’s downright disturbing. And no bets on how many stories you write – if I know anything about the writerly types buzzing around Chuck’s seedy bar, it is that their power knows no limits. 😉

  3. I loved it when the temp exploded. I snickered out loud. Twice.

  4. I would love to do this to a few banker or lawyers, Judges, especially supreme court and don’t forget the politicians. I have a little fire, let’s roast them on a pyre.

  5. Seriously, you know you’ve done a good job when you make your readers laugh out loud! I love this one. The other was good, but I like the sarcasm in this one.

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