Chapter 18: Not the North!
“Curses!” Shouted Susan MacThreatful, pounding her hand on the keyboard. “You told me her spirit was broken! This isn’t the FaceBook post of a broken spirit?”
In the darkness outside of the circle of light from her computer screen yellow eyes blinked fearfully. None of the minions dared to step forward. She turned to them, her voice a quavering hiss, “Unit 8, you will answer for this or face the consequences.”
Still no one stepped forward.
“Answer me!” Her coifed hair had come undone from her tantrum and sweaty strands stuck to her red, bloated face.
One of the figures was pushed forward by the others, he presented her with a clipboard with papers and pictures on it, “You can see from the records, we’ve done nothing to help her. Her will to live should be ebbing by now, we’ve run the numbers again and again… there’s no way anyone could continue to fight us. All we’ve given her is a heating pad. We’ve made sure to be months late paying for her medication…”
“Why are you paying for any medication at all?” She demanded. He bent down lower in front of her, his yellow eyes unable to meet her black ones.
“The courts… they forced us… we agreed…”
Her voice was quiet now and the room trembled, “and the heating pad?”
“You… you told us to allow that… as an insult… to show that we wouldn’t do anything for her no matter what doctors and occupational therapists said. It’s standard procedure to show them that they won’t get even a tiny percentage of the help they require…”
“What did you say?” Her voice was at full volume again, at the door there was a jam up of minions as the shadowy figures tried to force their way out the door.
“I, um, I said that you told us…”
“No. The last thing you said. Repeat that.”
“I said, ‘to show them that they won’t get even a tiny percentage of the help they require…’.”
“REQUIRE? You said require?! No one requires anything ever. Everyone is a liar and a faker. That’s standard IBIC protocol. I have it here in the papers, see, it says right here, ‘she’s a faker and a liar and she won’t get one cent from us.’”
“But you were the one who told me to write that, I’m not sure that it’ll stand up in court, Mistress MacThreatful…”
“Everything I say is real. Why don’t you understand that? We are a crown corporation and I won’t get a new BMW and you won’t get paid anything if the bottom line isn’t tucked up nice and small. Our job is to withhold money and to find a reason to do so. Now this woman Is going all over the place talking about our methods, exposing us, forming unions with other people who have been… what’s the word I’m looking for?”
“Intimidated? Abused?” He ventured. He looked around at the rest of Unit 8 for support only to see that they had all escaped out the door. He was alone with MacThreatful. A lump of pain in his throat made it impossible for him to offer more suggestions.
“No! You idiot! Treated perfectly fairly! So someone gets run over by a car, what does that really mean? Sure, they could be injured, but I think any movie goer will attest to the fact that people get run over by cars every day…”
“In the movies,” added the last remainder of Unit 8.
“It doesn’t matter where they get runover. This is what I’m trying to explain to you. You keep getting confused by bringing in what is reality and what is fiction. You need to realize that whatever we write down is reality and whatever we think is how much someone is injured is how much they’re injured.”
She attempted to smooth down her hair only to find it was flattened from her angry sweat to her forehead. Her expensive highlights were the color of old dishwater in the glow of the computer screen. A smiling face of a red-head looked back at her proudly, mockingly, thought MacThreatful. She ground her teeth, her work blazer fell to the floor beside her, her tight blouse was stained with rings of sweat.
The spokesman for Unit 8 was anxious to placate MacThreatful, “We’re doing all we can. We’ve printed up her author page and proven that she’s still writing. And look at her, she’s smiling… how can anyone who has been run over by a car be smiling?”
MacThreatful smiled gratefully for the validation, “Exactly. This brings me back to my earlier point. If she was actually run over,”
”Which will be hard to disprove with the hospital reports and because we already paid for the repairs of the cab driver’s hood where something the size and shape of a person left a considerable dent…”
“Oh, shut up.” She snapped.
“Of course, Mistress… may I go then?”
MacThreatful leaned back in her leather chair, the springs creaked mournfully under her. She rested her arms on the arm rests. She had earned those arm rests. She had earned the black leather that her sweat had soaked into by making sure that things like this never happened. She considered the face looking back at her from the screen.
“Discover what has left her spirit unbroken. Discover a tactic that will silence her and make her settle for whatever we will give her. Most of all… you will SHUT HER UP. And almost as important, you will have a report on each aspect of this case on my desk in ten business days… or else. Also check into that dead boy’s family and see if they’re still whining to the newspapers about us not paying for their brats funeral.”
“Please, may I go?”
“In a hurt to go screw around by the watercooler, are you?”
“No, I’m in a hurry to secure the bottom line and file reports about the bottom line until we can bury enough things in paperwork so that no one will dare to argue with you or any of our other magnificent lawyers or other specialists ever again,” he attested fervently.
She eyed him up, she wished more than anything for a cigarette. She settled for taking out a second nicotine patch and tore it out of the package, letting the leader from Unit 8 worry while she did so. Worry. It was the sweetest taste in the world. Sweeter than that first breath of a cigarette, sweeter than a vodka martini with lunch, in fact, the only thing sweeter was the smell of desperation.
She savoured his worry, desperation and fear for the future while she wiped off a patch of her neck so that it had enough sweat off of it to put the patch back on, “Go then. Scurry forth and find me answers. If you don’t… I’ll send you up North myself.”
“No! Not up North!”
She relished his despair, “Yes, I’ll send you up North to personally get eyes on the ground, maybe that will clear some of this up.”
“But… it’s cold up there and there are few amenities!” He wailed.
“I have your identification number, get out of here. Do your job for once. And by that, I mean make sure that nothing happens for anyone that could possibly do them any good.”
“Of course, Mistress.”
He crept out, walking backwards, not out of respect but out of fear. MacThreatful was known to throw things at the back of people’s heads for a laugh when she was in a humor. He whimpered when he saw her reach for her Starbucks mug but she only flipped open the top and swiveled her chair back to the screen. He heard her angry slurping as he slunk out the door. It was going to be dogfood for dinner again tonight for Unit 8, they had displeased the gods of IBIC and no one would see pay until a lack of progress was made.
He scampered down the fluorescent lit hallway, the gray industrial carpet muffled the sound of his too-tight shoes. His only hope now was that someone had left something in the break room. Even a Danish with that nasty custard would do. They had to get this resolved fast.
Stay Tuned for Chapter 19: Nobody Like IBIC
This is a fanciful and fictional story. Any resemblance to any one living or dead is purely coincidental as is any connection to any corporation, public or private.