My part in the collapse of civilization
It landed on my desk with a zoink, a purposeful little email, explaining why, (because the numbers were tight) my homely little cubicle was about to be re-assigned. From today, it said, I would have to participate in the software revolution elsewhere. My severance package would be discussed with me at the appropriate time.
All right I got angry. There was no reason for me to apply bulldog clips to the cabling and short out the computer room, let alone to hold my lighted cigarette under the sprinklers – nowhere that smoking should be tolerated.
The results were immediate and obvious. Hard drives succumbed to wounds, the network ran up the white flag and shut down. PCs refrained from dealing with email and silently blacked out. The fine rain made things messy. Contracts dissolved. Ink slid from maintenance agreements and share options. Smoke rose from hissing sockets.
The splatters of tomato sauce I squirted from the squeezable containers I found in the kitchen unit, randomly, over the Herman Miller into the walkways, made it look worryingly catastophic as I did my stuff at more crackling junction boxes. Gradually my co-workers began to notice.
The lifts ground to a halt between floors, the muffled shouting eerily reminiscent of disaster movies, and then the air-conditioning died with a sickly convulsion.
By the time the marketing VP strode into the meeting room for his regular Friday status briefing, the telephone system was telling incoming callers to ‘leave a… leave a… leave a…’ and some of us were taping over the security cameras.
Suddenly, a swat team from accounts, who must have been waiting in ambush near the water-cooler, sprang out and overpowered the marketing VP. When I left, one of the product managers was making him eat the marketing plan for the year, which wasn’t, I’ll admit, tasty. But I couldn’t stay. It was a substantial document and that was going to take some time, whether or not they allowed him water with it.
People were rushing to and fro, in a purposeful manner. Power had fallen into the corridors.
We found uniforms for whoever would join us. We thought the ‘One Team, One Revolution’ stuff from last month’s sales conference would be appropriate and we broke out shirts, jackets, and bags which people filled with chocolate, cereal bars and Cokes from the shattered autovends, preparing to hunker down.
Weapons came from the canteen, sandbags from the maintenance crew. Barricades erupted more or less sporadically, as people got to know how to dismantle the office furniture. Chipboard and melamine went to build huts and shelters on the edge of the pond. The ornamental carp were barbecued with rosemary.
Let’s be clear though, I didn’t ask anyone to start breaking the gigantic panes of glass in the atrium - the white leather sofas in reception were suddenly skewered like whales - or to broadcast the manifesto drawn up by the Revolutionary Committee, wherever that came from. Nor did I ask for hostages to be taken from our customers who were attending the sales briefing, even though they were a particularly smug bunch. They’re okay. In amongst the wreckage of their finger food lunch, they were quickly manacled and gagged, and strung up with network cable by their ankles.
They’re there now silently swaying above the walkways like a line of carcasses in a butcher’s truck, but alive.
I had no dealings whatever with the gang of hooligans from customer support who thought it would be amusing to hurl Molotov cocktails at the visitors’ cars in the car park. It was only when they started to explode, roars of yellow flame accompanied by whoops and yells, that my attention was drawn to the area.
By this time, a rancorous battalion from secretarial support, looking like amazons, lipstick blobs on their kamikaze headscarves, had hacked down the flag poles outside reception and blocked the entrance way quite effectively with bonfires of training manuals and packaging, and were pinning down firefighters with telephone handsets and keyboards fired from improvised ballistas.
I had nothing whatever to do with the snatch squad who chained selected managers out on the sun deck in their underwear, coated with jam and chili dressing, coleslaw, mayonnaise - to attract insects, they said, having ripped their Armani suits from their backs and stuffed odd remnants from the company flag in their mouths.
By now, the fountain out front was dyed red and the ornamental carp were steaming quietly over makeshift barbecues. There were demands. These included a commitment to non-GM foods, workers to run key committees, R and D, accounts, in addition to the pay rise, renewed contracts, longer holidays and a full amnesty that the ad hoc revolutionary committee was discussing with the HR director, who was tied to his chair whimpering while they threatened to do something with matchsticks under his fingernails.
What? No, I don’t know why chainsaws are being craned up to the CEO’s office.
Yes, of course it was unfortunate for the chairman of the company to be lassooed and strung naked in a parachute harness from the balcony of his tenth floor office - when he should have been hard at work golfing, lobbying for more government contracts, but that was none of my doing. I do not know who posted the pictures to the internet or threw patisserie at his helpless form. Of course that would be distressing for his family, especially the kids in their boarding schools.
Look. Don’t attempt to storm the building. Some of the guys in tech support are well connected. They are arranging for flame-throwers to be dropped from helicopters and they seem to know how to make cruise missiles out of beer kegs. Each one is aimed at a strategic target.
Michael Spring, who lives in London, sent us a bio so bad that we’re not even going to write our own.