Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Thirteen.
Tonight’s story: Say It Ain’t So
This evening’s episode, and every episode of Flash Pulp, is partially inspired by Marvelous Bob.
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Tonight we present a tale of science fiction, originally published on 365Tomorrows.com. It’s a story of high level corporate maneuvering in a not so terribly distant future, a story which opens with a simple question of identity.
Say It Ain’t So – Part 1 of 1
“So, are ya?” He’s maybe twelve, wearing blue shorts and a Mexico City Raptors t-shirt, a leg up on the wrought iron patio fence. My lobster is getting cold.
“What?” I ask.
I realize he’s holding up a thin rectangle the size of a credit card, alternating his squints to get the thing’s picture to match my face.
“CEO Benjamin “Crush ‘Em” Hinton?”
I remember signing off on licensing my likeness to FlatMedia last May, but I hadn’t seen the cards in the wild.
I ignore him.
That might have been the end of it, but a serving girl swings by my table.
“Your bill, Mr. Hin – Ben.” She says, smiling uncomfortably.
That’s what I get for flirting with the wait staff.
“It IS you! Could ya sign my card?”
He thrusts a red stylus and the card at me. I accept, mostly just interested in checking out the cheap display on the back. There’s a rundown of my resume; schooling, management experience, time spent on corporate boards.
I tap on New Youth Limited. Not much my rookie year, but the second I was apparently one of “The Resurrection Seven”, a voting bloc that saved N.Y.L. by moving from chemical processes to genetic engineering. I remember the vote, but I don’t recall anyone using the snazzy nickname.
Sliding through the listings, I notice some of them have been marked up in a child’s block script, often with arrows pointing to individual entries, things like: “Bob may have had seniority, but not the votes!”
“Anywhere?” I ask.
“Sure!” He says with a sloppy grin.
I tap the pen icon.
“Is it true that you punched Director Jules Wilson?”
“Heh, yeah. I mean, Wilson always came in drunk, but he messed up my presentation of that quarter’s preliminary financials – by the time he started pawing at Kathy Reed, I was just looking for an excuse.”
I look up, wondering if I’ve said too much for a kid his age, but he seems to be eating it up with moon eyes.
“You ever gonna work somewhere huge like Kalstock again?” he asks, face imploring. I give a quick scribble with the stylus and hand him back his card.
His saucer eyes begin to droop.
“Hey,” I quickly add, “I mean, there’s talk that Kalstock may revisit their policy and have me back for another term, but it’s hush hush.”
He brightens. I imagine him lording the harmless secret over his friends for a week.
“Tedward says you got lucky with the Talibi Merger because CEO Norma Donald was kicked by Talibi’s oversight expert system. I think he’s a craphead. You’re so smart you must have done something.”
I smile, mentally re-living my best maneuvers.
“I bought shares in a number of Talibi subsidiaries using various fake names and then put out a lot of crosstalk showing a lack of stockholder confidence. The system got nervous. I paid good money to insert low numbers into that week’s financial reports, and the system went to red alert. Things would have been fixed as soon as they saw the next round of numbers, but I used the whistleblower hotline to point out a lie on Norma’s resume involving her university rowing team. With so much bad happening so suddenly, the computer thought the world was ending and booted Norma – the only one who understood Kalstock’s real intentions.”
The kid’s smiling the whole time I’m talking, but as I finish he turns and waves to someone. That’s when I see the New Youth product watermark on the back of his neck.
Without looking at me he says:
“Mr. Hinton – Carl Nochek, special agent for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Benjamin Hinton, it is my duty to inform you that you are under arrest.”
Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.