In a small corner of one of the more rad corners of the Southeast Caribbean, there is a tiny island called Cariascous, which is french for “flatulent snake.” Cariascous is utterly insignificant and not worth mentioning, save for the dormant volcano located at its center, which houses the homebase of one of the most nefarious criminal organizations in the world: Terrordoom, Inc.
Though the exterior of Terrordoom HQ is all obsidian snakes and razor wire, the interior is actually pretty nice: It’s well-lit, has an open office layout, is pleasantly air-conditioned, and even boasts a well-stocked candy wall and free beer on Thursdays. Terrordoom, Inc. knows that the secret to a well-oiled criminal-industrial complex is keeping the employees happy, and when your employees have to endure isolated working conditions, weekly gunfights with various espionage agencies, and leaking fluids that are, if we’re lucky, just radioactive, you have to pull out all the stops. Hence, snack wall. And free beer on Thursdays.
But luxury comes with a price, and that price is bureaucracy, and the junction between bureaucracy and convenience is where we meet our hero, Reggie “Skullcrusher” Harvey, senior explosives and scary noises technician at Terrordoom, Inc. One Thursday morning found him hunched over his desk, reading the scariest email he had ever received.
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Now, that email may not seem scary to you, but to an overworked dad like Reggie, it was terrifying. See, Reggie had a problem: He never learned how to tell people no. So when his son had asked him a month ago if he could come home to Boston for the Fourth of July — Jack’s favorite holiday — Reggie had said yes.
And then, two weeks later when Mobius Terrordoom — CEO of Terrordoom, Inc. — had asked Reggie to design the weapons for their Fourth of July attack in New York, he had also said yes. Now, at the very last minute, he was trying to figure out how he could solve this problem without letting anybody down. Which meant trying to weasel his way into a meeting with Mobius, the big man himself. Which meant figuring out where Mobius was at the moment. Which meant navigating the Employee Services Intranet Network.
“Scheduling Directory?” Reggie muttered to himself, clicking on what he thought was a button but turned out to just be a GIF of a button for some reason. In the background, he heard the insidious crackle of machine-gun fire blending with the polite crackle of a popcorn machine. The CIA had discovered the location of Terrordoom, Inc.’s headquarters last week, and a bunch of Navy SEALS were invading, and also it was someone’s birthday, so they had brought in a popcorn machine.
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Both managed to kill people.
“Why would you make a graphic look like a button?” Reggie muttered to himself. “Why aren’t there actual buttons?”
Behind him, his co-worker Muti sighed. Reggie recognized the sigh as the one that came whenever Muti was going to complain about something really dumb.
“I’m thinking about swapping my standing desk for a sitting desk again,” Muti said, even though he had swapped his sitting desk for a standing desk like three fucking days ago after bitching about how the seat made his back hurt for a solid month. “I know it’s probably good for my circulation because our culture’s infatuation with sitting on our ass is basically one big luxurious suicide, but I really hate it. My back hurts so much right now.”
The gunfire was getting closer. A dozen Terrordoom security personnel jogged by, each carrying a large, snake-shaped rifle.
“Do you know how to find out where someone is in the office?” Reggie asked without turning around. “I need to ask Mobius something.”
“I think this is like my gym membership,” Muti mused. “I bought it because I figured that I would force myself to keep a commitment to being healthy, right? Only I never go.”
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The only people who go to the gym are stock-photo models.
An explosion shook the office. The Groot bobblehead on top of Muti’s monitor bobbled. “I am Groot!” it said.
“I feel like I’m just not cut out for office work,” Reggie said. “I’m supposed to be in a field somewhere, messing around with some explosives and seismographs and weapons. That’s what I’m good at. I invented the homing sticky grenade with the delay-fuse, for crying out loud. I’m not sitting at some desk trying to figure out how to fucking access a fucking private fucking spreadsheet, fuck.”
“It’s weird because I’m super good at working at my job,” Muti continued, not listening. “Like, I’ll avoid my family, my friends, all for my career. I’d do anything for this company. But I can’t even trick myself into working out, or eating right, or sticking with my standing desk. I wish I were half so dedicated to myself as my career, ya know?”
“Oh, here it is,” Reggie said, his frustration melting. “OK, I guess I can schedule a meeting with him next week to …”
He trailed off, realizing that there was no reason to narrate anymore.
A soldier burst into the office, wearing a jet-black wetsuit and carrying an advanced combat rifle of some kind. He started to shout something but immediately exploded, the upper half and lower half of his body flying in opposite directions. His death made a sound like a wiffle bat smacking open a soggy paper bag full of spaghetti. Oh good, Reggie thought to himself, they’re using my homing grenades.
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“Yeah, that’s rough. Good luck, dude.”