Featured Photo by Kirsten – Pen Up/SnapSeed
Their bodies traveled for miles, thousands of fans waiting for her famous Black Diamond Elektrik, smothered in frenzied anticipation…
That was a daydream. A fantasy swapped with the heart sinking, stale, gray nightmare disguised as the office.
Or is it a career? Lux thought, uncertain. She was a robot for a few hours five times a week. Timed to perform certain actions for a direct deposit of specific numbers in order to use a plastic card with more numbers on it for survival. Well, I gotta survive… she thought, sitting in the back of the crowded conference room, looking at a tower of crumpled cereal bags and half empty milk cartons dripping from the trashcan beside her. There was a morning potluck she missed.
Avoided. I avoided it.
For a moment, she imagined putting her body on the line and drink the rancid trash milk, well aware of the vomit inducing powers it had over her. It’s the only thing that’d get me out of this meeting… Lux almost risked it all until she caught the squinted glance of her boss from across the room. “What?” she mouthed back to his stern glare. He shook his head, pointing at the screen. She rolled her eyes and faced forward, adjusting her aching bottom to the rough chair. Its padding flattened after years of other people’s use.
Her bosses’ boss (Big Boss) droned on and on in their red alert huddle. Today’s concern? Numbers. No one knew what the divine numbers were, but it was imperative the company met them every month. Lux equated the numbers to an ancient mystical life force fed to the company’s inner demons to distract and avoid those demons from turning up at another congressional hearing. Lux went with the flow and fed demons for a paycheck. It worked.
She fed them for twelve years now…
Where did the time go? Lux wondered, trying to make sense of the presentation littered with football references. She did a double take at the bold comments about replacing the coach instead of the team if they failed to meet the numbers—typed in red, unserious Comic Sans font. Other coaches around nodded and cheered, agreeing to their own demise. Lux would’ve laughed as well, pleased to see them all fade into the sands of time forever if she weren’t a coach herself.
Her devoted conscience screamed in fierce opposition to the thought of replacement. She recalled her boss’s comments about the great ideas she had but never shared: “Lux, Dave always has something to say in those huddles, the System loves it,” Boss lowered his voice. “You know they’re watching,” he cleared his throat and perked up. “You should start speaking up.”
“But… Dave suggested Women Work Topless day. Remember? Then you got so upset when half the staff went on maternity leave months later. We never had that day again.”
“Ahh, pfft. C’mon Lux, you’re too sensitive. Dave’s making his presence known. He’s a solid worker with bright ideas, just say anything. The System loves it.”
Just say anything…
Just say anything…
Just say anything…?
Lux sat back, staring at the presentation, then to the Big Boss, watching his small lips move. He spouted some passionate monologue about success, achievement, and being the best at everything because there was nothing else to be and if you wanted to be like him you:
“HAVE TO GO HARD! RAWR!” Big Boss shouted over a heroic epic soundtrack blasting from the presentation. Lux lowered her head, embarrassed for him. Then she looked up at his charcoal colored solid wool dress pants, wondering. And in her bosses’ eager attempt to emulate the Big Boss, he spouted his own big game next. Lux looked at his slim-fit khaki pants too, wondering.
She raised her hand.
“Oh, Lux? Yes, you have a question?” Boss said, pleased she was making an attempt to engage. Big Boss squinted to get a better look at her. The cameras in the room buzzed louder, glowing with a still red light. The System was watching.
“Yes, I have an idea. If the men worked without their pants, perhaps we could see big things, then envision them, and manifest those big visions into big numbers. With all the big talk that goes on, I’d imagine that enormous strength must come from somewhere. We all work best when we inspire one another, don’t we?”
Boss and Big Boss blinked. No one said anything.
“Or are you guys not that big… on inspiring?” Lux continued.
They talked between themselves, “Hell yeah I’m inspiring!” “I can inspire!”
The numbers skyrocketed the day the men worked without their pants.
In return for her bold idea, and the extraordinary numbers it produced, the System promoted Lux Halifax to Engagement Captain and allowed her the option to work from home as long as she liked.
“This’ll do, for now,” Lux said.
She spent all her working time resting in her backyard hammock, daydreaming.