An Eighty Percent Solution (CorpGov)

 

 

 

 

 

An Eighty Percent Solution

CorpGov Chronicles: Book One

 

 

 

Thomas Gondolfi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Colleen

f
or always believing

TANSTAAFL Press

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,

Suite
400-199
 

Yelm
,
WA
98697
 

 

Visit us at www.TANSTAAFLPress.com

 

 

All characters, businesses, and situations within this work are fictional and the product of the author’s creativity
. Any
resemblances to persons living or dead are
entirely coincidental
.
TANSTAAFL Press assumes no responsibility for any content on author or fan websites or other publications.

 

An Eighty Percent Solution

 

First printing TANSTAAFL Press

Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Gondolfi

Cover illustration by
Tony Foti

 

Printed in the
United States

ISBN
978-1-938124-07-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Define Objective

 

Tony edged his
oversized body
out of the ever-present
N
orthwest drizzle onto
a
lift-bus more crowded than
E. coli
on an agar plate
.
H
e ran his sand
-
colored hands
absently
through his thick, shoulder-length black hair
.
Flicking his wrist
,
he broke The Rules as the dislodged dampness sprayed across several of his neighbors
.
The moistened
commuters gave him a hard glare
.
Unwritten TriMet Transit laws included staying in one’s own space
.
He half-heartedly smiled an apology
.

“Mondays,” Tony whispered through a hangover that bothered him only enough to know he’d once again been drinking too much
—the
tenth time in twelve weeks
.
And for the same number
of
weeks he thought about breaking his own personal commandment not to use any drugs, even over-the-counter hangover cures. Too many burns started out that simply
.
He wanted to keep his personality.

To take his mind off the pain, he stared out the partially fogged windows at the passing miasma of gray
.
Another exciting day of running tests for a product that won’t do much for anyone
,
for a company that
cares only about
the few
credits
it sells for, he thought
grimly
.

A departing commuter offered a diversion as Tony forced hi
mself
between several other passengers
like they were two line-backers
to capture the empty seat
.
Two other hopefuls gave him
the
angry looks often accompanying someone else’s victory
.
Ignoring them and the hushed but omnipresent sounds of
218
commuters crowded against him
—not to mention
the press of
2.3
billion in
the
Portland
environs

Tony wiggled his hips enough to get fully seated between his neighbors
.

As comfortable as one could be on the TriMet at rush hour,
he reached for the news chips floating near the ceiling, missing his first two attempts
.
Working really hard to focus his eyes on the task, he finally snagged one
.
He snapped the seal
as if
breaking a cracker and waved
his prize
near the neural implant under his left arm.

As he dropped the chip’s
now-useless,
biodegradable
cellulose capsule to the floor
,
the headline screamed
“Unemployment Plummets to
27
Percent!” through his neural connection
.
Despite the
newsman’s
pleasant baritone, Tony winced and wiggled the muscle at the back of his ear
,
muting
the audio
.
He then harrumphed at the
headline’s
very concept
.
Only a gullible fool would believe news that optimistic.

Tony absently flicked his eye to change the solido page
,
but nothing caught his attention until the sports
news popped up
in front of him
.
Attention, but no
relief
.
“Spiders Trounced by Packers in a 41-14 Rout
.”
Tony read enough to realize the league would use his Aussie Spiders as a punching bag this season
.
The loss of their star quarterback to a neck injury three weeks ago
had
put the Aussies in
to
a
tail
spin
, and nobody, least of all Tony, expected them to recover
.

He fondly remembered his football days in high school
,
but only
in a
child’s dreams could
he play
beyond that venue
.
Lacking the size or talent
to play tight end
professionally, he would’ve needed
massive implants or genetic drug therapies
just to compete—
both against league rules at the time
.

“BREAKING NEWS” flashed across his view
.
“Third Greenie Bomb This Week!” 

Tony’s shoul
ders straightened
.
In lurid detail
,
the article
explained how a small explosive device killed at least thirteen people and maimed scores of others when it detonated within the
BioNetix
home offices
.
Even before the first screams of the injured pierced the air
,
the Green Action Militia took responsibility for the act
.
“Violence will escalate until the world is no longer exploited by the
megacorps
!

ranted an unidentified GAM spokesperson
.

In a sop to equal time
,
a midlevel VP at
BioNetix
denounced the act as nothing more than

the brutal ruthlessness of cannibals.

As a commentator interviewed eyewitnesses to the explosion
,
the article
played some poor amateur solido footage of the
bomb’s
debris
cloud
engulfing
a group of workers
as they
enter
ed
the building
.
Th
e image
didn’t interest Tony much and he flipped to
the scrollbar
s that
summed up the sixty-seven other acts of terrorism
attributed to
the GAM, including eighteen direct assassinations, multiple bombings
,
product tampering
, and many more
.

The newsies,
Metros
,
and even the
pundits painted the Greenies as a

black necrosis
,”
but the rabble considered them
modern
-
day heroes
.
This dichotomy resonated on every gossip ring, coffee klatch, political mindshare
,
and bull session
across
Earth
,
not to mention
most everyone in the
solar
system
.

Tony
absently wondered why anyone would fight order
.
His life balance
d
.
It held
order
.
It comforted him in a dismal and gray way
.
He knew from one moment to the next where his next meal and entertainment would come from
.
He wondered how an unwinnable, pointless war against the entire system could even be
considered
sane.

The romance of the GAM
still
attracted him like the Merry Men of Robin Hood fame
,
but the thought of leaving his reasonably comfortable life to kill people made him absently shudder
.

E
ngulfed in the
paradox b
etween his heart and head
,
he didn’t notice when the eyes of the woman seated next to him went wild and she spasmodically clutched her package to her chest
.
Oblivious to Tony
,
she gasped, eyes rolling back into her head
.
He glanced in frustration when someone bumped into his legs, only to find the woman collapsed on the floor, leaning against him
.

Until just that moment, the ancient
-
looking grandmother with a streak of gold down the center of her curly hair had been just another insignificant cog in life to him

just another obstacle to negotiate and placate in his
day
-
to
-
day life
.
She jerked
spasmodically
in place against his legs, unable to even fall over decently in the tightly packed lift-bus
.
Later
,
Tony remembered with shame that his first act was to push
her
away
.
She collapsed bonelessly to the rubberized floorboard
.
The only sound came from her head landing with a dull thud
.

“Leave her alone!” shouted a man wearing the yellow vinyl tights of a bodyguard.

“Please step back from the victim
,” t
he automated TriMet emergency voice finally offered
in a smooth
,
pacifying
voice
designed to calm any panicky witnesses
.

The
year his parents sent him to
live with
his grandparents in
Queensland
all came back
in
a rush
.
Tony
remembered Granther hobbling around on his peg-leg
.
He
also remembered, with some throbbing memories in the seat of his pants, how Granther’s
rattan cane forc
ed
him to learn
.
The war ta
ught Granther many things
, all of
which
he
felt the need to cram
into
his grandson
in
the space of
that
single year.

Tony’s thoughts returned
to the old woman on the floor
.
Kneeling next to her,
Tony
tried to remove
a
badly misbalanced box
she still managed to clutch to her chest. It took two tries and a jerk to free it so he could place
it
on the
seat
.
With an ear to her chest
,
he
muttered to himself
, “No heartbeat
.”

He remembered the sting
s
Granther delivered
whenever
Tony
dared to err
.
“Lay the victim down
.
Make sure he/she is on a hard surface,” Tony
mumbled,
mimicking Granther’s thick
Aussie
accent
.
As he talked
,
he followed the instruction
s
like a
n obsessive-compulsive
,
or one of Pavlov’s dogs
.

“For your safety and hers, please move away from the victim,” ordered the
lift-bus’s
pleasant voice
.
“We have been diverted to Seattle General
.
The Metro Police
will
meet us
upon
arrival in six minutes and twelve seconds.”

“First
,
tilt
the victim
…”
Tony’s
back flinched
,
awaiting a cane too many years and kilometers away
.
“No,
no,
first I have to make sure the airway

s clear
!
” 

He obeyed his grandfather’s teachings automatically, without thinking.
A mottled orange goop dribbled down the side of
the old woman’s
face
.
“Don’t be surprised by the taste of vomit
,

c
ame Granther’s drill-
sergeant voice
.

It

s common for heart attack victims to regurgitate.” 

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