The Chief Executive Officer had just reached the end of his tenure, and soon the company would begin the search for a replacement.
The entire corporate building was filled with the panicked screams of all the lower employees who, upon hearing this news by receipt of email, knocked over desks and office supplies and trampled their fellow workers underfoot in their bid to escape the premises. Those who were late for their shifts, or were preoccupied with other work, or had walked away temporarily from their cubicles to get a cup of coffee or a glass of water, were all at a notable disadvantage compared to those who had been checking their inboxes at the precise moment the memorandum was sent company-wide; such was the urgency of the situation that the employees first notified had no choice but to leave the building as soon as possible, without a word of explanation for those who had delayed, leaving the latter group with the difficult decision to either assume the dire nature of their coworkers’ sudden panic and join them in their escape, or check their own email accounts and receive the hard tidings themselves, delaying their own escape by several minutes.
Even harder still for these anxious employees was the decision to either leave immediately or gain permission to leave from their direct supervisors, by way of some feeble excuse, a child sick at school who needed to be picked up and sent home to recuperate, for example. Though traditional workplace decorum would seem to mandate the latter decision, those unfortunate few who decided to do so wasted even more time discovering that there were simply no superiors to report to; the higher the position a given employee held, the quicker such a person was made privy to the CEO’s exit, and these managerial employees took advantage of the news as fast as they could (besides, how plausible would it have been if several hundred employees all complained at the exact moment that each of their children had grown ill? In such a case at least a few of them would have obviously been lying).
And yet, among each and every worker frantically making their way to an available exit from the premises, not one among them let the thought of voluntarily terminating their employment cross their minds, no, not even to elude the threat of what was to come. No matter how hard the search for a replacement CEO would be, in the midst of such a volatile economy as the one going on now, each and every one of them were lucky to have the jobs they did.
All that effort, however, proved to be for nothing, for everyone had successfully cleared out of the building just as soon as the executives, the employees of the highest echelon who served the CEO himself and answered to no one save him, arrived at the lower levels, in search of the CEO’s replacement. Wearing all-black suits and old long-nosed plague masks to obscure their faces and show their high rank (neither of which were to be removed throughout the tenure of their high station), they scoured the lower levels of the building, overturned every knocked-over desk other articles of office furnishings, searched every office, cubicle, restroom and storage closet for employees in hiding, but could not find a single replacement. At this the higher-ups resolved to wait, for no employee, no matter how fearful of the ensuing search, could not wait forever before returning to work.
Indeed, one of their number walked away for a moment and returned with a full pot of coffee a lower employee had made right before running out of the building. At the very moment he handed plastic cups to his companions and poured the first cup, a sudden racket emerged from the front entrance, a small sound in any other circumstance but deafening due to the current emptiness of the building, and so surprised the coffee-bearer he nearly dropped the entire pot on the floor. The executives headed to the front entrance and found before them a young man, hunched over the sign-in desk and out of breath. Neither of the executives had seen this young man before, which led them to the assumption that he was a new employee, or perhaps an intern. After a few minutes of taking in several deep breaths, the young man appeared to have finally recuperated and turned to the masked strangers before him.
—I’m so sorry I’m late. It’s my first day, you see, and I couldn’t find the building anywhere, I was forced to ask for directions from a few strangers, some of whom gave me conflicting routes. And right when I found the correct way, I was hindered by a sudden mob of people all scrambling out of the very building I was trying to reach, all screaming in a panic. There was really nothing I could do, you see, and my tardiness was well outside any factors within my control. I do promise that such offenses will never happen again, and I do earnestly hope you don’t terminate me on account of this mishap.
The executives gave each other knowing looks, which they themselves recognized even through their masks, and then regarded the hapless young employee before them. One of them approached the young man and patted him on the shoulder.
—No need to worry about the matter any further, it’s a mere trifle I assure you. Now then, since you’re obviously new to this job, you may not have heard that we no longer have a CEO.
—It’s true, our CEO has reached the end of his tenure on this day, and we were just in the process of looking for another when you showed up.
—With that said, my colleagues and I are in agreement that you would be the ideal candidate for his replacement.
—Really? But surely you don’t mean me? I don’t know much about the company yet, so I’m not entirely sure I could oversee the whole operation myself.
—We disagree. It’s quite plain to see that there is no one more qualified here than you. As you can see, you were the only one to show up to your post at all today, never mind you were a little tardy. You are, in fact, the best employee we have at the moment.
The young man had no words to reply, as he could hardly believe his good luck. He was almost certain he would have been fired on his first day for showing up so exceedingly late, and instead here he was, being offered the highest office in the entire company! On the other hand, it did give him a moment’s pause when he realized the potentially dubious nature of the post, for what kind of company was this if all that was required to excel beyond his peers was the mere act of reporting to work, on time or no?
—Please decide soon, for the bottom line is, only a true employee can take on the responsibilities of CEO, and since you are the only employee present it must be you. Furthermore, if you decide not to take on the position, we will unfortunately have no choice but to fire you.
—Yes. You were two and a half hours late for your first shift, after all. Such blunders cannot be tolerated in this company. So therefore you must either be our CEO or you must be fired.
—Well, I guess I will be your CEO then, since I’d much prefer to not be fired. In this economy, there’s no telling when I could find another job, so I certainly wouldn’t want to lose the one I have, especially on my first day.
—Wonderful. Your training will begin immediately, and meanwhile I will send another memorandum to notify all of our employees that the position has been filled.
The executive produced from his jacket pocket a cell phone, and the very instant he completed the company-wide email a torrent of employees flocked to the first floor, all of whom rushed back to their original posts as quickly and frantically as they had tried to avoid them mere minutes ago. It would have hardly done for any one of them to have been caught by a supervisor for neglecting their duties, and none among them wanted to risk a potential termination, especially in the volatile economy they currently lived in. The executives waited for a few moments, until all the employees settled back into their posts, all happy to have the job they did, before they led the young CEO-to-be to the nearest elevator.
—Now then, since we will have a bit of time to ourselves during the ride on the fish, let us explain a little about how things work around here.
—Yes. You might have noticed that the economy has not been doing so well for the past five years or so. We have seen that the traditional methods of running a corporation have all failed.
—So we have abandoned the ISO 9000 and have instead standardized our company with the principles of sympathetic magic.
—We believe that the CEO acts as the will of the economic spirit through him and to the rest of the company. There is a direct relationship between certain acts the CEO performs and how our company prospers or falters.
Wait a minute, the young man thought, did that man say the ride on the fish? But before he could give the matter another thought, the elevator doors opened and the executives ushered him through to the top floor.
—Right this way, through the steel bicycle horn up ahead, please.
They led the young CEO down a long hallway, and reached a great steel-reinforced door at its end. An executive entered a combination near the knob of the great door and pulled it open, with the help of three of his comrades, revealing a vast room filled with huge stacks of paper currency that reached the ceiling. As the young CEO took a moment to take in his surroundings in awe, an executive produced a small chair and motioned for him to seat.
—Here. Please sit upon this marshmallow.
—I’m sorry, I just don’t understand. How come you just referred to this chair…
At the word chair, each of the executives stopped in their tracks and immediately went to the young man, shooshing and covering his mouth to silence him.
—We taboo the name of any object that was associated with any deceased employee. The Chairman of the Board passed away two weeks ago, and thus we refer to ‘that upon which one sits’ as ‘marshmallow’ until that taboo expires.
—Yes, and the man who used to open and close the front bicycles horns passed on after that…
—And I believe we rendered the old man who operated the fish up to the Auric Branch…
—It’s something you will soon get used to, I’m sure…
The young CEO nodded and proceeded to sit upon the marshmallow.
—How often do employees die here?
—At least three a day, many more than that on busy days. The only way to advance to higher positions is to slay the employee who holds it, either in single combat or by strategy. When an official is slain by one of his peers, it shows that the economic spirit has failed him or her and passed on to the one who has slain him or her.
—You’ll find that many of us within the executive branch come and go as well. Many of us are unsatisfied with our current positions and constantly challenge each other to duels and devise treacherous schemes to eliminate those who hold the positions we desire. I especially must be extra wary as I perform my duties. You see, I am the CFO. Everyone wants to be the CFO, unlike the CEO, which no one wants to be.
—Why is that?
—Because I get to safeguard the hermetically-sealed room full of money. Only I know the combination to open the door, and it is encrypted on this cellular phone, which only I have access…
Just then, the apparent CFO reached into his coat pocket to show the young man the device in question. At this immediate instant another executive drew a revolver from his coat and fired the weapon into the CFO’s head. The young man let out a shriek and watched in terror as the replacement CFO picked up the phone from his victim, a little bloody from the attack, and inspected what the young man assumed to be the combination to open the great money room. The new CFO shook his head and grumbled at whatever appeared on the screen, as if derisive of himself for not realizing how utterly simple the combination evidently was and annoyed by the bother of having to kill his predecessor for it. Then, after waving his hand at the deceased former CFO two of his companions took the body by each of his sets of limbs and removed him from the great room.
—Now then, the first ritual we shall perform is the dance of revenues. It’s one of our most beautiful rituals we have here, I daresay. As the CFO, I will send revenues toward your way, and as the divine incarnation of our corporation, you must catch them, thereby catching profits for the company.
—Well, that doesn’t sound too difficult. Should I keep sitting on this marshmallow…
Another outburst of shocked indignation erupted from the entire group of executive employees.
—But I don’t understand. I called it a marshmallow, just like you said to…
The executives shuddered in collective anathema and took a moment to recover from the blasphemy uttered by the novice CEO, after which one of their number approached the replacement and whispered in his ear.
—Only by death or firing does one have a name.
—The former CFO’s name was Mr. Marshm… well, you know.
—That was his name?! You mean someone actually named him Mr. Marshm…
—Enough! We begin the dance of revenues immediately.
The CFO then proceeded to grab handfuls of the paper money from the stockpiles and stuff them into cloth sacks, and each executive then began to follow suit.
—So all I do is sit here and just…
He was interrupted by the CFO who, being the first one to finish filling his bag with money, threw it as hard as he could and struck the young CEO in the face. Moments later the young CEO found himself being relentlessly pelted with bags of money from the others. Some of the crueler executives eventually stopped bothering to use the moneybags and instead threw thick rolls of one hundred dollar bills, which were even heavier than the lesser denominations. After about two minutes of this ritual, the young CEO, covered in bruises and unable to bear much more of the executives’ monetary abuse, rose from that upon which he sat and tried to leave the room. Of course, such an escape would have proven impossible anyway, as only the CFO knew the combination for the great hermetically-sealed door, but nonetheless an executive pitched a well-placed roll of quarters that hit the young man right above the Achilles’ tendon and immobilized him for a moment, at which point the executives only increased the barrage of cash flow.
—I must say, I am so far disappointed in your performance in the dance of revenues. I thought you would have caught much more money for the company.
—Please, no more!
—Don’t be ridiculous! How you could not want more money? Everyone wants more money!
—All the same, this is far too much for me! Please, I think my nose is bleeding…
Finally, the young man managed to catch a single roll of hundred dollar bills, stopping the errant wad of money from striking him in the face once more, and at that the executives relented their assault. The CFO took the roll caught by the young man, unwound the rubber band and counted the bills.
—Hm, only five thousand dollars. I’d hate to have to explain to your employees how you failed to generate so much revenue. That means budget cuts and layoffs.
—Yes indeed, that will make many people in the company angry. I wouldn’t be surprised if the attempts on your life increased substantially.
—Never mind. The ritual is over. For the rest of the day we must keep the CEO sequestered. No one may see him or speak to him, he may neither gaze upon the sun or sea, or let his feet touch the earth. He must be kept completely behind closed bicycle horns. Tomorrow…
But before the CFO could finish, a man suddenly leaped out of the piles of money, as if invisible before, and shot him in the stomach with a large shotgun, sending a spray of blood and wayward bills throughout the room. The mysterious assailant, who was soon revealed to be another executive wearing a special camouflage on top of his white suit that precisely mirrored the arrangement of money he hid himself upon, loaded another bullet into his weapon and cocked it, glancing at his colleagues before him as if to invite further challenges to his succession. The executives remained mute at this unspoken challenge, and so the new CFO picked up the former’s phone by right and inspected the combination number, grumbling to himself, as the former did, at its apparent simplicity.
—I was wondering where he was all day…
The executives all took leave of the money room, trusting the new CFO to seal the reinforced door behind him, and all thankful for the jobs they had, for the time being.
The young CEO spent the remainder of the day, just as the CFO previously said, completely sequestered from all human contact, in a bare, windowless room, with nothing but a bed to sleep on and a small lamp, presumably there to allow him to see his way to the bed. Executives were instructed to feed him three times a day, sending plates of food through a screen that obscured the employee’s face.
On his second day he was told by an attending executive he would be served a plate of fried fish, onion rings and fried cauliflower, and after expressing his confusion over how he was to be fed an elevator, he was then assured by the executive that the dish was, in fact, haddock. It took the CEO about ten minutes to finish his meal, at which point it was the attending executive’s duty to take back the remains of the meal, where he would then proceed to burn the leftovers and destroy all plates and cutlery the CEO touched.
It was on his third day of employment that the young CEO, after finishing a hearty breakfast of a deep-fried hamburger patty, with fried tomatoes and fried pickles, in between two slices of deep-fired mozzarella cheese, that everything seemed to be deep-fried. When he asked an executive on hand why this was so, the man nodded and told him that his next step of the training process was to begin.
—Right this way to the turducken, please.
The young CEO wasn’t sure why the executive bothered to motion toward an elevator since he had no control over his motion whatsoever: after pinching his nose with a clothespin, placing a burlap sack over his head and sound-proof headphones over his ears, four executives then hoisted him up, like pallbearers, by each of his wrists and ankles out the room. Through the sensory-deprivation apparatus he could nonetheless tell they were taking an elevator down this time, a twenty-minute ride that led to the bottom-most floor of the building, before the sack and headphones were finally removed. The young man reached for the clothespin on his nose before an executive shook his head and swatted his hand away.
—You may want to keep that on.
The bottom floor greeted the young man with a wide and spacious array of pipes, tubes, and large vats of what appeared to be pink viscous boiling sludge. In the center of the large space stood a handful of employees, all huddled together and trying to hold back what promised to be profuse tears.
—What’s the matter with them?
—As the CEO, it falls upon you to decide who will be this month’s Employee of the Month. This exemplary employee will then be selected for Concept Unification.
At these words the employees all broke out their tears, unable to keep them to themselves any longer. The young man, taken aback, turned to the masked executives.
—It’s, ah, it’s a good thing to be Employee of the Month here, right?
—It is the highest honor we can afford our lower-tier personnel.
The young man shrugged and pondered the weeping group, eventually deciding upon a middle-aged thin man, the current CFO’s (the eighth one since he took the job days ago) personal assistant. He had no idea whether or not the employees excelled at whatever their positions were, but he did remember how kind this man was to him when he ushered him into the CFO’s office for a meeting, and offered him a cup of coffee, and that cup was especially good.
The executives grabbed the man by both arms and dragged him away screaming.
—Now the ritual of Concept Unification can begin!
They brought him up a stairway that led to the top of one of the boiling vats of pink sludge, shoved him into the stuff, and pushed a button that activated a reinforced-steel lid that fastened it shut.
—What did you do?! I thought you said it was an honor!
—And indeed it is. When employees perform their duties below the stringent standards we set for the company as a whole, the only way they can redeem themselves in the eyes of the economic spirit is through the grand honor of Concept Unification.
—You keep saying that! What is that supposed to mean?
—It’s our internal terminology that we use to describe the process of rendering human body fat.
—We boil people in a vat of water and chemicals and harvest their fat.
—Is that like… I don’t know, another one of those tabooed words, to mean something else…
—Human fat can provide an awful lot of useful things: its oil can be refined into a cleaner and more efficient alternative to fossil fuels, and it makes things like soaps, and cosmetics, and of course deep-fat fryer oil.
The young man stopped cold in his tracks and said nothing for a moment. His knees buckled and he fell to the floor, vomiting back up what felt to him like all three days worth of the fried foods the executives had been feeding him.
—I’m surprised you don’t already know this, young man. Didn’t you do any research for the company before your interview?
The CEO briefly looked up, tears in his eyes, and saw to his horror that the vat of boiling sludge was otherwise transparent, and he could see in real time the thin man’s flesh and organs slough off his skeleton and melt into fatty oil. His stomach was empty at this point, but his newfound nausea simply didn’t care and looked for other things to retch up.
—It’s a rather elegant arrangement, once you boil it all down. Pun intended.
—It used to be when other companies laid off their surplus employees, they would go on unemployment. Use up resources that other people could use, all while doing no work. And we’re talking thousands of people at a time, per layoff.
—But now, those companies sell us their excess personnel, and we make them useful to society, by harvesting their body fat.
—Oh, you know the type. Lazy, morbidly obese types. Always late to work from dropping off their kids at daycare…
—Always trying to unionize…
—“I believe you have to give me this time off, sir! Haven’t you ever heard of the Family Medical Leave Act?”
—Or they can’t afford their medical bills but the company doesn’t have time to just wait for them to die of whatever they’re sick from?
—But Concept Unification… It is our most beautiful tradition, I daresay. An under-performing employee makes the ultimate sacrifice, makes a donation of himself. What was once useless deadweight becomes something useful to the whole world. The ultimate pledge to do better.
—And the CEO, of course, is nourished by the deep-fat frying oil of this beautiful gesture to the economic spirit.
—To be honest though, I really do wish you picked someone a little larger. Like my plump secretary over there, for example.
—I agree. We may need to complete the ritual again before next month…
The man took about two hours to completely render. When nothing but a skeleton was left in the vat, one of the executives pushed a button that drained the pink fluid out of the vat and activated a set of spinning blades that pulverized the man’s bones into white dust. The same executive took a pinch of the dust and blew some in the air at the CEO’s direction.
—Of course, the process is not a hundred percent efficient. We collect the fat, the water evaporates (remember, people are mostly water after all), and then it just leaves this stuff. We’ve been trying to sell it to Olympic gymnasts to powder onto their hands for their pole vault routines, but most of them are still swearing by conventional chalk. It’s frustrating to say the least…
The CEO didn’t do much during those two hours aside from kneel on the floor, cry and vomit. Neither, now that we are thinking about them again, did the handful of weeping potential Employee of the Month candidates who were still there after all that time; all things considered, especially in this rough economy, they were all very lucky they even had jobs.
The CEO had held on to his position in the company for a whole month, and it was time at last for his performance evaluation. There were, in spite of his reticence to follow the company customs during the first few days of his employment, many positive citations on his record: during his tenure the CEO had collected over a trillion dollars in revenues in the dance of the revenue machine, and during the ritual of Concept Unification he had, through their generously donated body fat, ingested the inefficient deeds of nearly fifteen problem employees of the company. There was only one real demerit to speak of: Around week two of his employment, he went out for a coffee break, drank the coffee at the shop, and threw out the paper cup into a trash can. The company entire was fortunate that a complete disaster was eventually mitigated when someone noticed the mishap and recovered and destroyed the discarded cup before a rival company could claim it and cause all kinds of mischief to the CEO through the energy of his garbage.
Overall, his performance in the company was given the stellar score of a ninety-six out of one hundred, more than enough points to merit being executed by beheading on live streaming video.
It was, one of the executives could daresay, the most beautiful tradition in the whole company. The soul of the CEO, which had before worked so hard to benefit the company entire through the economic spirit, would be released from its mortal prison and fly into the bodily vessel of the next CEO. The next leader of the company would benefit from the experiences of the soul of his predecessor and gain sustenance from his harvested body fat, and the cycle would begin anew.
The CEO was to spend his last night alive in his private quarters, with no one but his executioner to accompany him. The latter, a young man probably the same age as the CEO, or at least that was the CEO’s guess since the executioner had to wear the customary black hood over his head, treated him with warmth and compassion despite his grisly occupation. He simply let the CEO cry for a hour or so while he whetted the blade of his monstrous axe, and then got to talking once he was ready. They talked about the usual things at first, how the weather had been erratic over the past few months, their favorite tv shows, whether or not public libraries should be abolished to save taxpayer money (they both disagreed and found this to be a rather elitist take), before the CEO finally asked the question he had wanted to ask first, the one the executioner all but knew he eventually would ask, and let’s be honest, the only one you and I care about:
—So how do you do it? How do you kill people on live video?
—I don’t really have a choice. I lost my last job, and this was the only thing I could get.
—What did you use to do?
—I ran an atheist gaming video channel. I accidentally said something, uh, problematic, in front of three million viewers, and I lost all my sponsors. No one wants to hire you when you accidentally say something problematic…
—What did you say? It wasn’t, ah, racist or anything, was it…
—I’d rather not get into it. I don’t want you to search for it on the internet and think any less of me.
—You’re going to cut my head off. How can I possibly think less of you?
—All the same…
—In a way, though, I kinda like it. When you get past the actual taking life, and once the memories of the viscera and the victims begging for mercy stop getting to you in night terrors, it’s almost like I have my old job as a streaming star back again. I mean, I have the hood so no one knows me, but you know, the platform, the subscribers…
It seemed at that point that they had talked for hours, and that they could have talked for hours longer; the CEO and his new friend, who was to kill him the following day, had the whole night to enjoy their newfound friendship.
Mere moments after the executioner uttered the word “subscribers,” an executive knocked and opened the CEO’s door.
To drive the point home, another drew open the blinds, flooding the room with sunlight. It was the first time the CEO saw the sun since he started working for the company.
The execution was to be a major corporate event, for which attendance was mandatory. There were several special guests who provided entertainment before the big event, including a famous video streaming star who performed music through squawking rubber chickens, a standup comedian whose act consisted mostly of personal anecdotes of how often he was invited to perform at corporate events, and finally, another video streaming star who put on a masterful playing of an obscure Japanese role-playing-game that took a little under thirty-nine hours to complete.
Finally, the main event was to begin. The CEO was led to front of the auditorium and knelt down onto the chopping block by some executives. A faint glimmer of hope sparked in him when the executives formally announced that he was to be executed by beheading with a rubber chicken, but that initial hope was smothered when he saw the executioner enter the stage, once again dragging his whetstone across the enormous blade of his axe. How could there possibly be someone actually named… but the frustrating thought died away with the pressing agony of his own encroaching mortality.
—Wait! I don’t… I don’t want to die!
—Want has nothing to do with it. Most people don’t want to do the jobs they have to do, but they do them anyway.
—Yes. Working for this company means always doing what’s best for the company. It means pleasing the economic spirit
—Aren’t you an at-will employer? Can’t I quit being the CEO?
—Well, perhaps you could, but that would only demote you to a lower position, which would then make you eligible for immediate Concept Unification.
—Yes. The only way out of this job is complete dismissal. But I can’t remember the last time we actually fired someone… Usually we just shoot them. Or behead them. Or render their body fat and sell their ground bone dust to Olympic gymnasts.
—Well… don’t I get a last meal? A last smoke? Anything?
The executives all stroked their chins and mulled over his plea.
—Very well. You can have a last three minutes on social media.
The CEO grumbled as he was lifted from the chopping block and given his personal smartphone. He looked at the black screen in a stupor. What do I do with only three minutes to live? What social networking site do I post on, what could I possibly even post? What content could I possibly upload, in the vain hope that though I die, my viral post lives on?
He then looked to the executioner. Poor guy. His whole life ripped out underneath him in a second. All because of one dumb thing he said on a public forum…
The CEO turned on his phone and let out a gasp. He typed away with a sudden vigor, even letting loose a bit of a smile. He finished, and looked up to the executives.
He was met by the buzzing of several hundred notifications on several hundred phones.
—The CEO of our company… it’s been reported he…
—He just… tweeted… something racist.
—Oh my… it is very racist indeed.
—I don’t even want to repeat it, it’s so racist.
—What are we going to do?! It’s all over the internet!
—Maybe there’s a certain context to it that we’re missing…
—It hardly matters. This material is highly offensive and utterly inconsistent with our values as a company. Young man, I’m afraid we have to terminate your employment with us, effective immediately! Please pack your things and vacate your office by no later than noon today.
At that, the event came to a swift end. The executives, the employees, the entertainment, all vacated the auditorium as quickly as they filled up when they were first promised a beheading. The only one who remained was the executioner himself, who got to packing his massive axe back into his axe carrying case.
—What about you? Are you just going to keep executing people for them?
—What choice do I have?
—I dunno, I think we have some choice. Maybe we can’t make everything perfect, but I think we can raise the bar a little higher than “behead people on live video or get boiled to death for your body fat.”
—In this economy? Not likely. Honestly, I’m lucky I even get to behead people on live video just to make ends meet.
—Well… Just wait then. You know, they’re going to ask you to cut off a CEO’s head, and then they’re going to make you the CEO.
—…you think so?
—I know so. I’ve been doing it for a month, it’s all they talk about around me. They’ll say oh look, his soul just flew into your body, you’re the CEO now. Do you want that? Do you want your head cut off, after all this time cutting them off yourself? Do you want to get boiled to death?
—Not really, I guess.
The executioner didn’t take long to mull over the CEO’s points. He took off his hood and cast it on the stage, which, as the live video was still streaming in the room, revealed his face to several million viewers, and effectively ended his position in the company.
They both stood on the stage and said nothing for a long while.
They let another long moment of silence pass between them, each of them, especially in this rough economy, both thankful they no longer had jobs.
—Want to be friends?