Corporate Dealings After The Calamity

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And why don’t they care about what we have left?

Greazeburger Earth Division Representative Martin Greaze gently floated around the stacks of hoarded objects, pausing occasionally to turn to a desk lamp with several googly eye stickers attached. The ceiling fan spun lazily in the room, peeling wallpaper tapping against the aging wooden beams that somehow managed to stay upright.

Well yes, Mr. Shade, I am aware that we’ve completely neglected Earth advertising since Calamity, and that we lost virtually all of our company’s property when it became a physical entity hellbent on revenge almost immediately after Calamity happened. However, I’ve still got a point; there’s no reason why they aren’t buying our products.

Dust motes floated through the long sunbeams, casting strange shadows as they passed through stacks upon stacks of clutter. Books, papers, manilla folders, the occasional Greazeburger-Brand Three-Speed Industrial Defensive Fossilization Device, and more objects formed hundreds of impossibly-balanced pillars throughout the antique house.

The people left are essentially us, not the uptight, normality-worshiping humans. That should mean that they want what we want, which is to say weird shit!

Martin slammed his translucent, greasy fist on the table, sending the pupils of Mr. Shade’s googly eyes spinning around in a frenzy.

I’m sorry, that was inappropriate of me.

He reached into the minifridge next to the desk, and pulled out a canned drink. After opening it and turning it upside down, he chugged an opaque, flesh-colored liquid for the sixty seconds it took for the small can to empty completely. Wiping his mouth with a nearby moldy towel, he continued.

There’s a literal goldmine waiting on technomancy-related products, and I’ve even seen people hustle things loosely similar to the stuff we made back in the old days. That’s our exact business model, and yet, the stand we run together daily with this stuff has never been visited in the eight months, seven days, fourteen hours, and thirty-one minutes since we first set it up.

He paused, and put his oily face into his greasy hands.

I suppose you’re aware of that, but still, I feel the need to reiterate it. Those bored faces of the passerby are going to stick around in the old nightmare film festival for a while, mark my words.

A cool wind whispered through the large hole in the brick wall, and Martin turned to face the outside. Several single-story houses, well-kept and freshly-painted, were visible in the gentle fields surrounding the hill where his home barely stood. Amidst the sea of tall, green grass, patches of longleaf pines gave shade to the three-story, patchwork abomination that the Greazeburger Earth Division Representative had built nearly two hundred years ago. He stayed there when the first brick was set down, and he hadn’t left since.

Our thing is literally weirding people the fuck out, and as long as we accomplish that within reason, Greazeburger would have done its job. I guess I just don’t know what to do now that the world’s gone just as weird as we are.

The wind picked up ever so slightly, and the shade of the lamp-companion rattled quietly.

No, that’s not right. I liked the Foundation, and I’d consider the scarecrow in charge of bringing me in a friend. If he's still alive after all these years, I’m sure he’d consider me a friend too. The Foundation acted as an opponent, but never an enemy.

Outside, dozens of rusted trucks with arrow-pierced symbols sat crumbling away, their occupants still twisted in knots of marble flesh and bone. If one listened closely for hours on end, one could still barely hear the symphony of their screams that had debuted on the night of the Calamity. From the small fragments that Martin could remember of the event, it was one of the luckier fates received.

The whole thing’s like playing a game of Mario Party. Sure, there’s unhinged chaos, continuous conflict, and maybe even a full-on fistfight or two; but at the end of the day, if you’re on remotely good terms with the people you played with, you probably still had more fun than if you didn’t play at all. I never would have stuck around on this boring-ass rock if the Foundation hadn’t tried to arrest me several hundred times.

Martin looked towards an open drawer, filled with yellowed Greazeburger business cards.

Of course there’s no leaving this rock, and no other place to go now that the Earth Division’s been separated from the others. That’s all thanks to the damage one failed thaumaturgy demo caused a few weeks after Calamity.

A framed photo, warped and hardened by an unfortunate soak long ago, showed Martin posing with dozens of individuals who all looked the same.

It got so bad that I think I might be the only one left at this point. I probably should have told you this sooner, but it’s been literal weeks since I’ve been able to contact the hivemind.

Somewhere off in the distance, someone was having a cookout. The wonderful smell carried all the way up to Martin, and broke the lingering stench of age that had enveloped the manor. The lamp flickered as a stronger wind threatened the barely-functional electrical grid.

You know, you’re right about that. The rules of succession mean we’re Greazeburger now. I’m honestly extremely grateful you’re my friend, Mr. Shade.

Martin removed his pristine blazer, before hanging it on the coat rack.

I never really thought the company would go out like this, to be vaguely honest.

He unplugged the lamp, and gently placed it near the doorway.

What am I doing? I’m leaving this shithole now that I legally can. Grab what you need, I’m going to that barbeque and I’m not coming back.

Martin kicked off his polished shoes, peeled off his cotton socks, and pushed open the rotting door to a bright summer evening. The force on the door was enough to rock the whole house, and it slowly began to lean into oblivion.

Since we’re probably not invited, I grabbed some chewing gum as a bribe. Just in case.

Windows began to crack as the whole house shifted to the side. Piles of things toppled, and ancient paper crumbs flew through the air like yellow snowflakes.

Oh yeah, and Greazeburger’s already officially disbanded.

Plaster chips began to rain down from the ceiling, and the walls were noticeably at an ever-growing tilt. Martin picked up the lamp, floated out over the sidewalk, and hovered over the gravel road.

There’s a clause in the company code about how Greazeburger was accidentally disbanded in 1924, and they couldn’t undo it. There’s no cleanup even necessary, really.

He landed on his feet, and the house finally tipped over. It smashed into the graveyard of ancient trucks like a domino of building safety violations.

Well, there it goes. Flat as a pancake.

Cicadas, crickets, and other singing insects chirped; and Martin, for the first time in his life, walked out on his own two legs. Unexpectedly, the lamp followed closely behind on quick, silver legs that had sprouted from underneath; googly eyes shifting as it scuttled happily towards the source of the barbeque’s smell.

Speaking of which, do you think whoever’s cooking has pancake mix? I’ve always wanted to try the powder straight-up.

Mr. Shade had a feeling that they would.

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