The answer for all this was simple enough. It just happened to be an impossible one. As recently as yesterday, he had been rejected for a possible transfer to another section. It wasn't at all surprising. Any request was usually viewed at best with amusement. But even if the refusals were typical, they still managed to ruin his day every single time. It really wasn't fair. Especially since he was easily among the most competent workers in the entire body. Certainly more so than anyone he worked beside.
He decided to make yet another list, of all the people he considered himself superior to, when a hand grasped his shoulder, jolting him from his thoughts. "Yeah?" he asked wearily. He couldn't be bothered to turn around, as he already had a solid idea of who was bothering him.
"Run these ideas to the brain," Marty said, handing over a slip of paper.
Joe ignored him for another moment. At least long enough to put him at the top of his list. "Okay," he said at last.
"Okay Boss," he added, still facing away from him. He knew Marty would be grinning as though major victory had been achieved. Which was absolutely fine, provided it made him leave that much faster.
Which he did, after a moment of heavy breathing. In addition to be being stupid, Marty was just a little overweight.
Joe turned his attention to the piece of paper. Every item he read had already been sent off last week, the week before that, and a dozen more past those two. As he began to type, he felt someone to tap his shoulder.
He tried to ignore it, hoping Berke would give up sooner than later. But when the action persisted, he was forced to admit defeat. "Yes?" he asked, turning to face one of his co-workers, the only one he considered a vague friend.
Berke grinned, reaching up to adjust his forever slipping, black rimmed glasses. "You got a minute?" he asked, fixing them again.
"I guess," he replied. "What's up?
"They asked me to tell you what's up. You didn't come to the meeting last night, and they wanted to make sure you're in.
Besides knowing 'they' were the rest of his pathetic co-workers and 'meeting' referred to the dull, disorganized, department specific union gatherings held once a week, Joe didn't possess even a slight idea of what Berke was talking about. To his subtle dismay, his curiosity had been seized. "What do you mean?
He glanced around, before leaning in towards Joe. "We're taking over."
"We're taking over," he repeated, glancing about the room again. "Two days ago, agent Foley was able to acquire the systems discs for the main areas of the brain.
"Agent Foley?" Joe looked at him, putting aside the unbelievable news for the moment in an effort to figure out who Agent Foley might be. "Sid? Sid stole the system discs?
Berke gasped quietly and smacked Joe's arm. "Keep your voice down," he whispered. He quickly looked around the room for a third time, before deciding to move on. "Yes Sid, as you call him, stole the discs for David's brain." He paused. "Well copies of them. But the important thing is that we now have access to the most important part of the entire body." He giggled. "In less than an hour, we will be in complete control." Another giggle. "Complete."
His immense dislike for everyone aside, Joe couldn't help but be mildly impressed. For quite some time, there had been talk of a plan to take over. But never in his entire life did Joe think they would actually succeed. Now, facing the idea as reality, he could only nod. "That's great." Through his surprise, he fumbled about for more words of congratulations. "I'm proud of you."
"Yeah, well, Agent Liebach is uploading it now." For a fourth time, he checked around. "But we can't let the boss in on it. He'll kill the idea in a minute if he finds out."
It took Joe a minute to realize that Agent Liebach was Jerry on the far side of the room. And though he imagined Marty would be more than willing to increase the power of his department, Joe offered nothing in the way of an argument. "Is there anything I can do?" he finally asked, stunned by his own willingness to offer assistance.
Berke shook his head. "Nothing at the moment, but god knows we'll need you soon." Without another word, he returned to his station and began to type.
"Sure," he mumbled, doing the same as Berke. He took a deep breath but it did little to help him, as there was still the shock of this whole thing to deal with. Just how in the hell did Berke and the others manage such a feat? These were the same guys who had scored pitifuly on the David Barrell Aptitude Test so many years ago. Scores that had gauranteed an absolute minium in the way of competence. Then again, the test itself could've been absolute bullsit. He had always believed this in the back of his mind, considering his own terrible grade. And if someone as intelligent as he was couldn't do well, what else could the test be but defective?
He had to know more about how this came about. Turning to Berke, he tapped him on the shoulder. "How did Sid get the discs?"
His response was a knowing smirk. "Agent Foley was simply in the right place at the right time," he replied.
Hardly the answer he was looking for. But Joe imagined he wouldn't get much else Returning to his station, he decided to embark on a process of calming down. He wanted to be in good emotional shape for the big moment. And he certainly didn't want to give anything precious away with an unintentional nervous twitch.
They were going to take over! They were going to be the ones in charge of David Barrell.
He had to know more, hoping it would go a long way in grounding his mind.
"What now?" Berke asked.
He mimicked Berke's earlier action of looking around before speaking. "Can you tell me anything about the plan? I feel like I could be a little more useful if I knew exactly what was going on."
A thin smile spread across his pale, hairless features. "Well, what I can tell you is—" He paused and inhaled sharply. "It's the boss," he hushed furiously, "He's looking this way.
Reacting quickly, Joe waited a moment before glancing back. Marty was still in his chair on the other side of the room.
At first, Joe thought nothing of this. He assumed that Berke was just being overly cautious.
As he waited for another chance to speak with Berke, a thought occurred to him. And the more he remembered it, the more he wanted to escape as quickly as possible.
A couple of months ago, everyone in the department, save for Joe himself gathered to write a letter of complaint to the higher-ups in the brain. Their chief displeasure was the same as Joe's. That none of their ideas were ever taken seriously.
The letter was never completed, as no one could agree to the spelling of David Barrell's last name. From what Joe had been told, his department had spent hours arguing about the number of r's and l's there was supposed to be. Eventually, they wound up abandoning the idea and never brought it up again.
And these were the very same individuals trying to stage a takeover. Joe could feel the last chunks of his earlier excitement slipping away. In it's place was something he felt should've been there all along. Failure. Complete and ninety-nine point nine percent certain. A defeat which held saw only two possible conclusions. Either the attempt would be viewed by others with an air of amusement and eventually forgotten, or they would be found guilty of high-treason and sentenced to finish out their lives in the colon.
The colon. God no.
Joe knew that even if he distanced himself from their effort, he would, without question, join them in the punishment.
Someone had to stop those massive fools before it was too late.
And maybe, if he could pull this off, make it seem as though he had defeated a very serious threat, then a reward would come his way. A transfer, perhaps?
It was immediately settled with that though. A thick resolve running through him, he rose from his chair. Best to go about this task on the fly. Agent Foley, Sid, whatever. He would be the best place to start.
Standing over him, a paper in hand playing the role of his excuse for being there, he leaned towards Sid's left shoulder. "There's been a change in plans," he whispered. "I need to see the discs."
Sid looked up at him, startled, completely nervous, but saying nothing. Suddenly, he started waving his hands around in the air and making symbols.
Joe groaned. The fucking idiot was speaking sign. At least, that's what he thought they were, as he couldn't recognize anything Sid was trying to say. He tried to speak but nearly got smacked in the face. "Sid," he managed to say, moving back a couple steps. "You don't need to do that. Just talk to—" He moved aside to avoid being struck again. Keeping his temper in check, he desperately tried to go on. "Just talk to me normal. There's been a change in plans." He dodged another one. "There's been a change in plans," he could hear his voice rising in spite of what that would be risking. "And=="
Oh no. His heart jumped, and he turned around to face Marty. And whether or not he would join an insurrection, he still saw his boss as a threat to his own ambition. "I didn't say plan," he replied at last.
"Yes you did. I heard you." He gestured about the entire room. "Everyone heard you." He folded his arms. "Now what's all this about a plan?"
He kept up his refusal to answer, with the hope that someone else would stick up for him. Certainly, as dumb as they were, they had to have a ready response for a possibility such as this. When nothing came, he began to worry. Especially when he couldn't think of an excuse on his own. He looked down at his feet. "I said man."
"Cut the shit, Joe," he said, his tone lowering to a growl. "You said plan, and I want to know what you meant by that right now."
The colon? Most likely. He decided to share his ambition after all. He looked up to face him. "The others are planing to take over. They made copies of the discs for David Barrell's brain."
Marty nodded. The news didn't seem to affect him. He turned to Sid. "Is this true?
Eyes darting from one end of the room to the other, Sid nodded slowly. "Yes sir, it's true." He looked to Joe. "It was all Joe's idea, sir."
Letting out a soft cry, Joe took a step back from Marty. "That's not true."
Marty still didn't give the impression of being surprised. "Is that so?"
With an almost violent dedication, Joe started to shake his head. "No." He rested an arm on the nearest chair. "No," he repeated. "Absolutely not. I just found out about their idea only minutes ago." He pointed wildly to Sid, Berke, and all the others. "You hear me? Their idea. Not mine. You know," pausing, he grasped Marty by the shoulder. "Sir, you know I'd never plan something like this."
Marty had always been someone along the lines of brilliant. He'd be able to see who was responsible for this.
He sighed and gently pushed Joe's hand away. "Well, we'll find out, won't we?" He shifted his attention to the others. "Men, if Joe here planned this and tried to put you all up to it, raise your hand."
Everyone immediately raised their left land.
Joe wanted to faint, since running away would be pointless. What was the average time for capturing rouge elements in the body? Twenty minutes? Thirty? It wasn't much. He tried to speak, formulate some kind of protest, but nothing came out but a small, raspy cry.
Marty was brilliant! Not only that, but understanding as well!
He shook his head. "It seems Joe, we've got a good number of witness's in here who say you tried to plan an uprising." He moved towards the call button near the exit. "And you realize what the punishment for that is, don't you?"
Joe still couldn't find the power to speak. All that came to him was the ability to wave hold up his arms and beg in silence.
Marty hit the call button and leaned into the speaker. "Security, we have a code three in sector M. Please send assistance." When he finished, he once again looked to Joe. He sighed. "I really can't believe this is happening."
"We're so sorry, sir," Berke said. "But he threatened us so badly. We really didn't see a choice. We were so afraid of what he might do."
"Definitely," agreed another, undistinguishable voice. "He's totally mad."
A weary smile appeared on Marty's fat features. "It's okay boys. It's my fault too. I've always suspected something like this would happen. I just didn't do anything about it, and for that, I'm sorry." He clapped his hands softly. "But we're going to take care of it now."
That bastard! Joe decided that since his now former boss was the closest to his grip, that he would do just fine for a last ditch effort at anything. He lunged at Marty, but felt two hands on him long before he reached him.
Security had already arrived.
Which consisted of two men dressed in white. The one not holding onto him surveyed the room with a look that official David Barrell business was going on. He stepped over to Marty and pointed towards Joe. "Is this the one?"
The one holding Joe twisted his arm and held him rigidly against the wall. "I have successfully detained the rebel," he announced.
Joe didn't see a point in struggling. As it stood, his legs and arms were refusing to cooperate with his mind anyway.
"Where does he go from here?" Marty asked.
"He will be taken to the colon for immediate termination," the other replied. He extended a hand. "Thank you for your cooperation."
"Damn shame," Marty said, taking the hand.
"Indeed." Walking over to Joe, he took the other arm, slowly detatched him from the wall, and led him out the door.
"So he's gone?" Berke finally asked, after a few minutes of silence
Looking at the ground, Marty nodded grimly. His expression began to change as his eyes slowly rose to meet them, when he looked at them at last, he was beaming. "He's gone," he let out a long, screeching laugh. "The little son of a bitch is outta here."
A cheer rose from the crew, which lasted a full five minutes.
Laughing alongside his underlings, Marty walked over to Sid. "Agent Foley," he said, his voice booming with mock gravity. "May I see the discs to David Barrell's brain?"
"Well sir," Sid began after letting out a heavy sigh. He held them up. "I'm afraid all I have are these discs with the diagram's for next year's phlegm dam."
He pressed the palms of his hands into his cheeks and gasped. "You mean, you never had them?"
"'Fraid not," he cried, throwing the discs up in the air.
The noise from the laughter rose even higher.
"Man," Warren, a typically quiet worker started. "I'm so glad to be rid of that guy. Always walking around here like he was hot shit or something."
Everyone agreed with this sentiment at the same time.
Except for Marty, who raised a hand for quiet. "Now, I know some of you might feel a little bad for old Joe."
The group booed.
"But I really believe it's all for the best." He couldn't help but smile a little. "At long last, Joe's going to get that transfer he's always whined about."
The laughter started all over again.
Marty joined in just a little bit longer, before politely ordering them back to work. Settling in his chair, he realized how difficult it would be to stop grinning. Not just because of Joe's impending fate, but for what he dreamed would await him in the future. The next union meeting was only six days away.
And just think, just think, of all the things they would get done.
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