"We Will Go on Strike"
rating: +8+x

Site Director Gibson looked from his paperwork to gaze up, first at the large stack of papers that was just slammed onto his ashtray, and next at the nervous researcher who had done said slamming.

"And what, exactly, are these for," questioned Gibson in a long, lethargic drawl. His gaze was both piercing and glazed over, which despite the inherent contradiction made the researcher all the more nervous. "These papers are our list of complaints and things that should be changed around here," said the researcher, tugging at his coat collar as he did so.

Gibson took several seconds to reply, whether because of shock at the size of demands or because of his want for sleep, no one knows. "Tell me, exactly who is this 'our' you're talking about?" Gibson's bulldog-like jowls wobbled as the condescending words oozed out of his mouth.

Emboldened by that fact he wasn't immediately booted from the Site Director's office, the researcher became more confident in his voice. "We are a large coalition of engineers, researchers, and MTF that make up the majority of the workforce in this site who are worried about working conditions that we experience in our day to day work, and our present state of benefits, or lack thereof." He forced the words out of his mouth as if he was afraid of the consequences they might bring.

Site Director Gibson was often called by the derogatory name "The Walrus" by older and more bitter staff, serving as a reference to Gibson's weight and disposition. This name is not totally accurate however, as it is both a disservice to the mass of the director, and an insult to the walrus. A more apt description of Gibson would be "The Elephant Seal," a sea creature twice as large and twice as ugly as the walrus, but the name doesn't really roll off the tongue as well. Site Director Gibson ran his site with an iron grip. The containment cells were doubled checked and triple checked. The janitors were tested for dangerous memeviruses weekly, and dissent was not tolerated nor allowed. Unfortunately, to have such an efficient site there are some cuts that need to be made, to certain budgets, to the benefits of the employees, to 'necessary' safety codes, and so on. So tight was his fist, that nothing really out of the ordinary ever happened. Of course, a person's perception of the ordinary was shifted when one works with the extraordinary, but the mind is surprisingly adaptable. Gibson shed some of his lethargy, as this was the most interesting thing that had happened in his site in the past five years, first interesting thing since that splinter cell of Insurgency tried to steal an anomaly that specifically killed people that tried to steal it. Hilarious as the security tapes may have been, it cost Gibson multiple headaches and hours of paperwork.

Gibson straightened his back slightly and leaned forward, the old chair screeching under the burden of his massive bulk. The sweat stains under his armpits had similar complaints as the director stretched his arms and the fabric out farther than he had in what seemed like eons. There was a slight spark of life in Gibson's eye that had not been there since the divorce, as he parsed through the stack of papers with his meaty paws, taking a half-hearted glance at each complaint. Shafts of sunlight filtered through the cheap roller shades on the window and the clouds of cigar smoke, lighting the papers with a sickly yellow hue.

"So, the janitors don't like cleaning up all the viscera after the weekly containment breach, and want paid leave for therapy at least once a year," asked Gibson, turning his eyes to the researcher, who did not like the life inside them at all, and wished for the paradoxical piercing/lifeless eyes to be looking at him instead. "Actually sir, they want it every six months. pulling bone fragments embedded in glass can be very scarring, I hear." Gibson nodded soundlessly as he parsed through more complaints. "And the techies want more safety gear in the labs," questioning the researcher further. The researcher took a deep breath and responded. "Yes sir, just a few months ago an intern started a fire that burned without oxygen and spread like… well… wildfire, but there wasn't any appropriate equipment to put out the fire. So they had to call a chemist down from sublevel 6 just to whip up some extinguishing compounds. It burned through three point six million dollars worth of equipment before it was put out, and some of that equipment is so rare we are going to have to wait three more months before spare parts are shipped out from Site-19."

Gibson leaned back, the chair further protesting and perhaps even considering a sit-down strike. "What would you propose we do? Cut the containment budget to finance these frivolities? The reason why this site runs as smooth as it does is because we commit our full budget to containment, nothing more and nothing less. Should we let our containment cells go unattended because the janitors have experienced a little mental scarring? That's character building! Our chem lab is top notch because the boys get on-the-job training like that little incident a couple months ago. This Site is not made of money, you know." A combination of sour tobacco spittle and halitosis washed over the young researcher, making him quietly retch and choke. "The more money we take away from containment, the more we risk losing our perfect record," the director continued his speech and quietly skirted around the term 'weekly containment breach' that was used just a moment ago. "Now you just take this little pile of paperwork, and march it on down to the incinerator. After that, you go tell your friends to not bother me with these stupid complaints any more, or they're in line for termination." The director punctuated the end of his speech by rummaging under the stack of papers and finding a squashed cigar in the ashtray beneath, smugly leaning back further and lighting it, assuming the conversation ended.

The researcher peeked behind him to see the door to the hallway opened slightly, with a security guard and grizzled old engineer both practically stacked on one another peeking into the crack. The engineer narrowed his eyes at the researcher, simultaneously encouraging him and threatening him. The researcher looked back towards the director, to see him leaning nearly parallel to the ground, sucking smoke through his frog-like lips and puffing it out to watch it spin slowly in time with the rickety ceiling fan's mild disturbance of the air. The researcher weighed the options that were set before him, glancing back and forth between the engineer holding a pipe wrench and his obese boss. Gibson looked over to meet the researcher's eyes. "What are you still doing here boy," the director asked, his voice thick with a mixture of phlegm, nicotine, and annoyance. "I already told you to get out of here or you're fired."

The researcher stiffened his backbone, adjusted his balls of iron, and stood up as tall as he could without bending backwards. He practically shouted his next sentence, evicting the words out of his mouth with every fiber of his being, despite his reptilian brain and monkey brain both screaming at him to stop and run away, preferably to a place with bananas. "Sir, I am not going to burn those papers. We didn't want to do this, but you left us no choice sir." The director narrowed his eyes at the unexpected defiance in the short, skinny researcher. Gibson slowly took the cigar from his mouth and almost conveyed the mountain of contempt he felt for the researcher as he smothered the cigar into the stack of papers. He stood suddenly, the old chair wheezing in relief as he did so. Gibson marched around his desk to face the insubordinate. Through clenched teeth he asked in a quiet menacing tone, "What did you just say?" Quailing at the behemoth of gelatin and polyester that stood before him, like a shoddily made building facing a tsunami, he did not retreat. Clearing his throat in a strangled breath, his confidence quickly sliding away, the researcher said "You heard me," and then he noisily cleared his throat again as his voice cracked into the next octave. He tried a second time, "you heard me," compensating with a much deeper voice this time. Staring directly into the devil's eyes, the researcher said the five words that no employer ever wants to hear from his employees.

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