Author : Tony Taylor

“What do you mean a technical difficulty?” Catherine spoke down to him, in more ways than one. Her tone was sharp and her stature intimidating.

“Well, I d-don’t know exactly.” A hunched over man replied. “I ran some tests but haven’t found anything.”

Catherine couldn’t make up her mind if he was a coward or a buffoon. “Need I remind you how much hangs on this facility? The investors are not happy.” She said.

The two strode through a narrow hallway. Wires hung from the walls by metal hooks, overflowing precariously. They stepped over a knot of even more laid upon the floor.

“I un-understand.” He said.

“I do not believe you. They demand a better answer.”

“It is just…” He stopped and looked up to her steely gaze before turning away.

“Speak your mind Mr. Crane,” She said as they stop near the end of the hall.

“I-I don’t have enough resources. I just need a little more time.”

“Do you know what a three second outage costs the company?”

“Abou-“ Mr. Crane was cut off before he could answer.

“327 million credits. There were nearly 100 million people without personalized advertisements.”

Mr. Crane remained silent, unsure of how to respond. Catherine decided that her lesson fell on deaf ears. She leaned forward to press a button on the wall. “N.A.N. prides itself on continuity and profits. You will make it work, Mr. Crane, or we’ll find someone who can.” Two metallic doors slid apart and Catherine stepped inside. She started straight ahead, adjusting her skirt as the doors closed.

Sure that Catherine was gone, Mr. Crane straightened his back. It cracked as he did. Like a spider climbing a wall, the edges of his mouth crept upward.

He strolled back down the hallway, kicking his legs out playfully. A few steps back down the hall, he tapped on a small control panel. A door slid open and Mr. Crane slipped in. Lights flickered to life as he did, revealing red stains splattered on the wire covered floor. Mr. Crane stood there for a moment, eyeing a bloody little man tied to a chair. A cloth, damp and stained a deep red stuffed into his mouth.

“Mrummmgh, mrupgh, mruagh.” The man attempted to communicate.

“Yes, I must admit, the s-stutter might have been a bit much.” Mr. Crane strutted over to the man in the chair. With a bend at the hip he leveled his eyes with his frightened captive. “We won’t be unplugging anything again, now will we?” The edge of his lip curled as the last word dripped off of his tongue. He savored the taste. “No, we certainly won’t. Not until it’s time.” He stood back up again and paced over to a control panel filled with buttons, knobs and flashing lights. “I am quite lucky that the Neural Advertising Network is so trustworthy…” He stopped for a moment, holding his hand to his chin. “…or foolish. I can’t decide.”

The captive whimpered through the bloody rag in his mouth.

“I agree Mr. Crane. It is time.”

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows