The Future is Officially Canceled.
Dee had read articles like this before. He couldn’t remember if the future had ever been officially canceled, but it had been canceled. Unofficially, perhaps. Hence the need to do it officially. He skimmed the first few paragraphs …the slow cancellation of the future… …pop culture is eating itself… …imitators are imitating an imitation… The ‘slow cancellation’ theory was first flung around in the early twenty first century, on the hypothesis that if you played 1970s music to someone in the 1950s, it would blow their freaking mind. And if you played music from the 1990s to someone in the 1970s, their mind would be equally blown. But if you played music from the ‘10s to someone in the 1990s it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. That person might even think they had heard some of it before. The same thing with music from the ‘30s to someone in the ‘10s or music from now to someone in the ‘30s. They could conceivably think they were actually listening to music from a previous decade. Pop culture had referenced itself so many times over, it was now just a copy of a copy of a copy. Degrading every time.
Dee looked down at the article’s credit, Dennis Bagley, Editorial AI Operator. He knew it, AI. No wonder it read so familiar.
He looked up at the various awards on his top shelf. Dee knew he was different. Better. His AI operating skills were the thing of accolades. The thing of applause. Just last week he and his AI processor picked up Gold in Effectology for their Just Poo It campaign for Charmin. And Silver in Originology for their The Ketchup On The Rye commercial for Pepsi-Heinz, about a young guy who gets kicked out of school and stays out all night trying to find a bottle of ketchup for his sandwich. He looked down at his processor and beamed. Its glowing red light beamed back at him. They didn’t just stumble into that kind of effectiveness. Campaigns didn’t even get greenlit unless they scored ninety or above on the Effectology meter. He and his AI were usually hitting ninety twos or ninety threes, even a ninety five for Here’s To The Lazy Ones for Caspar mattresses. That campaign killed. But Dee held himself to that higher calling, Originology. The metrics of original ideas. Sure, the AI did most of the work but Dee was able to tweak his processor to go way beyond the requisite twenty five percent Originology score. Together they were nailing figures in the forties, sometimes even peaking into the fifties. Scores that were head and shoulders above the rest of the department. That’s how he could afford the sweet ‘18 Jordans Reissues on his feet. He curled his luxe Loewe headphone cable through his fingers and wrapped it around his neck like a scarf. He scoffed at a time when people didn’t think they needed a headphone cable. And imagined having nothing to twirl while listening to reinterpreted rock, nothing to wind around his fingers while he fed the processor. How many headphones must have been lost forever, just because they weren’t plugged in? Like everything else in pop culture, what went around came around, and, relatively recently, headphone cables had come back hard as the status symbol. Today, you didn’t just have to have a cable to be considered cool, you had to have the cable. It had to be thick as a rope, plated with rare metals, and covered in a fancy leather sheath from a chic brand like Loewe.
Dee beamed as he thought of all the cool historical cultural knowledge he had amassed. Not just advertising history like the dweebs in the cubicles around him, but film history, fashion history, art history, music history. If it happened in culture, he knew about it. And he used it. That’s how he scored so high in Originology. It made him feel almost like a real writer. Though he would never say that out loud. He imagined being like the old timers, upstairs. The un.ai.ded human writers, that clients would pay a serious premium for. Then he wouldn’t have to work on ketchup and toilet roll. He could have a crack at the big dogs, like Googlesoft, United American Airlines or DoritosLocosTacoBell.
For now though, he’d have to stick with clients more becoming of his position. This morning’s task was to create a campaign for Pepsi-Crest. A toothpaste. Not super interesting. But he knew how to spice it up. Instead of letting his AI go back through decades of toothpaste ads just to pump out tired old crap like the It Cleans Your Face While it Cleans Your Teeth campaign that Mike Bey pitched last week, Dee mixed in a little fast food inspo from one of his favorite eras and found himself at the highly original and equally effective Where’s the Teeth? campaign. He was stunned by his own brilliance. He patted his processor and imagined it congratulating him back, then he programmed it to write an epic fifteen second anthem film and a suite of six second pre-roll spots, and sent it off to the CG department to render in time to air that night.
Dee’s colleagues often asked him how he and his processor were so good at what they did. How their campaigns always scored so highly in both Effectology and Originology. They all used the same machine learning. It’s what the agency sold itself on. Never wanting to sound aloof; even though he was, or like he was tooting his own horn; even though he often did, he would merely say, “I like to pepper a bit of non advertising data in there. A little hint of me.” It was enough to provoke gasps and even make some of his colleagues take a step back or two. They had all been programmed to do just one task: feed the machine with advertising data. They couldn’t fathom diverging. “The AI should be enough,” was the general understanding. “The machine has better knowledge of advertising history than we do,” and “knows the ins and outs of Effectology better than we ever could.” It’s even been “scientifically programmed to exceed all expectation of Originology.” Dee couldn’t be swayed by any of the standard reactions. He would just smile, and casually amble off. Knowing full well he was a rebel, in his own right.
That afternoon, his section boss leaned over his cubicle.
“Keep it formal please, colleague,” she scolded, “call me Antino. What do you look so ruddy chuffed about anyway?”
“I just came up with a brilliant campaign for a very dull toothpaste. You’ll see it on The Comedy Central Reruns Channel tonight.”
“Yes, well, an upstairs project is running behind and they’re calling on us down here to pull together some inspo decks, help jostle something loose in those tired old brains.”
“Wouldn’t that make them not human-made? What are their clients paying all that money for?”
“Loopholes, colleague, loopholes. As long as one of those humans writes the final line, it doesn’t matter how much AI they used to get there. “
“Balls. I could do that. I could do better than that. Did I tell you about my toothpaste campaign?”
“Yes you did. Twice now. Must be good.”
“Well, here’s your chance for a peek into the real writer life. I’m deprioritizing your regular workload and prioritizing this inspo creation.”
“Yeahhh!” Dee punched the air and freeze framed like he saw in an old movie.
“The brief is for Fiat Maserati Jeep Dodge RAM. It’s a car. The Fiat Maserati Jeep Dodge RAM Unica. Like a fancy off-roader, you know what I mean? They wanna sell it to people in cities who don’t drive. More of a status symbol, you know what I mean? Like park it in front of your house so people will know you could go off-roading if you wanted to. Audience archetype is Moms. You getting this?”
Dee finally broke his freeze frame but his mind was already whirring.
“Yeah, I got it.”
“Alright then. Bon chance.”
Dee jumped into action, flipped up his AI processor’s screen and started cross referencing old Land Rover ads with The Rock movies, some Nora Ephron classics, Michelle Rodriguez’s character from all twenty eight Fast & Furious movies; even the fully CGI’d ones, the scene from Mrs Doubtfire when she’s playing the broomstick like a guitar, some Bikini Kill records, a memory of his own Mom making him wait in the car while she went shopping at Bergdorfs, a bunch of cool off-roading stuff from Top Gear and a painting of a car he’d always loved by Robert Bechtle. The machine spat out fifteen possible campaign inspo starters and Dee ran-walked them to the inspo courier in the office atrium.
Before the day ended, a synthetic orchestra sounded through the building, *pah pahhh, pah pa pah pa pah pahhh* and the employees were called into the atrium. Office meeting. As Dee strolled in, he caught the rare sight of the agency’s last few human copywriters lined up around the balcony above them. They applauded the downstairs employees, theatrically, motioning with their claps as they walked in and took seats, stood awkwardly or otherwise congregated.
There was a dramatic hush before one of the last true human copywriters finally spoke.
“Great inspo. Thanks.”
Wow. Each word, each letter, worth its weight in gold. That’s probably why they used so few, thought Dee.
“Yeah, really really good stuff.” Said another.
“AI did this?” Said a third as she held the sheets of inspo out.
“Some of the best inspo I’ve ever seen in all of my career.” Coughed the oldest and most regal sounding.
Dee squinted and peered up at them. Was that his inspo deck they were flashing around? Was this whole elaborate ceremony all to celebrate his AI operating? He didn’t know whether to be chuffed or anxious. Did they know he was cheating the system? Did they care? These are some of the last true human copywriters in history. They have, and are encouraged to have, the unique thought. Their work isn’t judged on how similar-without-being-exactly-the-same it is to existing campaigns. It’s judged on how different, how breakthrough, how stand out it is.
“It was me!” Dee blurted out. Quite uncharacteristically. He was usually so cool with the compliments. So coy with the recognition. His whole angle required it.
The other AI operators standing around him took their requisite step back, though this time it was less in awe, more in disgust. The air in the room stiffened. AI had ruled his department, and most of the industry, for so long that people didn’t speak up anymore. They just quietly fed the machine. And the machine took all the glory. Dee felt an instant ostracism from the colleagues he had worked alongside for most of his career. He immediately questioned his outburst and retracted his ownership claim, knowing that his inspo deck would have been one of many.
“Some of it, at least. My AI, I mean. My processor.” He said. Sheepish this time. Back in his place.
The last few human copywriters smiled, nodded, bowed, gave final congratulations to all from high up on their balcony and then shuffled away in single file. All but one, Sir Coughing-Most-Regal. He slowly made his way down the grand staircase, into the atrium. A man leaving behind his usual pomp and circumstance, bringing his rare ability of unique thought into a crowd of imitation suppliers. As he reached the bottom step, he lost all of his royal air and seemed suddenly so vulnerable, walking among the regular folk. Most of Dee’s colleagues had already left, gone back to their metal masters, but Dee stayed. He knew this old man was coming to see him. He thought he might be in for a dressing down but he hoped it would be the opposite. He manifested that this titan of singular thought, the rare, unique idea, was coming to congratulate him.
“Freedkin.” The old man shoved out his hand. “Pleasure.” Dee shook it. “You say you programmed this inspo deck, yes?” He flapped the pages around.
“Ruddy good work, let me tell you.”
“In all my years, since this artificial thinking thing came in, I’ve never read anything so good. Inspired me all over. I’ve been positively bursting with ideas since.”
“AI wrote this you say?”
“Ruddy good for AI. Never read anything so ruddy good. And you processed it?”
“What’s your name son?”
“Pleasure to meet you, Palmer. How much did you… influence it, the AI?”
“How do you mean, sir?”
“Call me Freedkin.”
“How do you mean, Freedkin?”
“I mean… how much of it is yours and how much is the machine’s?”
Dee didn’t answer. He was looking for the angle. This old man surely didn’t value what AI does. He’s one of the last bastions of actual human creation. What was he getting at?
Freedkin reoriented his question. “Mostly the machine or mostly you?”
Dee thought he might have a kindred spirit here, in front of him, for the first time. He was going to take a risk.
Recognizing a willingness to open up, Freedkin leaned in and spoke quietly. “Did you write this inspo or did the machine?”
“I wrote it.” Dee postured. “All.”
“Thought so. Good job. Our secret.” Freedkin winked. “Jolly good.”
The next day, as he fed his AI little snippets of unexpected data, Dee noticed a hush come over his floor. The usual keyboard click, clack and grumble of inter-colleague banter were dead silent. All that was left was the processors’ harmonic hum. He lifted himself from his expensive ergonomic office chair and peered over his cubicle wall, spying across the sea of operators that made up the AI.ded Creativity department. A hunched figure at the opposite end of the bullpen sauntered from operator to operator, swilling a cup of coffee, looking in at each workstation. Giving a “hello” here, a nod there, even the odd salute. It was Freedkin. A real writer. Down here with the machine feeders. The other operators seemed afraid to go near him. Worried they might infect him with their inability. Dee had never seen a real writer in the operators’ bullpen. Freedkin, already old by industry standards, looked positively ancient in these surroundings. A sepia photograph in a technicolor world. Dee watched him, wondering if he should call out. He felt bound by social etiquette to not foist another outburst onto his peers. So he just watched, for a number of minutes, until Freedkin was close enough that his old eyes could make out Dee’s visage.
The two sat in Dee’s cubicle. Freedkin in the expensive office chair, as was fitting, and Dee on the wooden footstool.
“For a short time we all worked from home. At the start of my career. For a short time.”
“Most. Not everyone, I suppose. But it was the thing to do. Was deemed more productive. Until it wasn’t. Then when this thing became the norm,” he tapped on Dee’s tiny AI processor, its red light glowed, “there was a sort of an office renaissance. I remember the bigwigs back then didn’t really want us using AI for ideas. Like it was giving in to the machine. We slowly got called back to the agency so they could keep an eye on our output. Keep it human, I suppose. That’s when the separation happened. In the end, the agency had to start using artificial thinking to keep up with demand. What are you lot churning out these days? Three campaigns a day? Four? We used to get a whole week to come up with one idea. After a while, of course, it got squeezed down to a couple of days. Then to the point where we actually needed the machine to keep up. Not long after, the bigwigs realized they could actually charge more off of the ‘human’ written stuff. Anyway, enough of the history lesson, what.”
“It’s very interesting.”
“Yes well, what I really came down here for,” Freedkin paused and looked around, “was some of that… good… inspo.”
“I hear ya.” Dee poised his fingers over his keyboard and looked into the air like he was about to write something un.ai.ded, cocksure in his posture. “What’s this one about then?”
“Watches. For Googlesoft. ‘Time,’ I was thinking, means so much, yet so little. Where does it all go? You know? How do we make more of it? Watches are time machines. See?”
Dee’s posture sank. He thought of all that, by himself? He suddenly felt very ineffective. Unoriginal. He saw only the red glow from his little AI processor, staring back at him. Taking all the credit. He imagined it laughing with his colleagues in a bar while he sat at the other end of the table, ignored. He imagined it accepting awards by itself. He felt weak. He felt useless without it. It just glowed.
“It kind of flows better… when I’m alone.” Dee nervously mumbled.
“Right. Don’t say another word. Right you are. ‘Time.’ Remember. Where does it all go? Ok, I go. Ta-ta for now.
Dee looked down at his processor, apologetically. He quietly admonished himself before it until he felt forgiven. Then he typed in a weak initial prompt, all he could muster, write an advertising campaign about time. The AI spat back a perfectly crafted campaign idea, line and film execution almost faster than Dee hit enter. The Best Things Come To Bros Who Wait. Dee immediately recognized it as a Guinness Surfers imitation. Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock. Its Effectology score clocked in well into the nineties. But its Originology score barely scraped by, just making it into ‘passable.’ Dee silently sneered at his surrounding coworkers. Any one of them would submit this as is and call it a day. It’d be rendered in minutes, deals made with celebrities’ CG likenesses under the hour, a revered AI voiceover and stunning synthetic music that would leave audiences lining up for these passively useful timepieces. But that wasn’t enough for Dee. That’s why he was who he was, goddamnit. Why Freedkin came to him. Him! Not Buton or Deytoro or Heckering. Him! He added more detail to his prompt. Meaning of xtime. How to get time back. Time Machine. Back in time. Michael J Fox. Einstein (the dog). Time Bandits. Timecop. Van Damme. Kyle Reece. Time displacement. Uhhh huhhh this felt good again. This was working. Dee and his processor were back in sync. As though they were one. Of course, as far as Freedkin knew, they were one. As Dee typed away, he imagined him and his AI coming together. Two heads. Better than one. He lost himself in his prompting and pictured his processor sitting on his shoulder, a second head, right there, next to his own. A tiny, metal appendage. Sleek, gray, with its glowing red light. And, for some reason, it was growing a little mustache.
Dee and the mustached machine were completely lost in their work over the next few days. They hardly wrote any of their own campaigns. It was all inspo, inspo, inspo for Freedkin. The good stuff though, Viking Space Cruises, 1900 Tequila, Acne Studios. Each time, Dee and his processor were pretty much writing the entire thing. Freedkin hardly needed to change them at all. Just put his old world tone all over it. Add all of his extra words and ‘personality.’ Dee’s two heads were coming up with the best campaigns in the agency. And no one knew it. Except Freedkin. By now, his second head felt almost as big as his first. He could see it in his periphery. When he looked to the left, it looked back at him. It smiled sometimes. And that little freaking mustache was starting to freak Dee out.
That night, Freedkin invited Dee for a couple of drinks with the other real human writers at the fanciest DoritosLocosTacoBell on the Westside. They didn’t even have to wait in line. Dee marveled at the size of the place, the expansiveness. It was packed. They were led through by the greeter to a private table at the back with a leather rope around it. He sat on the edge of the booth as the others ordered various flavors of Gatorade-aritas. When it got to Dee, he said he would have the same as Freedkin, which turned out to be a Frost Glacier Cherry-arita, the classiest -arita of all. The writers’ conversation was mesmerizing. Every word that came out of their mouths was a unique thought. An opinion. A point of view. Dee tried to join in by recounting the narrative of various movies he had seen. The more obscure the better, attempting to interact at their level. While telling the story of Mick Jackson’s Threads to Bigelo, he could feel her searching for a point of view or an opinion in what he was saying, but he couldn’t stir one. If only he had his processor right now. Its red light glowed comfortingly in his mind. He missed it.
Slowly, the other writers left. Dee couldn’t help but think he had something to do with it. He was feeling so inadequate by the time everyone but Freedkin had gone that he just sat quietly and half-smiled at him. Both of them were five or six Gatorade-aritas deep, slumped in their private booth.
“Do you like what you do?” Asked Freedkin.
“I love it.”
“Do you really?”
“I don’t know.”
“I hate what I do. But I’m good at it. Do you want to know the secret, Palmer? The secret to what we do?”
Dee couldn’t do anything but smile a little bigger to communicate his response.
Freedkin paused for dramatic effect. “If you love advertising, you shouldn’t work in advertising.”
Did Dee love advertising? He didn’t even know. He knew he knew advertising.
“You think your audience loves advertising? You think they want to see your tribute to that Googlesoft spot that was an imitation of an Apple spot that was inspired by a Brett Morgen film? No! They just want to see the Brett Morgen film! They don’t want to see your thing at all!”
Dee slumped further down.
“But if you’re lucky,” Freedkin continued, “if you’re really lucky, and you show them something they’ve never seen before, because you hate advertising too and you just wanted to make something that made you feel something, if they feel that same feeling, you’ve got gold. But you can only get to gold by summoning all of your experiences outside of advertising. You can’t just try to make the Nike of pimple commercials. You have to make the Palmer of pimple commercials. Do you see? That’s the problem with your AI. Your machine.”
The red light flashed again in Dee’s mind. Awakened by Freedkin’s heresy.
“The best AI will ever do is just show you a better version of something you’ve seen before. They call that effective? The numbers can say whatever they want them to, all they’re really doing is pasting wallpaper on top of wallpaper on top of wallpaper. Until eventually the audience ignores it completely. But you’re different Palmer. You and I are different. Different is what sells.
I had a word with Simmons up on six. She’s agreed to give you a trial period on the human floor. At my behest. Don’t worry, I didn’t tell her you were already thinking for yourself. I just told her you had the potential to. You start tomorrow. Trial period. Tonight was about the other humans meeting you. I can’t tell you that they’re not skeptical. But they’re open to it. For me. What do you think?”
Dee was nervous. He got off the elevator at the operators’ bullpen without even thinking about it. He walked all the way to the atrium and up the grand staircase to the human writers’ floor, instead of getting back on the elevator. He took each step steadily, taking it all in. He felt like a tourist. Like he was borrowing an identity. He imagined he was a young Freedkin and tried to put a confident stride in his step. It didn’t work. He put his hand in his pocket and felt for his AI processor. His second head. Mustached. He couldn’t turn it on because, as everyone knew, AI wasn’t allowed upstairs, in case the agency got audited. The cost consultants would be all over a human writing department that used artificial ideation. They’d be shut down. At the very least, they would lose their Un.AI.ded AI.dvertising license. The only reason for charging such a premium. Dee ran his hand along the balcony rail. He’d only ever seen it from downstairs, from the non-human thinkers’ floor. He walked from the balcony to the human writer’s work area. It was the exact opposite of what he was used to. No sea of cubicles. No click clack. No mechanized productivity. No hum. Just couches, desks and quiet.
“Morning!” Whistled Freedkin. “How are we?”
“Wish I hadn’t drunk so much.”
“Ohh, I know. Think of it as an initiation. Nothing wrong with it. Takes your mind off the job. Stops you from thinking for a minute. You need that after everything you’ve been pumping out. All that gold, that is.”
“Right. Well. Set yourself up wherever you like. First brief is for Coca-Cola. A new water! The freshest water they’ve ever sold, so they say. Tap Clear”
Dee wandered over to a small writing desk and put his touchscreen down. He unraveled his headphone cable and felt for his processor in his pocket. When he found it, he rubbed it like a lamp, wishing for a genie.
A couple of human writers who’d been deep in concentration when he first walked in, had been disturbed by his arrival. He didn’t recognize them from last night. They glared at him as he set himself up. He smiled in their general direction. They continued to glare.
“Big Jim.” Whispered Freedkin. “Him and his team have been here three days straight, on a pitch. Don’t worry about them. They’re just under tremendous stress. This human work really takes it out of you, you know? ”
Dee turned and sat with his back to them. He powered up his touchscreen and put his headphones on, draping his Loewe headphone cable around his neck and shoulders. He hovered his fingers over his keyboard, expecting ideas to come.
He skimmed the brief.
He read the brief.
Not a thing.
A few of the other writers strolled in. Dee watched them find a workspace, sit down, start writing. One of them even used a pen! Dee loved this whole lifestyle. Turn up for work whenever, spout genius, have lunch, sell some billion dollar ideas, have a cocktail. The thought of it all spurred him on. He hovered his fingers over his keyboard again and braced himself for the idea flow.
Nothing came. Nothing. All morning. His mind was blank. It felt like it was getting blanker. He couldn’t believe it. Even half thoughts were swimming away from him. Impossible to catch. Even just individual words. Gone.
By the afternoon Dee was starting to freak out. He felt like an imposter.
“Freedkin,” he hissed, “I can’t think. I can’t come up with anything.”
“It takes time, my boy. Days. I told you, before we used to even have weeks…”
“But my brain’s not working at all. It won’t… generate… anything.”
“Relax your brain. Relax yourself.”
“But Freedkin… Freedkin,” he hissed again, “I didn’t write any of that stuff. It was AI. All of it. No… I mean… I helped… but it wasn’t all me.”
Big Jim glared at them both.
“Ok… hold on… boy… be careful. That kind of talk will get you killed around here. Try and make it to the end of the day. Try just writing some things down. Some thoughts. Some words. And if you still feel the same tomorrow, I’ll let the brass know it wasn’t for you. No harm.”
Dee’s eyes hardened.
“Do you hear me, Palmer?”
Dee rubbed his temples.
“Listen, this affects both of us. Yes, you, but also me… for recommending you. I’ll be out… Think!” Freedkin distanced himself. Hoping it would quell the panic.
Dee stared at nothing for as long as he could. An hour, at most. Just stared. No thoughts came. No words. A blank screen. So he slipped his hand in his pocket, held his AI processor warmly, and turned it on.
Instantly, an alarm sounded.
“What the fuck is going on here, Freedkin?” Skewered Big Jim. “Is he working for the machines? What is he…trying to infiltrate us? I can’t have this shit. I’ve got a family. I better not be out of a job.”
“It’s just a misunderstanding, Jim. He’ll be leaving now.”
“No he fucking won’t.”
Big Jim grabbed at Dee’s shirt. Dee squirmed and tried to push him away. Big Jim got a hand on his neck instead, some of the other writers tried to grab his arms. Dee instinctively swung his fists. He got one of the writers, Bigelo, square in the eye. She screamed “He’s blinded me!” Big Jim picked him up by his neck. Dee choked. He grabbed his touchscreen and swung it. The edge caught Big Jim on the side of the head. Big Jim dropped him and roared. Freedkin put a hand on Big Jim’s shoulder. Big Jim swung his fist around and slammed it into Freedkin’s nose. Dee tried to slip away but Big Jim, raging, grabbed his headphone cable and dragged him back, winding the cable around his neck to hold on to him. The other writers stepped back as Dee kicked around in a panic. He got one of the writers in the stomach and another in the back and yanked the headphone cable out of Big Jim’s hands. He grabbed a desk leg and pulled himself away from the melee as the gang of writers got a hold of his feet. His Jordans slipped off in their hands so he crawled away as fast as he could, out of the writers’ area and onto the balcony. But the writers caught up with him. He swung the last few punches he could muster. He cracked one writer on the cheekbone as another one reached for his headphone cable, wrapping it around the balcony rail to stop him from getting further away. Big Jim steamed in, bleeding from the head, and slammed into Dee, launching him into the air with his sheer force. Dee reached for the rail but it slipped under him as he toppled over into the open atrium, between the floors. He felt a snap as the headphone cable went taut around his neck. A colleague standing in the atrium shrieked. Dee kicked his legs and wriggled about, trying to slip out. He clawed his hands around the cable and tried to loosen it but it just got tighter and tighter. He looked up to see the human writers peering down, not helping. He could feel his consciousness slipping away. He looked to his left to see his second head staring straight back at him. As he hung, he could feel the metal head growing, exponentially, until it popped off, hit the ground and shattered. Shiny gray liquid metal spilled all over the floor and splashed up the walls. Its red light glowing all over as the metal spread around the room. Once it had flooded the entire atrium it enveloped Dee’s mind. And he was gone.
The agency left his body hanging there for two days. They blamed it on a lack of janitorial availability. Everything in the office was automated, and cutting down a dead body wasn’t something their sanitation robots had been programmed to do.
But, deep down, everyone knew that it was a message. That they should stay in the roles they had been assigned. So they did. So they wouldn’t end up like Dee.