Sunday, March 18, 2007

End Run -- Security Specialists

When people hear about the terrible things people can do to other humans in secret, they often shake their heads as say how can this be, we would never do such things!

The thing is, people will do almost anything under the right circumstances, assuming they have accepted an Authority which condones or approves attrocity and makes it palpable by calling it by some sugar-coated name like "Defending Freedom", "Taking off the Gloves" and similar empty words.

In the Third Galaxy, George Quenzelbutt, as a young man, was recruited by End Run, the private company which developed the Mobile Torture Wagons.

End Run, along with the Synchronized Soldiers, was a key player in the establishment of the War Zones needed to maintain and defend The First World Peace envisioned by the Supreme Hole of Arrogance.


The problem with growing up in a Golden Age, is that nobody tells you about it until it's over.

You come of age thinking this is "the way things are", then all of a sudden you can't afford to put gas in your car. You drive around on a half-tank trying to go easy on the pedal. You look for work, 'cause they closed down the plant. Sure, y' got the job at the Warr-mart, so you're lucky, I suppose...

But, the Warr-Mart people don't hire y' full-time if they can avoid it. That's 'cause they can save on benefits. And even if they did hire y' full-time, y'd have t' kiss ass even more than y' do now...

In any case, it's hard to say if full-time t'were a good thing, 'cause you'd still be hard put to make ends meet even with full-time pay. Y'd have to juggle between paying fer rent, food or clothes. Apply for food stamps they tell ya! And even then, they'd expect y' t' put in overtime without compensation so it'd be hard to find room for a second job -- if y' could find one in the first place...

Sheet! What was that noise from the car? A knocking sound like that prob'ly means trouble! Maybe your brother-in-law can fix it if it's just a spare part y' can scrounge from one of y'r friends...

Maybe, y' should have joined the army back then, when Arnold signed up. He's braggin' now 'bout how he's applyin' for that new "Corps" of some Super Soldier outfit or whatever he said it was. But from what he tells, unless yer an elite somthin' or other, the military ain't no dance on roses. And that's double especial if y' gets in a family way (not that that's a problem for y' 'cause y' ain't gettin' nuttin that could get y' in a family way!).

But, sheet, the economy really sux on account of them fuggin ragheads and the fuggin War on Terraism and all -- and what if they do bring back the draft -- y'r just too damn healthy, George, they'd make a foot slogger out of you for sure. Kinda hard t' figger the odds on that one.

Well, here we are -- fifteen minutes to the appointment even -- look in the rear view mirror -- y' look spiffed up just fine, George -- make sure y'r hair's in place -- damn, how'd I pick the white shirt with the frayed cuffs? O well, ain't nuttin t' do 'bout it now...

George gets out of the car, locks the door thinking why bother, anybody stoopid enough to rip off this piece of shit probably couldn't start it anyway...

He rubs the tips of his shoes against the cuffs of his pants and goes into the building...

That sign above the building's facade reads, in big brass letters:

"EndRun Enterprises -- Security Specialists"

The doors opened automatically, sliding to admit him to air-conditioned coolness and ultramodern decor.

"Good day, sir, how may I help you?" sings the receptionist lady behind the desk in the cadence typical of an Arrogant company that wants to project that certain image of successful business sang-froid along with plain old Arrogant gung-ho can-do.

George notes the polish of the wood on the receptionist desk, the dark red leather of the few chairs in the office lobby, he mumbles, "Uh, I got an appointment with Mr. Asa Finker, about a position I applied for a whiles ago".


"George, uh, George Quenzelbutt, er maybe I'm a bit early..."

The receptionist makes a few motions with a mouse, types a few characters on the keyboard, hits the enter key -- "Yeeees, just a moment, I think he's free to see you right now." She types a bit more, throwing a coy smile at him as she waits, "Yes, Mr. Finker can see you now, Mr. Quenzelbutt -- if you will be so kind as to take the elevator up to the 3rd floor, it's the third door on the left as you step out of the elevator, room 303 -- his door is probably open.

He takes the elevator, finds the office and the door is open. He knocks lightly but firmly on the door frame. The man inside, sitting behind a desk, which, although of a good size, is not nearly large enough to accommodate the papers cluttering it looks up, smiles, gets up and comes around the desk, "Come in, young man, you must be George Quenzelbutt -- come in and sit down." He gestures to a comfortable looking chair also of red leather like those in the lobby, walks past George and closes the door.
The chair is actually as comfortable as it looks, except it's one of those chairs that, when you sit on them, give a somewhat embarrassing whooshing sound like a slowly escaping fart...

Mr. Finker looks at his computer screen, pulls a sheaf of papers from one of the piles on his desk and leafs quickly through them...

Waiting, George notes that this Mr. Finker is a balding fellow with expensive reading glasses and a sloppily tied tie, loosened at the collar. His movements are quick, but not exactly nervous.

"Well, Mr. Quenzelbutt -- you seem to have applied for a position here some time ago..."

"Well, yeah, it was a half year ago, I think. I had almost forgotten about it when I got this letter that y' wanted t' see me."

[In fact, George had forgotten all about it and would not have answered the letter if he had been able to find a good second job or a better first job, for that matter. The fact is, he would perhaps have found a job, not good, or even decent, but at least better -- but EndRun operatives had seen to that...

Of course, George had street smarts enough to not mention that he had f6rg6tten, but what kinna job would require qualifications such as: "...young, patriotic, dedicated, Arrogant citizen, able to follow orders and serve one's country in a civilian yet disciplined capacity..."?

But fuggit, all they required was a high-school diploma, or equivalent, willingness to travel -- even overseas -- and he sure as hell would like a better job...]

"Does that puzzle you, George?"


"I mean that there has gone such a long time since you responded to our ad and our contacting you regarding employment at EndRun?"

"Well, yeah, it did kind of make me wonder if y' have problems filling the position or something -- after six months, figured I must be coming from the bottom of the deck..."

Mr. Finker muttered something which George didn't quite catch but he thought he heard something like, "...dealing from the bottom of the deck is our stock in trade..." Mr. Finker cleared his throat and spoke more clearly, "Well, yeeess, we do have some problems filling certain positions. We expect very much to expand our...uh...activities in partnership with special needs the Arrogant government anticipates having soon. If things...uh...develop like we think -- and of course we're planning that they will -- then we will need a number of security specialists trained in certain kinds of...uh...interviewing techniques."

Mr. Finger paused to drum nervously for a moment on a bare spot on his desk, "Actually, you are one of the first applicants we have approached and frankly, we're pretty sure that you're just the sort of...uh...person we need and we're pretty sure we want to offer you a position here at EndRun!" Mr. Finker paused again to smile a smile that seemed to George as rather empty (vacuous would have been better, but George didn't know too many words like that...)


"Well, there are a lot of details, of course, and there are a few...uh...tests we need you to take -- to make sure you are really qualified for this, uh, kind of position -- the fact is, Mr. Quenzelbutt, we already know quite a lot about you. The reason for the delay is that we have been observing, in a clandestine manner of course, several of our...uh...prospective candidates."

"Say what? You mean like on Candid Camera?"

"We have not invaded your privacy in any way which could be construed as...uh...illegal, you understand. But, you have noticed from the name of the Company that we are 'Security Specialists'?"

"Well, yeah, of course..."

"But you haven't given it much thought -- well, that's not unusual, people don't give that much thought to security in general. They lock their cars, chain the front door, take care to hide their PIN codes...but we are specialists. We specialise in security. The fact is, Mr. Quenzelbutt, in about a year's time Arrogance may well need to expand its attention and efforts into brand new areas of security -- areas which will require a lot of qualified and well trained manpower. The problem is, because of the political situation, the government can't advertise the fact, but on the other hand, the government needs to be ready for certain...uh...eventualities which we, of course, hope to God will never happen..."

Mr. Finker ignored the somewhat vacuous expression slowly descending over George's facial features. Little did George know that he was in being given secret information vital to the interests and security of not only EndRun, but Arrogance itself. If he should, regrettably, decide not to enter the employ of EndRun he would come to serve his country in other ways no one would care to imagine let alone experience first hand...

"Mr. Quenzelbutt, if you pass these tests, and I'm so sure you will, I'm ready to take a chance and tell you about the contract we will be prepared to offer you, starting at a salary like this..." Mr. Finker scribbled a figure on a piece of paper and pushed it over to George.

When George glanced at it, his eyes widened a bit. Hell, this was a better wage than he could hope to make after years of filling shelves at the Warr-Mart or flipping burgers at a Mac-Barf, like he'd been doing not so long ago..."Well yeah, hell yeah, I'm interested!" He laughed, "Crikey, for a wage like that, who do I have to kill!"

"Kill? yes, I suppose you probably would, George" Mr. Finker chuckled low and mordantly, "but killing isn't really our line -- it's not really a part of what we do...usually. But let's not get ahead of ourselves! Like I said, there are a few tests we need you to take -- more to confirm the things we already know about you. Yeeeesss, and to ascertain exactly for what capacity in our range of activities your...uh...talents suit you best."

Mr. Finker sighed, "But first the tests, then we'll look at the contract -- here, let me see, yes, Per is in his office..." He paused to push a button on his desk and a moment later a door at the side of Mr. Finker's office slid open and a young fellow not much more than thirty appeared in the doorway. He was athletic looking with piercing blue eyes and close-cropped hair just long enough so that one couldn't accurately call him a skinhead.

Mr. Finker smiled a brief smile, "Ah, Per, this is George Quenzelbutt. We hope he will be starting with us -- tomorrow, I hope --" he glanced at George, "sorry, I should have mentioned that before -- I hope it's okay with you..."

"Well hell, if we're talking 'bout the kinna pay you were talking about before, I'd start right now, Mr. Finker"

Mr. Finker smiled once again his strangely vacuous smile, "George, I want you to meet Per Nicious -- Per is in charge of first level training at an EndRun location here in Poosah City -- you're lucky he's here, George, Per is usually at the training facilities outside of town -- Per, would you mind taking George down to tests in Lab Z?"

"Sure thing, Mr. Finker, come on, George".

Per took George out to the elevator and they went down, it seemed to George they went a lot farther down than the first floor...

Per Nicious gave George a quick sidelong glance as the elevator descended, "Do you know anything at all what EndRun does, George?"

"Well, not really -- y' specialise in security, guard things and keep 'em safe."

"Exactly, George, we guard things. Actually, we guard the good things, and keep them safe from the bad people. To keep things safe from the bad people, George, we have know just who the bad people are: That's why we already know so much about you -- you are one of the good people, George -- we already know that. But what we need to know now is if you have the strength of character and the love of country to be able to do what it takes to fight the bad people -- beat them at their own game, so to speak..."

George thought he heard Per mumble something that sounded like, "...or just plain beat them..." but figgered he maybe ought not ask.

"Ah, here we are, Lab Z." he punched a code into the pad at the side of the door and it opened with a quiet whoosh.

They walked for a while, down a corridor passing several closed doors. Then, catching sight of stocky, short-set man in a white gown, like the kind doctors wear in a hospital, Per shouted, "Dr. Churrin!"

The man turned and his face lit up in a smile, "Why, hello, if it isn't Per Nicious, in his own muscular presence -- why aren't you at the Training Facility, Per?"

"Aw, you know how it is, had to get some paper work out of the way, and then Mr. Finker wanted me to bring somebody down to your Lab -- gee whiz, boy am I rude today! Excuse me, George, I want you to meet Dr. Churrin, the head of Lab Z. Dr. Churrin, this is George Quenzelbutt, if he can jump through your hoops well enough, I pretty sure he'll be joining our team."

Dr. Churrin extended his hand to George, "Glad to meet you, Mr. Quenzelbutt, and, hopefully, welcome aboard. The doctor's handshake was as firm as a steel vise. He said, "By the way, my first name us Thor, some people find that amusing, for some reason...". He rumbled a low, mordant chuckle.

"Glad to meet you, Dr. Thor Churrin," mumbled George, not getting the joke -- yet...

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