Bewildering Stories

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The Seemingly Random Emergence of Threes

by Stephen Heister

The large glass doors of Consumer Corp opened before John TeleBlex. For the second time this week his senses were bombarded with an array of sights sound designed to impress him and make him feel comfortable. A Sales swam towards him, and hovered near his shoulder.

Three-dimensional interactive CRM software blazed past the Sales bot’s field of vision. Image recognition programs matched the face with a picture; and the picture, with a file. Within a few seconds the bot had loaded into memory all the relevant details of John Teleblex's life. Including the fact that he had been loitering around the building for the past hour. A very high indication of a big sale.

Protocols were overridden; the basic bot intelligence was pushed aside by the Closer bot mind. A cloned human with this intelligence was woken and directed towards the conference room. Teleblex followed the Sales bot down the hall to the conference room. The doors whooshed open and the Sales clone rose to his feet.

“Ah, Mr. Teleblex, good to see you again. How were your holidays? Your wife buy you that Harley you were looking for?” The Sales clone extended his hand.

“Very well, thank you. No I didn't get the Harley this year. Maybe once the kids have grown. Less concern over me killing myself at that point.”

The unaccepted hand dropped to the Sales Clone's side, “Ah well, I can see the logic in that. How is business over at EctoDynamics?”

“Oh, things are going well. This microquarter we have seen a definite increase in workmanship and morale. We expect these trend changers to really show a turnaround in the 14th segment of the year,” replied John.

“That's excellent, sir. What can I do for you today?”

“I had a few more concerns before Ecto picks up your line of services. If you would be so kind as to address them?”

“Of course, have a seat right here.” As they sat in the small personal conference room, the walls began to retract in their casings. Large picture windows focused on the manufacturing floor, where thousands of machines were busy running about their business. The Sales clone started working on the pitch that the robot brains of Consumer Corp had decided was the best approach on Mr. John Teleblex.

“Our newer models are completely automated and require almost no maintenance. They are encoded by machine, designed by machine cloned by machine, and placed in the field with such precision that the process involved can only described as mechanical. Being from one of the few Human-directed companies left, you can surely see the benefits of precision in the workplace.” The Closer bot took a slight risk with that comment; it had been suspected John — though in a good position in the company — still held some human feelings of resentment toward his human bosses.

John looked out the large glass windows. He cringed at the Sales clone’s tactic, but it was effective nonetheless. It was his second trip this week, and he had seen the beauty and precision of a company developed and run by machines.

But he was here to do his job. Which was ensure the success of EctoDynamics’ next product. The Sales clone was still rattling off about brand loyalty, and co-ops. He seemed very eager. John couldn't blame him. His company looking at 2-3 consumers for every market group in every city with a population of 20,000-plus people. It would be a high-dollar sale, even with the “co-op” program. But his company was pretty brand-specific when giving options. Consumer Corp was the best in the business. They wanted their product line to succeed. Even if the initial undertaking would put them way into the red.

“And you’re sure they are employable?” John had asked this question a number of times. It was his primary concern: he worried about getting consumers into the market who couldn't work; that would be a nightmare.

The sales clone sighed... “Of course, of course, they are bred for an incredible work ethic.”

“Hmm..,” grunted John. The CRM software blazed across the Sales clone for a brief instant.

“Listen, you guys make electronic components?” led the Sales Clone.

“Yes, we do,” John said, pretending to not care about the huge file they had on him.

“Okay, here is how model 8.3 works. Once they reach their assigned destination, they find housing and then start to seek employment. They are all college-upgraded and can easily find work even in the manual trades if necessary. But the best part is that even on a meager income this model will stay loyal to his encoded companies. Even if he has to save for three weeks to buy one cheap item, it will be your item. And with the co-op he will buy other branded items.... No competitors, mind you, but that's easy to avoid. For electronics, you; ketchup, for Heinz; and cars for Honda. We have been doing this for years now, Mr. Teleblex; you have nothing to worry about.”

John was tired of stringing him along now. He needed to get back to work.

Three personal communication devices had all alerted him of their presence in the last three minutes, and someone was trying to IM on his private circuit. Probably just a spammer, but still he longed for the comfort of his cube.

“All right, all right.. Here is the program we are looking at: major co-op deployment into three mainstay market places: Single Female, Working Married Male, and Adolescent Boy. I need two deployments of each in the field and buying product within the next six months. Cities with populations of 20,000 plus. Do you believe that Consumer Corp can fulfill that?”

The Sales clone smiled at his success. “That's excellent, sir. If you want them buying product that soon, we will have to seed them with a little more than the standard start-up cash. But that shouldn't be a problem: we can roll it into your co-op fees.” His eyes grayed for a moment.

“Mr. Teleblex I have excellent news. Engineering has just released an announcement that version 8.4 is now ready for shipment. I can make available to you at no extra charge due to the size of your order. It has an amazing new feature. It seems that Single Female can now mate with any our existing market penetrations and create generations of brand-loyal clones.”

“That's great.” Just perfect, thought John. Kids years from now are going be looking for this product, poor suckers. “Now I must get back to my office. Where can I sign?”

The Sales clone produced a thumb pad from somewhere. “Right here, sir. Thanks for choosing Consumer Corp. Your market clones will be delivered on time; I guarantee it.”

“Thanks.” With that John left, his web log was calling to him.

On his way back to the office he bought a TCBY Yogurt, a new BIC pen, and wished to god he could still find Hebrew National hotdogs...

Copyright © 2004 by Stephen Heister

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