19) The Shifting Landscape


25 Apr
25Apr

As the days passed by the main players of the Square carried out their respective parts with little to no knowledge of what would befall them all.

Lahm started his brave new work or rather continued his great and secret work.  A work that not even ‘She’ appreciated had started before his cosy incarceration.

The Petrie family continued their veiled lives of lies and ignorance.  Jeanie for her part had laid off the hard drugs and remained her mother’s little girl and her father’s chief problem, while trying to discover for herself just who she was in her strange new world of revelations and disappointments.

Marie for her part had attended another community meeting. Her local community meetings had waned but as they remained scheduled meetings, she decided to attend again.  When she arrived, she found attendance had swelled.

At the meeting, the usual agenda went out the window and the chair herself was overruled by the mass of attendees.  She tried to stubbornly run through the agenda points but was quickly shouted out by calls for news on the increasing list of missing people.

Much as in the initial community meeting where the wave of praise and self-congratulation spread euphorically and lit the touch paper, here the air of anger and animosity, anguish and unanswered questions, did the same.

People shouted of missing loved ones, of the unpunished crimes committed against them and of escape from the city itself.  Religious groups sent along their representatives and feasted on the disharmony as they tried to recruit the disenfranchised, which only added to the edgy unbearable noise with various warnings of doomsday scenarios.

 Halfway through the meeting Marie felt her panic rise several more notches as four ‘special security’ personnel marched into the hall and lined the walls, glaring at attendees menacingly. 

This evoked either nervousness and compliance, or fury as folk shouted at the armed guards and questioned why on earth their presence was necessary.

Scuffles broke out as some people were escorted off the premises and shoved into the back of darkened vehicles. Others left and whispered in huddles as Marie noted anxiously that these people were planning to take matters into their own hands. She listened as they spoke of escaping, of marching on HQ and of taking the law into their own hands. 

What disturbed Marie far more than the plainly frantic and saddening plights of those gathered, was the pockets of individuals who spoke boldly in favour of the city and tried to shout over the cries for help.  Marie observed how vicious and threatening they were in their vocal disapproval of the dissenting voices, citing others as weak or deluded or ruining the experience for the more ambitious in the City. If you can’t look after your own family then that is your fault, you shouldn’t have brought them. This is no place for weakness, survival of the fittest, you brought it on yourself, you best be careful you don’t bump into me when your alone. I know where you live. Your stupid kid was obviously trying to get away from you. You and your problems are not my responsibility. You shouldn’t have come here. What I take is my business, but it’s great stuff, the City always provides. Do you know who I am!? 

Marie, wisely, exited before things escalated further but as she made the walk home, she found herself quickening into a run as figures roamed and shouts rang out across the City.

*

Terry meanwhile was in a state of rare surprise.  He had expected a barrage of questions from the four heads regarding Geoff Smith and Lahm. But they were not overly concerned. 

When they met with Terry a few questions were asked and he was easily able to placate them and allay any fears of Geoff’s role or what knowledge Geoff may hold.  In fact, Terry was dismissed from their meeting before he had chance to get comfortable in his seat.

It seemed to Terry the four heads had a new project which had absorbed them entirely. 

Lahm was obviously alive and was being used once again.  They did not react to the gentle prods and inquisitions from Terry, so he could not detail exactly what they had planned or were up to, but he hadn’t seen them like this for a long time, so boyishly excited and delirious.

They joked and laughed, exchanged secret glances and smiles but Terry could not get to the root of what their latest plan was.  Part of him didn’t want to know either, just so long as he knew Geoff was off the radar, for now.

Terry pondered over whether they were playing ignorant or downplaying the Geoff factor for Terry’s benefit and that all the while they were planning something else and worse still, suspected Terry’s role and motives amidst his lack of intervention with regards to Geoff.

He’d studied them long enough however to determine that wasn’t the case. They had another mission that had buoyed them, that much was clear and what it was Terry would find out in due course, he always did.   

Terry decided in the meantime, to pursue his ECO Warriors and get the lowdown on what was going on in their respective businesses. 

Divisions in workforces were popping up all over the place and while Terry and his generals had attempted to plug the gaps, they knew the patch up work could only last so long.

For example, the big bonus makers and top earners were delirious on success, cocaine and booze, whatever turned them on, and they didn’t give two hoots about the rest.  The rest did give a hoot and found they had a little more time and reason to focus on life in the City and the fact it wasn’t so rosy.

Terry had been receiving reports of tensions rising in offices across the Square. Some staff treated colleagues and offices like dirt, making life uncomfortable for colleagues who were trying to do an honest day’s work. 

The honest day’s work was considered ironic by some, who were honest enough to admit that such a quality didn’t exist in finance and sales.

So, like all good people do when divisions occur and groups or alliances are formed, they fight. Terry was discovering that in-house fighting was not a turn of phrase, some were literally at it.  Terry had lost one of his Eco warriors in the crossfire when a brawl broke out between fund managers and fund administrators. The Eco Warrior concerned had tried to step in and barricade the two warring sides from one another. He received telling blows before being thrown down a flight of stairs by a particularly aggressive and hyped up member of the fund manager’s contingent.

The Eco warrior in question was hospitalised and wept for his home and family.

While Terry met with his generals and started to discover the dramatic and general gradual collapse of each area of business across the Square, he decided escape plans were now a must.

Soon there would be outright war and downright destruction. It was clear to Terry the City was going to burn and the four heads cared little or, as Terry now concluded, were no longer functioning as human being’s sitting at the top of an organisational tree.

Rather, they had become warped and vicious power houses who had the world in the palms of their ghastly hands. They enjoyed the chaos and drama.

Terry did not however, not to this level. He was all about focus and this City had lost it already.

The time to abandon ship was coming soon.  Terry’s only real debate was whether he would take anyone with him when he decided the time was right to jettison.

At the actual Eco meeting only half the invited attendees showed up.  This was unheard of not so long ago.  The fear of not attending Terry’s meetings was normally enough to ensure everybody required was present, whether they were missing a leg, half dead, dead or in the afterlife.

Times had changed and as Terry ran through the list of non-attendees the picture of chaos shone through brightly. Those remaining may as well have stayed at home or in hiding, they were a mess and had each cracked or were about to.  Terry gave them a gentle motivational speech, something about holding their posts and keeping their heads, being the brave generals standing against the rising tide.  He knew it had little impact, but he had to look like he had it together.  You never knew who was watching after all. The walls have ears was a saying Terry was fond of, when it came to the Square that saying was a virtual fact.

Terry resolved that escape plans would have to be sped up.  His instincts remained sharp and he knew certain plays would have to take place soon.

He needed to fathom for certain what the heads thought of him and what they had in store.  He needed to know what they were doing with Lahm and what Lahm had told Geoff Smith.  Terry couldn’t put his finger on it exactly, but he knew these three factors were inextricably tied and his escape relied upon them.

Terry decided he would wait a fortnight to see what unravelled and what he could sow together in the meantime to his benefit. 

It transpired that Terry’s observations were mostly correct, but hindsight taught him that he never stood a chance to control much of what would happen.

He was merely a speck of dust in a hurricane.

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