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Inner Voice

by Phillip Pettit

Thomas allowed his attention to fall on the attractive blond woman standing next to him. He noticed her slim figure, her sweet face and pouting lips. Her soft beauty made all the more obvious in the presence of the surrounding sharp suits and stern faces. Thomas was smitten.

Warning: The woman standing next to you has been issued with several restraining orders.

Thomas took a step backwards in disappointment, tapped the fingers of one hand against his leg in time with the generic elevator music, wondering whether he could really believe the tiny voice in his head.

Supplementary: Her last husband was left with minor injuries after being run down in his own driveway. She was driving.

Thomas avoided eye contact as the woman turned to glance at him. He shuffled through his folder of papers, looked for nothing, relieved when she left the elevator at an early floor.

He was on his way to the top, literally and figuratively. The highest button marked 75 circled with yellow light, an interview with the CEO, no less.

The doors opened to grandeur far surpassing that of the lower floors. A massive ornate chandelier hung from the ceiling. Thomas walked toward the receptionist’s desk, plush carpet underfoot. Her eyes rested on him for an uncomfortably long time, annoyed at being disturbed.

“And you are?” The receptionist asked with one eyebrow raised. Her grey hair a patch of sanity amidst the dazzling colours of the wall sized abstract artwork behind her.

Information: The woman in front of you has four children. She has worked here for seventeen years.

“I’m Thomas Mandelworth. I have an appointment to—”

“Yes take a seat.” The receptionist interrupted and immediately dropped her gaze to the desk in front of her.

Thomas waited. Forty-five minutes passed. Time spent standing, sitting, pacing, fidgeting. And all the while a little voice whispered in his ear.

Eventually Thomas was escorted to a large and luxurious office. The room could have passed as the presidential suite of a five-star hotel.

Thomas approached the marble top desk, arm outstretched, showing just the right amount of confidence and familiarity.

“I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to meet you, Mr Smith.” Thomas blurted out. The CEO’s smile dropped.

Correction: His name is Smythe, not Smith.

“Oh excuse me, Mr Smythe. You remind me so much of the famous actor Armand Smith.” The actor was a heartthrob.

Warmth returned. Thomas had been saved again by the little voice.

“So, Mr Mandelworth, you have an impressive track record in improving the fortunes of electronics conglomerates. Tell me, what attracts you to Valdemone Global?”

Again the little voice whispered to Thomas, aiding him in his flattery.

“Valdemone global is the world’s second largest electronics producer. I want to help you become number one.” Thomas railed on about his past achievements. This was his chance for a seat at the top table.

“Now, Mr Mandelworth, competence aside, I demand a high level of ethics from my management team.”

Warning: The man in front of you has been charged with fraud seven times but never convicted.

“Yes, of course, Mr Smythe, I would expect nothing less.”

Smythe’s lips curled into a smirk. “Valdemone has a long history of producing innovative products, leading the pack so to speak.”

Thomas nodded, “First product off the line seventy years ago this August.”

And so the interview went on and on. Smythe seemed amused. Thomas Mandelworth was a veritable font of knowledge on all things Valdemone. He had help.

A year ago Thomas had seized the opportunity to become a recipient of the experimental and highly confidential Wise Voice implant. Heading a small but innovative electronics company came with certain perks.

The implant picked up on Thomas’s visual and audio inputs and matched the information to relevant data held in its miniature data store and provided information and advice through an inner voice.

Thomas had entered Valdemone headquarters armed with all the public information that could be obtained about the company and every one of its products, resources and employees. Knowledge is power.

Smythe leaned back in his chair with his hands clasped on his chest. “You know Mr Mandelworth, I’ve heard a lot about your achievements, but I want to know more about you. I want to know about what ’s inside you, Mr Mandelworth.”

“Inside me is a drive for success that keeps me pushing toward...”

Smythe chuckled. “No, I mean I want to know about what’s really inside you.” His index finger swirled and then stopped, pointing at Thomas’s forehead.

Thomas was silent.

“Yes, I’m talking about the implant, Mr Mandelworth. Valdemone is a market leader, not a follower. Now that I know the thing works, I intend to find out how. ”

Thomas turned at the sound of the office door opening. Several large men, dressed in Valdemone security garb entered the room. A short man wearing square framed glasses and a white coat followed. A squeaky wheel turned and stopped unseen just outside the doorway. The sound reached Thomas as he stared at the short man.

Information: The man in front of you is a surgeon.

Copyright © 2006 by Phillip Pettit

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