I spend the rest of my day going through my emails and returning phone messages. Jeez, I get a lot of junk email. In addition to the usual rah-rah- corporate pixie dust emails that everyone in The Company gets, I also get a ton of stupid jokes, links to amusing or noteworthy news articles, and wacky pictures. Delete. Delete. Delete. By the end of the day I’m all caught up and once again I have nothing to do and I find myself looking out the window at The Bay, bored.
I’m a marketing guy without a project to market.
Margo and I were recruited into the mysterious world of the Ninth Floor, where a small corps of employees work on The QuantumWorks Project. Put simply, QuantumWorks is a universal search engine that allows you to search for any data that has ever flickered, however fleetingly, across the internet. You can look up anything – anything that has ever been on the internet. I have no idea how it works; they won’t tell me. I just know that it uses “revolutionary technology” and that I’m to prepare a broad marketing plan for the day QW hits the market. I have no idea when that is going to happen, either.
The whole scenario is so weird, that I started to suspect that the mysterious triad of executives who run the project – Ted Bradbury, Aaron Clarke, and John Quentin – are actually supervillains up to no damn good.
There’s a whole bunch of shit that doesn’t add up around here: When I complained about having nothing to do they gave me an obscene raise and told me to be patient; occasionally one glimpses guys in silver protective suits on the Ninth Floor; a strange bacon smell occasionally drifts through the office; Bradbury, Clarke, and Quentin seem to know that I’m the Velvet Marauder (or do they?); and there are a number of strange aloe-type plants in the main hallway that creep me out. Call me crazy, but in my world, that much unexplained stuff can only mean supervillains.
Yet all I’m left with is this nagging suspicion. I feel like all the pieces are here in front of me, but I’m just not smart enough to make them fit together. It pisses me off.
With all these little fishies of paranoia swimming around in my head, I grab my stuff and head down to the Starbucks in the lobby for my mini-date with Margo.
She's waiting for me at a little table, nursing a latte and entering stuff in her PDA. I order a passion tea lemonade (again: not gay) and sit down. Margo seems a little nervous. We make small talk, office gossip stuff. Apparently my bitch Chad is having a fling with Debbie, one of the HR gals who we all thought was a lesbian.
"But we're not here to talk about Chad," I say.
"No," Margo says. She glances around the coffee shop furtively.
"What?" I say, curious.
"I think -" she begins, then lowers her voice. I lean a little closer to hear her. "I think that something's going on with the QuantumWorks project. Something illegal."
"What do you mean?"
"I can't say for sure, I just have suspicions. There's a lot of stuff that doesn't add up..."
I nod. She's so smart.
"And it's nothing that I would, you know, go to the police with or anything," she says. "But I can't help but thinking - and this is going to sound stupid..."
She pauses, looking at me like she's trying to figure out whether she should go on.
"I think maybe that Quentin and those guys, I think they may be..." She leans even closer and whispers: "Supervillains."
We look at each other for a second.
"Really?" I say. I can't think of what else to say.
"You think I'm crazy," she says.
"Yeah, you do. Brett thought I was crazy, too."
"Listen, I don't -- wait a minute, Brett?" She can't be talking about Evil Val Kilmer.
"You know, Brett. You met him at the party --"
Okay, that totally threw me. Is she going out with that asshole again? "I thought you broke up with him."
She sighs. "It's complicated."
Fuck! "You told him about the supervillain thing?" Suddenly I am irrationally jealous that she told Evil Val Kilmer first. I can't believe she's hanging out with that guy again.
"Shh. Keep your voice down."
"Yeah, I told him. I had to talk to somebody about it."
"But -- but --" I want to say: But he's an asshole.
"So you don't think I'm crazy?" she says, smiling a little.
"No, of course not. Listen, don't tell anybody about this. Especially him."
"What do you got against Brett?" she asks, arching an eyebrow. I must reek of envy.
"Nothing, I just don't think you should talk about this to other people, that's all."
"Okay," she says. "So what do we do? You noticed this, too? The weirdness."
I nod. "Yeah, there's definitely weirdness going on..."
"So what do you think we should do?"
I suddenly have the most brilliant idea EVER. "I think we should meet off-site someplace, compare notes. Let's hook up for dinner later in the week. You don't have anything written down on disc, right? You haven't emailed anybody about this?"
"Good. Let's meet on... how's Friday work for you?"
She checks her PDA. "Hmm, I have a thing with Brett, but I can cancel. It's no problem."
That's right, cancel that date with Brett, sweetheart, because you're going out with Connor. "Okay, good. I really think we should discuss this away from this building. I know a good Indian restaurant. You like Indian food?"
"Love it," she says, smiling. She looks relieved that I'm taking this seriously.
"Great. Then it's a date."
A date. I have a date with Margo.
Evil Val Kilmer, you are going down.