A week later, Mark called Guy on his cellphone while the latter was in the Regulating Room.
“Jack,” Mark said. “I need to meet you in the storage room, right away. It’s urgent, and I’m fucking crazy mad. Hurry up!”
“OK, Mark,” Guy said. “I’ll be there in five minutes.”
“Make it five seconds,” Mark snapped, then hung up.
Guy raced out of the Regulating Room, running spastically down the hall in the direction of the storage room.
Does he know? Guy wondered; has he been monitoring Thea and me? Did he have tech implanted in us, and did he listen to our conversation a week ago, about the plan to use Creeps on the staff? If so, we’re dead. He reached the door to the storage room and opened it with a shaky hand.
Mark was a few feet away, staring at a box of yellow Creeps with a frown. Guy was so worried, he felt as if he was going to retch.
“Oh, good,” Mark said, looking back at Guy, who was walking in slowly and leaving the door open on purpose. “You’re here. Something is terribly wrong here.”
“W-what?” Guy asked. “Is it something I did?”
“No,” Mark said. “My supplier fucked up royally.”
Guy tried to keep his sigh of relief inaudible. “What’s wrong?”
“These yellow Creeps have the wrong thing put in them. Hey, close the door.” Guy did. “What I’m about to discuss is sensitive information. My supplier must’ve got the orange Creeps and the yellow ones mixed up, that is, in each other’s coloured casings, because these yellow ones have the orange content in them. You know, the drugs with the synthesis of MDMA elements and aphrodisiacs, to make our Commodities horny and friendly with our clients. Vice versa, too, probably, with the incendiary content in the orange Creeps’ casings.”
“How do you know this?”
“First of all, take a look at this.” Mark opened a yellow Creep, in which Guy saw a thin, transparent casing for the content inside. “Notice how the inner casing has an O, for orange, on it. It should have a Y, for yellow. Second, I knew something was wrong last night when we tried to use yellow Creeps on two undesirable Commodities in the Escape Hope Initiative. Instead of burning inside, the targeted man and woman started fucking, right there in a widened part of the tunnel!”
Guy tittered for a second, then stopped.
“Yeah, Jack, it’s real fuckin’ funny to you, but it’s a big pain in the ass for me. I need to reorder more yellows pronto, and I’ll need you to go through these boxes and look for any more mistakes. When you’ve found them all, tell Hank to have them all chucked in the van and sent back to the supplier. I won’t have time to do both jobs, and you’re the only one I can trust with this sensitive information, so get on this right away.”
Mark handed Guy the yellow Creep, then ran out of the storage room. Guy just stood there, thinking.
As a man was walking into the storage room, he saw Guy about to touch the transparent casing inside the opened yellow Creep.
“Whoa!” the man said to Guy. “Don’t touch the inner casing. It’s extremely sensitive. The slightest touch, and it will open. What’s inside will come out and burn a hole in your hand.”
“Actually, it’ll probably get me hot in a different way.”
“What do you mean?” the man asked.
“See the O on it?” Guy said. “Our supplier put the wrong content in these Creeps. O is for orange, for the content that gets you horny. They were put in the wrong casings, the yellow ones. I have to check these all for Mark. He’s really mad about the mix-up.”
“OK, and when you’re done sorting this all out, you’ll tell me, and we’ll ship the boxes back to the supplier?”
“Yeah, sure,” Guy almost whispered, looking away from him.
The next day, Mark went into the Regulating Room to see Guy monitoring two clients, each with his own girl in a white VIP Room. Guy was speaking for the girls.
“Jack?” Mark asked. “Did you fix the Creeps?”
“Yes, I did,” Guy said. “The yellows are all yellow, and the oranges are all orange. The suppliers have been sent the wrong ones back.”
“Good,” Mark said, then left.
Mark was sitting with ‘Cameron’ in his office that evening.
“I’m sure glad Jack fixed that problem with the orange and yellow Creeps,” Mark said. “I was a little worried about future screw-ups.”
“I worry about outsiders finding out about the Creeps, and especially what the yellow ones do,” Thea said in her vocal fry. I also worry about how many more times I’m going to forget my ‘man’ voice.
“Don’t worry about that, Cameron,” he told her. “As Sade wrote in his novel, Juliette, it isn’t the sins we commit that we need to worry about, it’s the danger of being caught that matters. Everyone sins–the Church itself, in all its hypocrisy, admits to that at least. Covering up our crimes is what’s important. We have to commit them with a minimum of passion in order to be careful about them. I let my customers release all their passions on the Commodities, while I carefully manage the affairs of this business, ensuring that no incriminating evidence leaks out.”
“Is just ensuring no leaks enough to be safe?” she asked, quickly remembering her vocal fry after saying the first word normally. “How can you be sure nothing will ever leak out to the wrong people?”
“I have influential people in the government and police on our payroll.”
“But what if someone in the government or police who isn’t on our payroll finds out? There are always a few good boy or girl scouts even in the most corrupt institutions.”
“True, but that’s why I monitor everything and everybody around me,” Mark said. “Creep technology has almost limitless applications in that regard, I assure you. I can have something slipped into someone’s body so surreptitiously that they would never know I was monitoring them, let alone when I was monitoring them.” He raised his eyebrows while saying that last part, to give ‘Cameron’ to subtle message that ‘he’ may, indeed, have planted Creep technology on ‘him’, too.
“OK, but what about those who don’t get something slipped into their bodies? How can you be sure of them?”
“Well, there are no 100% guarantees, of course, but you know how important loyalty is to me. Also, I have a way of testing out the personalities of new employees, to make sure they’re sympathetic to our business’s way of doing things.”
“How do you find that sympathy?”
“By finding out how lacking they are in sympathy, paradoxically,” he said. “No sympathy, that is, for the prostitutes. As Sade explained in Juliette, pity is really one of the worst sentiments anyone could ever have. It weakens us. Doing good in this world is ultimately futile, as evil will always prevail. This is the way of Nature, so committing crimes with a minimum of sensitivity, a minimum of emotion, without any pity, is the safest way to live, and to live while having fun. Most people avoid doing good and evil, and just live mediocre lives. Others waste their energy doing pointless good, arrogantly congratulating themselves for their ‘virtue’. Then, still others, like me, do evil, but are calculated about it, ensuring their safety from the consequences while enjoying their superiority to the mediocre masses. You and Jack can aspire to such greatness, too, if you work at it.”
“I’m willing to do all I can to achieve that,” Thea rasped. You don’t merely do evil, Mark, she thought; you are evil. And we’re going to stop you. You’re going to face the danger of the consequences.