Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here on my usual Thursday to present chapter fourteen of my story Power Grid Failure. After the horrors I endured last week going to the groomer and wearing a non-cashmere sweater, this week has been relatively calm. It has allowed me time to think. I did a lot of musing and cannot come up with anything whatsoever to tell you this week that would be even remotely interesting. I took a walk in the rain. I attacked the Maltese. I rewatched episodes of Severance. Is any of that interesting? Not even remotely. But here I am Gigi, poodle, esquiress faced with an audience and nothing to say. Distressing, isn’t it? You have come here to be entertained by a six-pound poodle and I have nothing to report. But is it a bad thing to have nothing to report? Would it be better if I were to tell you this week I was kidnapped, held captive by a clowder of cats, escaped through a vent, wandered out into the street and found myself face to face with a distempered racoon, barely escaped said racoon and jumped into an unmarked van where I was briefly adopted by a man who goes around collecting road kill when he is not working as a grade school janitor, was dropped off on a playground where I was chased by children until I made my way under the cyclone fence and managed to catch an Uber home? Think about that. Here is chapter fourteen of Power Grid Failure.
Power Grid Failure
Gigi the parti poodle
Unicorn sits in a room he calls Ground Control. He’s able to operate just about anything the company owns from here: the window blinds, the room temperature, the parking garage levers, and yes, the locks on the high rise. In fact, it was Unicorn’s idea to put an automatic lockdown on the building. Sure, the corporate heads were looking for some way to keep the crazed mobs and the criminally insane from entering their property. But they couldn’t come up with a sound solution. Only Unicorn could come up with a sound solution. That’s why he got the big bonuses and all the power that went with locking down a major skyscraper.
Unicorn loves working the late shift. Like a bat in the night, he can get away with just about anything when no one is around. Just last week he’d ordered a couple of strippers to entertain him and charged it on the company expense account. That was a good time.
Around ten or so he receives Adams’s email. Unicorn looks it over and scoffs. He likes the animated dancing unicorn, but the request is less than optimal. “Really?” he says out loud and scoffs. “Like I’m going to do that.”
He turns his attention to the big screen monitor sitting on his desk showing the feed from the surveillance cameras. He focuses in on Adams’s floor. At first there appears to be no unusual activity. Then he notices the glassed-in area where Peak’s office is. Unicorn is fond of this area and likes watching it with relative frequency. Old Marty always has a good-looking secretary and Tiffany is no exception. In fact, he’s downloaded surveillance tapes of her to a pen drive and taken them home for…investigation. Tonight, however he finds a handful of employees still there who should have gone home hours ago as well as three clowns who look like fast food flunkies who appear to have invaded it.
“Looks like all is going according to plan,” he says before slurping his high-octane soda.
You see, two weeks ago Unicorn had been approached by Dragontail. Dragontail knew he needed someone in a powerful enough position to keep everyone locked in place so he could extract his revenge on Reynolds. And he knew his extraction would come at a price. Not to mention he would need to offer this psycho militant Unicorn guy a lot of whatever it was he wanted and what Unicorn wanted was candy bars, money, and sex…which is pretty much what most evil geeks want anyway.
Ironically, the money was the easy part. Dragontail just had to sell off one of his three cars. So, he sold his SUV because what was he going to do with an SUV anyway. He kept his sedan and the Mustang. Never sell the Mustang. Anyway, he sold the SUV, added some extra cabbage, and slapped it into Unicorn’s hand.
Then there was the matter of the candy bars. It didn’t seem like it would be all that hard to track down a box of Unicorn’s favorite candy bars. The problem was Unicorn’s favorite candy bars were To’ak Cognac Bars which normally cost $365 apiece. Dragontail was able to find a guy who sold them for $300 apiece, a steal. This ended up costing Dragontail $3,600 for a dozen of these delicacies. Who puts together a $3,600 box of candy bars?
The third item, the sex, well, that required some world class trickery. And Dragontail knew if he played his cards right the way he went about it would upset Reynolds in the bargain. What could be better than that?
And so earlier that evening, between five-fifteen pm and five twenty-five pm as soon as Unicorn saw everyone on Peak’s crew was about to leave, he locked the floor down and after all the employees on all the other floors left, he locked down the rest of the building as well.
Adams feels his phone vibrate. He’s pretty sure its Unicorn. But with Craggy and Remmel watching everyone there’s no way for him to take it.
“What was that noise?” Craggy demands.
“My phone,” Sloan says trying to deflect attention from Adams. “My mom’s calling.”
“What does your mom want?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t looked at my phone yet.”
“Then how do you know it’s your mom?”
“Because…my phone vibrates differently when she calls me.”
“Your phone vibrates differently? That’s a thing?”
“It’s a thing,” Adams says. “You can program his phone to do that.”
Remmel narrows his eyes at Adams. “Why don’t you answer it and see what she wants,” he tells Sloan.
“Okay…,” Sloan says and goes to answer his phone which is not ringing nor is his mother calling.
“Put her on speaker phone.”
Sloan reluctantly taps his screen as if to put it on speaker and in a timid voice says, “Hello?”
“Sloan?” the phone says.
Sloan’s face goes white. “Uh…yes?”
“This is your mother. Don’t you recognize me?”
“No…yes. Yes, I do.”
Remmel walks over to Sloan, squats down and scrutinizes him.
“Don’t you know your own mother’s voice?” Sloan’s phone says.
“Yes…,” Sloan says warily eyeing Remmel.
“Now, Sloan, I need you to do something for me.”
“I need you to send me that email.”
“The one about the unicorns.”
A lightbulb goes on over Sloan’s head. “Oh, that one! Yes, of course. I’ll do that.”
“And don’t forget to take your medication.”
“Hemorrhoids are nothing to joke about.”
Sloan’s eyes narrow and his face turns red. “Uh, mom. There are other people around who can hear our conversation.”
“Good. Maybe it’ll teach them to be careful about developing hemorrhoids.”
“Okay, mom. I’ll do that. Goodbye.”
“Well, Sloan,” Remmel says as Sloan ends the call, “It sounds like you have a great mom…and hemorrhoids.”
“Yeah,” Sloan replies dryly. “I have a great mom.”
“And here I thought no one was really calling you at all.”
“Well…you were wrong.”
“Sounds like you’d better get on that email.”
Remmel gets up and walks back to Craggy.
“What did Unicorn say?” Sloan asks Adams.
“He said he’s not going to help us,” Adams replies morosely.
“What do you mean he’s not going to help us?”
“He said nice try with the animated unicorn but no can do. The building stays in lockdown.”
“Can that freak see us on surveillance?”
“Absolutely. And I know he knows Dragontail and Craggy and Remmel invaded this place, but the dude is firmly set on keeping the building locked down.”
Sloan rises and heads over to Martin. “Mr. Peak,” he says quietly. “You’re our only hope right now.
“What are you talking about, Sloan?” Martin says gruffly.
“We need your negotiating skills. Adams got an email to Unicorn. He’s head of security.”
“I know who Unicorn is. He’s a weasel.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more, sir. He’s got the ability to unlock the building and he’s refusing to do so.”
“But I thought maybe you could persuade him to change his mind.”
“Maybe with your sway you could promise him a promotion. Or maybe a bribe?”
“Yes. He seems like someone who would be up for a bribe.”
“What kind of a bribe?”
“The kind that these militant geeks like. If it were me, I’d prefer good old-fashioned cash. But as far as these freaks go, I wouldn’t have a clue. I mean it could be anything from ancient Wizards of the Coast paraphernalia to carrot porn.”
“Who would know what he wants?”
“Maybe Adams. He’s a computer geek.”
“I’ll talk to Adams then. See if he knows what kind of carrot porn this security weasel is into.”
You can check out my books Chicane and all five installments of the Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!, Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!, Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!, Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!
STREAM OF THE WEEK: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (2022)-NETFLIX
This week’s pick is one of the most brutal films I have ever seen. A harrowing nightmarish, unflinching horror story, it is merciless in its violent depiction of war, yet it is never gratuitous. And that is what makes it so frightening. Although not for the faint of heart, everyone should see this movie just the same. If you are a warmonger and this film does not repulse you, there is something profoundly wrong with your mind.
Nominated for a staggering nine Oscars this year including Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), International Feature Film and Best Picture it is clear Netflix has outdone itself with this one. I will say the Oscars probably should have rounded this to a full ten and nominated Felix Kammerer for his remarkable performance.
Set in Europe in World War One from1914-1918 patriotic teenagers Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer), Albert Kropp (Aaron Hillmer), Ludwig Behm (Adrian Grünewald), and Franz Müller (Moritz Klaus) after finishing school gleefully join the German army and prepare for battle. They are led to believe by their school masters they will gloriously fight the French and become heroes. The boys are ignorant of the fact they are being given uniforms and boots retrieved from piles of young dead soldiers before they are driven to and dumped in the horrific trenches of the battlefield. From there things get ugly fast as they are immersed in mud and blood with bullets whizzing past them in all directions, knives and bayonets slashing towards their bodies and tanks driving over their trenches and sometimes over their brothers in arms. They are tasked with taking dog tags off dead boys, being left to starve and steal, and finding themselves in one bloody chaotic battle after another.
In the meantime, pompous older military men who eat gourmet food in opulent locations sit about and decide their fate. These quiet moments are at times just as vicious as the battle scenes. Psychopaths such as General Ferdinand Foch (Thibault de Montalembert) and General Friedrichs (Devid Striesow) stubbornly hesitate to stop the massive death toll while German Official and Minister of Finance Matthias Erzberger (Daniel Brühl) who has lost a son in the war himself desperately tries to get the two opposing generals to agree on an armistice and end the bloodshed.
The story is based on the masterpiece novel by Erich Maria Remarque who was a WWI soldier in the Imperial German Army himself. He was severely injured in battle by shell shrapnel in the left leg, right arm, and neck, and lived and dared to tell the truth about the horrors of the war. He spoke out against Nazi propagandist Paul Joseph Goebbels and thanks to his literary fame was able to relocate to Switzerland and later the United States. His middle name was Paul, but he switched it to Maria in honor of his mother who died rather young, an occurrence which along with the war profoundly affected his life.