PseudoPod 737: Workday

Show Notes

Reviews by Alex Hofelich for Shadows and Tall Trees 8 from Undertow Publishing and A Carnival of Chimera by Stephen Woodworth from Hippocampus Press.


Workday

by Kurt Fawver


MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Hourly Employees

From: Human Resources

Subject: Holiday Party Attendance

Date: Nov. 20, 2018

 

Please RSVP to the holiday party by Friday afternoon. The event will be held the evening of December 21. Our caterers need an exact count of the number of people attending so that we don’t run out of food and refreshments. We will have a buffet-style meal and an open bar throughout the night. Please remember also that attendance at the holiday party is mandatory for all employees.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you there.


 

Message scrawled in permanent marker in the unisex restroom on the twelfth floor of the Corivdan Building. Found Nov. 20, 2018. Painted over Nov. 21, 2018.

 

DO NOT attend the holiday party. You are all in grave danger. By working at Corivdan Inc. you’ve put yourself in the sights of a monster. Stay away from the party. YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Hourly Employees

From: Jonathan Chadwick, Executive V.P.

Subject: Holiday party

Date: Nov. 21, 2018

 

I want to personally invite you to this year’s holiday party. 2018 has been a massive success for the company. We posted our highest earnings EVER in back-to-back quarters and topped Corivdan’s best year to date. None of it would have been possible without you and your work. You’re the lifeblood of the company and you deserve to be celebrated, which is why we insist you come!

On tap for the party we have a full buffet, an open bar all night, karaoke, special prizes, and some surprise entertainment! It’s going to be a blast! I can’t wait to see you all there. And, again, thank you for continued excellence in your work.

 


 

Fragment of essay found taped to the microwave in the mailing department break room of Corivdan Incorporated. Found Nov. 26, 2018.

 

The QO Murders: A Conspiracy of Wealth

 

In December of 1898, a pair of pheasant hunters stumbled upon twenty-five dead bodies in the forests outside the smoke-shrouded limits of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The sheer obscenity of so much unexplained death in one location would have been sufficient to make the discovery notable, but the corpses also exhibited bizarre and unexplained modifications. To wit, each of the bodies had its eyes scooped out and replaced with silver dollar coins; all the fingers of every body had been cut off and rolls of dollar bills had been stuffed into the gaping stumps; and when authorities attempted to move the deceased, they found the task nearly impossible, as the corpses weighed several times more than they should have. Ultimately, it took four stout men to lift each one of the bodies onto the wagons that transported them to the city, where they were examined by doctors and law enforcement officials. Autopsies revealed that the internal organs of the deceased had been entirely removed and their remaining hollow cavities packed full of gleaming, freshly-minted pennies. The back of each penny, despite its newness, bore two machine-cut capital letters—Q and O—that obliterated the “Indian head” design that adorned all pennies at the time. The amount of money stuffed into the bodies totaled exactly the same in every case: 210 dollars and 21 cents—an amount that would equal over 6,000 dollars today.

No one doubted that what happened to these individuals must have been murder, yet an investigation into the crime never began. City police filed a report concerning the incident, but declined to assign any officers or detectives to collect evidence from the crime scene, identify the victims, or interview potential witnesses. Sheriffs in the outlying municipality where the bodies were found also turned a blind eye to the murders, choosing to delegate all responsibility to city officials.

Newspapers, though especially hungry for audacious stories in the late 19th century, barely covered the murders, writing of them in the abstract. Reporters mentioned few of the more remarkable details about the bodies’ mutilations and implied that the deaths were potentially self-inflicted or accidental. Editors buried any stories of the murders deep within their rags’ pages, well beyond the attention of casual readers. Without media attention, the murders soon became little more than hearsay.

Why police or journalists seemed uninterested in investigation of the murders remains unknown, though there is some evidence that forces working behind the scenes squelched inquiry into the incident. Certain powerful and moneyed industrialists and bankers such as J.P.

 

[remainder of essay missing, page torn in mid-sentence]

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Hourly Employees

From: Human Resources

Subject: Holiday Party RSVP

Date: Nov. 27, 2018

 

This is a reminder that Holiday Party RSVPs are now open and can be returned by email or personally dropped off with Jaylen Vernor in HR. We welcome you to invite spouses, partners, and significant others, but make sure to include their names in your RSVP under “Guest.” The more, the merrier!

 


 

Photocopied note left under windshield wipers of cars parked in the Corivdan Building parking garage. Found Nov. 28.

 

They care about you as a fire cares about its kindling. Their celebration is not for you, but for the act of feeding the insatiable QO. You are neither the gift giver nor the gift receiver, but the gift itself. Resign now. Do not come back tomorrow. You do not have much time.

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Employees

From: Human Resources

Subject: Holiday Party Prizes

Date: Nov. 28, 2018

 

After several inquiries into the nature of the holiday party prizes, we’ve decided to give you a preview of what you could win.

Included among the prize pool will be:

– box seat tickets to this year’s Super Bowl

– two additional paid weeks of vacation time

– full personal use of a company BMW or Mercedes-Benz for a year

– cruise tickets to the Bahamas

– personal chef service for three months

– newest gen smartphones and smartpads

– and more exciting prizes yet to be revealed.

This is our biggest employee celebration in company history! Everyone will win! Attendance is mandatory, but believe us when we say you’ll definitely want to be at the party!

 


 

Email sent to all email accounts ending in the corivdan.com domain.

 

To: Corivdan Employees

From: s7a7g7e@mailserv.com

Date: November 29, 2018

Subject: 1926 Baltimore Massacre

 

In August of 1926, a nameless crabber checking his traps in Baltimore’s inner harbor discovered that one of the traps had snagged on something in the bay and would barely budge. A poor man, he had no funds to replace the trap, so he worked at hauling it from the depths for hours. When he finally heaved it out of the water, he found it entangled with a length of sparkling gold cable, and that the cable led to an object beneath the surface that he’d partially dredged up—a statue of some sort, he thought, human as it was in shape and reflective as polished metal.

The crabber enlisted the aid of other fishermen in the area and, together, they worked to raise the “statue.” Once rescued from the sea floor, the nature of the object became no clearer. It was gold—that much was obvious—but if it was a statue, it was the most poorly executed statue in the history of sculpture, as the figure possessed a vaguely human form but lacked any notable features other than the letters Q and O stamped upon its chest in ornate calligraphy. Further, the gold cable that connected the crab trap to the statue extended back into the murky depths, hinting at further discoveries.

The crabber notified authorities of his find, imagining it might be of historical significance, if not monetary value. When experts from local universities examined the statue, however, they realized it was not a statue at all. Rather, it was an impromptu sarcophagus, a solid gold shell poured over a human body.

The revelation of a corpse within the gold tomb triggered a police response, and soon the area of the bay where the body had been found was scoured by police and Coast Guard divers. What they uncovered beneath the waves was another thirty-five statuesque bodies, all bound together at their ankles like a chain gang, all bearing the QO stamp on their golden prisons. The gilded manacles and metallic shells weighted the bodies to the sea bed and made recovery of the deceased difficult, but, with the help of barges and cranes, authorities managed to lift the petrified dead from their watery repose within a week.

After recovery, coroners and medical examiners determined that the bodies had been in the bay for less than a month, though more accurate dating was impossible. They also found even more gold inside the airways of every corpse, which implied, horribly, that the deceased had been covered in molten metal while alive and had breathed in the scorching ooze. They agreed that the gold overlay—whether by burning or suffocation—was the cause of death for each and every person reclaimed from the bay, and that Baltimore police clearly had, therefore, a mass murder on their hands.

Given that experts in precious metals estimated the total worth of the gold shells and cables to be well over ten million dollars, no one was brave enough to venture a guess as to who could have committed the murders. Only the ultra-wealthy had the means to pull off the crime, and no one in the Baltimore PD wanted to anger the wrong multimillionaire.

Before any sort of serious criminal probe could even be launched, though, agents from the Bureau of Investigation—the FBI’s precursor—arrived in Baltimore and asserted jurisdiction over the murders. Agents from the BOI collected all evidence in the possession of the Baltimore police and set it under a high-level security clearance which only BOI investigators could obtain. They squelched the flow of information from the police to the news media, as well, so that the murders received little public recognition. Rumors concerning “the golden dead of the harbor” circulated in bars and shadowed docks, but nowhere else. The massacre slouched into the realm of folklore and urban legend. People, preoccupied by their daily routines and their struggles to make a decent living, soon forgot about the “golden dead” and their mystery.

Questions remain, though. Who committed the murders? Who were the victims? Why did the BOI step in and seal off the case from both local PD and the general public?

The only detail of the incident that may provide a clue is the stamp on every golden casket, the stamp bearing the letters QO.

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Hourly Employees

From: Tyler Vine, Head, Information Technology

Subject: 1926 email

Date: Nov. 30, 2018

 

Do not open an email with the subject line 1926 Baltimore Massacre, as it contains malware that will infect your computer and the Corivdan network. If you have already opened it, please contact your supervisor so we can address the issue further and review your computer’s software.

I would also like to remind everyone that company email addresses should not be used for non-Corivdan business. Giving Corivdan email addresses to third parties can result in unwanted spam emails such as the “1926” mailing, which often contain threats to the security of our network and information databases.

Continued use of company email for non-company purposes can result in reduced compensation or dismissal.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

 


 

Series of professionally printed and laminated signs placed at intervals along roadway leading to Corivdan Incorporated. First seen December 2, 2018. All signs removed by December 4, 2018.

 

At any given moment, police and the FBI have over 150,000 active missing persons cases.

Inactive missing persons cases in the U.S. number well over 600,000.

Almost all missing persons come from middle and lower-class backgrounds.

Fewer resources are spent searching for missing persons with lower incomes.

This is the reason serial killers frequently use impoverished and “transitional” neighborhoods as hunting grounds.

Even middle-class missing persons are low priority cases, though.

When’s the last time you heard about the brutal murder of a millionaire?

A person without any significant wealth or fame is a no one in this country, and their disappearance merely verifies their status.

The acolytes of QO count on you to be no one. It makes your disappearance so much easier.

Don’t satisfy them. Don’t let them come for you. Quit Corivdan now.

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Hourly Employees

From: Marshall Everington, CEO, Corivdan Inc.

Subject: Bonuses

Date: Dec. 3, 2018

 

Everyone,

I’m pleased to announce that we will be presenting bonus checks at the holiday party.

As many of you know, we broke all our previous earnings highs for the 2018 fiscal year. Revenue streams are up across every division of the company and expenditures are at a record low. Corivdan is flourishing.

Bonuses are a small way to say “thank you” for the part you play in the company’s success. Every hourly and salaried non-executive employee will receive their bonus at the party. You are all the real currency of Corivdan, and I want you to know how much you’re valued.

I look forward to seeing you at the party.

 


 

Text of audio clip left as voicemail for various Corivdan Inc. employees. Voicemails created overnight Dec. 5, 2018. All Corivdan company voicemail reset Dec. 6, 2018.

 

[Incomprehensible screams]

[Chorus of voices]: Great QO, Exalted Infinite Hunger, Father of Mammon, Mother of Moloch, we call upon you to expand our worth, our reach, and our power. We now give you your due, knowing that these souls are but motes of dust in your limitless vault and that your share of all things is gloriously ever expanding.

[More screams. Sharper, louder.]

[Chorus of voices]: We pay your fair tribute, great QO, so that you might help us prosper and grow deep with your hunger. We thank you for the expanses you carve within ourselves and the hoards you provide us without. Allow us to possess this world as you possess us. In your name, QO, we ask for more. In your image, always more, always more, always more.

[A sound like many coins clinking as they spill from a container.]

[Wet, tearing noises, followed by gasps, sobs, and more screams.]

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Employees

From: Allison Mendel, Acting Head, Information

Technology

Subject: Renovation of voicemail system

Date: Dec. 6, 2018

 

This message is to let you know that all voicemail was deleted last night as part of a scheduled system upgrade. You can still access your voicemail as usual and should notice no changes other than a quicker retrieval time of messages.

If you need to recover any important voicemails that were purged, please see me in the IT department for approval, as Tyler has been relieved of his duties. One of our technicians will be able to restore any necessary messages.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter.

 


 

Newspaper article found encased in lucite and glued to the concrete facade of the Corivdan Building next to every entrance. First appeared Dec. 10, 2018. Construction crews removed the articles by Dec. 11, 2018.

 

Over Seventy Workers Missing in Fire

November 11, 1954

 

Toledo, OH—Overnight, the Owens Manufacturing plant south of downtown burned to the ground. At the time, more than seventy second-shift employees were at work in the building. None have been located or identified yet.

The plant, which produces engine parts for automobile manufacturers including Ford, Chevrolet, Mercury, and Studebaker, exploded in a blazing ball of green flames near midnight. A chemical explosion is suspected as the cause of the blaze, though fire marshals have also suggested the possibility of arson.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire engulfed the plant almost instantly and the flames remained bright green for the duration of the fire. Some bystanders claimed to see gold flecks in the flames, as well. A few also claimed to hear terrified screams and, in a strange turn, raucous laughter as the plant burned. One witness said that, “It almost sounded like a group of people were chanting at one point, but I don’t know where it was coming from or I couldn’t hear it, as loud as the fire was.”

John Lyons, President of Owens Manufacturing said in a statement early this morning that, “Everyone at Owens is devastated by the tragedy. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of all our workers in this difficult time. Rest assured that we will do everything in our power to take care of everyone connect with the Owens community.”

Owens Manufacturing employs more than two thousand workers. The second-shift employees at Owens who were at the plant last night are largely comprised of non-union laborers without life insurance or pension plans. Names of the missing have not yet been released.

Losses to Owens Manufacturing and its parent company, the Quentin-Owens Corporation, which owns steel manufacturing plants in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, are estimated to be over ten million dollars. The losses may be recouped through insurance, though.

“The facility was insured for a very significant sum, so we’re sure that we will rebuild and be back up and running soon,” said Owens Vice-President Paul Boyle. “We won’t abandon our workers and the city of Toledo.”

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Employees

From: Carlos Perilla, Head of Security

Subject: Recent Vandalism

Date: Dec. 11, 2018

 

Good day.

Given the recent vandalism of Corivdan property, I want to make sure all employees are aware of the procedures for reporting suspicious activity.

If you spot anyone attempting to deface or destroy company property, please do not intervene personally. Instead, take a video or picture of the person in question and call security at extension 7810. If safe to do so, remain near the scene until someone from security arrives.

If you see defaced property, please note the location and manner of defacement and report it to security at the same extension.

We want to insure a safe and positive work environment, so please don’t hesitate to contact us when you spot a potential act of vandalism.

 


 

Messages found printed on toilet paper rolls and paper towels in all restrooms within the Corivdan Building, Dec. 12, 2018. All paper products removed and replaced by Dec. 13, 2018.

 

Corivdan Inc. began operations in 1976 as Corivdan Holdings.

Corivdan Holdings did not fare well and, by 1983, was on the brink of bankruptcy.

In 1984, three Corivdan mailroom employees were killed by a workplace shooter carrying a gold-plated shotgun using shells filled with diamond buckshot.

The identity of the shooter, who killed himself after the murders, remains unknown.

In 1985, Corivdan acquired SunTrust Bank and Dekker & Dekker Loans, consolidating under the Corivdan Inc. title. The acquisitions made Corivdan over 250 million dollars at the time and led to more than 5 billion in profits in the following thirty years.

In 1991, six Corivdan interns went missing during a team building exercise in the Catskills. All were presumed drowned in a rafting accident, though their bodies were never found.

In 1992, Corivdan Inc. merges with Quentin-Owens Inc., formerly the Quentin-Owens Corporation. By the end of the decade, the merger nets profits of over 7 billion dollars for both entities.

In 2003, Corivdan posts record highs for yearly profits. It opens a branch office in Orlando, Florida.

The following year, the Orlando building collapses due to substandard construction.

Fifteen employees are killed in the collapse.

No one can explain why the deceased show bruising on their wrists and ankles, nor can anyone explain why all the deceased are found wearing finely tailored suits stuffed with stacks of hundred-dollar bills.

Corivdan donates the found money to the families of the victims. It collects insurance payouts of over 75 million dollars on the building. It sues the construction agency, the city of Orlando, and the state of Florida for damages.

Corivdan wins its suits and collects another 200 million in awards.

The families of the deceased file similar lawsuits and also win. Their payout is less than 10 million, split over all plaintiffs.

In 2004, Corivdan constructs the Corivdan Building outside Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a state-of-the-art business facility. The company again posts record profits for the year.

In 2018, Corivdan breaks a billion dollars in profit for the fiscal year for the first time.

QO must be paid again.

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Employees

From: Human Resources

Subject: Waste management

Date: Dec. 14, 2018

 

Please note that trash will not be taken out this weekend as the janitorial staff is experiencing heavy employee turnover. If a waste bin in your office or workspace is overflowing, you may dispose of its contents in the dumpsters outside the east wing exits.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

 


 

Skywriting above Corivdan Building and vicinity. Seen Dec. 17, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

 

YOU HAVE FOUR DAYS

QO IS COMING

IT WILL TAKE ITS DUE

QUIT NOW

RUN

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Hourly Employees

From: Human Resources

Subject: Holiday Party

Date: Dec. 18, 2018

 

A reminder that the mandatory company holiday party will be held from 7 p.m. to midnight this Friday in the conference center (3rd floor, west wing).

The response to the party has been tremendous. Over 90% of you have RSVP’d and many others have confirmed attendance verbally or by email. Needless to say, everyone at Corivdan will be at the party for the food, drink, dancing, and prizes!

And don’t forget, there will be special entertainment and surprises!

We can’t wait to see you there!

 


 

Spray painted message found on the walls of the Corivdan Building’s parking garage, Dec. 20, 2018. The final line of the message ends in what may be a dark red paint spatter.

 

Last chance. Their kind has been around since the dawn of time. Their god has been around even longer. You can’t win by sitting at their table and playing their game. Do not believe them. They control all the rules. If you stay, you are doomed to [message cuts off here]

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Employees

From: Carlos Perilla, Head of Security

Subject: Security Incident

Date: Dec. 20, 2018

 

Early this morning, security reported an incident in the parking garage where an armed individual was caught committing an act of vandalism. Security engaged and subdued the perpetrator with only minor injury to themselves.

Police and medical personnel were called and have dealt with the situation. If you see any additional police presence in Corivdan today, please lend them your full support.

Thank you for your cooperation.

 


 

MEMO

CORIVDAN INCORPORATED

 

To: All Employees

From: Marshall Everington, CEO, Corivdan, Inc.

Subject: Holiday party

Date: Dec. 21, 2018

 

Remember to arrive by 7 p.m. this evening for the holiday party. Enter through the west wing entrance, as all other entrances and exits will be locked at 6.

Tonight is going to be very special. I can’t wait to see all of you there.

Happy holidays!

About the Author

Kurt Fawver

Kurt Fawver is a Shirley Jackson Award-winning writer of horror, weird fiction, and literature that oozes through the cracks of genre. His stories have been previously published in venues such as Nightmare, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Vastarien, Best New Horror, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. His short story collections include Forever, in Pieces, The Dissolution of Small Worlds, and the forthcoming We are Happy, We are Doomed. He lives in northeast Ohio and teaches college courses in writing.

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About the Narrators

Timothy Menzel

Timothy Menzel is a life-long speculative fiction enthusiast from central Iowa. His narrations appear on PseudoPod and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.

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S. Kay Nash

S. Kay Nash is a writer, editor, and bibliophile. Raised by a cabal of university professors, anthropologists, and irritated librarians, she holds two degrees as magical wards to protect her from being hauled back into the ivory tower. Her short fiction has appeared in See the Elephant, Wicked Words Quarterly, and Road Kill 2: Texas Horror by Texas Writers. Her nonfiction appears at Horror-writers.com and Buzzymag.com.

She lives in Texas with a Mad Scientist and a peaceful contingent of cats and dogs.

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Kitty Sarkozy

Kitty Sarkozy is a speculative fiction writer, actor and robot girlfriend. Kitty is an alumnus of Superstars Writing Seminar , a member of the Apex Writers Group, and the Horror Writer’s Association. Several large cats allow her to live with them in Marietta GA, She enjoys tending the extensive gardens, where she hides the bodies. For a list of her publications, acting credits or to engage her services on your next project go to kittysarkozy.com.

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Kaz

Kaz is actually three tentacles in a trench coat, able to mimic human speech through an obscure loophole in Eldritch Noise Ordinances.   By day, Kaz pretends to be a member of the terrestrial band When Ukuleles Attack.

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