“It's funny how just the simple act of answering a day's worth of e-mail will keep the crushing inevitability of the entropic heat death of the universe at bay for a good half hour to an hour.”
John Scalzi

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Notes from the author:

This protagonist's signifier is The Fool. His key phrase is "heartless etiquette." His lucky numbers—well, he doesn't have any, really. He ran out of luck long before arriving in this tiny, horrifying country, and probably before he took a job at the company in the first place.

There are many stories about the stranger who gets into trouble through his or her ignorance regarding the strange land. Now there's one more. This one is set in the same fictional world as a previous Friday Fictionette, the one for September 2, 2016: "By Moonlight, a Dream of Vengeance." But it's a different border being crossed this time.

They'd warned him. "Don't get involved. No matter what you do, no matter what you hear." No one could say he hadn't been warned. But the moment he heard the screams, it all went out the window: self-discipline, business training, and the blinders they'd given him at customs. He ripped them off his face, clawed his way out of the taxi, and ran oh-so-nobly to the rescue. He really had only himself to blame.

They'd explained it to him clearly back in Centrixa. It was a very small country they were sending him to--tiny, really, not even part of the Four Realms--but not so small that the company didn't have interests there. The company had interests everywhere. But it was so very small, and very backward in some ways; they did things differently there. It was important not to be shocked. It was important to know that everyone there belonged to one of two classes: they were either citizens, or they were prey.

"Yes," his supervisor said, seeing the expression of horror spreading across the company man's face, "that's most people's reaction. We don't make the rules, we can't change them, and unless the CEO says otherwise, we're not going to attempt a takeover. At this time, we just do business with them. Focus on the business at hand and you should be all right."

The company man had lost his focus entirely. Or, rather, he was extremely focused, but not on company business. He was focused instead on the cries of pain and the ugly laughter and the sounds of inventive things being done to flesh. It should have been obvious to him which class the victim belonged to. The attackers' enthusiasm and the lack of police response were as good as a label. But despite explanations and warnings, the company man ran into the fray anyway....

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