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Trophies

My Time at Vivian Inc.

By E.A. WilcoxPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 8 min read
Trophies
Photo by Tobi Oluremi on Unsplash

“....billions gone. As investigators continue to comb through records there is still no word from the CEO himself.”

Everyone saw it as a grand gesture to show off the billions that he had made on his business. If you asked even the closest people to him, they wouldn’t be able to tell you what he did or how he got the money.

“Employees are swearing to silence, refusing to answer any questions we have so we are finding little to go off of Dan. Back to you.’

They’d shrug and say “I just work for the guy, and he’s decent, so I don’t question it.”

I’m an investigative journalist, so I’m curious by nature anyway. I wanted to know what was going down as his billions drained out to nothing. No matter the number of questions I had though, I got nothing.

Right before his money drained out completely, he had this modern-day terra cotta army made of himself and put in some random location hidden away in the mountains. I say terra cotta, but it seemed to be more like marble statues all cut perfection.

Am I the only one who’s curious? The media had a field day and told wild stories of him being a Scientologist or doing something weird in another crazy cult. Other papers had stories about him being involved in inhuman activities (of course the conspiracy theorists went haywire with that one). Stories were coming out of all ends of the internet, stories that would win fiction prizes, to say the least.

For me, I just wanted some actual facts. I was disheartened at my journalist brethren who seemed to be more about clickbait and panic frenzies than telling actual stories.

I did a thing I told myself I would never do and that is to go undercover. . I know, I know, I am just a journalist and who cares if we go undercover but I had heard stories of investigative journalists doing it and honestly I just never saw the point.

On my first day on the job at this so-called company and I quickly learned how strange things really were. I understood persuasive psychology and all that but honestly if you had the CIA on these guys they wouldn’t budge.

All of his employees seemed like brain-washed dummies - serving a mighty master and yet they never talked about him that way. It was simply how they acted. How they carried themselves and how they did things for him.

When I started working at this so-called company wasn’t given much information. All I was told was to file some paperwork and I didn’t understand a lick of it. I couldn’t tell if we were bookkeeping, managing real estate, or some other kind of financial gurus. Every piece of paper I was given had lines for days that were redacted and there were doodles in the margins that looked like a 9-year-old did.

I would file the paperwork away as instructed. As and when I did so without any thought given and no questions asked my colleagues would tell me “good work today” at the end of the day and I honestly couldn’t tell you what I even did. I was getting nowhere.

Then a news report had the entire office in a panic. There was a low hum when I came in that morning. People were panicking without really showing it. You could taste and smell it in the air. Frantic and quiet typing and clicking all around me.

“Morning!” I said enthusiastically to a colleague of mine. By the way, we were never told each other’s names and were not to introduce ourselves in any way that would spark a personal connection.

This colleague, in particular, had caught my attention though. The moment I walked in - I liked her, I didn’t know her name or where she was from but I really liked her. I imagined her name to be something like Kelly or Gueneth. She was always kind to me and her eyes matched that. She was one of the only ones who didn’t seem in a daze 24/7.

She shot a glance at my greeting that looked a bit sickly. She looked from me to the others and then back at me. Her big green eyes were all too telling. Be quiet.

She nodded at me and then continued on with her work. Suddenly, my stomach felt rock hard with anxiety. Something wasn’t right - with the panic in the air something was very potent. Aggression.

The person in front of me was a tall thin man who always seemed to be hunched over his computer like he was becoming one with the screen. He seemed to be trembling and didn’t seem invested in what was on his screen. His foot was tapping quickly and would twist his office chair from side to side like he was ready to leap up at any moment.

I decided to get on my web browser and I typed in our company name Vivian Inc. The news article that showed up first was shocking.

WhistleBlower at Vivian Inc. Found Buried Alive.

It turns out that one of my colleagues had blown the whistle on the shady dealings of our CEO and now their body was found under the construction site where they had been building a new location.

The article read,

There were signs of them being buried alive and according to the autopsy report, they died of lack of oxygen...

As I read the article the words seemed to all turn into tone color. I couldn’t really read the rest of it and I couldn’t really think straight. My thoughts were going a million miles an hour so I decided to jot down some of my speculations from that day. The following is from my notebook;

Everyone seems off. I can only imagine it’s because of this incident. Being buried alive? Jesus. May this is why no one is saying anything. The atmosphere in this place is thick with anxiety, panic, and aggression. By far the most potent thing in this room more than the air that we are breathing is aggression. Are they angry at the whistleblower? Angry at the CEO? What is this aggression and who is it aimed at?

My silent alarm went off notifying me that it was lunchtime. I didn’t realize how lost in thought I really was. When I looked up everyone was out for lunch except for me. I was in the entire office space all alone. I had to get out of this suffocating place. So I decided to go for a drive.

As I drove to clear my head I found a radio broadcast that seemed to have a promising update;

“The body found today at the Vivan inc. construction site was named Pete Angler. He worked closely with the CEO and had recently made claims of some unethical earnings within the company. Our sources say that Angler was planning on releasing details and other damming evidence in the near future.”

I was disappointed again, left with nothing to go off of. The broadcast was just as vague as everything else had been. The worst part was, was now things were getting real - there was a dead body involved.

Then, my phone rang. I looked at the screen NO CALLER ID. I didn’t usually answer the phone when I read that but I felt the need to in this case.

“Hello?”

“Keep driving. Go straight until you get to the Banksville bridge. I’ll meet you there.”

The phone went silent and I drove straight on until I found the very bridge we were to meet at. I wasn’t surprised when I saw her. Those green eyes I could recognize a mile away. She stood outside her car that was parked just at the end of the bridge.

I got out of my car and joined her where she took long slow drags on a cigarette.

“You want information. But you’re not like the rest of them.”

“The rest of-”

“You won’t be doing much of the talking so just shut up okay?”

“His name is Gordon Conoway. The CEO I mean.” She said nervously. “He’s got his hands in all kinds of pies and honestly I wish he had just stuck with pies. He has his hands in dealings with governments that he should have never gotten into.”

I was so sick of all of the ambiguity, I really thought I might scream or throw up. She noticed my impatience, acknowledged it with a nod then continued.

“He’s basically a pirate. A modern-day pirate. Gordon can smooth talk his way into anything. He can manipulate anyone. His employees? We’re all basically slaves because that money isn’t real. He’s buried the real money and he’s generating fake digital money that has gone up in value to the point that he can become the richest man on earth.”

“How-” I tried to cut in on her information spill but failed.

“He’s a private man, Gordon is. He doesn’t even let his wife and kids in on what he does. Mom thinks he runs stocks and things, little bro thinks that dad owns America and me? Well, I figured him out a long time ago and that’s why I’m stuck here. Mom thinks I’m away at university in Sweden.”

“Can I just ask -”

“No, I said I would do the talking.” She threw her cigarette to the ground and smashed it with her foot. Quickly, she grabbed another cigarette. “I have his money. I hacked everything and now I have his money. All of it and I don’t know what to do with it and Pete, oh my god Pete!” She started to cry now.

“That’s the guy that was found at the site?”

“Let me talk,” she said wiping her eyes “Pete and I…Pete tried to tell my dad when he found out what I had done. I couldn’t help myself.”

Right, now I was standing next to a murderer who was giving an ambiguous story about her billionaire dad.

“I know you’re not a cop so this is why I’m talking to you okay? I couldn’t let Peter tell my dad anything. The information he ‘revealed” via email was all from me. Peter would never have betrayed my dad like that.”

“How did you stage it so that it looked like he was leaking information that would lead to a big reveal?”

“Pete as handsome as a man he was - he was a dimwit and knew virtually nothing about computers or how to use them.”

“I’m so sorry but I’m still not sure I’m clear on what’s going on.” I felt like my time was being wasted which I hated more than anything.

“I told you my dad is a pirate. He makes counterfeit digital money. His real money is from slavery and making deals with some world leaders. He sells human beings for crying out loud! He’s an evil man….” She trailed off “he didn’t use to be though.”

I’ll never forget that conversation with Conoway’s daughter. I haven’t seen her since that conversation and I don’t know if I ever will. That very day Conoway had gone missing, all of his money was gone and his daughter was too.

The news and media still only have speculations on the fullness of the story and I decided to keep what I knew to myself. That army though, that still life army that sits in the mountains waiting for a command is just a reminder of the sick mind he had.

His daughter told me that the statues were made as trophies - trophies that represented every human he owned which included me.

Short Story

About the Creator

E.A. Wilcox

Book dragon, word shifter, molder, maker.

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    E.A. WilcoxWritten by E.A. Wilcox

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