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Ruthless Efficiency

by Trey Dowell


Steve Wiggin’s first day as CEO was relatively quiet and uneventful, right up until his refrigerator tried to kill him.
The red light flashing on the fridge’s control panel seemed fairly innocuous: change filter. When Wiggin walked into his kitchen after work that evening and noticed, he frowned.

Twelve million for a waterfront mansion, another mil to automate the damn thing, and I still gotta change the stupid water filter. 

Regardless, the Outer Banks public water was some of North Carolina’s foulest—metallic and overly chlorinated—and Wiggin’s taste buds won out over his irritation. He opened the fridge’s double doors and found the filter housing at eye-level. 
When he tried to twist the filter to release it though, the long cylinder didn’t budge. Wiggin flexed his meaty fingers and gave it a second try, this time with more force. The filter rotated, but slowly, the plastic housing squeaking in protest. 
“C’mon, you piece…of…shit,” he grunted.

Wiggin took a step to the side, trying to get a better grip on the release tab and with a sustained groan, coaxed the red indicator line closer and closer to the “open” mark. The instant the mark lined up, Wiggin felt the tension ease, and the foot-long metal cylinder exploded out of the housing like a torpedo. A cold rush of air blasted Wiggin’s cheek as the metal tube rocketed across the kitchen, splintering the mahogany cabinetry built into the far wall.

“Jesus Christ!” His eyes bulged, doing a double-take between the now-empty filter housing and the cracked cabinet opposite the fridge.

If I hadn’t moved, that thing would have hit me right between the eyes.

Wiggin slammed the doors shut and leaned against the kitchen island until his heart rate slowed. Eventually, he turned toward the blue “E” logo emanating from a wall-mounted touchscreen next to the triple ovens. 

“Electra,” he muttered. “Notify maintenance that the refrigerator needs service. Gonna need a carpenter too.”
A feminine, sultry voice purred out of the touchscreen. “Of course, Steve.” The blue light pulsated with each word. “I’ll add both appointments to your calendar.”

Wiggin let out a hmmph of tacit approval and made a beeline for the wet bar. Tequila sounded like a safer bet than water.

The day had started pleasantly enough: a meeting in the opulent 45th-floor conference room, where the chairman introduced Wiggin to the rest of the board members as the newest chief executive officer of Palmerston Technologies. 

Hell, the old man even pulled out the head chair for him. Wiggin plopped down, the smooth burgundy leather whimpering as he took his long sought-after seat at the table. Obsequious clapping followed, most from board members who, up until the announcement, had been rivals looking to nab the job for themselves. His job. 

CEO of a Fortune 100 company. Forty billion in revenue, over 30,000 employees. Fifteen million a year salary, plus stock options worth ten times that much.

As the clapping continued, satisfaction washed over him. Wiggin took a deep breath and smiled.

Clap away, you bastards. None of you has the balls to do what I did to get this job.

Please purchase a copy of Delirium Corridor, to see how home ownership suits Steve Wiggins.

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