Thursday, February 16, 2017


The Front of the Queue
By John C Adams

Bob Neugent beckoned to his wife to come and look. The advert had flashed down the side of his email a few times over the past week. The search engine had picked up that he was sending out his CV again. Now the advert was back.
Cindy tossed her long blonde hair back over her shoulder and leant forward. Her brow knitted into a frown as she scrolled down and spotted The Corporation's logo. She shrugged and turned away. Bob caught her arm.
"I send my CV out but I hear nothing back. Feels like the whole world's doing better than me these days and I've no way to catch up. These guys can help me leapfrog."
Cindy shook her head and screwed up her mouth. Bob let her go. He looked back at The Corporation's advert.
Feel like every other guy's ahead of you in the job line? Let us give you a digital makeover! The CEOs of major companies will be lining up to offer you the plum job you deserve!
Bob clicked the link to take him to The Corporation's website. By the time it arrived on his screen, the algorithm had already calculated what kind of improvements his CV required and had generated a faux social media profile to match. Bob flicked from platform to platform. He barely recognised himself. A slow, satisfied smile crept across his face.
A wife who'd won beauty pageants and given him four photogenic, athletic children. A house with an immaculate yard and front garden. The driveway with a brand new sports car next to the wife's SUV. Faux endorsements from people he suspected weren't real talking up his last promotion. Thousands of friends and followers congratulating him on his award for civic leadership.
Bob dug out his credit card and pressed the button inviting him to subscribe.
What did it matter? No one ever told the truth on their CV anyway!
Cindy returned from the kitchen and snatched the phone from Bob. She shook her head and threw the phone into the scatter cushions. As he retrieved it, it pinged. He checked his inbox. It already had two emails offering interviews. He laughed out loud and waved the phone in front of his wife when he saw how much the employers were prepared to offer.
Bob replied to both messages then he settled down to watch the game on TV. Just before bedtime, he checked his inbox again. No more employment offers, but an email from The Corporation suggesting he upgrade to their premium service. Bob scanned the contents and deleted it. The amount charged was extortionate. Another email instantly popped into his inbox.
Bob swore but he opened it. It had the same message as the last one, but also a flashing logo in the middle in flaming red, reminding him to upgrade. He deleted the email. At once, his phone started ringing. He let it click to voicemail. It immediately rang again.
"Hi Bob! This is Avanta calling from the Customer Service Department of The Corporation. Just wanted to check that you'd gotten your invitation to join our premium service okay?"
Bob rolled his eyes at Cindy.
"I don't really want to upgrade. Your basic service costs plenty!"
Bob hung up. The phone immediately rang again. When he let it click over to voicemail it rang again. After three more calls, he finally buckled and answered.
"Hi! Avanta again! Must have pressed a button by mistake and cut us off. Oops! So, let's process that upgrade..."
Bob closed his eyes and rubbed his temples with the tips of his fingers.
Cindy waved her hands in front of the phone to discourage Bob from paying up but he dug out his credit card again and obediently dictated the details to Avanta.
"The Corporation's the one at the front of the queue not you!" Cindy snapped as they went upstairs to bed.
Bob sighed. She was right, of course, but what choice did he have? The Corporation had him over a barrel and they knew it.

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John C Adams is a Contributing Editor with Albedo One magazine and the Aeon Award. Her debut novel Souls for the Master is out now from Sinister Saints Press. You can read her fantasy novel Aspatria for free at Smashwords:


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