Weeks pass and there's little work with which to prove our worth to MoreCorp before we're out. This prompts me to volunteer for tasks and unsatisfactorily complete the asks of top doges while Wolf rounds out his martial arts training and embarks on a corporate art project, sports marketing. We do what we can to keep busy, more or less like everyone else.
But things look bad. The admin twins are preparing pods. Haiti tells me the rumors. Recruits are coming in the dozens. There are already hundreds of disco ninjas doing whatever. At this rate, we'll never show our awesome. Unless we're creative, right?
Luckily, Greenween is next week and chiefs are abuzz. This is an opportunity to celebrate the natural resources now so scarce. For a day we think of the trees. Higher-ups share snaps on the soc-nets, elaborate preparations taking place in grand garages, costume creation ahead of many competitions that will be held all over campus. These are widely plussed and commented upon in emoji art. Everyone approves this message.
Even the mean minions try to inspire. Vids circulate of former glories. I avoid because boring. Still I do hear about how the admin twins, Cocoa and Marsh, snagged a win for best pair singing a duet of Love Me-Ow as kat-bots from the kartoon Botnip.
"The old gods would not be happy." I say to Wolf, scoffing. “That's not green.” He is indifferent to the event but not to me, waving as I go convene with the trees. Across the creek from our cabin, in a redwood graveyard -- a circle of ancient stumps -- I ask the forest what to be. Following its instructions, I wrestle with branches, pull ivy, and snap brambles.
Then I drag back the wild bouquet and lay it out on the floor, drawing the shades so as not to alert the caretaker to crafting. Wolf and Hound watch as I weave and sew a hoop skirt of leaves, a mossy shirt and crown of thorns. Sidling into the outfit that evening when it's complete, I dance around Wolf as seductively as possible under the circumstances (awkward costume) and win him over. He asks, “Can I get like a headdress or something, some antlers?”
“Sure, yeah. I can make you a bunch of stuff.”
Jaded pod-mates indulge my enthusiasm and agree to be whatever we are, tree gods, sure. Most of my team's totally over MoreCorp. It's emotionally complicated. We're divided, a department in despair about no futures, mostly just waiting for the clock to run on this fun gig that's going nowhere fast. Few believe in mythical possibilities.
But I do. The gods -- as I like to call us -- are competing in the best group category, and Wolf has a good song for our walk, so I'm pleased, particularly after hearing Haiti’s complaints. Her pod's squabbling over spin. They'll be wrapped in silver, which should look shiny but is not obviously a celebration of nature.
“I told them light, reflection.” Haiti supplies her solution. "We're solar power."
We are sitting on the curb behind a parked car in the back of the parking lot, smoking, facing the Clubhouse but hidden from view by a concrete block storing garbage, recycling, and compost bins. We shouldn't be doing this. Cigs in Silicon! Haiti doesn’t even really smoke. But we're from Metropolis, where everything's toxic and everyone's self-destructive. “That’s not a bad take on what basically amount to sexy tektites,” I reply.
“Right?” She shrugs. “Sugar got congratulated for her great idea.”
“Yeah, don’t feel bad," I say, though I do too. "I look like a fool.”
“You don’t, Ellipsis! Why?”
“I wrote a memo about prose control. But Ampersand wanted a versioning protocol.”
“Oh. What’s that?"
“A guide to numbering things.”
"Why not just number in the order you do it," Haiti asks.
“They do, I guess. Though I didn't do a versioning protocol because he first asked for prose control..."
By now Wolf has joined us and supplies his perspective on me, based on more than a decade of experience and my recent complaints about our not-boss. “Ellipsis expects people to make sense. She thinks they can, thus giving credit where it's not due.” Wolf laughs. “If you came to fight training you’d see Ampersand is soft. And you could punch him. That's direct communication.”
Haiti giggles. “You guys are so cute!”
“We are not cute," Wolf protests. "Don't make that mistake, Haiti.”
She looks shocked by the sudden severity of his tone and turns to the latest Clubhouse scandal. Two readers got busted messing with metrics, blatant false billing. They have to return their pay to MoreCorp via MidCorp or face sanctions with the Certified All Reader Examiners, and everyone knows CARE loves yanking registrations. “So they agreed to cough up the greenies and go," Haiti says. "And never mention they were here.”
“How do you know,” Wolf asks. "Why do you know everything?"
Haiti shrugs modestly, pleased to explain. “Mochi is in a pod with a dude who carpools with Donut and Bacon whose teammate got busted and she told me at home.”
I'm still confused. “Isn’t that just what people do? Soc-nets and such?”
“It’s fascinating,” Wolf winks at me. "Social networks."
“Really?” I respect the power, the possibilities, but not the soc-nets politics. Everyone could connect but not everyone does, not to just anyone. People are very specific about who they approve, who amuses, who is insightful and posts images delightful, and who shows true I-get-it-ness in references. I don’t totally get soc-nets but the forest is something else. Eye can tell. It provides awesome compostable costumes for Greenween.
At MoreCorp the holiday is a big deal. Good competitive fun, which grows good and more good. But it’s also about biz as everything is, the coupon biz specifically. MoreCorp recently moved into coupons and warehousing, merged merchandising, and we learn that it's offering employees (hi-5 or higher status) product plusses, a Greenween sale. One deal is on t-shirts printed with triple post-mod codes I don't know (my skills being limited to The Arts Old).
As a thumbs-up contractor, I'm excluded from coupon deals and campus costume contests. But there's the TLDR event. On the morning that the old gods will walk again in Silicon, I kiss Hound's snow white head and respectfully request that the dogerman winter paw the quantum for the wild ones to win. Wolf and I load the car with fragrant wreaths, wings, crowns, canes, skirts, and braids of leaves. The ride to Silicon smells sweet.
When contest time comes, Wolf and pod-mates paint faces and don greenery, emerging glorious and of the forest. We go to the ceremonies wearing wings of branches and carrying giant grasses, things never seen here because concrete. In the grand hall, there's some stink-eye from seasoned competitors of higher ranks while we wait to walk.
But the gods march down the aisle and across the stage triumphantly when it's our turn, branch antlers proudly jutting from leafy crowns. It's amazing. Or is it crazy? The MC announces that these looks are totally unique and possibly even handmade, super creative! I try to convey that they’re also compostable, 100 percent green for Greenween.
But he doesn't hear me and I don't care. Everything is awesome for a hot minute. Has my message been approved? The judges soon announce winners and no, it has not. The gods are felled by a group in reduced price t-shirts with code. And then it just feels like everything is compost, which it is really, if you think about it.