By: Justin Clement
“Welcome to Diejiria PLC! I’m Nkechi, and I’ll be showing you around!” she squeaked, shaking my arm quickly, furiously, making my entire body quiver in the process. Her grin was so wide that I honestly had to wonder if her cheeks weren’t hurting.
“Thank you,” I said, after releasing my hand from her monstrous grip, with a mental note to never shake hands with her again, for fear of metacarpal fracture. “I’m glad to be here.”
I looked up at the building once more; a colossal structure of thirty-six storeys painted in grades of white and green. The colours would have made the place eye-catching in its earlier years but now, the green was washed out to a sallow jade and the whites had almost turned grey. The building’s tinted windows were dusty with abandon and I even espied a few broken ones. Sorry, many broken windows. The place had looked grander on the website. I sighed.
It seemed somewhere along Nkechi’s bloodline, her ancestors must have crossbred with parrots because the lady couldn’t stop talking, as she led me through the main doors into the building. “Diejiria was established in 1960, and became a public limited company in 1963,” she said in her squeaky-happy voice. “For a long time since the company’s inception, it was run by a series of autonomous CEO’s and directors, until about 1999 when the company began appointing the CEO’s and board members by itself.”
We walked to the elevator as she went on, and she pressed the button for the top floor as we got in.
“Each floor has a name, and you should endeavour to know them all while you’re working here,” she said, while we looked through the transparent elevator doors. It began to move up slowly, enough for me to ‘enjoy’ the view. “Each floor also has a Closet of Assembly, as well as a presiding Manager.
“So there are thirty-six managers here?” I asked.
“Thirty-five. The CEO stays on the last floor so there’s no need for a manager there.”
“This is the Tarada floor,” Nkechi said as the elevator rose to the first storey. I frowned. This floor had grass and shrubbery growing through… everywhere. On the walls, the ceiling, even on the things I assumed to be desks. I was about to ask Nkechi if the place was abandoned, when I saw a man in a yellowed kaftan emerge from behind a hedge, holding a sheaf of papers. Our gazes caught for an instant before he turned away and vanished behind another hedge. I looked at Nkechi, and she simply shrugged and smiled.
The next couple of floors were similar in style to the Tarada floor, and several of them had cattle—yes, actual cattle—ambling about the floors, moving around nonchalantly in the midst of the busy office workers. A few people shot the cows annoyed stares momentarily, but quickly went about their business.
“There are cows on every floor, even the Aduja floor,” Nkechi hastily said, when she noticed the befuddlement dancing across my face. “The CEO loves them.”
“So he put them on all floors?” I asked, flummoxed. “If he’s into cows that much, couldn’t he just construct some sort of ranch on the premises?” Nkechi stopped talking for a bit, but the smile never left her face. I waited, wondering if she was thinking of what to say, before I eventually got a little creeped out and faced forward again when the smile still remained. “I might as well just kill one or two,” I muttered. “Fresh suya.”
“Um, if you value your… job, please don’t do that,” she uttered quickly, grabbing my arm.
Seeing her barely concealed agitation, I nodded reluctantly. “Alright. Alright. Tell me how the company works,” I said, sighing. Then I added, just for her benefit. “And don’t leave out the juicy stuff. Do that and I’ll kill no cows. Deal?”
Like magic, the glint of fear in her eyes was replaced by the sharp twinkle of mischief. “Deal.” When she spoke this time, she sounded freer, no longer like some clockwork parakeet, and I unconsciously found myself listening intently this time. “Most of the company’s revenue is generated by the Sour-sour floors,” she began. “The Sour-sour comprises of the Reevers, Dayelsa, Belta, Cross-Reevers floors and few others, but these are the major ones involved in most of the company’s revenue. They’re among the top floors, surpassed only by the Lajos floor and the Aduja floor, which happens to be the top floor.”
“Yes. Anyway, the company generates massive revenue in every quarter of the year!” Nkechi leaned towards me, close enough for me to get a whiff of the cheap perfume radiating from her alarmingly starched blazer. “Our board of directors are rumoured to be the highest-paid in the world!” she whispered, in a not-so-whispery way.
I recalled the man in the worn-out kaftan I saw on the Tarada floor, as well as the other employees I saw on the other floors. None of them looked well paid to me at all. In fact, many of the employees I saw seemed to be on the verge of madness, malnourishment or both. “The employees here don’t look well off,” I voiced out.
“Um, well, there isn’t much money for them,” Nkechi replied.
I did a double-take, and raised an eyebrow. “Uh… didn’t you just imply your board may be the highest paid in the world?”
She shrugged. “You can’t afford to owe the board money. Exceptions have to be made.”
I blinked. “Couldn’t you just cut down some of the board’s earnings so that more money could go round?”
“That was suggested one time,” she said. “But the board was adamant. There was nothing else the employees could do.”
“Uh, vote the board members out?” I said.
“The best option is to pray,” she said, waving my suggestion away. “We have religious officers on each floor.”
“How are even these officers paid?”
“By the employees, of course. Plus, our company’s religious officers have used the payments from the employees to be among the wealthiest people in the world!”
The more I tried to wrap my mind around everything Nkechi kept saying, the more baffled I became. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, or rather, Stunnerland.
“One of the major perks working here,” she said, eyes lighting up again. “is the sex!”
She nodded quickly, still grinning. “You can have sex with any member of the opposite sex at any time. As long as the visitor or employee is up to eleven years of age, work your dong or your punani to the fullest! Oh, and it’s limited to just members of the opposite sex. Same-sex relationships within company grounds will get you suspended for fourteen years.”
By now, I didn’t bother to close my hanging jaw. I didn’t even process the point of the whole same-sex embargo, when the age of consent dropped to eleven years on office grounds. That had to be the lowest consent age in all the world offices. Nkechi simply took my stupefaction for immense delight.
“Also, if you use your computer to acquire wealth from other offices worldwide, you will be dismissed and charged as a fraudster.”
“What?” I blurted. “But what if it’s legal?”
“Once it involves a foreign company, dear, it can’t be legal,” she said, dismissing my query. “Marijuana is prohibited, but you can do cigarettes. Nicotine is good for your health. No criticising of company policy on social media, and especially do not criticise the CEO under any medium. He is a master magician, and as such, should be accorded due respect.”
“Yes. He has the power to make one unit of Diejiria’s shares equal to a unit of Amerita’s shares. You know their shares are the global standard of value, right?”
“Is the global stock market in his backyard?”
“He has the powers to stop office corruption,” she continued, like I’d said nothing. “the powers to stop office insurgence and violen—”
A boom sounded, with a tremor reverberating through the elevator, and I guess, the entire building. Next came the sounds of what I was certain were firearms.
“Nothing to worry about,” Nkechi uttered, voice shaky. “They’re simply fireworks.”
That’s when I lost it. “Fireworks!? Those were live rounds! And I’m quite certain, madam, that the boom was an actual bomb! This company does not need me! But do you know what it needs? Let me tell you! First, you need to call Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Van Helsing! Your company is run by vampires! Two, you need to put a call to hospitals worldwide to supply you with brains from freshly deceased people, because zombies need to eat them to function, and it seems the zombie employees working here haven’t had a supply of brains in a long, long time! Keep your job offer, I’m going to Hanada PLC!”
Justin Clement is a young man who writes in the dead of night (maybe), sleeps all day and eats at ungodly hours. Writing both literary and speculative fiction, his work has appeared online at African Writer, Syncity NG and Arts & Africa. He is an alumnus of both Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus Trust Workshop and Goethe-Institut’s AfroYoungAdult Workshop.