90% Being A Greengrocer during the last 90 days of the Apocalypse / Chapter 9: At the Bottom of a Tree Trunk (Part 4)

Read Being A Greengrocer during the last 90 days of the Apocalypse - Chapter 9 online

Chapter 9: At the Bottom of a Tree Trunk (Part 4)

"Good evening, umm, Jordan, sir."

Yeung-Sung heard the roll of a chair so the guard must have stood. Reactively, he slunk further down and spread himself around the edge of the reduced desk. He flattened himself out as thin as possible, feeling the stretch in his arms and all around his torso. Polished clicks of shoes cradled around him at both sides. While in the middle of re-adjusting his legs so they wouldn't cramp up, he realised that he had heard that name before; Jordan.

But it was Simon who answered the call, "Hey Karl, remember the native that blew in here earlier? He didn't try to leave, did he?"

"Huh? John was here before me so might have noticed something," the guard replied, but Yeung-Sung felt a taste of sarcasm in his words. Like they were playing with him. As if they new exactly where he was, laughing at his attempts to remain concealed.

"But if he did, then, uh, he didn't mention it to me when we swapped over."

The chair was rolled again.

"I can do a quick check on the cameras, if you like."


Karl typed only for a moment before he stopped. That quick? I underestimated this guy, Yeung-Sung hadn't the time to think of any recourse. He was stuck, in an awkward situation, in this silly position. Against all sense of reason he began to inch his head to the surface of the desk.

"Jordan?" the guard called. "I, uhh, heard about what happened. My condolences, um, I hope that you're not pushing yourself too hard in these circumstances."

There came no reply.

"We all want the best for you, here," Karl added.

Yeung-Sung became simultaneously curious and confused, and his new idea now seemed a lot more appealing to him. He continued to slide up the side of the desk, waiting for a good five seconds of typing to resume before he unearthed himself from below. Thankfully, whatever the death that Karl referred to was, it created bubbles of personal space within the lobby. No one looked at each other.

Simon stood on the left, either eying, or pretending to eye the vending machine. He fumbled around anxiously in his pockets; his arms nearly elbow length inside them. The latter was probably more likely, as the vending machine was about as far as he could've looked to avoid this 'Jordan' figure. Why does the name sound so familiar?

The 'figure' was sprawled top-heavy on an ottoman, falling, with his head to the ceiling. He was in full mourning suit, gazing slovenly at the lights as if he was a slug about to be bestowed with a shower of salt. He had his tongue out as if to catch it, too, but realistically he would stopper it with the neck of vodka at his side.

The receptionist was trying not to look. And doing a bad job of it.

As captivating as the scene of self-destruction was, Yeung-Sung had managed to catch hold of his eyes and scan the monitor Karl was supposed to be searching. He saw himself storm into the building from earlier. It was forwarding, skipping quickly -on screen he was now busy tossing in his sleep- so there wasn't much time until he was found sneaking around. Maybe if I stopped it, if I came out now, then I could cut my losses?

He looked to the stairwell on his right. Could he have pretended to have only come down just then? But, when he thought about whether he was willing to concede full control of his life over to this drunkard, to eat his unripe ideas, he couldn't make himself do it.

Yeung-Sung sunk back down underneath once again and rubbed his eyes with the meat of his palms. His throat felt dry. His skin and lips too. He felt the situation drain on him again. When people had money and power, they chose to abuse it. He had come to accept that. However, how was it that even without money, how, just how were there still lunatics with the resources and time to pursue such stupid, selfish ideas. Clicker games?

Over his head he heard the drunkard, with a steely rasp to his voice that tucked under the words,

"I'm still going though with this, Simon. Simon!"


The twirl of Simon's heels echoed across the room. "You can't be serious," he said. "Look at you. I bet you can't even stand up."

Yeung-Sung expected an outburst. Only, after a few seconds he was hit with the clonk of glass on tile, and the scrunching of seat leather. Then, that fibrous whisper came again, but like an angry monsoon,

"I can't play around with the UN any longer. I will get their consent by next season. I'll show them the results they want!"

Yeung-Sung licked his lips. He felt a fury well up inside him and finally, he remembered where he had heard about Jordan before:

After the initial breakdown in economy there was talk in the news of a certain company involving itself with making sure that the leaders of the world didn't shit themselves into a new world war. They provided utilities; electricity; water; food, any emergency supplies a country needed. Their CEO worked closely with the UN. Jordan. What a fool, Yeung-Sung thought as he rose from up as a new sprout, standing to see before him a dishevelled mess of a man, but nonetheless it was indeed the same one he had seen on the news. Their eyes ensnared each other.

Bent over with his legs trembling, chuckling, the CEO of the GLI corporation turned to face him and declared,

"In 90 days we begin to save the world."


"What, no, Jordan. That's too soon!"

"You're all fucking mad! All of you" shouted Yeung-Sung.

However it came out in Korean, but nobody looked like they needed a translation anyway.

"Pak? How long have you been here?" said Simon. He froze, watching Jordan and Yeung-Sung leer at each other, pulling at each other with a magnetic hatred. Jordan moved first.

"Idiot! You don't know the generous hand you've been dealt." He stumbled in and out of a run, moving only a foot before falling onto his hands and knees.

"You have all these people following your idealism, but not me!" Yeung-Sung said, advancing.

As he let out his throng of words, Simon and Karl came between the two and stretched their arms out to create a barrier. Simon looked at Yeung-Sung with a face full of benevolence. He rammed against Simon's hand, pushing his chest against it, seething and blaring Korean expletives between breaths.

"You can't expect me to believe that a few people playing games will replace the Banks? The stock market. It's absurd! You can do better!"

"Pak" Simon pleaded. "You don't know what you're saying. Be patient and all will be explained."

"No! Be patient?"

Simon was holding him back with both hands now, inhibiting his arms. Behind his shoulders, Yeung-Sung saw Karl as he propped up Jordan. The drunkard seemed to be amused.

"We're not forcing anything on you, Pak. The system is designed to be an enjoyable way of participating in the economic process, as much or as little as you like. It allows people control over the creation of currency. It's freedom."

Yeung-Sung struggled with Simon's arms. He was a much larger man, inherently stronger, but his all-too-calm attitude and words combined had enraged him enough to lapse the difference.

"I can't believe you're still trying to convince me of this."

He thrust his face into Simon's but stopped short of impact, yet close enough to almost brush eyebrows. Within this enclosed space he shifted his pupils over to look at Jordan, knowing that Simon could see and said, "If this is your glorious leader, then do I look like I care?"

Simon threw him back.

"No wonder we're in North Korea."

He stormed towards Yeung-Sung, inspiring fear. Yeung-Sung had forgotten about his temper, he had been lucky so far but remembered that as far as the rest of the world was concerned, he was entirely their property.

"Pak", Simon growled, close enough that he felt his breath, "it is of no relevance what you think." He whipped out his phone and stuffed it under Yeung-Sung's nose.

"You will be a working part of this community. A greengrocer. I have it all arranged. Go upstairs, you begin tomorrow."

He stepped aside to gesture to his overlord, clinging to Karl for balance. Jordan gave a sly grin. As he did, Simon whispered one final bit of information into Yeung-Sung's ear then pushed him towards the stair well.


That last thing implanted itself through Yeung-Sung's ear and lay in his conscience like an aural weed. As he processed the words, the each exploded in chills of emotion, firing off like a black powder snow in his mind:

"Jordan's wife died in childbirth yesterday."

Yeung-Sung lunged for the stair's railing despite the shock to his nervous system. His legs pumped with adrenaline. He held the red-wood banisters to steady himself while the words rocked around inside:

"The UN doctors deemed him mentally unfit to keep the child. Yet he's here."

As he ascended back up to his room, the banisters seemed to pulse, to ooze with life. He re-entered his apartment. Everything bled.

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