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Short Story: "Fair Game"

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Philip Zack       (Page 1 of 8 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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The ranks of sign-carrying protesters arrayed outside 'The Suasive Experience' had grown quickly in the hour since a dozen or so grey-haired mall-walkers streamed through the just-opened glass doors. Photojournalist Margot Guernsbach had been on hand, because she wanted to provide her readers at the crowd-sourced news site she reported through with the sense of purpose the activists expressed, even when they were idly chatting with the elderly indoor exercise enthusiasts.

She smiled, and raised her hand to catch the attention of a happy-looking couple in matching blue-and-white striped jogging suits. They had walked briskly past two of the mall's security guards, and were now warily approaching the protest. "Good morning," she said brightly, and introduced herself. "Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?"

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The woman, who was a few inches shorter than Margot, nodded, and peered uncomfortably at the gathering. One of the protesters, a burly young man whose sign read, 'Retirees are not Fair Game', grinned back at her. She started, then shrunk a bit and pointed tentatively at him. "What does that mean? What's going on here?"

Her mall-walking companion, a lanky gentleman with a fringe of white hair, who identified himself as Arthur Fischer, gestured at the store's fa├žade. "I'd heard there was some big financial-services company behind the mall's new gaming center. They say it's a recruitment tool, kind of like that video game in the movie, 'The Last Starfighter'. So what's wrong with that?"

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"Those are exactly the sorts of questions I want to answer for my readers. You're right, sir. It is a recruitment tool. But unlike the 'The Army Experience', which lured kids into volunteering for a far more dangerous job than what they were shown in the game, this one's supposed to entice shrewd twenty-somethings into taking call-center jobs convincing seniors to invest their nest-eggs in high-risk securities."

After Margot got permission to quote them in her report, Mrs. Fischer complained about the incessant telemarketing calls they got, despite being on the no-call list, and asked if it had become so hard to find what she called 'script kiddies' to fill corporate call centers. Margot chuckled at the new use for the derisive term for malware tinkerers, and reminded herself to use it in her report. "I think," she said, "we can both benefit by speaking with a few of the protesters about that."

The young man who had grinned at Mrs. Fischer lowered his sign when he saw them approaching and extended his free hand to her husband. "Hi," he said, "have you come to join the protest?"

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Fischer glanced at the callused hand but did not accept it. Instead, he narrowed his eyes and grimaced. "You protesters make me sick," he said tightly. "You'd think that in a bad economy like this, you'd have the decency to let a law-abiding company go about its business, and not stick your nose into their hiring practices."

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)

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