The Bureau Experience
| This is an incomplete story.
The Bureau Experience is a story that was started by a user some time ago, but wasn't completed, and may never be completed. We're sorry for the inconvenience! However, feel free to look here to read completed stories!
About your employers? They control the universe.
|Location||Bureau of Fiction Primary Facilities, Metaspace, Fiction|
The Bureau Experience is a regular tour of the BoF's facilities given to new employees, as demanded by company policy and the Board of Fiction. It is administrated by the Tour Guides, two eerily smiling, almost robotic penguins who hardly ever acknowledge the newbies' existence or questions about the conspiracy theory that is the Bureau. Rumor has it that they are paid by Director Benny to hide the darker secrets and features of the BoF... though it's just a rumor.
(Note: This transcript of the tour is written in second person -- that means, YOU, the reader, are the new employee being given the tour. Live with it. We'll expect you at <address blotted out>, 9 AM sharp, for the briefing. Don't be late.)
Today is your first day of work at this new publishing company, the so-called "Ampersand Publishing Inc." The message you received in your email yesterday, encrypted with your public key, explained that the name was merely a cover for, as the message quoted, "something more grand". Whatever it was, it seemed like something big... like something out of a conspiracy book. As you sit in the taxi, awaiting your arrival, your thoughts swirl. Had the AIA secretly employed you? Was this, in fact, a government-funded secret agency battling against dark and unknown forces, like the Imperial Snoss forces or Darktan II? You remembered passing the PSA and EPF tests and venturing on secret missions against Herbert. Could this be something similar?
You arrive at the address given. As you step off the taxi, a distant clock tower chimes nine times. You're right on time.
Looking up at the the rundown, dilapidated building you see before you, you wonder exactly how "grand" this company will be. How could a powerful conspiracy theory, all government-funded and wiretapping-happy, ever work in a place like this?
Then you hear the voices. You've always been hearing them ever since you were a chick. But this time... it's different. They're talking... to you?
"Psst. You. Yes, you. Go into that building."
You blink. This is freaky.
"Yes, yes it is freaky. Now would you quit thinking to yourself and go in that store? It's good for you, you know."
You don't trust this "advice". You slowly back away from the old building, with its torn awning and cracked bricks.
"Hey, you want to join the publishing company or not? Your choice. You're missing out on a lot, you know..."
Sighing, you decide that there's no point in leaving this proposition (which also comes with a VERY generous salary) and push lightly on the door. It falls off its hinges and slams on the floor. A cloud of dust wafts over the threshold.
Entering, you step over the door and stand in front of the desk.
Then, without warning, all is black.
You're falling down a pit. You can't see anything, and for some reason you aren't very surprised.
The voice speaks again.
"Try not to land on the concrete. Explorer loves to move these mattresses a lot..."
As you wonder what it could possibly be talking about, you slam into a trampoline.
Correction: it's a mattress. A very old mattress, with rusty springs sticking out of the sides. Probably one of those mattresses the voice was talking about.
Your back aches. As you bounce off and hit the cold concrete bottom, you realize that the whole area is lit up by a deep purple light...
It's coming from a flickering, spirally portal, located to your left. You remember reading that this kind of technology had only been recently developed and was very expensive. Whoever had installed this secret entrance must have had a lot of funding... perhaps this was a conspiracy theory after all.
"Go into that portal and we'll pick you up for the briefing."
Well, duh. What else are you supposed to do? There's no other way out of the pit -- you can't even see the light at the top. You carefully insert a flipper into the portal. It tingles. Wondering how much more trouble you could possibly get involved with today, you leap into the portal, not knowing what to expect on the other end.
Stepping out, you find yourself in what looks like... an office? Indeed, you have entered a wide hallway with off-white carpeted floors, white ceilings with fluorescent lights, and pale blue painted wall to complement the scheme. A bunch of penguins and creatures are walking down the hall in the direction you are facing. Looking behind you, you notice a line-up of flickering, purple portals like the one you just entered. Groups of penguins are stepping out of them. A sign above the portals reads "SECONDARY ENTRANCES - Polar District, Eastern Eastshield, East Pengolia, and West Pengolia".
You turn around and notice a sign hanging from the ceiling. It reads, "WELCOME TO THE BOF! MAIN LOBBY AND INFORMATION DESK ARE STRAIGHT AHEAD."
An information desk! Great. You'll probably be able to get a clue in on this "BOF" stuff there... and what the heck does "BOF" stand for, anyway? You sigh and continue along the corridor.
Exiting the hallway, you find yourself in a large circular room. In the center is a series of receptionist desks, where penguins and other creatures with headsets are transferring calls, talking to creatures, and looking board. They are all wearing ID badges. In fact, every employee has one, and robes seem to be a staple, although, by no means, everyone is wearing such.
You walk across the light blue carpet to a receptionist desk. The penguin inside stares at you intently. Slightly disturbed, you begin to speak.
"Hi, my name's-"
"You must be a new employee," says the receptionist, promptly cutting you off. "The Tour Guides are waiting for you over there." The receptionist points over to a section of the wall populated with several penguins in formal attire. Two lime-green penguins with Club Penguin Tour Guide hats are beckoning to you to come join them.
As you quickly waddle into the group, you take a closer look at the Tour Guides' faces. One of them has a wide, ear-to-ear grin. It spooks you. The other has a sulky expression and his flippers are in the pockets of his shorts.
"Attention, everyone!" beams the happy Tour Guide. "Welcome to the Bureau of Fiction! We're glad to have you join the workforce."
So that's what "BOF" stood for. Wait... this a bureau for literature? And just when you thought there were enough fields strangled in red tape...
"You are here today on a mandatory tour and overview of the facility," continues the Tour Guide. "The tour will be administrated by me, Director-Appointed Bureau Facility Tour and Overview Administrator Y, and the other one, Director-Appointed Bureau Facility Tour and Overview Administrator X. But you can just call us Y and X. And yes, those are our real names."
Y and X? What kind of parents would name their chicks Y and X?
"I guess I should probably tell you what we do here at the Bureau," Y smiles. X sighs and slouches against the wall. "I'll tell you, but you can't tell anyone else..." Y sounds like a chick at school revealing a petty secret. Everyone leans closer to hear. You wonder whether this is the "grand" purpose that the e-mail was talking about.
"We control the universe."
You immediately shake your head and rub your eyes. You must have heard the tour guide wrong.
"Could you repeat that, Miss?" you ask.
Y smiles slightly and repeats.
"Of course. The Bureau of Fiction controls the universe."
Your beak hangs wide open. This is completely... what?
"It's not your ordinary Dorkugese computing job or Trans-Antarctican miner's life, but there you have it," says Y plainly, as if she were talking about the weather last Tuesday. You shake your head again and look at the ceiling. There must be some hidden cameras here. Before you can start looking, however, X beckons for the group to follow.
The Tour Guides lead the group up a stairwell going up. You still can't believe what the tour guide just said. A bureau that controls the universe? This is insane. But for some reason, part of you wants to believe it...
You clear your thoughts and decide that you'll go along with the joke. Surely a hidden camera show wouldn't actually make a full office set for a company that supposedly controls the universe. They'll simply show us Floor 1, you think to yourself, and then they'll reveal the joke. A company can't actually control the universe, that's like something out of a cheesy storybook. Pure fiction; impossible!
As you exit the stairwell, you begin preparing for your publicly televised embarrassment. If you handle it well, everything should be-
"Welcome to the Atrium Central!" exclaims Y. "This one chamber contains and links all Bureau activity."
This must be Floor One. You look up from your thoughts and take in your... WHOA.
The Atrium Central is an immense cylindrical chamber, at least 20 to 40 stories high. Awestruck, you gaze up at the ceiling, which has the Bureau's logo painted on it. Like a capitol building, the ceiling goes straight up to the roof of the building, and on the sides are glass balcony on the perimeter of the building. What really catches your attention, though, is the center of the Atrium Central. Glass walkways, extensions of the balconies, crisscross the diameter of the Atrium. They lead towards what appears to be some sort of elevator system. Cables are strung from one terminal, hanging from the ceiling, to another, reaching upwards from the floor. The cables are being traversed by several lift platforms. They seem to be the primary method of transportation in the Atrium.
You look around the room and see hundreds of creatures walking around, some getting on to the lift platforms and others entering various hallways. A particular hallway, located on the Atrium floor has a camera at its end, and you see a nerd walking out of there.
Aha! There's the candid camera!
Separating from the tour group, you waddle over to the employee that is holding the flash button. He turns to face you, and you are surprised at just how old he is. His nametag bears his name, what you assumed was the corporate logo, and "CAMERA ENGINEER: SIXTY YEARS". This guy was older than Dorkugal! Older than Colonial Antarctica! Why, he was older than that!
"Can I help ya, sonny?" the penguin grinned, revealing- much to your surprise -several teeth in his beak. You pause.
You ask if he could take your picture.
You explain what the tour guides told you and how it must be some sort of corporate joke. The old penguin laughs a wheezing laugh and smiles at you.
"First day on the job?"
"Well, even if I wanted ta, I cain't. See, I photograph whoever comes out of that entrance, because they enter dressed as nerds. It's funny."
He gestured to a computer screen, like one of those at a photo printing facility, with a label reading "EMPLOYEES DRESSED AS NERDS".
"Ya can view 'em at any time on yer break."
He also gestured to a bin where you could see multiple nerd glasses, robes, and other such items. You asked him that if they're re-used, why can't they be pre-sorted, as in a bin for glasses and a bin for robes, etc. ?
"We have employees to sort 'em."
You roll your eyes. If it has "Bureau" in its name, there's always a stupid job. The old penguin has a pretty dumb job, too. This is especially true if all he ever did was snap assorted cameras in this place for over sixty years.
"Hey!" the geezer shouts at you. "Would it hurt 'ta be nice to vet-trin employees? Sixty years! -and you ain't got one!"
Your eyes widen. Did that old guy just read your mind?
"YEPPERS! I READ YER MIND!" he shouts back, immediately. It was then that you feel a flipper what would be your shoulder. Gasping, you turn to see X.
"Come on, we were waiting for you," X says. His voice is as flat as paper and even blanker.
You follow him, still scared about the mind-reader, as the tour guides load you into a fenced square. It's one of those lift platforms. The floor here is metallic and hard, compared to the carpet, and there are various colors and lights on it. Next to the two tour guides, an elevator operator, dressed exactly like the Bellhop from the famous "Ruby's Ruby" play, is standing at a console. He is wearing an ID badge around his neck, and his nametag bears his name, logo, and "LIFT OPERATOR: TWO YEARS".
"Right now, fellow workers, we are standing on a Lift Platform. This item can be programmed to take you to any level in the Bureau. Once we get there, just step off and follow me down one of the walkways to the first Department."
A Dorkugese penguin raises his flipper near you.
"Uhh... why exactly do you need an elevator operator on a piece of equipment like this? I mean, couldn't we serve ourselves by inputting our room of choice instead of needing some unnecessary position to do it?"
X smiles a bit.
"This is a bureaucracy, dorko."
"Besides," adds Y, "this is a multi-penguin Lift. Most lifts just land when called in front of the summoner and do what you said. Lifts like these are used primarily for tours, guests, and the like. All righty operator, take us up!"
The operator nods and punches in several buttons on a digital screen in front of him, and he then pulls a lever. You and everyone else are rushed up into the air, several stories up, and are advised not to look down.
"Okay, we're in the air on this Lift. What do you all want to see first?"
You ask what there is to see, as the other creatures agree with you.
"All right, then, let’s start with the basics. Operator, take us to Level Nine!”
The operator nods and inputs the coordinates for Level Nine. Immediately, the Lift shoots up a bit and stops.
“Wait... why did it stop?” someone asks.
“You didn’t specify WHERE, Y,” reminds the operator.
“Oh, righty,” Y murmurs. “Department of Plot, please!”
“So be it.“”
The Operator inputs some more coordinates. A mechanical winding noise is heard, and a portion of the tube in which the lift was traveling slides open. Noises are heard as more machinery is activated. The lift is transferred to a set of horizontal cables and moves outside of the tube, crawling towards the wall. It stops right next to a glass balcony.
“Wait... couldn’t you just stop at a fixed point like a normal elevator?” someone asks.
“No, this reduces the need to waddle to and from places.”
“Yet you still have unnecessary employees?”
“Yep,” the Operator smiles.
“All right, everyone off the Lift; there is much more to see!”
You and the crowd follow the Tour Guides as they lead to a typical corporate door. It looks like any normal door that can be found in an office, and indeed, it is.
On the opaque glass above the door knob reads the words “DEPARTMENT OF PLOT”. As the door comes open, you expect something amazing. For dramatic effect, the Tour Guides push the door open, and it squeaks lightly as it goes.
Your eyes widen in excitement as you now view....... a normal office.
Yes, it looks like any everyday corporate office. There is no variation. The walls are of a pale, white-ish blue. The floor is covered in thick, beige carpeting. Fluorescent lights illuminate the room as any mortal business would hold. There are no windows, and little water coolers are placed conveniently back as far as you can see. The entire space is filled with neat, orderly little cubicles. Looking down the halls they formed, penguins and a few other types of creatures seem to be busily working.
It was a extremely disappointing, considering that your mind had recently been read and you rode a magical elevator up to this point. Surely they would put on the ritz here, too?
“This is the Department of Plot,” X states. He turns to look you straight in the eyes. “What, were you expecting something MAGICAL?”
You nod. Everyone else does the same.
“Not everything here has to be ALL FANCY. Even WE, the ones who rule this world, have a budget,” X retorts, a bit ticked off.
“Well, since some of you may choose to work in this section, why not meet a penguin that actually does this every day?”
“Then we’ll show you some special characters that work on this particular floor.”
The group smiles. Maybe you’ll see something more MAGICAL.
The Tour Guides lead you and the rest of the group down the cubicles a small ways, and they come to a penguin at a desk. He is an orange penguin, wearing what seems to be a simple white-collared, long-sleeved shirt with a dark blue tie.
“Hi!” says Y. “We‘re here for the tour.”
The penguin perks up and swivels his office chair around. Apparently he had longed for this for quite a while, and had taken the liberty of “embellishing” the index cards he was supplied, as per company protocol, into a full-blown discussion of his job.
“Hello newbies!” he shouted, a little too much glee in his voice. (He seemed to have wanted to do this ever since he was hired.) “My name is Philiswin23 and I work for the Department of Plot.”
The penguin beamed as he motioned for the group to enter, to the best of their abilities, into his cubicle. You manage to get into the front, hoping for some sort of magic to be involved.
“Well, I guess the first thing I need to explain to you is my job. See, one of the Bureau's tasks is to write stories. The Department of Plot handles the big picture -- what will happen in every single story, what characters get to participate, the settings, and all that good stuff. I work in the Plot Generation Board. Our job is to collaborate and brainstorm a plot for every single story our bosses initiate. This month I was assigned to the GSWV committee."
Philiswin pulled up a list of files and folders on his computer screen.
"Hmm, let's see... Ah ha! Here, a few spoilers - an Avatar Warmech V10 gets built but is blown up. What else? Frankterre's liberated, oh nice. Triskelle's captured - that was my idea!" he said.
Someone raises his hand.
"There's no such thing as the Great Snowzerland War V!"
"Ah, such is the magic of the Bureau. We can work in any time period we want to. This particular story won't be set off until next week. We're just putting on the final touches to make it pristine."
"Let's travel in time!" one of the newbies exclaims.
"Not so fast!" says Y. "We'll get to the Department of Time later. Thank you for your explanation, Philiswin."
"Moving on," states X.
Your party moves through the cubicle maze, goes through another door, and meets a Fjordland Penguin.
"We're here for the tour," explains Y.
"Oh, right. Welcome to the Character Development Office! I'm one of the team leaders and, if you wish to work here, your future boss. Here, I'll show you one character we're making".
Zack and the group walks over to a team of five (one Blue Puffle and four High Penguins). You follow. A whiteboard is seen in front of them, with a spider diagram about "TurtleShroom Penguin Jones". The blue puffle appears to be the group leader, as he has a stick which he's pointing towards certain parts of the diagram.
"Yo, Sam. Got a few new guys. Tell them what you do!" Zack ordered.
"Ahh... ok. The Character Devlopment Office is an office responsible for developing characters and their qualities. We usually develop characters that haven't been created yet, but sometimes the Director or Billybob will order us to work on a pre-existing character."
You don't understand what they mean. Billybob? Here? At the Bureau of Fiction?
"Any questions?" Sam asked. The high penguins began scrawling ideas on the whiteboard. You look at it and notice a bubble that says, "FUTURE: mind upload into computer; 2020".
"What's that bubble say?"
"Dick Cheney. Why?"
"Well, what does that have to do with this TurtleShroom guy?"
The high penguins look at each other.
"First day on the job?"
"We'll discuss parodies down the line."
"Now, if you'll follow us deeper into the Department, we'll take you to the Settings Office."
You nod, not really understanding.
X gestures you and the rest down the hall. Looking far past, you eventually notice the lights go out near the back, and you can't see anything else from there. You are tempted to ask, but decide to keep quiet.
You are led to a series of cublicles with creatures busily typing or drawing- or both -on various locations.
"Here is the Settings Office. Any story, if it wants to eixst, must take place somewhere and at some time. We'll stand here if you need us. Each of you will be given a partner, and then you can go ask aanyone who seems interesting to you about their job."
You look around for a partner, but it seems most have chosen one already. You see a short penguin with a straw hat and a satchel, though it looks more like a container for fishing tackle. He's wearing a purple-ish blue short-sleeved shirt. He looks very young. You are sort of concerned that this place is hiring chicks.
You go over to the young penguin, who is absentmindedly scratching his little head full of black hair. After he places the hat back on, you tap on on the back with your flipper.
He turns around, startled, and whips something silver out of the tackle box. Making karate-like noises, he grabs the silver thing and pulls it. A strand of silver comes off the thing, and you realize he's holding duct tape.
"WHO ARE YOU? I'M ARMED; YOU CAN'T WIN AGAINST MY AWESOME DUCT TAPE!"
The chick closes his eyes and flails his flippers violently, ending up getting them tangled in the duct tape. You pause, then reach for a pair of scissors on some employee's cubicle and cut him loose.
"So you're my partner?"
Again, you nod.
"AWESOME. Now... well... now what?"
You shrug, suggesting that you and him go find someone nearby to talk to. You decide to let the chick decide- he says his name is Max -since he's young and energetic.
Max immediately runs off to find someone.
"OH MY GOODNESS LOOK AT HER HAIR."
Embarassed, you quickly run to find what Max is doing. You see him in the cubicle of a pretty brown penguin in a long blue robe, and fanrky, you have to agree with him on her hair.
Maxleans over and whispers to you.
TO BE CONTINUED!