Floor eighteen is coming along nicely. It is really starting to look like a terrible business space rather than a terrible apartment. The crows and ravens are mostly keeping to the allotted trash piles, and the new tech screens barely have any food stains on them.
Even as we, myself, Eggplant, and our advertising go-to, Delia Manx, watch my female form on screen in all my glory. I stand beside them in non-binary form, my wardrobe subdued and acting uncharacteristically quiet, even shy.
We are screen testing the new ad that’s going to go live soon for Fnord Forth!.
Shortly after taking on more employees than just dear Eggplant, I had decided to see what magic was in Clark Kent’s glasses and try on a little secret identity action. My female form is the Eris every mortal employee, except Eggplant, of course, is familiar with. She will officially be considered the boss at Insane Troll Logic. My NB form, going by the name Enzo Braeburn, is thought to be just one of the many tech grunts working under Andre.
So I slump my shoulders and wear my more dowdy clothes, still darkly colored, but less of the basic black and cozier than the leather chic I usually go for. A wool beanie and a pair of Apple Genius Bar glasses complete the look as I chew on a pen to keep my motormouth at bay.
Enzo is quiet. Enzo goes unnoticed. Enzo…sees all.
He hasn’t said anything, but I know Eggplant gets no small amount of pleasure from being the only one in the know. We stand close together as the different cuts of the ad play out on screen.
In the video, I’m prancing against a swirling gold backdrop. I have my wings out for a change, my hair is in a bob cut, and I’m wearing a black onesie inspired by Victorian clothing in design. It has a ruffled collar and puffed shoulders, leaving my arms and legs bare as my trusty black combat boots complete the look.
“Each day slug by one after the other?” my recorded-self says as I look directly at the camera. I’m holding up a golden apple wearing an animated face with a dour expression and seem to be nodding along as I talk.
“Why don’t you try a little chaos? Introducing Fnord Forth! The latest release from those innovators over at Insane Troll Logic.”
The camera pans out, the gold swirl behind me clearing to show a vibrant apple tree filled with Golden Apples. The Fnord Forth! logo is carved into the tree trunk.
A techie/grunge beat picks up as an electronically modified voiceover talks over the images of me with a golden apple tree growing up behind me.
“Stop making sense,
Start studying strife,
Grab the world by the apples,
And take a bite out of life!”
“Fnord Forth!” I say dramatically, biting the apple in my hand, even as the face on its surface winks.
“This is great stuff,” Delia says, flipping through the different clips with the remote in her hand. Eggplant watches wordlessly, an unreadable look on his face as she babbles on.
“So biggest takeaway? How relatable is this Greek Myth angle?” Delia hums, turning her head only slightly in Eggplant’s direction.
I start to say something, only barely biting back the words. Enzo wouldn’t interject here, but surprisingly Eggplant does it for me instead.
“Eris and the Golden Apple is quite literally a classic. Not to mention, Discordianism is still a vibrant and motivating ideology that appeals to many different demographics, especially in this age of such extreme political-binary.”
The story of Eris inspired the character of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, now of Angelina Jolie fame, and the Evil Queen from Snow White. Hell, it even inspired one of the cult-favorite characters from My Little Pony. So yeah, I say it’s relatable,” he finishes, eyes still on the screen, seemingly in awe. I’d be lying if I said some deep, dark part of me hadn’t warmed as he spoke.
“What do you think, Enzo?” She turns to me. A chance to improv. This will be fun.
“I agree with,” I pause for a split second, reminding myself to stay in character as Enzo and not to call him Eggplant, “Mr. Hills-Crosby.” Eggplant smiles behind her. “Greek myths are classic. They aren’t called classical mythology for no reason, I suppose.” I push up my glasses in faux nervousness as Delia wordlessly encourages me to go on. “Myths aside, like the Goddess Eris herself, this is definitely an attention-getter. Love it or hate it. This makes you want to lean in. You want to keep interacting with it either way.”
Delia smiles at me. That smile of a superior who’s giving you your moment. That means I sold it.
“I agree.” She shrugs. “Gods know the boss is crazy for it.”
I note her use of the word gods rather than the singular god. That means I’m rubbing off on her. Good.
“How many investors have downloaded?” Eggplant asks suddenly.
Delia flips through her paperwork.
“I’d say most. I’ll have someone crunch the official numbers.” She pauses for a moment. “Is that a priority?”
“Yes,” he says at the same time I think it, “Let’s get someone on the in-house incentives for investors’ package deals when they download the app. For them, their companies, dependants, subsidiaries, etc.” He smiles in my direction.
I nod, pretending to jot that down like the dutiful grunt.
“Alright, so we’ll go with this media package for the first wave, then we can modify it from there.” Delia winks, clicking the footage off.
“Sounds good.” Eggplant nods.
“Alright, I’ll get this out to the media guys.” Delia looks down at her watch. “Text me the deets for the next meet-up with the big E.” She smiles and waves as she distractedly makes her way out.
As soon as the door closes, I whip the beanie off my head and toss it to Eggplant.
“Thanks for the loaner, buddy boy,” I smirk. I’m not in a rush to change out of my NB form. It’s still feeling natural. However, the frumpy maroon cardigan I wear is up and over my head even before I remember I’m wearing glasses.
I laugh as he helps me untangle myself, revealing a The Clash At Demonhead shirt beneath. I toss the affected glasses on a nearby chair, mussing my now mussed hair all the further with my fingers as I nod at a nearby raven I call Daisy Lou Freebush. The tall bird chirps happily before taking flight and landing on a nearby control panel, pecking at buttons.
The numbers for Fnord Forth! quickly replace my feminine face on the screens, along with buzzwords and hashtags shooting across like comets: #NewCivilWar, #DeathTo, #MagnetoWasRight, #YesAllMen, #ReleaseTheSnyderverse, #FuckYourFeelings, #TrustTheScience, #AbolishICE, #MAGA, #CancelCancelCulture and #CancelCancelCancelCulture.
I slowly walk over to the screens, a smile forming on my face.
“Soon they’ll see, Eggplant.” My hands go to my stomach as a pregnant mother may caress her baby bump. The strife and discord fill me like the Donner Party. “Humanity will stop simmering and finally come to a boil.”
“Strong words…Enzo,” Eggplant says playfully.
“It works well, does it not?” I spin. “Keep ’em guessing, I always say.”
“What about the male form?”
“Don’t you worry, my dear. I know just the spot for that.” I turn back to the monitors. “It’s all going according to plan.”